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The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that Trump rally attendees should not wear a mask

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A lawsuit to stop the 20 June event over concerns that it could increase the spread of Covid-19 in the community was filed this week.

Virus cases are rising in Oklahoma, and local health officials have expressed concerns over hosting the rally.

The Trump campaign says they received over 1m ticket requests for the event.

The queue for the event at the Bank of Oklahoma Center – which seats 19,000 people – began forming earlier this week.

Facing tough re-election prospects in November, the Republican president is hoping to reboot his campaign after a rocky week that has seen news of sinking opinion poll numbers, twin US Supreme Court defeats, two damning tell-all memoirs and a resurgence in coronavirus cases.

The lawsuit to cancel his rally was filed by John Hope Franklin for Reconciliation, a nonprofit organisation that promotes racial equality, and a commercial real estate company, the Greenwood Centre.

They argued the venue should mandate social distancing guidelines in accordance with US public health officials’ recommendations, or cancel the event.

But the Supreme Court said that as the state had begun to reopen, the regulations left social distancing decisions up to individual business owners. Oklahoma has seen a recent spike in coronavirus cases.

In response to safety concerns, the Trump campaign has said they will check attendees’ temperatures and offer hand sanitiser and masks.

But people buying tickets for the Tulsa rally online also have to click on a waiver confirming they “voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to Covid-19” and will not hold the president’s campaign responsible for “any illness or injury”.

The president himself has pushed back against guidance around masks, calling them a personal choice.

In an interview with political news outlet Axios released on Friday night, he was asked if he recommended rally attendees wear facial coverings.

“I recommend people do what they want,” he replied.

Mr Trump also said: “We’re going to have a wild evening tomorrow night at Oklahoma.”

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has said attendees will be given masks, but they will not be instructed to wear them – and told reporters on Friday that she will not be wearing one either.

Tulsa’s health department director Dr Bruce Dart told the Tulsa World paper: “I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today.”

Tulsa’s mayor imposed a curfew on Thursday around the venue, declaring a civil emergency, but the president says the city leader has assured him the measure will not apply to the rally itself.

Mayor GT Bynum, a Republican, cited recent “civil unrest” and potential opposition protests as he slapped an exclusion zone on a six-block radius near the arena.

But on Friday afternoon, Mr Bynum said that the Secret Service had asked the city to lift the curfew.

“Last night, I enacted a curfew at the request of Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin, following consultation with the United States Secret Service based on intelligence they had received,” the mayor said in a statement.

“Today, we were told the curfew is no longer necessary so I am rescinding it.”

The mayor also said law enforcement had intelligence that “individuals from organised groups who have been involved in destructive and violent behaviour in other states are planning to travel to the city of Tulsa for purposes of causing unrest in and around the rally”.

Meanwhile, a high metal fence was put up to barricade the Trump rally venue.

Earlier on Friday, President Trump posted a warning on Twitter to demonstrators.

“Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis,” the president tweeted.

“It will be a much different scene!”

Mr Trump originally planned to hold the rally on Friday, but changed the date last week after learning it fell on Juneteenth, the celebration of the end of US slavery.

The president told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that a black Secret Service agent had told him the meaning of the anniversary.

On Friday, Ms McEnany said the president “routinely commemorated” the day and “he did not just learn about Juneteenth this week”.

Tulsa was the site of one of the worst racial massacres in US history.

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North Korea is facing a severe food shortage

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Addressing a meeting of senior leaders, Mr Kim said: “The people’s food situation is now getting tense”.

He said the agricultural sector had failed to meet its grain targets due to typhoons last year, which caused flooding.

There are reports that food prices have spiked, with NK News reporting that a kilogram of bananas costs $45 (£32).

North Korea has closed its borders to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Trade with China has plummeted as a result. North Korea relies on China for food, fertiliser and fuel.

North Korea is also struggling under international sanctions, imposed because of its nuclear programmes.

The authoritarian leader of the single-party state talked about the food situation at the ruling Workers’ Party central committee which started this week in the capital Pyongyang.

During the meeting, Mr Kim said that national industrial output had grown by a quarter compared to the same period last year.

Officials were expected to discuss relations with the US and South Korea during the event but no details have been released yet.

In April, Mr Kim made a a rare admission of looming hardship, calling on officials to “wage another, more difficult ‘Arduous March’ in order to relieve our people of the difficulty, even a little”.

The Arduous March is a term used by North Korea officials to refer to the country’s struggle during the 1990s famine, when the fall of the Soviet Union left North Korea without crucial aid.

The total number of North Koreans who starved to death at the time is not known, but estimates range up to three million.

It is highly unusual for Kim Jong-un to publicly acknowledge a food shortage. But this is a North Korean leader who has already admitted that his economic plan has failed.

The problem for Mr Kim is that when he took over from his father, he promised his people a more prosperous future. He said they would have meat on their tables and access to electricity. This has not happened. Now he’s having to prime the population for more hard work.

He is trying to tie this into the global pandemic, and state media reported that he pointed out to party officials that the situation across the world is getting “worse and worse”. With so little access to outside information, he can paint a picture of things being bad everywhere – not just in sealed off North Korea. He also described efforts to beat Covid-19 as a “protracted war”. That signals that border closures are not easing any time soon.

That is the concern of many aid organisations. The sealed border has prevented some food and medicine getting through. Most NGOs have had to leave the country, unable to get staff and supplies in or out.

Pyongyang has always called for “self-reliance”. It has closed itself off, just as it may need assistance and it is unlikely to ask for help. If it continues to push away all offers of international assistance, as ever, it may be the people who pay the price.

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Christian pastor killed over outreach to Muslims: ‘Today Allah has judged you’

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A radical Muslim has confessed to police in Uganda that he killed a 70-year-old pastor earlier this month because of Allah’s word to kill all infidels who mislead Muslims by sharing the Gospel.

The accused, identified as Imam Uthman Olingha, told police he killed Bishop Francis Obo, senior pastor of Mpingire Pentecostal Revival Church Ministries International in Odapako village Mpingire Sub-County, on June 11, Morning Star News reported.

Olingha was one of the Muslim extremists dressed in Islamic attire who stopped Pastor Obo and his wife on their way home from a market at about 8:30 p.m., his wife, Christine Obo, said.

“Olingha openly confessed to police that he can’t regret that he killed the bishop because he did it in the cause of Allah’s word to kill all infidels who mislead Muslims. He added that Allah will be with him in jail, but the kafiri (infidel) deserved the killing.”

One of the attackers told the pastor, who oversaw 17 churches across the region and had been sharing Christ with Muslims, that he was an “infidel” who caused Muslims to leave Islam and “blasphemes the words of Allah,” and that, “Today Allah has judged you.”

A week before the murder, the couple had invited a former Islamic teacher to testify on how he became a Christian at their church, Christine Obo recalled. Area Muslims were also upset with the church because it offered the former Islamic teacher a pig as part of a micro-enterprise livestock project that helped raise funds for the church, she added.

Describing the incident, she said, “As I moved a few meters in a hurry trying to save my life, I heard a little noise and wailing from my husband and realized that his life was in danger.”

When she reached home, she was trembling and unable to speak, she said, and her children took her to a hospital. When she regained consciousness the following morning, she told her oldest son and his siblings to go to the site.

“Reaching there, they were shocked and fearful as they found a big number of Christians and relatives gathered around the dead body mourning their bishop after being murdered by Muslims,” Obo was quoted as saying.

According to World Watch Monitor, a homegrown Islamist rebel movement organizing in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo has emboldened Ugandan radicals to persecute Christians.

Voice of the Martyrs earlier noted that Uganda’s history has made it vulnerable to the influence of Islam as “Arab countries also continue to invest significant resources into furthering Muslim interests in the country.”

In Uganda, persecution is mainly seen in the form of local Islamists persecuting Christians, mostly in areas where “radicals have been steadily encroaching.”

“Radical Islam’s influence has grown steadily, and many Christians within the majority-Muslim border regions are facing severe persecution, especially those who convert from Islam,” a Voice of the Martyrs factsheet explains. “Despite the risks, evangelical churches in Uganda have responded by reaching out to their neighbors; many churches are training leaders how to share the Gospel with Muslims and care for those who are persecuted after they become Christians.”

Last December, a mob of Muslim extremists in Uganda reportedly killed 41-year-old former imam Yusuf Kintu a week after he converted to Christianity.
Sources:Christian Post

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