February 29, 2016

Before he was getting into trouble for talking in circles on the KKK, Donald Trump was a straight shooter on another hot-button issue: China's martial law. Back in March 1990, Trump was interviewed by Playboy, and had this to say about China's leadership during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, during which unarmed students poured into Beijing's center square and were met by military troops and tanks:

When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak... as being spit on by the rest of the world... [Playboy]

While perhaps Donald Trump's steadfast adherence to his message that America is weak and needs to be saved is admirable — this interview took place 26 years ago, after all — he might want to move away from heaping praise on questionable leadership. Kimberly Alters

3:23 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, reunited with his old boss, former President Barack Obama in Flint, Michigan, on Saturday as part of a final campaign stretch ahead of Tuesday's Election Day.

Obama spoke first, touting his old running mate's acumen. At one point, he said that he and former first lady Michelle Obama had recently been talking about how a "big benefit" of a possible Biden presidency is the fact that "you're not going to have think about them every day," implying that what many consider to be the over-politicization of daily life will decline if President Trump is no longer in office.

Biden, too, emphasized a lack of dramatics, arguing that the Obama administration enjoyed two scandal-free terms.

The drive-in event was the first of two for the day in the crucial swing state. Obama and Biden will next head to Detroit. Tim O'Donnell

2:32 p.m.

Part of Lyon has been locked down by authorities after a Greek Orthodox priest was shot while closing his church in the French city on Saturday. Police are still searching for the alleged shooter who fled the scene. The priest, a Greek citizen, is being treated for life-threatening injuries in a local hospital, The Associated Press reports.

The motive behind the attack is unclear, and the French anti-terrorist unit is not investigating the shooting, though it does come at a heightened moment in France. Just two days ago, three people were killed at a Catholic Church by a knife-wielding man. French President Emmanuel Macron called that incident an "Islamist terrorist attack." Two weeks before that, a Parisian school teacher was beheaded by an 18-year-old man, who was reportedly angered by the teacher showing a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad in class. Since then, the French government has said it will deploy soldiers to protect several sites across the country, including places of worship. Read more at BBC and The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

1:50 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is not considered a favorite to emerge as the Republican Party's next presidential nominee. Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that the suggestion prompted laughter from several sources, while multiple GOP strategists expressed doubt to The Washington Post recently, as well.

Mike Lindell, the Minnesota campaign chair for President Trump, said it will simply just "be harder for a career politician to be president going forward," but Alex Conant, who served as the campaign spokesman during Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-Fla.) 2016 presidential run, thinks Pence's ties to the Trump administration could mean the vice presidency will remain the apex of his political journey.

"Trump could be our party's Iraq War," Conant told the Post. "I wonder if four years from now we are nominating someone who had nothing to do with the Trump era."

While Conant's larger point may stand, his historical comparison confused some observers, who argued that the Republican Party's "Iraq War" was, in fact, the Iraq War. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

1:09 p.m.

Slovakia has launched a program to test the country's entire population for COVID-19 over the next two days. Around 45,000 medical workers, army, and police are being deployed to collect samples at around 5,000 testing sites. The effort will utilize antigen tests, which give quick results, but are often less accurate than PCR tests, which require lab analysis.

The ambitious plan is not without critics. While Prime Minister Igor Matovic said it would save "hundreds of lives" and "will be our road to freedom," President Zuzana Caputova called it "unfeasible," noting that there are not enough trained health workers to carry it out effectively. And the Slovak Association of General Practitioners warned that the "mass concentration of millions of people" at testing sites could in fact contribute to the coronavirus' spread.

Further, France 24 reports that some citizens are wary, with one man saying the government is "threatening people." Participation is not mandatory, but people who fail to produce a negative test certificate if stopped by police could face heavy fines.

Slovakia's coronavirus infection rate is below the European Union average, but like many of its neighbors numbers are on the upswing. Read more at France 24 and BBC. Tim O'Donnell

11:46 a.m.

President Trump has seemingly made life difficult for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is hoping to see the GOP retain its majority in the upper chamber this election cycle, The Washington Post reports.

The committee's director Kevin McLaughlin, per the Post, explained last week that Trump is "losing Arizona" where "we think that he and [Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.)] are very intrinsically tied together." With Trump down, McSally's Democratic challenger, Mark Kelly, is viewed by both sides as the favorite to take the seat.

In Georgia, another state in which the presidential race and not one, but two Senate races are tightly contested, NRSC strategists believed the Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, was polling at 50 percent at one point, which they reportedly found "terrifying."

Even in a state like Alaska which has reliably voted Republican for president since 1964, the NRSC reportedly found that Trump was actually losing at one point this month. Although that seems to be an unlikely result once the ballots are in, it did force the party's campaign arm to spend more on Sen. Dan Sullivan's (R-Alaska) re-election bid there. "You should've seen those [polls] three weeks ago when we had the president down," McLuaghlin said, explaining that Trump's drop sunk Sullivan, as well. "I mean it's not because of Dan Sullivan. I'm just telling you." Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

10:33 a.m.

Sean Connery has died, his family confirmed Saturday. He was 90. A cause of death wasn't immediately known, but Variety notes it was believed the actor had been unwell for some time.

The Scottish-born Connery was well-known for his James Bond portrayal and is considered one of the best actors to take on the iconic role. Indeed, a Radio Times United Kingdom poll revealed Connery as the country's favorite Bond after he took home 56 percent of the vote. But his movie career spanned decades and included several other memorable parts in films like The Name of the Rose and The Untouchables, for which he won a BAFTA and an Oscar, respectively.

In a statement, Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said Connery "was and shall always be remembered as the original James Bond" and his "gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent ... is undoubtedly largely responsible for the success of the film series." Read more at Variety and CNN. Tim O'Donnell

8:01 a.m.

The United States on Friday set another daily coronavirus infection record, tallying more than 99,000 new cases in a 24-hour period. That is also the highest single-day figure for a country since the pandemic began, surpassing India's previous mark of 97,894 cases.

This week, with the presidential election swiftly approaching, many states recorded their worst seven-day stretch of new infections, and 16 reported daily records Friday. The current wave is more widespread than previous ones and does not have an epicenter, though South Dakota and North Dakota are ranked first and second in recent cases per capita, and there are several other hot spots in the Midwest.

The rise in hospitalizations and deaths may be less striking than the case numbers, but both are trending upward, The New York Times reports. More than 46,600 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Friday, a 25 percent increase over the past two weeks, and more than 970 people died. Over the past week, the average number of fatalities per day was around 800, up from 700 a month ago.

Overall, the U.S. surpassed 9 million infections, which still leads the world, but it's far from the only country struggling with the virus. Belgium became the latest European country to announce a new national lockdown Friday, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering one for England next week. Read more at The Washington Post and The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

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