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Early data shows promising results from Regeneron’s antibody cocktail for coronavirus

Americans over 30 have been drinking more during the coronavirus pandemic compared to this time last year, and there could be consequences to their physical and mental health, researchers reported Tuesday.

Overall frequency of alcohol consumption increased by about 14% from 2019, the researchers reported in the journal JAMA Network Open. That increase averages out to about one additional drinking day per month by 75% of adults.

RAND Corporation sociologist Michael Pollard and colleagues analyzed a nationally representative sample of 1,540 people ages 30 to 80. The participants completed a survey about their drinking habits between April 29 and June 9 of 2019 and then again between May 28 and June 16 of 2020.

The volunteers reported they drank alcohol on more days every week. They also reported increases in the number of drinks they had; the number of heavy drinking days; and the number of alcohol related problems over the last 30 days between 2019 and 2020.

Frequency of drinking increased by 17% among women, 19% among people aged 30 to 59 and by 10% among White people.

Heavy drinking among women increased by 41% — about one additional day of heavy drinking for one in every five women. Nearly one in 10 women, or 39%, reported an increase in alcohol-related problems, the researchers found.

“At times of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol consumption can exacerbate health vulnerability, risk-taking behaviors, mental health issues and violence,” the World Health Organization said in April.

The researchers say it’s important to watch for whether the increases in alcohol consumption persist over the pandemic, and whether there will be physical and mental health consequences as a result.

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Opinion | The Case for Accepting Defeat on Roe

In “Unpregnant, the HBO bildungsroman released this month, the plot revolves around a 17-year-old heroine who travels from Missouri to Albuquerque — a road trip of 1,000 miles — because that’s the nearest place she can get an abortion without parental consent. Watching it made me recall a conversation with a feminist friend, who shocked the hell out of me last year by saying that progressives were too focused on protecting Roe v. Wade.

Why? The argument is that we currently have the worst of both worlds. We’ve basically lost the abortion fight: If Roe is overturned, access to abortion will depend on where you live — but access to abortion already depends on where you live. At the same time, we have people voting for Donald Trump because he’ll appoint justices who will overturn Roe. Maybe it is time to face the fact that abortion access will be fought for in legislatures, not courts.

I was shocked, but I could see the logic. It’s true that abortion access is already abysmal. The stressful road trip in “Unpregnant” is actually in some ways a best-case scenario; many women seeking abortions aren’t suburban teenagers without economic pressures or family responsibilities. Nearly 60 percent have already had one child and nearly half live below the poverty level; some fear they’ll be fired if they take time off, particularly if they need to make two trips, as they must in the 26 states with mandatory waiting periods.

The argument that the left has already lost the abortion fight reflects the fact that there’s no abortion clinic in 90 percent of American counties. This is the result of the highly successful death-by-a-thousand-cuts anti-abortion strategy, which has piled on restriction after restriction to make abortion inaccessible to as many American women as possible.

Chief Justice John Roberts’s concurring opinion this summer in June Medical Services v. Russo — the one that mattered — was hailed as a surprise victory for abortion rights, but not by me. Justice Roberts refused to uphold Louisiana restrictions virtually identical to those the court struck down as unconstitutional just four years earlier, but clearly stated that his reluctance was because of his respect for precedent. Anyone with their eyes open could see the justice signaling to abortion opponents to continue the process of eroding Roe v. Wade’s nigh-absolute protection of access to abortion during the first trimester by inventing new types of restrictions, which they have been remarkably creative in doing.

If Judge Amy Coney Barrett becomes the next Supreme Court justice, Justice Roberts’s vote will be irrelevant, anyway. And if things already looked pretty grim, now they look much worse: Up to 21 states have passed laws banning or limiting abortions in ways that are currently unconstitutional. Many will go into effect immediately if Roe is fully overturned.

So what should we do now? Often forgotten is that R.B.G. herself had decided that Roe was a mistake. In 1992, she gave a lecture musing that the country might be better off if the Supreme Court had written a narrower decision and opened up a “dialogue” with state legislatures, which were trending “toward liberalization of abortion statutes” (to quote the Roe court). Roe “halted a political process that was moving in a reform direction and thereby, I believe, prolonged divisiveness and deferred stable settlement of the issue,” Justice Ginsburg argued. In the process, “a well-organized and vocal right-to-life movement rallied and succeeded, for a considerable time, in turning the legislative tide in the opposite direction.”

What Ginsburg called Roe’s “divisiveness” was instrumental in the rise of the American right, which was flailing until Phyllis Schlafly discovered the galvanizing force of opposition to abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment. Schlafly wrote the culture wars playbook that created the odd coupling of the country-club business elite with evangelicals and blue-collar whites. In exchange for business-friendly policies like tax cuts and deregulation, Republicans now allow these groups to control their agenda on religion and abortion. It’s hard to remember now but this was not inevitable: abortion was not always seen as the partisan issue it is today, nor did evangelicals uniformly oppose abortion.

Whether or not R.B.G.’s assessment of Roe was correct, the best tribute we can pay to her is to do what she suggests: open up the kind of dialogue that occurred in Ireland, where young people knocked on grannies’ doors and persuaded them to vote to legalize abortion, which — much to the distress of the Catholic Church — they did. (At the same time, activists galvanized to ensure that, in the absence of a referendum, women throughout the country would have access to and knowledge about medication abortions.)

I don’t want Roe to be overturned, but if that happens, it could bring political opportunity. The emotional heat that surrounds abortion as an issue manages to obscure that the attitudes driving opposition to abortion actually reveal some surprising common ground with progressives on economic issues.

Non-elites often see elites’ obsession with abortion rights as evidence that they are slaves to ambition who don’t see that “family comes first.” But look closer and one can find embedded in this ideology a powerful critique of capitalism: “I think we’ve accepted abortion because we’re a very materialistic society and there is less time for caring,” as one woman told the anthropologist Faye Ginsburg. The feminist historian Linda Gordon agreed: Those against abortion “fear a completely individualized society with all services based on cash nexus relationships, without the influence of nurturing women counteracting the completely egoistic principles of the economy.”

I’m still reluctant to embrace the “overrule and move on” strategy, but moving on may be our only choice. And if abortion stops playing such a role in presidential elections, then Democrats may fare better with the 19 percent of Trump voters who have bipartisan voting habits and warm feelings toward minorities; we know 83 percent of them think the economy is rigged in favor of the rich and 68 percent favor raising taxes on the rich.

Once their presidential vote is not driven by Supreme Court appointments, how many might decide to vote on economic issues? And what greater tribute could there be to R.B.G. than both a legislative restoration of abortion rights, and a new Democratic Party that can win — not just by a hair but by a landslide?

Joan C. Williams is a professor of law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law and the author of “White Working Class.”

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Europe shrugs at Trump’s ‘America First’ drug pricing – POLITICO

It’s been a constant refrain of the Trump administration: Americans are getting the short end of the stick in their business deals.

When it comes to pharmaceuticals, there’s a kernel of truth to it. Take the dramatic headlines of sky-high insulin prices and persistent fears of medical bankruptcy. Americans consistently pay more than their European counterparts for their medicines.

To address this imbalance, the administration issued an executive order earlier this month to ensure that U.S. drug prices aren’t higher than those of other rich countries. But experts warn there’s a very real risk it won’t succeed in slashing the prices, while making the already secretive market for pharmaceuticals even more opaque.

Still, the president has long hammered away, threatening Big Pharma with government action if it didn’t start toeing the line and blaming other countries for not shouldering the fair share of costs for research.

The latest executive order signed by the administration — coming just ahead of the U.S. election on November 3 —  is meant to put a little bit of bite behind that bark.

The idea is that Americans shouldn’t foot the bill for the expensive R&D that goes behind the development of new drugs.

Although short on specifics, it mandates that the price of certain drugs bought through the huge Medicare program — which covers health care for Americans 65 and older — be pegged to the lowest price in a comparably wealthy country, as measured by GDP per capita. In practice, the reference price would be set mainly by looking at European countries.

The idea is that Americans shouldn’t foot the bill for the expensive R&D that is behind the development of new drugs. The order would then let Americans pay less for their medicines while giving pharma some bargaining power in places like Europe to hike prices and share the burden of research costs more widely.

Kasper Ernest, secretary-general of the European parallel traders lobby Affordable Medicines Europe, said that a drop in prices would “normally dictate price increases elsewhere,” given that major pharmaceutical businesses make the bulk of their profits in the U.S.

“That’s the theoretical point of view,” is how he described it.

In short, the aim of the order is to achieve a re-balancing.

“Other countries’ governments regulate drug prices by negotiating with drug manufacturers to secure bargain prices, leaving Americans to make up the difference — effectively subsidizing innovation and lower-cost drugs for the rest of the world,” reads the order. “Americans should not bear extra burdens to compensate for the shortfalls that result from the nationalized public healthcare systems of wealthy countries abroad.”

But experts are skeptical that’s how it will play out in practice.

“I would question to what extent this is reality or this is just making a show,” Ernest said.

Playing poker with drug prices

First, there’s the issue of transparency. To tie the U.S. price to the lowest one in a comparable country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) — and achieve a “most-favored-nation price,” as it’s called in the order — countries would need to be far more public about the deals they strike.

There happens to be growing support for more light on these often murky deals. For example, there’s a groundswell of countries trying to share more information about R&D costs, public funding and other matters related to drug pricing in the wake of an Italian-backed resolution adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2019.

But the order could paradoxically end up undermining transparency, warns Marcus Guardian, the chief operating officer of the EU’s voluntary health technology assessment collaboration, EUnetHTA. Pharma companies and governments will have an even greater incentive to keep secret the details of drug deals, since that information could be weaponized by the U.S. in a bid to win lower prices.

Ellen ‘t Hoen, director of Medicines Law & Policy, agreed.

“There’s a risk that secrecy will increase,” she said. She also points to another, worse, alternative in which “fake transparency” takes its place, resulting in public list prices that have nothing to do with the ones that are eventually negotiated.

Calling the bluff

There’s then the question of whether the U.S. proposal would, or could, work.

‘T Hoen points to the Dutch, who use a similar system of reference pricing and keep what she describes as “a wonderful database” of drug prices.

But she cautions it’s “probably not” a reflection of what is really paid, which remains unknown.

Sofie Alverlind, a coordinator for the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKR), which helps negotiate the price of some drugs in the country, said she also was nonplussed by the American proposal at first glance.

“U.S. drug prices have historically had little impact on European drug prices,” she said.

Suerie Moon, co-director of the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, calls the proposal “a toothless tiger.”

“It’s extremely vague and full of loopholes,” Moon explained. She points to the fact that the reference basket of OECD countries that would serve as possible benchmarks has yet to be specified. Instead, it makes a vague reference to “comparable” GDP per capita.

“All of this takes time to work out,” she said. “It could be years before we see anything, and what we see may not have an impact.”

“If you’re the country doing the reference pricing, you have no idea of the numbers you’re using, [or] what relation they bear to reality,” she said. “Drug prices aren’t straightforward to assess.”

Playing another game

EUnetHTA’s Guardian noted another “bizarre twist” in the order’s text: The complaint that the U.S. federal government is paying more than smaller countries, despite its market power as one of the world’s largest payers.

“I would question if it is the right approach to … look externally” rather than considering “internal factors,” Guardian said.

The executive order signed by the Trump administration wants to ensure U.S. drug prices aren’t higher than those of other rich countries | Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

One of the internal factors helping smaller countries, he said, is their health technology assessment, the process that gives payers hard data on how well a drug works so that they can use it to push back against industry demands. In Europe, each country has its own HTA, but Brussels has been pushing for an EU HTA

“If transparency is such an issue for any government, including for the U.S. government, it would be a much more appropriate tool for the U.S. to reach out to OECD partners,” said Guardian. “Let’s discuss transparency and let’s discuss prices for all of us.”

Such cooperation would “significantly strengthen their position toward industry,” he added.

There’s an indication that Europeans are willing to play ball and cooperate on transparency.

“A more coordinated international approach on pricing is necessary to achieve a healthy balance and fair pricing” — Tom Elbersen, a Dutch health ministry spokesperson

Tom Elbersen, a spokesperson for the Dutch health ministry, said that the Netherlands is “in favor of dialogue with other countries.”

“A more coordinated international approach on pricing is necessary to achieve a healthy balance and fair pricing,” he said.

Italy once again is leading the charge for more openness on pharmaceutical expenses, recently finalizing rules requiring companies to disclose in some cases information about research costs.

“What’s the price that will allow for adequate investment in R&D, and remains affordable and sustainable?” asked Moon. “That’s the crux of the concept of fair pricing.”

“Other countries in Europe are looking with a lot of interest at the Italian example,” Moon added.

Even if Trump’s executive order is successful at lowering the price of drugs in the U.S., there’s no guarantee that pharmaceutical majors will be able to hike prices in Europe, given the current political environment.

“There already is a lot of political pressure over accessibility, and a price hike for drugs could spark outrage and a backlash,” warned Affordable Medicines Europe’s Ernest.

Sarah Wheaton contributed reporting.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email for a complimentary trial.

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Biden Had Trump on the Ropes at the Presidential Debate, but Couldn’t Finish Him

Well. I need a shower. That was a disgusting event, and we all know why. It’s been said a million times, but it’s never been truer than on this night: Donald Trump drags everything down to his level. And the moderator let him. That was the most shocking and pathetic moderator performance that we’ve ever seen.

I can’t imagine Trump helped himself with that performance. I suspect that to regular voters, he just looked rude or worse, in failing to denounce white supremacy and railing on about Hunter Biden. Fox went gaga over that performance, of course, but I think most of non-Fox America was appalled by Trump. In fact, I think most of America will wonder why there even ought to be two more debates, if they’re going to be like this.

That said, Biden missed a few hanging curveballs over the plate. There were a handful of moments when Trump actually let him talk, and when that happened, Biden could have shut Trump’s histrionics down and more or less ended this race, but he couldn’t quite do it. I have three key occasions in mind.

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Debate moderator Chris Wallace criticized as Trump derails debate | US news

The Fox News host Chris Wallace faced much criticism as he struggled to referee the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden on Tuesday night.

For most of the event, Trump talked over Biden and Wallace failed to keep the president patient for his chance to talk. At a few other moments, the Democratic challenger’s scowls and snickering at the president interrupted Trump’s comments.

Many viewers blamed Wallace, though it was Trump who most often broke the agreed rules of the debate, refused to stick to his own speaking time, and steamrollered over both other men.

“That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck,” said CNN’s chief Washington correspondent, Jake Tapper. “That was the worst debate I have ever seen. In fact, it wasn’t even a debate. It was a disgrace, and it’s primarily because of President Trump.”

“That was the worst presidential debate I have ever seen in my life,” said ABC political anchor George Stephanopoulos.

The former Democratic senator Claire McCaskill tweeted: “Chris Wallace is embarrassing, and trying to pretend that the problem isn’t 100% Trump.”

Claire McCaskill

Chris Wallace is embarrassing, and trying to pretend that the problem isn’t 100% Trump.

September 30, 2020

Again and again as Trump interrupted Biden, Wallace could be heard in the background saying “Mr President, Mr President”, trying to get Trump to wait his turn.

Ben Rhodes, a political commentator and former deputy national security adviser under Barack Obama, tweeted: “Chris Wallace just disappearing”.

Ben Rhodes

Chris Wallace just disappearing

September 30, 2020

Ana Navarro-Cárdenas

Oh my God.
Chris Wallace has totally lost control of this thing.
He’s allowing Trump to behave like schoolyard bully, completely disrespecting the millions of Americans who tuned-in hoping to see a debate of ideas, and a plan to move America forward.

September 30, 2020

The New York magazine business journalist Josh Barro tweeted: “People are hating on Chris Wallace but I think there was no way to moderate this debate effectively.”

Josh Barro

People are hating on Chris Wallace but I think there was no way to moderate this debate effectively.

September 30, 2020

Carl Bernstein

Chris Wallace needs to shut trump down and insist he follow rules…and , as moderator, enforce them…stop the debate for 60 secs and lay down the rules.

September 30, 2020

Debate moderators often get either high marks or low marks from viewers, conservative and liberal, during presidential debates. It’s rarer to see bipartisan agreement that a moderator lost control. That was the emerging opinion coming out of the first debate, as conservative commentators criticised Wallace for not challenging Biden on some of his attacks on Trump.

Biden seemed to get frustrated with Wallace’s failing attempts to rein in Trump when it was his turn to talk.

“It’s hard to get a word in with this clown,” Biden said.

Wallace himself seemed aware that he didn’t have total command over the debate. After an extended speech by Trump, Biden said: “I can’t remember everything he was ranting about.”

Wallace responded: “I’m having trouble myself.”

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UN meeting that began with unity concludes with divisions

The U_N_ General Assembly meeting began with a declaration that the urgency for all countries to unite “has rarely been greater.”

UNITED NATIONS — This year’s U.N. General Assembly meeting began with calls for multilateralism and cooperation — a declaration that the urgency for countries to unite “has rarely been greater.” It concluded with a parade of divisive grievances that echoed when the final gavel fell.

Leader after leader in days of speeches delivered virtually stressed the importance of working together to navigate the coronavirus outbreak and the challenges that lie beyond it. As Germany’s foreign minister put it, COVID-19 “shows that international cooperation is neither an ideology nor an end in itself. On the contrary, it delivers results, far beyond the actual pandemic.”

Words, though, are not results. Though the U.N. and most of its member states largely envision a multilateral world, the underlying issues and challenges that divide nations sat squarely in the spotlight, as the “right of reply” at the end of the closing session demonstrated vividly.

One by one they came forward — lower-level diplomats tasked with replying to leaders’ speeches with intense responses.

On the hot-button conflict of the moment, between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the separatist enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, diplomats from the two countries went after each other over responsibility for the latest fighting. Bangladesh went after Myanmar over the more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled a crackdown by Myanmar’s military in 2017 and are living in camps in Bangladesh, still fearful of returning home — and Myanmar responded.

Iran went after Israel over the speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who claimed that the Islamic Republic would have “enough enriched uranium in a few months for two nuclear bombs” after it recently began exceeding limits set by the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

An Iranian diplomat accused Israel of disregarding U.N. resolutions on negotiating a two-state solution with the Palestinians, and countered that Israel “poses the most serious threats to the security of the states in the Middle East” because of its widely reported nuclear program, which Israel has never acknowledged.

The United Arab Emirates took the floor over a dispute with Iran over three Iranian-occupied islands the UAE claims and Tehran’s “destabilizing conduct” in the region, including supporting Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen. The UAE, in turn, vehemently dismissed Iran’s allegation that the UAE was destabilizing Mideast security.

Iran, again asked to reply, insisting on its claim to the islands and accusing the UAE of using starvation “as a war tactic in Yemen.” The UAE intervened for a second time, insisted the islands are occupied.

A Yemeni diplomat then responded to the Iranian, saying: “How does he dare speak about the situation in Yemen while he is responsible for the situation?” The Yemeni accused Iran of “continuing their intervention to destabilize my country by providing money, weapons, training and equipment to establish their expansionist plan across the region.”

While all the leaders delivered prerecorded speeches, the diplomats late Tuesday spoke in person, seated behind their country’s nameplate in the vast General Assembly Hall where virus restrictions meant only one representative of each of the 193 U.N. member nations was allowed.

The main in-person event was a virtual U.N. Security Council meeting that sparked one of the few real-time exchanges and centered the escalating U.S. confrontation with China. The clash at the meeting was over responsibility for the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw Russia back Beijing. But the U.S.-China confrontation extends to trade issues, claims in the South China Sea and Taiwan.

China’s U.N. Mission issued a statement just before midnight Tuesday night protesting U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft’s participation in an online event hosted by Taiwan on Monday. It said her remarks undermined China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory,” the mission said.

In his remarks opening the global gathering, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had painted a grim picture of the state of the world: an “epochal” health crisis, economic calamity, threats to human rights and worries of a new Cold War between the U.S. and China.

Guterres called for global unity, foremost to fight the pandemic, and sharply criticized populism and nationalism as failed answers that often worsened the situation.

General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir ended the six-day meeting Tuesday night on an upbeat note, returning to the need for multilateralism and unity.

“The challenges facing us are enormous, but so are the possibilities of solutions,” he said. “By working together, we can overcome them.”

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Singer Helen Reddy, Who Shot To Stardom With Feminist Anthem ‘I Am Woman,’ Dead At 78

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Helen Reddy, who shot to stardom in the 1970s with her rousing feminist anthem “I Am Woman” and recorded a string of other hits, has died. She was 78.

Reddy’s children Traci and Jordan announced that the actor-singer died Tuesday in Los Angeles:

Reddy’s 1971 version of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” launched a decade-long string of Top 40 hits, three of which reached No. 1.

The Australian-born singer enjoyed a prolific career, appearing in “Airport 1975” as a singing nun and scoring several hits, including “Ain’t No Way To Treat a Lady,” “Delta Dawn,” “Angie Baby” and “You and Me Against the World.”

Helen Reddy (center) with “Grace and Frankie” stars Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda at the 2017 Women’s March in Los Angeles.

In 1973 she won the best female vocal pop performance Grammy Award for “I Am Woman,” quickly thanking her then-husband and others in her acceptance speech.

“I only have 10 seconds so I would like to thank everyone from Sony Capitol Records, I would like to think Jeff Wald because he makes my success possible and I would like to thank God because she makes everything possible,” Reddy said, hoisting her Grammy in the air and leaving the stage to loud applause. She also performed the song at the ceremony.

“I Am Woman” would become her biggest hit, used in films and television series.

In a 2012 interview with The Associated Press, Reddy cited the gigantic success of “I Am Woman” as one of the reasons she stepped out of public life.

“That was one of the reasons that I stopped singing, was when I was shown a modern American history high-school textbook, and a whole chapter on feminism and my name and my lyrics (were) in the book,” she told the AP. “And I thought, `Well, I’m part of history now. And how do I top that? I can’t top that.′ So, it was an easy withdrawal.”

Reddy’s death comes less than three weeks after the release of a biopic about her life called “I Am Woman.”

The film’s director, Unjoo Moon, said the film resulted in a seven-year friendship with Reddy.

“I will forever be grateful to Helen for teaching me so much about being an artist, a woman and a mother,” she said in a statement. “She paved the way for so many and the lyrics that she wrote for ‘I am Woman’ changed my life forever like they have done for so many other people and will continue to do for generations to come. She will always be a part of me and I will miss her enormously.”

A performer since childhood, Reddy was part of a show-business family in Melbourne. She won a contest that brought her to the United States and launched her recording career, although she first had to overcome ideas about her sound.

“In my earlier days in Australia, I was considered to be more of a jazz singer,” she told the AP in 1991. “When I won the contest that brought me to this country, one person said, ‘The judges didn’t feel you could have a recording career because you don’t have a commercial sound.’”

Reddy retired from performing in the 1990s and returned to Australia, getting her degree in clinical hypnotherapy.

She later returned to California, where in the 1970s she had served on a statewide Parks and Recreation Commission, and returned to the stage occasionally.

In 2017 she performed “I Am Woman” at a Women’s March in Los Angeles, singing alongside actor Jamie Lee Curtis. Curtis said it was the “ honor of my life” to introduce Reddy at the event.

Fans from all over the world posted tributes to Reddy on social media:

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Top moments from Trump, Biden first debate

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Fractious presidential debate unlikely to move needle for Trump

By James Oliphant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Down in the opinion polls with five weeks to go until the November election, U.S. President Donald Trump sought to use the first presidential debate to bully his way back into the race.

Repeatedly interrupting and sparring with opponent Joe Biden, the Republican Trump tried to knock the Democratic former vice president off his feet Tuesday night and alter the dynamic of a contest he has been losing for months.

It was unlikely the president succeeded, largely because of his own combative and chaotic behavior but also because the insult-filled and often fact-free affair may have left the few undecided voters watching at home more dispirited than engaged.

“It’s doubtful that this mentally exhausting debate changed any minds,” said Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist in Washington who advised Trump’s 2016 transition team. “Each side walked away with something, but the shock of the personal attacks against one another probably turned many people off.“

Trump drew raves from some diehard supporters for his show of aggression toward Biden. But he spent little time attempting to persuade swing voters, particularly women who have been critical of his tone and tactics, that he is the candidate best suited to tackle fundamental election issues such as the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare and race relations.

The debate was held in Ohio, where Biden will campaign on Wednesday and one of a group of Midwestern states where the race is expected to remain competitive. With Biden chipping away at Trump’s base in battleground states that decide elections, the president may have squandered a chance to reach voters he needs.

Reuters/Ipsos polling this month found that four in 10 white non-college-educated likely voters in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin said they were backing Biden this year, up from 2016 when Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was supported by about three in 10 non-college whites in those states.

The polling shows Biden with a sizable lead overall nationally but with a smaller edge in those key states.

“Debates usually have very little influence on how people vote. It’s even more difficult to see how this one could persuade voters one way or the other, since it gave us so little opportunity to learn about the candidates and their plans,” said Christopher Devine, an expert on presidential campaigns at the University of Dayton in Ohio.


Trump did manage on occasion to push Biden out of his comfort zone, leading the Democrat, who before the debate pledged to keep his cool, to deride Trump as a “clown” and the “worst president” in U.S. history.

Biden struggled to repel Trump’s attacks concerning Biden’s support of the protests that have erupted nationwide over racism and police brutality, sometimes turning violent.

The former vice president has embraced some of the goals of the peaceful protest movement, but not its push to de-fund police departments as Trump has suggested.

Biden also refused to answer Trump’s direct question about whether he would, as president, seek to add more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court to counter its rightward turn.

Biden at times was able to squeeze in the key themes of his candidacy, that Trump was unfit for a second term for his handling of the pandemic and his divisive leadership style. In a dig at Trump’s flagging support with the critical suburban voting bloc, Biden said: “He wouldn’t know a suburb unless he took a wrong turn.”

But Trump often spoke over his rival and moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News, making it difficult for them to say much at all. When Biden did get a chance, he made a point of addressing the camera, trying to speak directly to voters, while Trump stared at him balefully.

“That was a game plan that Biden had and he executed it,” said Aaron Kall, an expert on presidential debates at the University of Michigan. “Trump couldn’t get past his own disdain for Biden.”

Trump again demurred when asked point-blank to reassure voters that he would accept the results of the election, instead raging against mail-in ballots and ominously warning viewers at home that the contest would not “end well.”

If he is hoping to win over undecided voters, Kall said, Trump will need to outline a sunnier, more optimistic vision for the nation in the next two debates – a tall task for a politician who favors scorched-earth warfare.

The calendar is against him. Subsequent debates typically are watched by fewer people, and many Americans will have voted by then. As the underdog, Trump lost precious time on Tuesday.

“This was the one opportunity that existed to make a good first impression on the small segment of undecided voters,” Kall said. “That is not what we experienced tonight.”

(Reporting by James Oliphant; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Howard Goller)

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Huawei lawyers to respond to prosecution arguments in CFO’s U.S. extradition case

By Moira Warburton and Tessa Vikander

VANCOUVER, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Lawyers for Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou will have a chance on Wednesday to respond to arguments made by the Canadian government, as Huawei pushes to add an allegation of abuse of process to block her extradition to the United States.

The hearings, which will finish on Wednesday, are the latest in Meng’s extradition case taking place in the British Columbia Supreme Court.

Meng, 48, was arrested in December 2018 on a warrant from the United States charging her with bank fraud for misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran and causing the bank to break U.S. sanction law.

The arrest has strained China’s relations with the United States and Canada. Soon after Meng’s detention, China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, charging them with espionage.

The daughter of billionaire Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition while under house arrest in Vancouver.

The hearings are referred to as Vukelich hearings, meaning the judge must decide whether the defence’s latest allegation is plausible enough to be worth fully litigating.

If the judge rules in Meng’s favour, an additional set of hearings will be added to argue the allegation. A decision on this is expected by Oct. 30.

Meng’s lawyers argued over Monday and Tuesday that the United States omitted key facts about her communication with HSBC about Huawei’s business in Iran, stating that it “misdescribed the facts to construct a stronger case of alleged fraud” when it requested that Canada arrest Meng on its behalf in December 2018, to the extent that constituted a violation of Meng’s human rights.

The defence largely relied on a PowerPoint presentation, which it said the United States misrepresented.

In their arguments on Tuesday, lawyers for the Canadian government accused the defence of attempting to litigate the fraud charges against Meng in the Canadian extradition case.

Crown lawyer Robert Frater asked the judge to keep the case “on the straight and narrow” and “refuse to spend precious court time on issues that have no hope of success.”

Meng’s extradition hearings are scheduled to finish in April 2021, although the case could drag on for years if either side chooses to appeal the initial decision. (Reporting by Moira Warburton and Tessa Vikander in Vancouver; Editing by Denny Thomas and Stephen Coates)