US ELECTION 2020: BIDEN AND TRUMP HIT SWING STATES
Donald Trump and Joe Biden are traveling across the nation on Sunday as the US election enters its closing stage. President Trump planned to visit five battleground states while his challenger Mr Biden spoke at a campaign event in Pennsylvania.
The Democratic candidate maintains a solid national lead in the polls ahead of Tuesday's general election. But this advantage is narrower in key states which could decide the result. More than 90 million people have already cast their ballots in early voting, putting the country on course for its highest turnout in a century.
The election comes amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The US has recorded more cases and more deaths than any other country worldwide, reporting more than 99,000 infections on Saturday alone.
Top virus expert Anthony Fauci has sharply criticised the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic, drawing a rebuke from the White House on Sunday. –BBCi
CORONAVIRUS: WHO HEAD CALLS HERD IMMUNITY APPROACH 'IMMORAL'
The head of the World Health Organization has ruled out a herd immunity response to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease through vaccinations or through the mass spread of a disease.
Some have argued that coronavirus should be allowed to spread naturally in the absence of a vaccine. But WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus said such an approach was "scientifically and ethically problematic".
There have been more than 37 million confirmed cases of coronavirus across the globe since the pandemic began. More than one million people are known to have died.
While hundreds of vaccines are currently under development, with a number in advanced trials, none has yet received international approval.
Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Dr Ghebreyesus argued that the long-term impacts of coronavirus - as well as the strength and duration any immune response - remained unknown.
"Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it," he said. "Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic."
The WHO head added that seroprevalence tests - where the blood is tested for antibodies - suggested that just 10% of people had been exposed to coronavirus in most countries.
"Letting Covid-19 circulate unchecked therefore means allowing unnecessary infections, suffering and death," he said. --BBCi
ERUV PLANS WILL HELP 'DISADVANTAGED' JEWS IN STOCKPORT
Plans to create a symbolic religious area for orthodox Jews have been approved in part of Greater Manchester. An eruv is a zone where observant Jews are permitted to carry or push objects on the Sabbath by extending the home boundaries into a public space.
Poles and arches connected by clear nylon wire will be installed at 32 sites in Gatley and Cheadle in Stockport to complete the border. Councillor Suzanne Wyatt said the move is "about supporting a community".
Under Jewish law, orthodox Jews are not allowed to carry or push certain items outside of their homes on the Sabbath, including keys or medicine, or pushing wheelchairs or prams. Cllr Wyatt told the Local Democracy Reporter Service: "This particular community, because of its religious strictures actually disadvantages some of its members.
"This is an attempt to give back to those members some of the advantages that the rest of us have, so they can walk around and carry things and push things on their Sabbath."
The Cheadle and Gatley Eruv Committee requested the installation of new street furniture to "fill the gaps" across some roads and footpaths.
Jewish community spokesman Neil Sugarman said elderly and disabled Jews can feel like "a prisoner in their own homes" and that approving the plans would permit "social inclusion".
Stockport Council planning committee heard existing walls and fences, already made up the majority of the eruv boundary.
Councillor Wendy Meikle said she was concerned the move would be "divisive, increase anti-semitism and offend other religious groups".
She told the committee: "I just see them as like a demarcation of a territory, and I'm really uncomfortable with it.
"I admit I don't know enough about it and before I read the report I had never heard of them before, but those are my concerns."
The committee voted for the application by nine votes to two, with one abstention.
Greater Manchester is already home to the "UK's largest eruv" which began in 2014.
The Manchester Community Eruv has a perimeter of more than 13 miles and covers parts of Prestwich, Crumpsall and Higher Broughton. --BBCi
15-21 Cheshvan, 5781 Nov. 2-8, 2020 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES--643rd Web Ed.
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JEWISH STUDENT ATTACKED WITH SHOVEL IN GERMANY
A Jewish student has been badly injured in an attack by a man wielding a shovel as he entered a synagogue in the northern city of Hamburg.
The 26-year-old sustained severe head injuries and was taken to hospital, according to local media. The suspected attacker was arrested and police confirmed they were investigating the case as attempted murder with anti-Semitic intent.
Last month Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of rising anti-Semitism. The incident took place almost one year after a gunman attacked a synagogue in the city of Halle during Yom Kippur, killing two.
The victim of Sunday's attack was entering the synagogue when he was repeatedly hit on the head by the attacker. The suspect, 29, was dressed in military clothes and had a hand-drawn swastika in his pocket, police said. Police said the suspect was in a confused state when he was detained, reportedly by officers guarding the synagogue.
"The current assessment of the situation suggests this is an anti-Semitic motivated attack," a statement from police and prosecutors said. They added that the case was being treated as "attempted murder with grievous bodily harm".
Germany's Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht condemned the attack. "The hatred against Jews is a disgrace for our country," she said. Anti-Semitic crimes have increased in Germany in recent years. Last year, more than 2,032 anti-Semitic offences were recorded.
That same year, the German government's anti-Semitism commissioner urged Jews to avoid wearing skullcaps in public. German Jews have watched with the alarm the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) which since 2017 has been the main opposition party.
AfD is openly against immigration but denies holding anti-Semitic views, even though a number of their political figures have drawn criticism for statements on the Holocaust. Germany is home to the third-largest Jewish population in western Europe. – BBCi
CORONAVIRUS: UKRAINE ACCUSES BELARUS OVER STRANDED
Ukraine has accused Belarus of stoking tension over hundreds of Hasidic Jewish pilgrims stranded at their border. The office of Ukraine's president said Belarus was spreading false hope that the pilgrims could cross. Belarus wants a corridor to be opened for them.
The pilgrims are trying to travel to the town of Uman for the Jewish New Year, to pay respects at the tomb of the founder of a Hasidic movement. Ukraine has closed its borders to foreigners to limit Covid-19.
The restrictions apply from 28 August to 28 September. Ukraine-Belarus relations soured after Ukraine joined the EU in refusing to recognise the re-election of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko last month.
Israel, meanwhile, is the first country to impose a second nationwide Covid-19 lockdown - set to start on Friday - after a large spike in infections.
How did the situation arise?
Every year thousands of pilgrims, many of them from Israel, make the journey to Uman on Jewish New Year, which in 2020 runs from 18 to 20 September. They visit the tomb of Rabbi Nahman, the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement.
The pilgrims set off despite calls from both the Ukrainian and Israeli governments for them not to travel this year because of coronavirus concerns.
Thousands are reported to be already in Uman.
But others travelling mostly via Minsk have been stopped at the Belarus-Ukraine border by Ukrainian guards. The numbers vary but some estimates put the figure at over 2,000 at various border points.
What have Ukraine and Belarus said?
The office of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said: "We call on the Belarusian authorities to stop creating additional tension on the border with our country and not make false encouraging announcements for pilgrims, which could give them the impression that Ukraine's border could still be open to foreigners."
The head of the Ukrainian border guard service, Sergiy Deyneko, said more than 3,000 pilgrims could soon be at border points in the Chernihiv, Zhytomyr and Volyn regions.
The office of Mr Lukashenko accused Ukraine of "shutting its borders" and stranding hundreds.
On Tuesday he said there should be a "green corridor" so pilgrims could get to Uman on buses and then be ferried back to Belarus.
Ukrainian authorities said water and kosher food was being supplied but the Belarus Red Cross Society said the pilgrims did not have "enough resources to ensure their basic needs".
What are the pilgrims saying?
One stuck at the border, Haim Weitshandler, told Agence France-Presse it was a "humanitarian catastrophe", with "sick and hungry people" left out for days in the rain and cold.
"We are stuck here with no money, no roof, no food or drink," the 40-year-old said.
Pilgrims were resting at the side of the road, blocked off by border guards.
Some had set up makeshift tents, while others slept on their luggage in front of lorries. –BBCi