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Secret Service places $45,000 ’emergency order’ for golf carts in town with Trump property during pandemic

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President Donald Trump rides on a golf cart.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the Secret Service has this week placed a $45,000 “emergency order” to rent golf carts in Sterling, Virginia — where President Donald Trump owns a golf club.

The Secret Service says the order is necessary to protect a “dignitary” in Sterling — a pattern that tends to precede Trump’s golfing trips.

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“The new contract, which the Secret Service described as an ’emergency order,’ does not mention Trump or the golf club by name. But it closely mirrors past contracts signed by the Secret Service, for agents accompanying Trump to his golf clubs in New Jersey and Florida,” wrote David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell. “The White House declined to comment Wednesday. Neither Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, nor the Secret Service responded to questions.”

Trump’s most recent golf outing took place on March 8. He has spent hundreds of days golfing, often at his own properties, a potential boon for his own businesses. Recently, coronavirus lockdowns have closed his two most common golf destinations in West Palm Beach, Florida and Bedminster, New Jersey. The club in Sterling, Virginia, however, remains open, as Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order allows golf clubs to operate “as long as golfers stay six feet apart.”

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Belarus opposition to march after police crackdown

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Belarusian authorities on Sunday brought military trucks and barbed wire into central Minsk ahead of a planned opposition march, a day after police detained hundreds of women demonstrators.

The opposition movement calling for an end to the regime of authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko has kept up a wave of large-scale demonstrations every Sunday since his disputed win in August 9 polls.

The latest opposition protests were set to begin at 2 pm local time (1100 GMT), with opposition social media calling for demonstrators to gather in central Minsk as well as in other cities.

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Activists accuse Italy of halting ship rescue mission

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Rights activists on Sunday accused Italian authorities of blocking migrant rescue ship Sea-Watch 4 from leaving port and resuming its emergency mission in the Mediterranean.

After an inspection on the safety of the vessel to operate in high seas, Italian authorities placed the ship under an administrative blockade, said the German activist groups Sea-Watch and United4Rescue, as well as Doctors without Borders.

It is currently docked in Palermo in southern Italy.

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Italy’s ‘Black Roosters’ fight back as virus hit wine sales

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Two days before the coronavirus pandemic shut down Italy for two months, shattering wine exports and sales, the owner of one of its most historic vineyards headed back into the country a worried man.

Six months later Francesco Ricasoli and his wine-making team are leading the charge by Italy's "Black Roosters" -- the trademark for Chianti Classico -- to put the country's most famous label back on restaurant tables.

"These are probably some of the most turbulent times in Italy," said Ricasoli, 64, the 32nd Baron of Brolio whose family's roots to Tuscany stretches back to 1141.

"We've seen a strong decrease in wine sales -- particularly in restaurants and bars that specialise in the high end of the market," he told AFP at his winery with the same family name.

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