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Fauci says he plans to vote in person — but not everyone should

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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden arrives at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on October 18, in Morrisville, North Carolina.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden arrives at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on October 18, in Morrisville, North Carolina. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Campaigning in Durham, North Carolina, today, Joe Biden spoke for about 20 minutes, delivering his generic stump speech at a drive-in style rally.

Introduced by Duke Women’s Basketball Coach Kara Lawson, Biden said that his campaign is both “working hard and competing.”  

Noting that he’d spoken with Reps. G. K. Butterfield and David Price, Biden said, “They can tell you we’re doing both: We’re working hard and we’re competing like we never did before because so much is at stake for this nation. The very soul of the nation is at stake. Folks, as my coach used to say in college, it’s go-time. It’s the most important election in our lifetimes.”  

Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham — who is running to unseat Sen. Thom Tillis — did not speak, nor did he appear at the event, per the list provided by pool, but Biden did encourage everyone to vote Democrat in down-ballot races.

“Go vote today and don’t just vote for me and Senator Harris,” he said. “You’ve got a Governor’s race and a Senate race. A record number of black women on the ballot, Congress and Lt. Governor, Labor Commissioner and the courts. Folks they’re ready to deliver for North Carolina families. So vote, vote. It’s time.” 

The Democratic nominee slammed the Supreme Court hearings and the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett.

“In the middle of this pandemic, why do Republicans have the time to hold a hearing of the Supreme Court instead of addressing the significant economic needs of local communities? I’ll tell you why. For real. It’s about wiping Obamacare off the books, that’s what it’s about,” he said.  

He implored attendees to get out and make their voices heard as soon as possible. “We got to keep the incredible momentum going. We can’t let up, you can vote early in person until the 31st, but don’t wait.”  

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UN says Libya sides reach ‘permanent ceasefire’ deal

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Libya’s warring sides sign agreement for ‘a permanent ceasefire in all areas of Libya’, the UN Libya mission says in a Facebook post.

Libya’s warring sides have signed an agreement for “a permanent ceasefire in all areas of Libya”, the United Nations Libya mission said in a Facebook post, showing live video of the ceremony to sign the agreement.

The UN on Friday said the two sides in the Libyan military talks have reached the “historic achievement” with a permanent ceasefire deal across the war-torn North African country.

After mediation led by UN envoy Stephanie Turco Williams this week, the 5+5 Joint Military Commission reached what the UN called an “important turning point towards peace and stability in Libya”.

Details were not immediately available, but the two sides were taking part in a signing ceremony in Geneva on Friday morning.

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Voting under way in Seychelles parliamentary, presidential polls

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President Danny Faure, in power since 2016, is facing voters for the first time in the three-day election.

Voting is under way in presidential and parliamentary elections in Seychelles, with President Danny Faure, in power since 2016, facing voters for the first time.

Polling stations opened on Thursday for a three-day election as the Indian Ocean archipelago nation is expected to see its tourism-dependent economy contract by 14 percent this year, according to ratings agency Fitch, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The contraction would reverse some fragile progress made since the government defaulted on its debt in 2008 and sought an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout.

A ballot paper is seen at the English River polling station during the early voting for the presidential and legislative elections, in Victoria [Rassin Vannier/AFP]

The same party has been in power since 1977. Faure was previously vice president and became president when his predecessor resigned after a constitutional amendment was passed limiting presidents to two terms.

Despite the economic hardship, Faure is viewed as likely to retain power, in part because the opposition is divided.

An opposition coalition captured parliament in the 2016 election, but has since split. The leader of one its two parties told supporters to vote for the governing party after the electoral commission rejected his own presidential bid.

Walter Jeannevole, 45, said on Thursday he had cast his ballot for Faure.

“I trust that he will help the economy back on its feet and work for all Seychellois, like he is doing now.”

Some voters complained on Thursday they had to wait for more than six hours to cast their vote because there were too few voting booths [Herbert Labrosse/Reuters]

Faure’s two challengers – Wavel Ramkalawan, who has unsuccessfully contested the presidency since 1998, and Alain St Ange, a former tourism minister – have both promised voters that if elected, they will increase the monthly minimum wage of 5,800 Seychellois rupees ($318).

St Ange has also pledged to tackle a persistent complaint from locals that high-end hotels pay expatriate workers far more than local staff.

“I see Ramkalawan struggling to fight for justice for the country and now is the time to vote for him and make him our president,” said a Ramkalawan supporter who declined to give his name.

Some voters in the English River district of Mahe island complained on Thursday they had to wait for more than six hours to cast their vote because there were too few voting booths.

There are about 74,600 voters out of a population of 100,000. Polling is spread over three days and the results are expected on Saturday.

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Palestinian’s hunger strike entering ‘critical phase’: Red Cross

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ICRC calls on Maher al-Akhras and the Israeli authorities ‘to find a solution that will avoid any loss of life’.

A Palestinian man on hunger strike for 85 days since his arrest by Israel is entering a medically “critical phase”, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday.

Maher al-Akhras, 49, was arrested near Nablus and placed in administrative detention, a policy that Israel uses to hold suspected armed people without charge.

The father of six launched his strike to protest the policy.

He had been arrested several times previously by Israel.

“More than 85 days into the hunger strike, we are concerned about potentially irreversible health consequences,” said Yves Giebens, the head of the ICRC’s health department in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

“From a medical perspective, he is entering a critical phase,” Giebens added in a statement.

The ICRC said it had been “closely monitoring” the situation.

“The ICRC encourages the patient, his representatives and the competent authorities involved to find a solution that will avoid any loss of life,” the statement said.

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip have launched several demonstrations to demand the release of al-Akhras. They have also organised sit-ins and online campaigns to show their support for him.

Following his arrest in early July, al-Akhras was transferred in early September to Kaplan Hospital, south of Tel Aviv.

His lawyers have appealed on multiple occasions to Israel’s Supreme Court for his release.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has also demanded his immediate release.

Israel’s administrative detention system allows the internment of prisoners for renewable periods of up to six months each, without bringing charges.

Israel says the procedure allows authorities to hold suspects while continuing to gather evidence, but critics and rights groups say the system is abused.

About 355 Palestinians were being held under administrative detention orders as of August, including two minors, according to Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem.

Palestinian women hold a placard bearing the portrait of Maher al-Akhras during a demonstration demanding his release at Beit Hanoon, known as Erez to Israelis, in Gaza Strip [File: Mahmud Hams/AFP]

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