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After slamming trade deals, Trump fends off business criticism

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump fired back at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, saying the nation’s largest business association needed to “fight harder” for American workers, after it issued a scathing criticism of his economic platform.

The Washington-based lobbying group, which represents the nation’s largest corporations and business interests, is typically a reliable backer of Republican policies. But it took issue on Tuesday with Trump’s vocal opposition to international trade deals, calling his proposals “dangerous” ideas that would push the United States into another recession.

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Trump struck back the following day, saying the organization needed to “fight harder” for American workers.

“Why would the US Chamber be upset by the fact that I want to negotiate better and stronger trade deals or that I want penalties for cheaters?” the wealthy businessman wrote on Twitter.

In speeches on Tuesday, Trump called for renegotiating or scrapping the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, which he called job killer, and reiterated his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership among 12 Pacific Rim countries. He also singled out China’s trade and currency policies for criticism.

The Chamber has consistently backed international trade deals.

The public disagreement between the presumptive Republican nominee and the business group was unusual, one of a series of reminders that Trump still struggles with uniting his party. The Republicans and many business leaders tend to share policy goals and work in lockstep. Many business leaders have also traditionally been big donors to Republican candidates.

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But fighting against trade deals has proven successful for Trump among voters concerned about the loss of manufacturing jobs.

Peter Navarro, a Trump trade policy adviser, defended the candidate’s position.

“Here’s the central point to understand: The White House has been utterly and completely soft on China’s illegal trade practices,” said Navarro, a professor at the University of California, Irvine. “The status quo is the worst of all possible worlds for the United States.”

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Trump, who was slated to speak in Bangor, Maine, later on Wednesday, took criticism for his trade speech from both sides of the political aisle.

In a call organized by Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign, U.S. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, a former businessman and tech entrepreneur, said that while the country needed to do a better job protecting workers, more resources should be put into training them for a new economy.

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The Democratic lawmaker criticized Trump’s remarks supporting the British decision to leave the European Union.

“The truth is if you are entrusted with positions of responsibility, words matter, your tone matters, your confidence matters and on all of those indicators Donald Trump has failed the test of tone or tenor for leadership,” Warner said.

Clinton held no public campaign events on Wednesday but did announce she would campaign next week with President Barack Obama for the first time this year.

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The presumptive Democratic nominee and Trump are almost certain to face off in Nov. 8’s general election.

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson and Emily Stephenson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)


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COVID-19

White House adds 20 percent increase to ‘best case’ projection of coronavirus deaths

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The White House is moving the goal posts once again. Instead of taking drastic action, like asking every state's governor to mandate a quarantine to reduce the spread of coronavirus, it is quietly upping its projected death toll, just one day after stunning Americans with a six-digit death rate.

On Sunday President Donald Trump told Americans he thinks if 100,000 Americans die from coronavirus he will have done "a very good job."

On Monday Dr. Deborah Birx announced the White House is projecting 100,000 to 200,000 deaths.

Tuesday evening, the number increased 20 percent.

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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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