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The Observer view on Donald Trump’s Truth Social | Observer editorial



In the life story of Donald Trump, to his mind an epic saga of unrivalled achievement, these are the wilderness years. After the US electoral college confirmed his 2020 defeat, an outcome he still mendaciously disputes, Trump plunged into despair. He sulked, he raged, he conspired. Yet the 6 January coup plot was an egregious step too far. He was cast into outer darkness.

Trump lost the White House bully pulpit and a US president’s ability to command instant global attention. Personally wounding was the ban imposed by Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which belatedly agreed he posed a threat to democracy. Trump was cut off from social media and his supporter base. He was all but silenced.

What worse fate could there be for a narcissist who craves constant attention and approval? Exiled to his luxury Florida estate, the Elba of the Everglades, Trump has struggled since to regain his voice. Last week, he made his move. The result: the so-called Truth Social media app, launching next year.

The newly formed company behind the app, Trump Media and Technology Group, plans to disseminate what it calls “anti-woke” news, debate and entertainment to Americans deprived of honest, impartial media outlets. This is total drivel, of course, coming from the mouth of the most shameless liar in modern US history.

Abusing truth as only Trump can, Truth Social will more likely prove both false and antisocial. It’s his way of regaining lost ground, prior to a wished-for presidential comeback in 2024. It’s a political propaganda platform intended to magnify and exploit the hate, ignorance and prejudice on which he feeds. MPs please note: Trump is the ultimate definition of “online harms”.

This self-serving bid to defeat “the tyranny of big tech” is a commercial long shot. The new app looks remarkably similar to Twitter, which has more than 200m users. Previous US attempts to grow alternative “conservative social space” have failed. Although shares in the new company initially soared, its USP is overly dependent on Trump’s continuing appeal.

That appeal looks increasingly fractured. Trump is under fire from Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, and other Republicans who fear his obsession with overturning the 2020 result is deflecting attention from Joe Biden’s mistakes ahead of next year’s midterm congressional elections.

An early test will come on 2 November when Democrat-leaning Virginia elects a governor. Polls there currently suggest a dead heat. Trump, meanwhile, is taking legal heat, too. His family business faces a fraud investigation. He was recently questioned under oath for more than four hours in a civil lawsuit in New York.

Steve Bannon, one of his best-known former aides, has been found in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify to the 6 January inquiry and faces possible criminal prosecution. Since Trump ordered all his minions to act similarly, the legal bull’s-eye pinned to his back grows ever more unmissable.

Yet for all that, Trump remains first choice among Republican voters for the party’s presidential nomination. His average “favourable/unfavourable” rating is almost identical to Biden’s among the electorate as a whole. And he has shown how dangerous he can be when he reaches a wide audience, which is why Truth Social is worrying.

Will Trump rise again from the depths, like the “shapeless monsters” imagined by the great 19th-century Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev? Life is akin to an unsuspecting man sitting in a small boat on a calm, limitless ocean, he wrote. “Then one of the monsters begins to emerge from the murk, rising higher and higher, becoming ever more repellently, clearly discernible… Another minute and its impact will overturn the boat.”

For now, Trump’s monstrous outline is blurred, his voice muted. He awaits Turgenev’s “destined day”, when he plans, once again, to capsize the ship of state. To which we say: all hands on deck!

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Donald Trump tested Covid-positive three days before Biden debate, claims ex-chief of staff in book, World News



Donald Trump’s last chief of staff has claimed that the former US president had tested positive for COVID-19 just three days ahead of his debate with Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden in 2020.

Mark Meadows, who served as Trump’s fourth chief of staff, made the shocking claim in his new memoir called ‘The Chief’s Chief,’ according to media reports that accessed the book.

Explaining how ”Nothing was going to stop [Trump] from going out there,” Meadows said Trump was aware about the norm ”to test negative for the virus within 72 hours of the start time” of the debate, which was held on September 29 last year.

Also read | Social media erupts as Trump gets featured on miniature Mount Rushmore

Yet after receiving confirmation that he had tested positive, Trump went ahead with the debate, potentially endangering several lives. He had called the novel coronavirus, which has claimed millions of lives worldwide, as a ”hoax.”

According to Meadows, ”I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks. But I also didn’t want to alarm the public if there was nothing to worry about – which according to the new, much more accurate test, there was not.”

Also read | Donald Trump, banned on Twitter and FB, to launch his own social network

Since the positive test was done by an old kit, Trump suggested a new one be performed using the Binax system, hoping that it was a false positive. This proved beneficial as the second test came back negative.

Meadows has also provided the House of Representatives committee investigating the deadly January 6 US Capitol riot with records and agreed to appear soon for a deposition.

“Mr. Meadows has been engaging with the Select Committee through his attorney. He has produced records to the committee and will soon appear for an initial deposition,” Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House select committee, said in a statement.

Trump has urged his associates not to cooperate with the committee, calling the Democratic-led investigation politically motivated and arguing that his communications are protected by executive privilege, although many legal experts say that legal principle does not apply to former presidents.

On January 6, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a bid to prevent Congress from formally certifying his 2020 presidential election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

Shortly before the riot, Trump gave a speech to his supporters repeating his false claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud and urging them to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” to “stop the steal.”

Meadows was a Republican House member until he left in 2020 to join Trump’s administration.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Half of eligible Lucknowites fully vaccinated against Covid



Half of the eligible Lucknowites are now fully vaccinated against Covid (taken both doses), says the health department data.

Besides, the state capital crossed the 52-lakh (5.2 million) mark in the total Covid vaccine doses administered since January 16 when the inoculation started nationwide.

Against a target of over 37.4 lakh (3.74 million), the number of Lucknowites who have taken both doses of the Covid vaccine stood at 18.82 lakh (1.88 million) till 7pm on Wednesday.

Till now, 33,35,779 people in Lucknow have got their first dose, which is over 87% of the target population.

During the day, over 18,000 beneficiaries took their second dose in the state capital on Wednesday.

Health officials say they are making efforts to administer at least one dose to all the eligible people by December-end. Several campaigns are being run to motivate people for taking the Covid vaccine jab.

“People are coming on time for their second dose. This is increasing the vaccination coverage in the state capital,” said Dr Manoj Agrawal, the chief medical officer of Lucknow.

He also said, “Apart from running Covid vaccination centres till 10pm, mobile vans facilitate vaccination under the cluster model for those who are unable to move out of their homes.”

“With a major chunk of the eligible population taking their second dose now, we can cross the 90% mark by January,” said Dr Abhishek Shukla, secretary general, association of international doctors.

Lucknow tops all 75 districts in Uttar Pradesh and experts say vaccination coverage in the state capital is essential to check the spread of the Covid infection.

“Lucknow has a major floating population that visits it for a day or two for some work and goes back. If all Lucknowites are vaccinated, they will remain safe and will not spread the infection,” said Dr PK Gupta.

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Nicolas Cage cast as Dracula in Nicholas Hoult’s movie Renfield



Nicolas Cage

Nicolas Cage will portray the most famous vampire in history (Picture: JC Olivera/Getty Images)

Nicolas Cage is about to join the underworld and transform into the most famous vampire of all time.

The National Treasure star has been cast to play Dracula in the upcoming film Renfield.

The monster movie will see Nicholas Hoult star in the titular role of Dracula’s henchman.

While plot details are still being kept under wraps, the project is set to take place in the modern-day and have a comedic tone to it, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Sitting in the director’s chair will be Chris McKay, who recently directed Chris Pratt in Amazon Prime Video’s The Tomorrow War. 

At the helm of the movie as producers will be The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, David Alpert, Bryan Furst, Sean Furst and Samantha Nisenboim.

Nicholas Hoult during the 78th Venice International Film Festival on September 04, 2021 in Venice, Italy.

Nicholas Hoult is taking the lead in this monstrous comedy (Picture: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

Hoult’s role is based on a character from Bram Stoker’s original 1897 Dracula novel. 

An inmate in an insane asylum, Renfield is believed to be suffering from delusions as doctors don’t realise that his trauma comes from being the vampire lord’s servant. 

The same role was previously played by Tom Waits and Sam Barnett respectively in the ‘90s classic Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Penny Dreadful.

Renfield is part of Universal’s latest efforts to put out more monster flicks after the recent success of Elisabeth Moss’s The Invisible Man. 

Also in the works are The Wolfman (starring Ryan Gosling) and an adaptation of Van Helsing.

Cage will next be seen playing a fictionalised version of himself in The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent, an action-comedy also starring Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan, Tiffany Haddish and Neil Patrick Harris, expected to be released next year. 

Hoult was last seen reprising his role as the former emperor of Russia, Peter, in The Great opposite Elle Fanning’s Catherine. 

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