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Jordan king swears in new gov’t headed by PM Bisher al-Khaswaneh



The new administration will seek to accelerate economic reforms amid the coronavirus crisis.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II has sworn in a new government led by Prime Minister Bisher al-Khaswaneh that is facing an uphill task to revive growth in an economy facing a sharp economic crisis aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Khasawneh, 51, was designated on Wednesday to replace Omar al-Razzaz, who was  appointed in the summer of 2018 to defuse the biggest protests in years over tax increases sought by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reduce Jordan’s large public debt.

The swearing-in ceremony on Monday came at a time of rising popular discontent about worsening economic conditions and curbs on public freedoms under emergency laws to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Coming from a family that has long held senior political posts, Khasawneh has spent most of his public career as a diplomat, and most recently acted as a policy adviser to the kind.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and Finance Minister Mohamad al-Ississ, who oversees the country’s reform programme with the IMF, kept their posts in a 32-member cabinet dominated by a mix of technocrats and conservative politicians who held sway in previous governments.

Jordan grapples with its worst economic crisis in many years, with unemployment and poverty worsened by the pandemic.

To date, the country has registered 24,926 coronavirus cases and 191 related deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The government has been widely criticised for failing to contain a surge in the number of COVID-19 infections in recent weeks.

Khasawneh will oversee parliamentary elections due on November 10. The outgoing cabinet’s resignation was expected before the polls, as per the constitution.

Observers say a new assembly could help ease popular disenchantment about economic hardships and limits on civil and political freedoms under emergency laws.

Jordan, which is hosting more than 650,000 Syrian refugees, remains heavily reliant on foreign aid.

Historically, prime ministers have been appointed for as little as one month or as long as three years, mainly to enact specific laws or resolve domestic or regional crises, after which they were dismissed.


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Meet Everlane’s stylish new recyclable shoe



(CNN) —  

We all throw away a lot of things, but surprisingly, sneakers are one of the items filling up our landfills the most. Americans throw away 300 million pairs of shoes per year, and combined with discarded clothes, shoes were responsible for about 17.6% of all trash in American landfills in 2017.

But there is some good news: Eco-friendly shoes are gaining popularity as a sustainable alternative to traditional shoes, which can stay in landfills for an average of 25 to 80 years. And one such pair by minimalism experts at Everlane checks all the boxes not only in terms of sustainability, but also as a classic, easy-to-wear style.

The rundown

Everlane Forever Sneaker
Everlane Forever Sneaker
PHOTO: Kai Burkhardt/CNN

The Everlane Forever Sneaker is made with responsibly sourced materials such as a recycled cotton-canvas upper and a partially natural rubber sole. The shoe is also fully recyclable, made with a 50% cotton and 50% canvas upper and a rubber outsole, metal eyelets, laces made from 100% recycled polyester and an insole made from recycled polyurethane. Once you’ve worn out your pair or want to make room for something new, you can simply drop it off at any Everlane store or contact the brand for a prepaid shipping label, and it won’t ever see a landfill.

Everlane is able to eliminate post-consumer waste created by its Forever Sneaker by partnering with Debrand, a California-based recycling company. The rubber sole gets mechanically ground into equestrian flooring and the upper is remade into mats. On top of all this, Everlane purchases carbon offsets for any carbon emissions it couldn’t eliminate from the process. Everlane calculated the carbon emission of the Forever Sneaker to be 7kg CO2E (or carbon dioxide equivalent, a standard unit for measuring carbon footprints), its lowest impact shoe ever.

While this all sounds great for the planet, none of it would really matter if the shoe doesn’t look good. Luckily, Everlane’s sleek, sophisticated aesthetic translates perfectly into its new sneaker. The shoe has a classic, yet casual design reminiscent of time-tested Vans or Keds, with a slim and narrow profile. The low-cut canvas comes in five different colors: white, black, sycamore, teak and India ink. Stylistically, it’s a versatile, everyday shoe that matches any outfit.

I loved the sound of a low-impact, fully recyclable sneaker (that also looks nice) so we tried out the Forever Sneaker for ourselves. Everlane sent a pair, and I wore them as my primary shoe for one whole month. While I didn’t make as many trips out of the house as I would have if there wasn’t an ongoing global pandemic, the sneakers were still put through its paces to see how comfortable, washable, durable and stylish they actually are.

The lowdown

Everlane Forever Sneaker
Everlane Forever Sneaker
PHOTO: Kai Burkhardt/CNN

The most striking feature of the sneaker is its beautiful colored canvas. I got a pair in teak (a butter-y tan hue), and the subtle color added a nice pop to outfits. They paired well with jeans, shorts and basically anything I threw on. The fit is a smidge narrow, but not enough to have to size up or down unless you know you have wide feet.

In terms of comfort, the Forever Sneaker has a thin insole and its flat design doesn’t lend too much to arch support. When I wore them to run errands for a full day, my feet felt tired after all the walking. But while they don’t offer cushiony support like some bulkier sneakers, they’re still comfy enough for day-to-day needs.

Everlane proclaims the Forever Sneaker is durable enough to last years. After a month of testing, the canvas still looks good as new and the tread is intact, but the bottom of the heel has begun to wear down. Some of the foam that makes up the insole crumbled off, but overall the shoe is decently sturdy.

One of the biggest draws of the Forever Sneaker is its washability; you can just throw the sneakers in the wash whenever they get dirty or smelly. To test how they held up, wIe stained them with some coffee and hot sauce and threw them in the washer. Everlane recommends removing the insoles, wash cold and air dry for best results, so we did. While the stains didn’t completely come out after one wash, the shoe held together perfectly. The Forever Sneaker is definitely built for the wash — but that doesn’t mean it’s stain proof. You’ll still have to be careful if you don’t want them to get dirty, but if they’re looking a little ragged or they’re starting to stink, a quick wash gives them a nice refresh.

The bottom line

Everlane Forever Sneaker
Everlane Forever Sneaker
PHOTO: Kai Burkhardt/CNN

The Everlane Forever Sneaker is a versatile, good-looking shoe, and thanks to Everlane’s transparent pricing model, the Forever Sneaker rings up at a modest $58. While its comfort and support left something to be desired, the main draw here is its low impact on the environment. Everlane has gone to immense lengths to ensure that the Forever Sneaker isn’t only created responsibly, but can also be disposed of responsibly. With a simple trip to an Everlane store or the post office, your conscience will be guilt-free, and your shoes won’t be rotting in a landfill for the next 80 years. That’s more than enough reason for us to love the Forever Sneaker.


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Trump’s constant attacks on Kristen Welker show he doesn’t expect the debate to go well



Typically, debates present an opportunity for political candidates who are losing their races to make up ground on the frontrunner. President Donald Trump, however, is not your typical come-from-behind candidate.

That’s why in the lead-up to Thursday’s second and final debate between Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, Trump has preemptively attacked moderator Kristen Welker of NBC almost every day. That’s why his campaign has made such a big fuss over the debate topics and the addition of a mute button designed at making the debate more watchable than the first one was thanks to Trump’s antics. And that’s why they’ve seemed to be spinning a bad showing before the debate has even happened.

With the national polls showing Biden’s lead over Trump holding steady at 9 percentage points or more (though battleground polling is tighter), Thursday’s debate is the last chance Trump will have to try and make his case before a large, nationwide TV audience. But the campaign itself doesn’t seem to be projecting much confidence it’ll go better for him than his widely panned performance in the first debate, when he incessantly interrupted Biden and went on rants that required full immersion in Hannityworld to understand.

Trump has spent a week bashing Kristen Welker for very flimsy reasons

Kristen Welker is a well respected White House reporter known for asking Trump and other administration officials tough but fair and respectful questions. Nonetheless, Trump has spent much of the past week trying to paint her as a far-left radical who is conspiring with Biden to hurt him.

“She’s extraordinarily unfair,” Trump said of Welker during a rally in Wisconsin on October 17, lumping her with another NBC employee, Savannah Guthrie, who did an effective job grilling him during a town hall event the night before.

Then, on October 19, Trump described Welker as “a radical left Democrat, or whatever she is.” During a rally later that day in Arizona he falsely accused Welker of deleting her Twitter account, adding that she’s been “screaming questions at me for a long time. She’s no good.” (Welker hasn’t donated to Democrats and isn’t affiliated with any party.)

Trump’s attacks on Welker continued through a Fox & Friends interview on Tuesday, when he described her as “far worse than Scully” (Steve Scully of C-SPAN was supposed to moderate the second presidential debate, but it was canceled following Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis).

In comments illustrative of the contempt he holds for any member of the media who dares to not treat him with kid gloves, Trump went on to attack Guthrie and Chris Wallace of Fox News, who moderated the first presidential debate.

On Wednesday, Trump, alluding to the fact that Welker’s parents have donated to Democratic candidates, again described her as “a very biased person.”

“But that’s my life,” Trump said. “In the meantime, that’s the White House back there.”

Finally, on Thursday, Trump posted video of his ill-fated interview with Lesley Stahl for 60 Minutes on Facebook, but took a gratuitous shot at Welker in the process, writing, “Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS. Tonight’s anchor, Kristen Welker, is far worse!”

In reality, Trump would object to any moderator who isn’t a loyalist. He made this explicit during an appearance on Sean Hannity’s show earlier this month, when he said he right-wing media personalities like Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Judge Jeanine, Laura Ingraham, or Tucker Carlson should moderate his debates.

That being said, if Trump expected Thursday’s debate to go well, you’d think he’d at least try and play nice with Welker and focus on attacking Biden. Instead, the incessant attacks on Welker — who’s nobody’s idea of “a radical left Democrat” — suggests he’s making excuses for a poor showing before the debate has even happened.

Trumpworld has been complaining about everything

The second presidential debate was widely expected to focus on foreign policy before it was canceled following Trump’s diagnosis for coronavirus. With there now being only two debates instead of three, the topics announced for Welker’s debate ended up being much broader and include fighting the coronavirus, American families, race in America, climate change, national security, and leadership. Foreign policy may come up within those parameters, but it won’t necessarily be a focus.

With hundreds of people still dying each day from a pandemic that continues to upend American life, it’s certainly understandable that Welker would choose to focus on topics that are close to home. But the Trump campaign took the opportunity to throw another fit.

In a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) that he posted on Twitter, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien referred to the commission as the “Biden Debate Commission” and blasted the topic choices, but also gave away the game Trump wants to play.

“If a major party candidate for President of the United States is compromised by the Communist Party of China, this is something Americans deserve to hear about, but it is not surprising the Biden [sic] would want to avoid it,” he wrote, alluding to baseless conspiracy theories that Joe Biden and his son Hunter leveraged Joe’s government position into massive payouts in China.

As Stepien’s letter suggests, Trump wants to talk about “foreign policy” because it would give him an opportunity to rail against China — the country he’s blaming for the coronavirus — and Hunter Biden. Discussing the devastating impact the pandemic has had on American life and racial tensions he’s spent years inflaming is a much tougher task.

Stepien also blasted the commission for canceling the second debate because Trump “was medically cleared as having tested negative for the virus.” What he didn’t mention, however, is that Trump left the hospital a mere 72 hours before the debate was supposed to happen, and aroused suspicions he may have exposed Biden to coronavirus during the first debate and refusing to say when he last tested negative before standing on stage with Biden.

While Trump and his campaign incessantly work the refs, Biden has quietly gone with the flow. That tactical difference can perhaps be explained in part by the fact that Biden is leading, but it also appears as though Trump is creating excuses for himself ahead of time.

Team Trump’s whining isn’t just limited to the topics. They’ve also been complaining about CPD’s announcement that a mute button will limit the candidates’ ability to interrupt each other during the 2-minute statements they’ll be making at the beginning of each topic. During a Fox & Friends interview on Thursday, Donald Trump Jr. went as far as to suggest that the Trump campaign will try to intimidate debate officials.

“They’re gonna have someone in the room, and we’re gonna call nonsense when we see nonsense,” he said.

The backdrop is Trump’s disastrous performance at the September 29 debate, which seemed to hurt him in the polls in the days following. The debate also may have continued to damage him to an “unusual extent” during the campaign’s final stretch, as David Lauter wrote for the Los Angeles Times last week.

“The encounter in Cleveland, dominated by Trump’s repeated interruptions and his cryptic statement that seemingly welcomed the support of a right-wing extremist group, appears to be the exception to the usual rule that the impact of debates fades quickly,” Lauter wrote, adding later: “Since the debate, roughly half the voters polled said they do not believe Trump is mentally fit.”

Beyond his interruptions and refusal to disavow far-right groups or conspiracy theories, Trump spent part of that debate mocking Biden for how regularly he wears a mask — only to be hospitalized with the coronavirus 72 hours later.

In a way, the use of a mute button at the final debate could actually help Trump a bit, as in theory it’ll prevent him from constantly interrupting Biden and coming across as a jerk. But at this late date, it’s unrealistic to expect that the president might suddenly change his tone or moderate his message when it comes to topics like the coronavirus or race relations.

Trailing in the polls and with a thin résumé of positive accomplishments to tout, Trump will likely devote Thursday evening to trying to disqualify Biden. And if that doesn’t work, he and his campaign will do what they always do — complain about being treated unfairly.

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Libya: UN condemns arrest of media authority chief



UN Support Mission in Libya denounces ‘unlawful arrest’ of Mohammed Baayou after he spoke out against Islamist groups in Tripoli.

The United Nations on Thursday condemned the “unlawful arrest” of the head of Libya’s government media authority demanding “his immediate and unconditional release”.

Mohammed Baayou, a journalist and prominent media official under the leadership of deposed ruler Muammar Gaddafi, has spoken out strongly against Islamist groups as well as the many armed forces vying for control of swaths of Libya.

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said Baayou, head of the Libyan Media Corporation, was arrested on Tuesday in the capital, Tripoli.

His two sons and a journalist at Libya’s al-Wataniya TV channel, Hind Ammar, were also arrested but they have since been released, it added.

Libya has been racked by violence since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 overthrew and killed veteran leader Gaddafi.

Since then, the North African country has been dominated by armed groups, riven by local conflicts, and divided between two bitterly opposed administrations: the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, and a rival administration in the east affiliated with renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.

‘Arbitrary arrests’

Photographs posted on social media purport to show Baayou being held inside the headquarters of a powerful armed group, the Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade, which is allied to the GNA.

The Tripoli administration has yet to comment on the arrest.

“This latest round of arbitrary arrests highlights the personal risks journalists take to promote the right to freedom of expression in Libya,” the UN statement said.

“Media freedom is critical to Libya’s democratic transition,” it added.

The US embassy in Tripoli also condemned “the unlawful detention” of Baayou and said it “reaffirms American support for the rule of law in Libya and the protection of journalists and all Libyans in their right to freedom of expression”.


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