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Obama: Trump cares more about tweets and headlines than keeping America safe

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U.S. President Barack Obama disparaged U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday, saying the billionaire seeks tweets over solutions and has “rattled” foreign leaders with his pronouncements.

Obama accused the real estate mogul and former reality TV impresario of making cavalier comments for provocative effect, and he urged all presidential candidates to take the high road in a boisterous and harsh campaign.

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Weighing in on the race to succeed him with his strongest broadside yet against Trump, Obama said fellow leaders from the Group of Seven nations “are surprised by the Republican nominee”.

“They are not sure how seriously to take some of his pronouncements but they are rattled by them,” the president told a news conference on the sidelines of a G7 summit in central Japan.

“For good reason, because a lot of the proposals he has made display either ignorance of world affairs or a cavalier attitude, or an interest in getting tweets and headlines, instead of actually thinking through what it is that is required to keep America safe, secure and prosperous and the world on an even keel.”

Many U.S. allies fear Trump will feed insecurity in countries worried about China’s growing power, embolden nationalists and authoritarians, and unravel Obama’s “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific.

Trump has also been accused of racism and bigotry for saying he would build a wall to keep out illegal Mexican immigrants and would temporarily ban Muslims from the United States. He has also made comments considered demeaning to women.

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The race between Trump on the one hand and the Democratic candidates, front-runner Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state, and Senator Bernie Sanders, for the Nov. 8 election has become increasingly bitter and personal.

Trump this week took his use of accusations against Clinton to levels unprecedented in modern U.S. presidential campaigns, making incendiary statements that television networks cannot resist covering, giving him hours of free media and putting his opponents on the defensive.

Obama said it was natural for journalists in such a campaign to elevate “every roll, blink, speed bump, conflict, trash talkin'”, but urged, instead, that candidates from both sides stick to the issues.

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“Grumpiness arises where folks feel that we’re not talking about issues but personalities or character.”

Obama, a Democrat, issued his most extensive analysis to date of his own party’s race, while refusing to take sides.

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He rejected a suggestion that beating Trump would get more difficult as the two parties’ conventions approach in July, a period when the Democratic victor can focus on fighting Trump instead of the fellow Democrat, adding that the Democrat battle was tough.

“Arguing against your friends is more draining than arguing against political opponents,” Obama said.

He said there were no big ideological differences between Clinton, an establishment candidate who is a former First Lady and senator, and Sanders, a firebrand populist who identifies as a Democratic Socialist.

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The president said it was important that the race eventually end in a way “that leaves both sides feeling proud of what they’ve done.”

(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Thomas Wilson; Editing by William Mallard, Robert Birsel)


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Elections 2016

Olympic athletes in ‘impossible position’ – Canada

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Canadian Olympic chiefs said Monday the health and safety of athletes had prompted the country's decision to withdraw its team from the Tokyo Olympics amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A day after Canada became the first team to announce its withdrawal from the July 24-August 9 Games, Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) chief David Shoemaker said athletes had been left in an "impossible position."

With public health authorities urging individuals to stay inside to curb the spread of COVID-19, athletes had been caught between a desire to heed health and safety advice while trying to minimize disruption to training programs.

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Elections 2016

Vietnamese women strive to clear war-era mines

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Inching across a field littered with Vietnam war-era bombs, Ngoc leads an all-women demining team clearing unexploded ordnance that has killed tens of thousands of people -- including her uncle.

"He died in an explosion. I was haunted by memories of him," Le Thi Bich Ngoc tells AFP as she oversees the controlled detonation of a cluster bomb found in a sealed-off site in central Quang Tri province.

More than 6.1 million hectares of land in Vietnam remain blanketed by unexploded munitions -- mainly dropped by US bombers -- decades after the war ended in 1975.

At least 40,000 Vietnamese have since died in related accidents. Victims are often farmers who accidentally trigger explosions, people salvaging scrap metal, or children who mistake bomblets for toys.

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Elections 2016

Chief Justice John Roberts issues New Year’s Eve warning to stand up for democracy

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In a progressive welcoming move, Chief Justice John Roberts issued his New Year's Eve annual report urging his fellow federal judges to stand up for democracy.

"In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public's need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital," he wrote. "We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability."

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