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Markets sink on investor fear of trade war, damage to tech sector

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Stocks tanked Monday, the first trading day of the new quarter, as panicked traders dumped their investments in the tech sector amid heightened concern over privacy breaches and continued consumer backlash.

Amazon led the decline, following a series of tweets by President Donald Trump that criticized the company for its effect on retail and its Postal Service “scam.”

Shares in the e-commerce giant fell 4 percent Monday after Trump tweeted: “Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average had plummeted by more than 700 points by midafternoon, with the Nasdaq and S&P each down by more than 3 percent.



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Donald Trump ploy backfires as Benjamin Netanyahu swerves invitation to criticise Joe Biden | World News

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An attempt by Donald Trump to secure an election endorsement from the Israeli prime minister has backfired during a White House photo call.

With reporters gathered in the Oval Office to mark the signing of a historic US-brokered peace deal between Israel and Sudan, the US president asked Benjamin Netanyahu, who was on speakerphone, if Joe Biden could have secured such a deal.

“Do you think ‘Sleepy Joe’ could have made this deal, Bibi? ‘Sleepy Joe’? Do you think he would have made this deal? Somehow I don’t think so,” Mr Trump asked Mr Netanyahu.

Dodging the invitation to knock Mr Trump‘s presidential opponent, the Israeli leader replied: “Uh, well, Mr President, one thing I can tell you is that we appreciate the help for peace from anyone in America.

“And we appreciate what you have done enormously.”

The two leaders were marking the brokering of an Israeli-Sudanese peace deal
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The two leaders were marking the brokering of an Israeli-Sudanese peace deal

The two leaders were speaking at an event celebrating the beginning of normalisation talks between Israel and the Arab-African nation of Sudan.

Mr Trump had put the Israeli prime minister on speakerphone in front of the gathered media, and saw an opportunity for a moment of electioneering.

More from Benjamin Netanyahu

The Israeli leader has been accused in the past of interfering in American elections. In 2012, he met Republican nominee Mitt Romney during the election campaign and attacked the policies of Barack Obama.

This time though, with the polls suggesting a win for Mr Biden, a more cautious Netanyahu chose a more diplomatic tone.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wearing a face mask, looks on while standing inside the court room as his corruption trial opens at the Jerusalem District Court
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Benjamin Netanyahu has previously been accused of interfering in the US elections

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There is no question that a Trump victory would be preferable for Mr Netanyahu, whose policies in the Middle East have been backed, and, to a large extent, driven by the Trump administration.

Mr Trump’s decision to pull out of the Obama-brokered Iran denuclearisation deal was roundly welcomed by Mr Netanyahu.

Historic diplomatic normalisation deals with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and now Sudan have been forged with significant White House input and – while none of the deals has yet been completed – they represent a huge shift in regional relations.

The global diplomacy has formed a key part of Mr Trump’s re-election campaign as he seeks to prove that he is a successful deal-maker.

A Trump win would be preferable for Mr Netanyahu - although his relationship with Mr Biden spans decades
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A Trump win would be preferable for Mr Netanyahu – although his relationship with Mr Biden spans decades

It’s not clear quite how policy in the Middle East would shift under a Biden presidency.

While it’s unlikely that any of the Trump-brokered deals would be unpicked, it is probable that greater attempts would be made to bring the Palestinians back into the fold.

Mr Netanyahu and Mr Biden do have a relationship which spans back decades.

Mr Biden was frequently asked by then-president Obama to take the lead in trying to further peace in the region.

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Coronavirus: US could have 500,000 COVID-19 deaths but universal mask use may save 130,000 lives – study | US News

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The number of coronavirus deaths in the US may reach half a million by the end of February – but universal mask wearing could save nearly 130,000 lives, according to a study.

Researchers from the University of Washington looked at non-pharmaceutical ways of minimising COVID-19 fatalities.

Their analysis examined how the disease has spread in different states, and projected the effects of varying levels of social distancing and mask use from mid-September 2020 until the end of February 2021.

The risk from coronavirus and the strain on hospitals will stay high through the winter under all scenarios, they said, especially in populous states such as Florida and California.

But if 95% of people were to wear a mask in public, researchers say 129,574 lives could be saved – or 96,000 lives if 85% of people take it up.

Trump dons masks in visit to a military medical facility
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President Trump eventually began wearing a mask in public after first saying he wouldn’t do it

More than 223,000 coronavirus-linked deaths have so far been recorded in the US since the crisis began, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“Our findings indicate that universal mask use, a relatively affordable and low-impact intervention, has the potential to serve as a priority life-saving strategy in all US states,” says the research – published in the Nature Medicine journal.

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The authors quote one recent study that suggested only 49% of Americans said they “always” wear a mask in public.

However, citing a New York Times article, they add that 95% mask use had already been observed in some neighbourhoods of the city.

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Final US presidential debate – highlights

Donald Trump famously shunned the use of masks earlier in the pandemic, but eventually began wearing one.

His election rival, Democratic candidate Joe Biden, has stressed the importance of face coverings, insisting that “masks matter” and “save lives”.

Clashing with Mr Trump during the final presidential debate on Thursday, Mr Biden waved his black face mask as a prop and stated: “If we just wore masks, we could save 100,000 lives.”

In the UK, face coverings were made mandatory in many public settings after initial conflicting reports over their effectiveness.

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John Gilligan: Irish crime boss arrested in Spain during drug trafficking raid | World News

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Notorious Irish criminal John Gilligan has been arrested in Spain after an international drug trafficking investigation.

The crime boss was one of six people arrested during the raid on a residence in Alicante on Friday following an operation by Spanish, Irish and UK authorities.

Police seized four kilograms of cannabis, 15,000 pills, cash, documents and mobile phones, which are all said to be linked to drug trafficking.

John Gilligan was led away in handcuffs. Pic: Policia Nacional
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John Gilligan was led away in handcuffs. Pic: Policia Nacional
John Gilligan was one of six people arrested
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Gilligan was one of six people arrested

A Colt Python revolver was also discovered buried in the garden, and is believed to be the same make and model used to murder journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996.

Spanish police say they are now investigating with Irish counterparts whether this gun is the actual murder weapon.

Footage of Friday’s raid was posted to Twitter by police, and shows 68-year-old Gilligan being led away in handcuffs.

It also shows officers unearthing the revolver outside.

In a statement, Policia Nacional said the people arrested were led by a “well-known Irish criminal” and were also part of “a violent group of drug and arms traffickers”.

The force added that the group had specialised in “sending illegal merchandise from Spain to the United Kingdom and Ireland through parcels.”

Journalist Veronica Guerin was murdered in 1996
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Journalist Veronica Guerin was murdered in 1996

According to Spanish authorities, the investigation began last year after the settling of a gang led by “a well-known Irish criminal” in Alicante.

They said on Friday this investigation had resulted in “the total dismantling of the criminal organisation”.

Police are investigating whether the revolver is the one used to murder Veronica Guerin. Pic: Policia Nacional
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Police are investigating whether the revolver is the one used to murder Veronica Guerin. Pic: Policia Nacional

Meanwhile, Ms Guerin’s brother Jimmy said he was “surprised” over the discovery of the revolver, but was sceptical about the link with his sister’s death.

He said: “I think it’s speculative but I don’t think the Spanish authorities are irresponsible. I’m just sceptical.

“I was informed of the developments before they became public and it has come as a surprise.

“But I’d be sceptical if a gun that was used on the Naas Road turned up in a garden in Spain. Why would you take the risk of bringing it out of the country?”

Cannabis, pills, mobiles, cash and guns were seized in the raid. Pic: Policia Nacional
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Cannabis, pills, mobiles, cash and guns were seized in the raid. Pic: Policia Nacional

Gilligan, who was sentenced to 28 years in prison for drug trafficking in 2001, was acquitted of the journalist’s murder in the same year after a 43-day trial at the Special Criminal Court.

He was released from prison in 2013.

Judge Diarmuid O’Donovan said at the time of the trial that there were “grave suspicions” about Guerin’s involvement in Ms Guerin’s death, but said there was not enough evidence produced to bring about a conviction.

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