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Amy Coney Barrett faces Senate questioning: US election live news

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The Supreme Court nominee hearings enter second day as Trump campaigns in Pennsylvania and Biden goes to Florida.

  • The second day of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has begun, with Senators given the opportunity to question her.
  • Joe Biden campaigns in Florida, a state seen as key to a Trump victory, on Tuesday.
  • After returning to the campaign trail on Monday, Trump heads to Pennsylvania.
  • Early voting began in Kentucky and Texas, with 21 days left until the November 3 election.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the United States elections. This is Joseph Stepansky.

Tuesday, October 13:

09:30 ET – Trump economic adviser called first debate performance ‘crappy’: Report

Trump’s economic adviser Stephen Moore has been captured on video calling the president’s first, and only, debate performance against Biden “crappy”, according to the Huffington Post.

“It was not a great performance by Trump. In fact, I thought it was a pretty crappy performance,” Moore told a crowd gathered in Washington earlier this month for the “Election Protection Summit” by the Trump-supporting FreedomWorks nonprofit organisation, according to the news site.

Moore also said that Trump’s first debate against former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election was similarly “awful”, but that he rebounded in subsequent debates.

“Oh my God, he was so bad in that debate, just awful,” Moore said at the October 2 video, which was obtained by Wisconsin watchdog group Documented, the news site reported.

09:00 ET – Second day of Barrett confirmation hearing has begun

The second day of Barrett’s confirmation hearing has begun, in which she will answer questions from senators on the Judiciary Committee. A day earlier, she told the panel she believes the court should interpret the US constitution and laws “as they are written”.

Barrett said in her opening statement on Monday that people of all backgrounds deserve “an independent Supreme Court”.

The chairman, Senator Lindsey Graham, gavelled open the session on Tuesday.

“Let’s get to it,” he said.

Even before her confirmation hearings end, the Senate Judiciary Committee has already scheduled a Thursday vote to approve her nomination. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham scheduled a committee vote for 9am on Thursday, the last day of hearings. Barrett’s nomination is expected to be brought up for a vote at that meeting and then delayed for a week, as per committee rules.

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Read all the updates from Friday, (October 10) here.

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Nine civilians killed in bomb attack on bus in Afghanistan

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Four policemen were also wounded, Ghazni police spokesman said, blaming the Taliban for the attack.

A roadside bomb tore through a passenger bus east of the Afghan capital, killing nine civilians.

The blast took place about 10:30am (05:30 GMT) on Saturday when the bus was going from Kabul to the eastern city of Ghazni, Waheedullah Jumazada, spokesman for Ghazni governor, told AFP news agency.

“Nine civilians, including three women, were killed in the explosion,” he said.

Four policemen were also wounded, Ghazni police spokesman Adam Khan Seerat said, blaming the Taliban for the attack.

There was no comment from the Taliban on the incident.

Violence on the ground has spiked in recent weeks despite the Taliban and the Afghan government holding peace talks in Qatar to end the country’s grinding war.

The top US envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said earlier this week that fighting is threatening the peace process.

On Friday, rights group Amnesty International said at least 50 people had been killed in attacks just in the preceding week, accusing the warring sides of failing to protect civilians.

“The world must sit up and take notice. Afghan civilians are being slaughtered on a daily basis,” said the rights group’s Omar Waraich.

“The international community must make the protection of civilians a core demand for their ongoing support of the peace process.”

Afghan authorities also faced criticism this week after 11 children were killed in an air attack by the military that hit a mosque in the northeastern province of Takhar on Wednesday.

The authorities in Kabul insist that those killed were Taliban fighters operating in that area.

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Clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh after Washington talks

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Azerbaijan reported fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh despite Pompeo holding talks with both sides in Washington, DC.

Clashes have broken out between Azerbaijani and ethnic Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh a day after talks in Washington, DC to try to end the deadliest fighting in the mountain enclave in more than a quarter of a century.

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence reported on Friday that there was fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, a part of Azerbaijan that is populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians.

On October 23 and 24, operations continued in the Aghdere, Khojavend, Fizuli, Hadrut, and Gubadli directions, the ministry was quoted as saying by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.

Local officials accused Azerbaijan’s forces of shelling buildings in Stepanakert, the largest city in the region, which Baku denied.

Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from Goris in Armenia, said there was an Azeri attack on Stepanakert late on Friday night.

“Sirens went off at approximately 9pm [17:00 GMT] in the city and a short while later, volleys of rockets or missiles came raining down,” he said. “Because of the sirens, people hid in shelters. There was no report of causalities.”

On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met separately foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia in a new attempt to end nearly a month of bloodshed that Russian President Vladimir Putin said may have killed 5,000 people.

The collapse of two Russia-brokered truces had already dimmed the prospect of a quick end to fighting that broke out on September 27.

Azeri forces say they have made territorial gains, including full control over the border with Iran, which Armenia denies.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian administration says its forces have repulsed attacks.

President Ilham Aliyev told French newspaper Le Figaro that Azerbaijan was ready to sit down for negotiations but blamed Armenia’s actions for the continued hostilities.

“We are ready to stop even today,” Aliyev was quoted as saying. “But, unfortunately, Armenia grossly violated the ceasefire … if they don’t stop, we will go to the end with the aim of liberating all the occupied territories.”

Both sides accuse each other of targeting civilians during the conflict [File: AP]

‘Good progress’

US President Donald Trump said “good progress” was made on the issue but did not elaborate and declined to say if he had spoken with the leaders of either country.

Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan told reporters talks with Pompeo were “very good”, adding that work on a ceasefire would continue.

World powers want to prevent a wider war that draws in Turkey, which has voiced strong support for Azerbaijan, and Russia, which has a defence pact with Armenia.

Shortly before the Washington talks, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul that he hoped Moscow and Ankara could work together on resolving the conflict.

Differences over the conflict have further strained relations between Ankara and its NATO allies, with Pompeo accusing Turkey of stoking the conflict by arming the Azeri side. Ankara denies it has inflamed the conflict.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said he saw no diplomatic resolution of the conflict at this stage, and Aliyev has described the prospects of a peace settlement as “very remote”.

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‘Libya deserves better’: Hope, doubts follow ceasefire deal

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Libyans have reacted with a mix of hope and doubts after the signing of a nationwide ceasefire deal intended to pave the way towards a political solution to the country’s conflict.

While observers have welcomed the United Nations-backed deal, few are under any illusions about the difficulties of turning it into lasting peace on the ground.

“We’ve seen a lot of deals in the past,” said Hassan Mahmud al-Obeydi, a 40-year-old secondary school teacher from the eastern city of Benghazi. “What’s important is the implementation.”

Friday’s deal was signed in Geneva by military delegates from the two main warring parties in the North African country, which plunged into violence in 2011 with the NATO-backed revolt that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and rival forces led by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar agreed to withdraw from the front lines, start demobilising armed groups and set about integrating them into the state.

Crucially, the deal also calls for the departure of all foreign forces from Libyan soil within three months.

“It’s good that the two sides have been prepared to compromise, but the devil is in the detail,” said Peter Millett, a former British ambassador to Libya. “There are an awful lot of questions. A key one is – will countries that have been sponsors of military forces in Libya support this compromise?”

Both camps in Libya’s complex war have received extensive backing from foreign powers.

Friday’s deal comes four months after Haftar’s Russian- and Emirati-backed forces gave up their yearlong attempt to seize the capital, Tripoli, a battle that killed hundreds of people and displaced tens of thousands.

In June, Haftar withdrew from western Libya in the face of a blistering counterattack by forces supporting the GNA which is backed by Turkey.

The battle had further deepened the bitter mistrust between the rival political camps and their military allies, as well as common Libyans.

“The war caused terrible social divisions,” said Obeydi. “Work is needed immediately, right now, to rebuild and to heal the deep wounds in Libyan society.”

The deal calls for the departure of all foreign forces from Libyan soil within three months [AFP]

‘Ready to react’

“We have experience with a previous agreement, which was five days before Haftar’s attack on Tripoli, during which he destroyed the capital’s infrastructure and killed many people,” pro-GNA fighter Salim Atouch said, voicing doubts the ceasefire would hold.

“I hope this won’t be like previous agreements, meaning we go back to war again. We will abide by it, but we are ready to react at any moment if it’s violated.”

The Geneva talks were the military part of a process led by the UN’s Libya mission UNSMIL.

Separate political talks that start on Monday aim to create a new governing body and prepare for elections.

Mohamed Dorda, co-founder and consulting director of geopolitical risk consultancy Libya Desk, said the ceasefire was a positive step that “creates a basis for the political talks”.

“Libya needs a security arrangement to allow a government to be set up. If we don’t deal with the security crisis, we will find ourselves in same situation in a few years.”

Massoud al-Fotmani, a 57-year-old from Benghazi who runs a group of food stores, said he hoped the ceasefire would hold.

“The war has caused a terrible economic downturn,” he said. “We’ve lost a lot of money because of the cutting of commercial ties between east and west due to the roads being closed.”

English teacher Mayssoon Khalifa, who works at a private school in Tripoli, echoed his call for lasting peace.

“Many are hopeful, but not optimistic,” she said. “I sincerely wish that this deal will hold. Libya deserves better.”

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