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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Tag: World news

Trump’s predicament … a mistake that ends his term, and Twitter continues his war on his supporters

The US State Department’s website reported prematurely that President Donald Trump’s term ended Monday, while Twitter continues its battle against Trump supporters, at a time when the resignations have continued since the storming of the Capitol.

The US State Department amended Trump’s official biography page that “Donald J. Trump’s term ended on 11/1/2021 at 19.49”, before the page was deleted and its browsers referred to a message stating that a technical error had occurred, noting that the White House website had not witnessed any Amendment regarding the mandate or identity of the President.

“Buzzfeed” website quoted two diplomats, who asked not to be identified, that an “angry employee” in the State Department had modified the biographies of the president and the vice president, and that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requested an internal investigation to determine the identity of the perpetrator. The Foreign Ministry did not comment on the subject.

On the other hand, Twitter continues its “war” against Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol, announcing that it had “permanently froze” more than 70,000 accounts linked to “Q-Annon”, the far-right movement that believes in conspiracy theory and supports outgoing President Donald Trump.

“Due to the violent events in Washington DC, and the increased risk of harm, we have started, as of Friday afternoon, a final suspension of thousands of accounts that were primarily dedicated to sharing Q-Anon content,” Twitter said in a statement.

According to the statement, “These accounts were sharing, on a large scale, dangerous content associated with Q-Anon. They were mainly devoted to spreading these conspiracy theories throughout the entire network.” Twitter had “permanently” suspended Trump’s account, citing the risk of a “new incitement to violence” from the outgoing US president.

Acting US Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf resigned. In a letter he sent Monday to state employees, Wolf said that his resignation came due to “recent events”, including legal challenges over the validity of his appointment, and that he had originally intended to work until the end of the Trump administration.

Since riots broke out in the Capitol building last week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary Eileen Chau have resigned from their posts.

This comes at a time when a senior US administration source confirmed to “CBS News” that Donald Trump and his deputy, Mike Pence, held talks yesterday evening (local time) in the Oval Office, in the first meeting between them since supporters of Trump stormed the Congress building last week.

The source described the conversation as “fine.” The station also quoted a former official close to Pence as saying that the vice president is “frustrated and disappointed.” The source added that Pence had never seriously considered using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

Democrats plan lightning Trump impeachment, want him out now

WASHINGTON — Warnings flashing, Democrats in Congress laid plans Friday for swift impeachment of President Donald Trump, demanding decisive, immediate action to ensure an “unhinged” commander in chief can’t add to the damage they say he’s inflicted or even ignite nuclear war in his final days in office.

“We must take action,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared on a private conference call with Democrats.

The final days of Trump’s presidency are spinning toward a chaotic end as he holes up at the White House, abandoned by many aides, top Republicans and Cabinet members. After refusing to concede defeat in the November election, he has now promised a smooth transfer of power when Democratic President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20. But even so, he says he will not attend the inauguration — the first such presidential snub since just after the Civil War.

“This unhinged president could not be more dangerous,” Pelosi said of the current situation.

The Democrats are considering lightning-quick action. A draft of their Articles of Impeachment accuses Trump of abuse of power, saying he “willfully made statements that encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — imminent lawless action at the Capitol,” according to a person familiar with the details who was granted anonymity to discuss them.

Sources: Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe.

The Pope condemned traveling abroad ‘for pleasure’ amid COVID-19 lockdowns

Pope Francis condemned people who traveled abroad for vacations amid COVID-19 lockdowns during his Sunday prayers from the Vatican Library.

  • The pontiff said in his address: “But those people, good people, did they not think about those who stayed at home, about the economic problems faced by many people who have been floored by the lockdown, about the sick? They thought only about taking a holiday for their own pleasure. This pained me greatly.”
  • Pope Francis ended with a sentiment for the new year, saying: “We can work a bit more to take care of one another and our common home.”
  • As of Sunday, there have been 84 million reported cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide and 1.83 million COVID-19-related deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The new Corona virus strain: infections recorded in Spain and France

The authorities in Spain and France have recorded cases of the new Corona virus strain that recently appeared in Britain. And the authorities in Madrid said that 4 people who had recently returned from Britain were infected with the new strain.

This came after France announced the registration of the first infection with this strain, which raised widespread concerns and prompted a number of countries to tighten measures to confront the epidemic.

The French Ministry of Health said that the infected person was a Frenchman from Tours, central France, who had arrived from London on December 19. She explained that he did not show any symptoms while he was self-isolating.

The emergence of the new Corona virus in England has imposed travel restrictions with dozens of countries.

Former US Presidents Accept vaccine testing

US President-elect Joe Biden and former presidents Barack Obama, George Bush Jr, and Bill Clinton announced that they are openly prepared to receive the “Covid-19” vaccine, to encourage their fellow citizens to do the same.

Obama, age 59, said that he “fully trusts” the country’s health authorities, including Anthony Fauci, an immunologist; He is a well-respected scientific figure in the United States.

“If Anthony Fauci told me that this vaccine is safe and can protect against “Covid”, he stated, in an interview with” Sirius XM “radio, excerpts of which were posted on” YouTube “,” I will not hesitate to receive it.”

And he added, “I promise that when (the vaccine) becomes available to the least vulnerable people, I will receive it. I can do it on TV or make sure it is filmed, so people can see that I trust science.”

An article in the “Washington Post” newspaper called on President-elect Joe Biden (78 years) and Vice President Kamala Harris (56 years) to receive the vaccine live on television, in order to convince the skeptics who are many in the United States.

China-US trade war: Beijing escalates tit-for-tat with Washington

Source: BBC

China has introduced tough new laws which restrict the export of “controlled items”.

The rules primarily focus on the export of military technologies and other products that might harm China’s national security.

The export controls are widely believed to be in response to similar actions by the US.

TikTok, Huawei and Tencent are among the casualties of Washington’s Chinese technology crackdown.

  • US-China trade war in 300 words
  • China pledges to open up its ‘super-sized’ economy
  • One last twist in Trump’s trade war with China

There are concerns the new regulations, which came into effect on Tuesday, could escalate the ongoing trade war with the US.

Trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies began in 2018 but have ramped up this year.

Tech cold war

President Donald Trump’s administration has introduced executive orders against a range of Chinese firms arguing they could share data with the Chinese government.

China’s new export laws are “a reaction to this escalation of the tech war and it’s China looking to cover its own advantages”, said Alex Capri, visiting professor at the National University of Singapore.

Speaking on BBC’s Asia Business Report, Mr Capri added: “The other thing I find really interesting is China has placed AI and algorithms under these export controls.

“This was prompted by the US ban on TikTok. The Chinese government does not want to share this AI.”

Mr Capri believes the ongoing trade war between the US and China will follow the “same trajectory” under Joe Biden. “We’re in a cold war with China – it’s a tech cold war,” he said.

What do the new laws do?

The Export Control Law establishes several categories of “controlled items”, which include nuclear, military items and “dual use” items that can be used for both civilian and military purposes.

The law also covers items that are considered vital to the protection of China’s national security.

Exporters must apply for a license in order to export any item listed on a control list or subject to temporary controls.

Data associated with the controlled items is also covered by the law.

The law imposes penalties of ten times the value of the offending transaction up to $760,000 (£569,000).

It also allows for the punishment of overseas organisations or individuals, suggesting Beijing might attempt to use it to restrict the sale of sensitive technology globally.

Rare earth

Prices for rare earth minerals have increased in anticipation that the law could affect their export.

China is the world’s biggest supplier of rare earth minerals, which are used in products ranging from consumer electronics – like smart phones – to wind turbines.

“China has a massive overwhelming advantage when it comes to rare earths,” said Mr Capri. “Essentially, over the past 30 years, the ability to extract rare earths lies with China. It’s going to be hugely important when it comes to jet fighters, automotive, etc.”

White House vaccine chief says first Americans could be vaccinated next month

Washington, DC (CNN)Moncef Slaoui, the head of the US government’s effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, said the first Americans to receive a vaccine — if all things go according to plan — could be as early as the second week of December.”Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I would expect maybe on day two after approval, on the 11th or on the 12th of December, hopefully, the first people will be immunized across the United States, across all states, in all the areas where the State Departments of Health will have told us where to deliver the vaccine,” Slaoui told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday.On Friday, Pfizer submitted an application to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, and an FDA vaccine advisory committee is slated to meet December 10.Slaoui said that means, if authorized, the vaccine could be rolled out the next day.Slaoui also said that based on plans, the amount of the population who need to be vaccinated for life to return to normal is likely to happen in May.Slaoui told Tapper that with the level of efficacy that has been shown in both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines, “70% or so of the population being immunized would allow for true herd immunity to take place, that is likely to happen somewhere in the month of May, or something like that based on our plans.”

Portugal to ban domestic travel, close schools around national holidays

According to Reuters, LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal is to ban domestic travel and close schools around two upcoming holidays in a bid to reduce the spread of coronavirus ahead of Christmas, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Saturday.

Travel between municipalities will be banned from 11 p.m. on Nov. 27 to 5 a.m. on Dec. 2, and then again from 11 p.m. on Dec. 4 to 5 a.m. on Dec. 9, to prevent movement around national holidays on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8.

Schools will close on the Mondays before both holidays, while businesses must close early. Employers are being encouraged to give workers the day off in order to minimise travel activity.

“We continue to have a very high number of cases which is a threat to our health,” Costa told a press conference. “We must persist to not only halt that growth rate but invert it.”

Masks, already mandatory in public and enclosed commercial spaces, are now also mandatory in the workplace, Costa said. Checks will increase to ensure that those who can are working remotely.

A night-time curfew and weekend lockdown after 1 p.m. in 191 municipalities since Nov. 9 will continue in 174 municipalities with particularly high infection rates for a further two weeks.

Portugal reported 62 deaths and 6,472 cases of coronavirus on Saturday, mostly in the north of the country, bringing the total infections to 255,970 cases, with 3,824 deaths.

The number of cases has increased significantly since late September, with average daily rates rising from around 300 in the summer to 6,000 in recent weeks despite testing only increasing approximately three-fold, health ministry data shows.

The country, with around 10 million people, ranks seventh in Europe for the number of cumulative cases per 100,000 people and 14th for the number of new deaths, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control figures.

Moderna Covid vaccine candidate almost 95% effective, trials show

According to the Guardian, An interim analysis released on Monday, and based on 95 patients with confirmed Covid infections, found the candidate vaccine has an efficacy of 94.5%. The company said it planned to apply to the US regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, for emergency-use authorisation in the coming weeks. In the analysis, 90 of the patients received the placebo with the remaining five the vaccine.

The results are the latest encouraging news to emerge from the breakneck effort to develop a vaccine against coronavirus and follow a similar interim analysis earlier this month from a collaboration between Pfizer and the German firm BioNTech, which suggest its vaccine is 90% effective at preventing illness.

The Moderna vaccine, which is being trialled in more than 30,000 volunteers, is not expected to be available outside the US until next year. The biotech company said it would have 20m doses ready to ship in the US before the end of 2020 and hoped to manufacture 500m to 1bn doses globally next year.

So far, the UK does not stand to benefit from the vaccine but a government spokesman confirmed it was in “advanced discussions” to procure it. Moderna has agreed to provide the US with 100m doses, with an option to buy 400m more. Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Qatar and Israel have also signed agreements, and the European commission has a “potential purchase agreement” for 80m-160m doses. The UK chose not to participate in the EU vaccine purchase scheme, with the health secretary, Matt Hancock, arguing in July that the government could source vaccine faster on its own.

The Moderna vaccine, which is based on similar mRNA technology as BioNTech’s, is expected to be assessed by the FDA on a final analysis of 151 Covid cases among trial participants who will be followed on average for more than two months.

If the results remain as impressive as the trial goes on, the Moderna vaccine could potentially provide a major advantage over the Pfizer vaccine. While Pfizer’s vaccine requires ultracold freezing between -70C and -80C from production facility to patient, Moderna said it had improved the shelf life and stability of its own vaccine, meaning that it can be stored at standard refrigeration temperatures of 2C to 8C for 30 days. It can be stored for six months at -20C for shipping and long-term storage, the company said.

At £38 to £45 for a course of two shots, Moderna’s vaccine is more expensive than the other frontrunners. AstraZeneca and Oxford University are aiming to sell their vaccine at about £3 a dose, while vaccines in trial with Johnson and Johnson and a collaboration between Sanofi and GSK are both expected to cost about £8 a dose. Pfizer is charging the US about £30 for a two-shot course. The UK has ordered 40m Pfizer shots but none of the Moderna vaccine.

Moderna’s two-shot vaccine injects genetic material called mRNA into the body, which cells then use to churn out the spike protein the virus uses to invade cells. The spike protein covers the surface of the virus and is one of the main targets of the body’s immune response to wipe out the infection.

The interim results are based on an analysis of confirmed Covid cases among both placebo and vaccinated arms of the trial, starting two weeks after the second dose is administered.

Given the relatively small number of cases analysed there is some statistical uncertainty over the 94.5% figure. But Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that based on the numbers released, the efficacy was still likely to be better than 85%.

A question mark that remains over the Pfizer vaccine is whether it prevents serious illness. The Moderna results, released by an independent data safety monitoring board, are encouraging on this point. Of 11 participants who developed severe Covid while on the trial, all were in the placebo group. The results also suggest the vaccine is effective in older people and those from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Moderna’s interim analysis includes a safety review of data available so far. The company said it had found no significant safety concerns, with most reactions being mild to moderate and short-lived. Among the side effects reported were injection site pain in 2.7% of trial volunteers after the first jab. After the second, the most significant side effects included fatigue in 9.7%, muscle pain in 9% and joint pain in 5%. Others had headaches, other pains, or redness at the injection site.

Prof Trudie Lang, professor of global health research at the University of Oxford, said: “It is very good news indeed to see another vaccine coming through with similar efficacy results as were reported last week from Pfizer.

“This is really encouraging and it further demonstrates that a vaccine for Covid is a real probability and that having more than one supplier should help assure better and more equitable global availability.”

Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College, London, said the Moderna results were “tremendously exciting” and boosted optimism that a choice of good Covid vaccines would be available in the next few months.

“Moderna have also announced that the vaccine can be kept in a conventional freezer at -20C for up to 6 months, and that once thawed the vaccine can be kept for up to 30 days at standard refrigerator temperatures of 2 to 8C. This makes the vaccine much easier to deliver,” he said.

Ethiopia’s Escalating Military Offensive Raises Specter of Civil War

Ethiopia is widening a military offensive against the restive regional government of Tigray and arresting thousands across the country, dashing hopes of a quick, negotiated end to the conflict and feeding fears of a full-blown civil war. More than 500 Ethiopians have been killed in fighting across the northern Tigray province in recent days, according to state television,…

Ethiopia is widening a military offensive against the restive regional government of Tigray and arresting thousands across the country, dashing hopes of a quick, negotiated end to the conflict and feeding fears of a full-blown civil war.

More than 500 Ethiopians have been killed in fighting across the northern Tigray province in recent days, according to state television, while some 11,000 people have fled into Sudan, where authorities are making provisions for 100,000, according to the United Nations. Amid intensifying bombardment…

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