Rochester, Oct 5 (AP/UNB) — Seeking to boost Republican turnout in key Minnesota battlegrounds, President Donald Trump attacked Democrats Thursday night, arguing that their "rage-fueled resistance" to his Supreme Court nominee will motivate GOP voters this fall.
Speaking before a cheering crowd at a rally in Rochester, Trump praised Judge Brett Kavanaugh, whose nomination has faltered amid accusations of sexual misconduct. Of Democrats, he said, "Their rage-fueled resistance is starting to backfire at a level nobody has ever seen before."
Added Trump: "Do we love it? We love it. Because people see what's happening and they don't like it."
As Republicans face a tough midterm election cycle, Trump is trying to boost turnout. The GOP is hoping to fend off a Democratic effort to recapture the House of Representatives.
Trump landed in Minneapolis in the afternoon and headed to a fundraiser before traveling to Rochester, friendly territory in the traditionally liberal state, where Republicans are targeting two Democratic districts but playing defense in two GOP-held districts in the Minneapolis suburbs.
Stressing the stakes, Trump said, "On Nov 6, I need your vote, I need your support to stop radical Democrats and elect proud Minnesota Republicans."
In a sustained attack on Democrats, Trump said they would raise taxes, increase regulations and stall economic gains. He slammed party leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. And he accused the Democrats of desperately grabbing at power, saying, "They want to resist, they want to obstruct, they want to delay, demolish, they want to destroy."
Outside Washington, the focus still remained on the dramatic nomination process for Trump's Supreme Court nominee. Trump told reporters he thinks Kavanaugh is "doing very well" as senators weigh a new FBI background report prompted by allegations of sexual misconduct.
Trump earlier tweeted his support for Kavanaugh, who is accused of a sexual assault at a high school party, saying, "Due Process, Fairness and Common Sense are now on trial!" Trump has sought to use the Kavanaugh confirmation conflict to appeal to white men, arguing that the accusations are proof that innocent men could be unfairly targeted.
As Kavanaugh aggressively pushes back against allegations of misconduct, Trump mocked former Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, for quickly resigning over allegations of improper behavior.
"Boy did he fold up like a wet rag, huh," Trump said at the rally. "He was gone so fast. It was like, 'Oh, he did something,' 'Oh, oh, oh I resign I resign, I quit, I quit,' Wow.'"
Trump also criticized the low name recognition of Sen. Tina Smith, who is running to fill the final two years of Franken's term, and invited Smith's challenger, state Sen. Karin Housley, onstage to speak.
The outcome in Minnesota could prove critical as Republicans seek to counter Democratic enthusiasm in the midterm elections.
The president campaigned for Republican Jim Hagedorn, who is seeking an open congressional seat in the 1st Congressional District, a Republican-leaning area Democrats have controlled for 12 years. Hagedorn, who came close to unseating the outgoing congressman in 2016, has been an unabashed supporter of Trump and hopes the publicity from the rally will help put him over the top.
Trump also appeared with Rep. Jason Lewis, who is facing a close re-election race in the Minneapolis suburbs. But Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen, who is also fighting to hold a suburban seat, did not attend, underscoring the president's mixed popularity in the state.
Highlighting the high-stakes judicial fight currently under way, Lewis stressed judges when he spoke, saying, "Minnesota loves your judicial appointments."
The president's sinking support in the suburbs has put both lawmakers in a tricky position against well-financed Democrats. But in a new memo, the White House argued that candidates who distance themselves from Trump will suffer this fall. Officials contrasted Lewis' request to campaign with Trump with Paulsen's efforts to keep his distance. The White House believes Paulsen's rejection of Trump will sink his candidacy.
The White House memo acknowledges that Republicans are facing an enthusiasm gap, but suggests this is where Trump can make up the difference — for those candidates willing to take his help. Republicans who don't talk about Trump or his accomplishments, the White House warns, will make a tough situation a whole lot tougher.
Trump has used campaign rallies to try to boost Republican turnout, encouraging the voters he drew to the polls in 2016 to support more staid traditional lawmakers. Both parties largely view the 2018 contest as a race to turn out party faithful rather than an effort to attract new voters.
Trump spent much of the rally ticking off what he views as key accomplishments, including jobs and economic gains and exiting the Iran nuclear deal. He also touted ongoing promises, including his pledge to develop a Space Force.
At the conclusion of the hour-plus speech, Trump made an impassioned plea, bemoaning the "Democrat politics of anger, division and destruction" and telling his supporters, "this is your time to choose."
He added that his rise has been "the greatest movement in the history of our country" and predicted, "We are going to win, win, win."
Lilongwe, Oct 5 (AP/UNB) — Melania Trump spent Thursday in southern Africa promoting the work of a U.S. international development agency whose funding President Donald Trump has twice proposed slashing by nearly a third. Lawmakers essentially ignored those requests.
Mrs. Trump toured classrooms at Lilongwe's Chipala Primary School, which gets textbooks and other education assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
A batch of 1.4 million books donated Thursday brought to nearly 10 million the total Malawi has received in recent years under USAID's national reading program, officials said. Malawi's education minister said the partnership had "significantly" improved student literacy.
But the Trump administration sought a roughly 30 percent cut in funding for the State Department and USAID in its first two budgets. Widespread bipartisan opposition in Congress averted the reductions.
But none of that was up for discussion as Mrs. Trump visited with happy schoolchildren and their teachers in the Malawian capital.
"I wanted to be here to see the successful programs that (the) United States is providing the children and thank you for everything you've done," the first lady said at a book donation ceremony in the school library.
She had just finished touring several outdoor classrooms. Chipala has more than 8,500 students but just 77 teachers, for a ratio of 111 students per instructor, according to the U.S. government. With just 22 classrooms, many students are forced to take their lessons outdoors, seated shoulder to shoulder in their uniforms on loose, red dirt.
Mrs. Trump watched several teachers conduct lessons for the equivalent of second- and third-graders.
"Meeting those children and understanding their different way of life is why I wanted to travel here," Mrs. Trump told U.S. Embassy employees at a gathering at the U.S. ambassador's residence. Her own 12-year-old son attends a private school in Maryland.
"I was heartened to spend time with the students and was honored to donate school supplies and soccer balls," she said. The soccer balls, along with tote bags donated for the teachers, sported the logo of "Be Best," the child well-being initiative Mrs. Trump launched this year.
The U.S. first lady was joyously welcomed at the airport, with singing and dancing by a troupe of women and scores of schoolchildren waving African and Malawian flags. The high-pitched sounds of women vocalizing were heard at the airport and at her subsequent appearances. In southern Africa, the vocalization is often done as a celebratory welcome by women.
But a few signs of protest were afoot, too, as President Trump is not widely seen as a friend of Africa.
Among scores of people lining the motorcade route between the school and the ambassador's residence, a few white people held signs.
One said #MELANIATOO, with the "ME" in bold black. Another said "Welcome to Malawi. #NOTASHITHOLE!" — a reference to reports that the president used the vulgar term to describe African nations. A third sign raised the immigration policy the president once enforced that led to thousands of children being separated from their families after they illegally entered the U.S. from Mexico. Many children still have not been reunited with their families.
After leaving the ambassador's residence, Mrs. Trump went to the State House for tea with Gertrude Mutharika, her Malawian counterpart. Mrs. Trump sat in a rooftop garden and watched performances by dance groups representing different regions of Malawi.
Mrs. Trump opened her first extended international tour as first lady on Tuesday in the West African nation of Ghana. She arrived in Kenya late Thursday for a series of events on Friday before she continues on to Egypt, her final stop
Wani, Oct 5 (AP/UNB) — The captain and crew sailing the Sabuk Nusantara ferry to new owners on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi got the task done and then some.
The hulking red and yellow ship was bounced like a basketball as a massive earthquake rocked the region and it landed in front of a row of houses in the village of Wani, dumped by tsunami waves that the crew say were a towering 15 meters (50 feet) or higher.
A week after the magnitude 7.5 quake and tsunami hit central Sulawesi, the captain and 20 crew of the ferry remain on board, waiting for an assessment team to arrive and decide if the ship, its propeller jutting over the waterfront, can be put back to sea.
In interviews on the bridge, the captain, second-in-command and petty officer recounted minutes of chaos and sheer panic as at least 10 other vessels twisted and collided and the rapidly retreating tide — a sure sign a tsunami is coming — sucked the Sabuk Nusantara away from the pier.
"It was just sudden," said the vessel's second-in-command, Jona Johanes. "We felt the ship was like a basketball being bounced" as the quake rocked the region.
The double disaster that struck the city of Palu and other settlements killed more than 1,550 people, left about 70,000 homeless and wiped away buildings along Sulawesi's coastline. The city of 380,000 people has experienced days of lost power and water, dry gasoline stations and a slow dribble of aid.
The ferry, built in 2014, was docked outside Wani because the state-owned company that owns it was delivering it to a new owner. That was also serendipitous because there were no passengers on the 63-meter (208-foot) -long vessel.
Captain Edy Junaidi said the tide retreated about 7 meters (23 feet) immediately after the quake and he thought the tsunami wave was 10-15 meters (33-50 feet) high. Petty officer Imat, who uses one name, said 20 meters (66 feet) and Johanes estimated it at 15-20 meters (50-66 feet).
Their accounts exceed the highest estimates of disaster officials, who said the wave could have been 6 meters (20 feet) or higher based on a man who survived by climbing a tree. A tsunami warning issued after the quake predicted waves of up to 3 meters (10 feet).
Johanes was in his cabin turning on the TV when the quake hit just after 6 p.m. on Sept. 28. There was "extreme shaking" and the light bulb fell out and the air conditioning unit plunged to the floor, he said.
By the time he reached the deck, a huge wave was approaching and the pier had collapsed.
In the preceding one to two minutes, the panicked crew had donned lifejackets and released all of the ship's mooring lines except one — the head line at the front of the ship — which was stretched incredibly tight as the tide rushed out, forcing Imat, the petty officer, to let it go.
"There is no doubt as a human being of course I'm panicking," said Imat. "But we have to realize that this is a natural phenomenon. It's the will of God and we are chanting God is Great. But without forgetting our position, our duty," he said.
To the crew, the sudden drop in water level was bewildering and it seemed like the Earth was rising.
"I saw the ground getting higher and higher. It was so high. Then I saw the pier had collapsed. It was chaotic. I could see a wave, a dark high wave. I cannot imagine that," said Imat.
"The ship was driven all the way back and only then did I realize that it was the water that had gone down," he said.
Johanes, at the bridge when the wave hit, was bracing for a collision with the broken pier.
"I was holding on. I thought we were going to be thrown when we hit the pier. Then I just realized we weren't thrown. We were flying," he said.
The time that elapsed between the tide retreating and the tsunami hitting was "just a matter of minutes," Imat said. "Maybe it was 3-5 minutes. It was really fast."
At first the crew didn't realize they'd been dropped on land because the ship remained surrounded by water after being lifted and pushed forward by the surging sea.
In retrospect, it was a "smooth" landing and the ship appeared completely undamaged, Imat said. The captain, Junaidi, estimated the ferry now lies about 50 meters (yards) from its original position at the dock.
"We all panicked," said Johanes. "We have a plan to abandon the ship but we are waiting for the captain's instruction. The captain managed to calm us down," he said.
"If it is necessary we will abandon the ship but at the end the ship didn't go anywhere. After 30 minutes we saw solid ground around us. We realized it's not ocean around us. It's solid ground," he said, days later still absorbing the ordeal the crew endured.
They cracked dark jokes about their experience and seemed content to wait on a vessel that has none of the deprivations of the nearby villages.
"We can go down from the ship but where can we go? There's no market around. The shops are still closed," said Johanes. "And a few days ago there was looting around this area. So we don't know where to go if we go to the ground."
Palu, Oct 5 (AP/UNB) — A French rescue team said Thursday it has detected a possible sign of life under the rubble of a hotel in Indonesia's Sulawesi island nearly a week after it was hit by a powerful earthquake and tsunami, as the death toll rose to more than 1,500.
Philip Besson, a member of the French organization Pompiers de l'urgence, said the team's high-tech sensors "detected the presence of a victim" in the wreckage of the four-star Mercure Hotel in Palu but wasn't able to say if the person is conscious. The device can pick up signs of life, including breathing and heart beats, he said.
Nita Hamaale, whose 20-year-old younger sister is believed to be buried beneath the hotel rubble, said a translator for the French rescue team told her they didn't want to raise her hopes. The translator said it's possible other factors such as gas in the rubble could result in a false positive, Hamaale told The Associated Press.
Besson said the five-member team only had a hand drill that was not strong enough to reach the victim, who was trapped under thick concrete, and had to abandon digging as night fell. Besson said the team would bring heavy equipment early Friday to try to rescue the person.
"We have to drill through the concrete to be able to verify and access the victim," he told AP.
Rescue efforts since last Friday's quake have been greatly impeded by a shortage of heavy equipment. The national disaster agency said late Thursday that the death toll has risen to 1,558.
Agency spokesman Supoto Purwo Nugroho said the body of a South Korean man was among eight dead pulled Thursday from the wreckage of another hotel, the Roa Roa, which collapsed sideways in a heap of cement and steel. Local television said the man, the only foreigner known to have perished in the disaster, was a paraglider taking part in an event in the area.
As the search for victims continued, aid workers raced to get shelter, food, medicine and other badly needed supplies to survivors.
The Indonesian military was bringing in hundreds more troops to help with search and rescue efforts and keep order among survivors who have grown desperate six days after their lives were thrown into chaos. Hundreds of the injured and other survivors lined up on the tarmac of Palu's badly damaged airport, hoping to escape aboard military aircraft.
As help and supplies began arriving, there were other signs of progress: Trucks were hauling in new electricity poles to replace broken ones and restringing the wires. Workers said they intended to repair all the damage to the networks and substations and get them reconnected to the grid within days.
The United Nations announced a $15 million allocation to support relief efforts, saying more than 200,000 people were in dire need of assistance.
More than 70,000 homes are thought to have been wrecked by the quake, demolished by the tsunami or engulfed by mud slides. Thousands of people are sleeping in tents or in rough shelters made from debris, unsure when they'll be able to rebuild. Many spend their days trying to secure basics like clean water and fuel for generators.
"Please tell the government and the NGOs if they're really willing to help us with some food please do not give it away through the command posts," said Andi Rusding, who was huddled with his relatives under a tarpaulin. "It's better to go directly to each and every tent. Because sometime (the relief goods) aren't distributed evenly."
"It's really difficult to find water and we don't have a place to shower, but thank God we got some aid from the government, including a medical checkup," said Masrita Arifin, who was camped out a few hundred meters (yards) from her family's heavily damaged home.
Nugroho said most of the those confirmed dead had been buried. The death toll is expected to rise as rescue crews dig and comb through debris after being slowed initially by impassable roads and other damage.
People and heavy machinery were struggling to unearth victims from expanses of earth that surged sideways due to liquefaction, a phenomenon in which an earthquake turns loose, wet soil into quicksand-like mud. Several communities were wiped out as homes suddenly sank into the mire, which has since hardened in the tropical sun.
Many victims might have survived with faster help, said Palu resident Bambang. He told local television he found a friend injured and trapped under debris but was unable to help him. The friend died, leaving a message to have him buried in front of his church, he said.
"He was still alive then, but he died because the evacuation was so slow," said Bambang, who like many Indonesians uses one name.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said military transport aircraft from India and Singapore had arrived to help in the relief efforts, including transporting supplies and evacuating victims. Marsudi said 18 countries had offered help and the government was still working out arrangements with some countries, including Japan and the United States.
National police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said security was being ramped up to ensure law and order after 92 people were arrested for looting goods such as motor oil, tires and farming equipment. Authorities earlier allowed desperate villagers to grab food supplies from shops but warned them not to take other things.
Palu has repeatedly been hit by the quakes and tsunamis that plague much of the Indonesian archipelago. The national disaster agency says more than 148 million Indonesians are at risk in earthquake-prone areas and 3.8 million people also face danger from tsunamis, with at most a 40 minute window for warning people to flee.
Among those gathered at the airport in Palu was Fitriani, one of a group of students hoping to leave for an Islamic competition in far-off Medan, on the island of Sumatra. The group of students have been practicing calligraphy and reciting the Koran for months.
"We survived here," Fitriani said. "We pray we can be safe in Palu."
Gauhati, Oct 4 (AP/UNB) — India on Thursday deported its first group of Rohingya Muslims since the government last year ordered the expulsion of members of the Myanmar minority group and others who entered the country illegally.
The deportation was carried out after the Supreme Court rejected a last-minute plea by the seven men's lawyer that they be allowed to remain in India because they feared reprisals in Myanmar. They were arrested in 2012 for entering India illegally and have been held in prison since then.
Indian authorities handed the seven over to Myanmar officials at a border crossing in Moreh in Manipur state, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters. Each carried a bag of belongings.
The Supreme Court said it would allow their deportation because Myanmar had accepted them as citizens. Government attorney Tushar Mehta told the judges that Myanmar had given the seven certificates of identity and 1-month visas to facilitate their deportation.
Most Rohingya Muslims in Buddhist-majority Myanmar are denied citizenship and face widespread discrimination.
Defense attorney Prashant Bhushan said the government should treat them as refugees, not as illegal migrants, and send a representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to talk to them so they would not be deported under duress.
About 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017 to escape a brutal campaign of violence by Myanmar's military.
An estimated 40,000 other Rohingya have taken refuge in parts of India. Less than 15,000 are registered with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
Many have settled in areas of India with large Muslim populations, including the southern city of Hyderabad, the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi, and the Himalayan region of Jammu-Kashmir. Some have taken refuge in northeast India bordering Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The Indian government says it has evidence there are extremists who pose a threat to the country's security among the Rohingya. India is fighting insurgencies in northern Kashmir and in its northeastern states.