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Republicans tout inclusive vision for Donald Trump’s re-election | News

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The US Republican Party put on a virtual convention programme on Tuesday painting a picture of President Donald Trump’s presidency as inclusive of women, family, immigrants, and Black Americans at a time of deep political division within the United States.

Under a repeating theme of restoring a promise of a better future for the nation’s children and grandchildren, Republicans from many walks of life and ethnicities – including Hispanics and Native Americans – advocated for Trump’s re-election.

Speakers touched on Trump’s positions on a range of issues from foreign policy to war in the Middle East, economics, abortion, the news media, Cuba, socialism, and immigration.

First Lady Melania Trump gave a 31-minute speech before a live audience of Republican legislators at the White House, in which she called for unity and civility among Americans who have been divided by race, politics and inequality under her husband’s presidency.

“We must remember that today we are all one community comprised of many races, religions and ethnicities,” Mrs Trump said.

“Our diverse and storied history is what makes our country strong, and yet we still have so much to learn from one another,” she said, calling on Americans to “take a moment, pause and look at things from all perspectives”.

The First Lady’s speech capped a two-and-a-half hour televised programme consisting of pre-recorded and live speeches staged at a mostly empty hall in Washington, DC, instead of Charlotte, North Carolina, where the convention was to have been held. She also offered sympathy to the thousands of Americans who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.

The US is struggling to contain the coronavirus with more cases – closing in on six million – and deaths – some 178,518 – than any other country in the world.

Two of the president’s children, Tiffany Trump and Eric Trump, offered praise and affection for their father and advocated for his political agenda, even as others decried alleged nepotism against his rival, Joe Biden.

Eric Trump delivered a pre-recorded speech touting his father’s accomplishments in the White House to the virtual Republican National Convention broadcast [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Controversially, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a short address to the Republican programme in which he outlined a series of claimed foreign policy accomplishments for Trump, including moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.

“The president moved the US Embassy to this very city of God, Jerusalem, the rightful capital of the Jewish homeland,” Pompeo said.

Foreign policy claims

US attempts to unilaterally designate Jerusalem as Israel’s capital have drawn widespread condemnation from across the world including the Arab League, Palestinians and European nations, which have reaffirmed long-standing commitments to a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Pompeo, who was on a diplomatic mission to Israel, addressed the Republican convention from the roof of the King David Hotel overlooking the Old City and Mount Zion.

Mike Pompeo speaks from Jerusalem Pompeo speaks by video feed from Jerusalem during the largely virtual 2020 Republican National Convention broadcast from Washington, DC [Republican National Convention/Handout via Reuters]

Pompeo cited Trump’s approval of a drone attack that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January and claimed credit for the defeat of ISIL (ISIS) in Syria.

“The president exited the US from the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran and squeezed the ayatollah, Hezbollah and Hamas,” said Pompeo, who is thought to be eyeing a run for president in 2024.

Pompeo’s participation in the Republican event breached an American governing tradition that holds US diplomats above politics, and drew widespread criticism.

Pompeo’s speech “tethers him and his office to the domestic political interests of the president’s re-election,” said Aaron David Miller, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in a blog post on Tuesday.

Trump’s secretary of state is “the most politicized in modern American history and arguably the worst,” Miller said.

Senator Rand Paul endorsed Trump’s pledge to end the US war in Afghanistan, begun in 2001 under then-President George W Bush after al-Qaeda attacked New York and Washington, DC.

“I’m supporting President Trump because he believes, as I do, that a strong America cannot fight endless wars. We must not continue to leave our blood and treasure in Middle East quagmires,” Paul said.

Paul recalled accompanying Trump to Dover Air Force Base to honour two soldiers whose remains were coming home from Afghanistan. More than 2,400 US servicemen and women have been killed in the conflict.

“I will never forget that night. I can tell you the president not only felt the pain of these families but is committed to ending this war,” Paul said.

The Trump administration has engaged in talks with Taliban leaders and committed in February to the withdrawal of 12,000 US troops from Afghanistan.

Economic crisis, racial division

Larry Kudlow, the White House economic adviser, sought to position Trump’s economic record as one of success until the pandemic forced a shutdown.

“It’s been a tough few months for all of us,” Kudlow said in taped remarks from Redding, Connecticut.
“We were enjoying the greatest economy our country had ever seen,” Kudlow said.

“Then the pandemic hit. It rocked us all back on our heels. But we’re Americans. We’re fighters. And so is our president,” he said.

In spite of unemployment data showing 30 million Americans still out of work and consumer confidence at a six-year low, Kudlow claimed the US economy is booming and poised for a rebound in the second half of the year.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the first Black person elected to statewide office in the state, spoke to the racial division and Black Lives Matter protests that have reshaped US politics in recent months.

Daniel Cameron speaks for Republican convention

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron delivers a live address to the largely virtual 2020 Republican National Convention from the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

“Even as anarchists mindlessly tear up American cities while attacking police officers and innocent bystanders, we Republicans do recognise those who earnestly strive for peace, justice, and equality,” Cameron said.

“Whether you are the family of Breonna Taylor or David Dorn, these are the ideals that will heal our nation’s wounds,” he said.

Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old Black woman who was killed by police in her home in Louisville, Kentucky. David Dorn was a 77-year-old retired police officer who was killed by looters during a protest in St Louis, Missouri.

Protests and civil unrest have hit more than 200 US cities in 30 states since George Floyd was killed by police who kneeled on his neck while he was handcuffed and held face down in the street in Minneapolis.

Trump a has adopted a “law and order” posture towards the protests which have at times devolved into looting, riots and violent skirmishes with police.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Yellen: Private funds also needed to tackle climate change | Climate News

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The cost of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 could climb to $2.5 trillion over 10 years for the US alone, according to one estimate.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said private financing, and not just government spending, will be needed to tackle the “existential threat” of climate change.

The overall cost of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 — in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement that the U.S. has rejoined — could run to $2.5 trillion over 10 years for the U.S. alone, according to one estimate, Yellen said in a speech to a virtual conference Wednesday organized by the Institute of International Finance.

“It’s going to be tremendously important for the financial services industry to marshal and allocate capital that’s needed to make the transition toward net-zero” emissions, she said in a question-and-answer segment that followed the speech. “Massive investments are likely to be needed and the bulk has to be private.”

The Treasury chief also highlighted the need to strengthen financial risk disclosures — making them more reliable, consistent and comparable across markets and countries — so investors can accurately gauge risks and opportunities.

Yellen pledged that the U.S. will help developing countries that are especially vulnerable to threats from climate change, but stopped short of making any specific financial promises on that front.

The infrastructure-focused economic proposal that President Joe Biden unveiled last month, including money to address climate change, “will be the most significant public investment in America since the 1960s, dramatically reducing U.S. emissions by greening the electricity and transportation sectors,” Yellen said.

Biden Summit

Yellen’s comments come as Biden convenes the leaders of 40 nations, corporate executives and union leaders in a two-day virtual summit on the climate change, with a focus on how to galvanize finance in the endeavor.

While many recent international climate-change discussions have focused on the role of multilateral development banks and formal climate-assistance programs, the conversation at the summit will include a more expansive look at the role of private funds in propelling clean energy and building resilience, administration officials said Wednesday.

Yellen said the Treasury is involved in a number of initiatives aimed at removing hurdles, including efforts to improve financial reporting and increasing the reliability of climate-related disclosures.

The Financial Stability Oversight Council, a multi-agency body of regulators chaired by Yellen, will be the Treasury’s principal tool in attempting to minimize financial-sector risks associated with climate change, she said.

“It’s FSOC’s job to understand these risks, to coordinate across U.S. regulatory agencies in assessing the risks and, if necessary and appropriate, acting to mitigate risks to overall U.S. financial stability,” she said in the Q&A.

Global Harmonization

Yellen said U.S. officials will also work with the multilateral Financial Stability Board and other international bodies to make reporting requirements consistent and comparable across borders. She endorsed a “solid framework” for climate-related disclosures from an FSB task force chaired by Michael R. Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Yellen didn’t offer any specific new pledge of additional U.S. government funding to help developing nations adapt to a warming planet or build clean-energy projects.

Rich countries promised in 2009 that by 2020 they’d collectively devote $100 billion annually to climate finance, but have fallen far short. As the world’s No. 2 emitter of greenhouse-gas emissions, the U.S. is under pressure to loosen its purse strings.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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‘Chad is not a monarchy’, rebels warn interim president 

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Gen Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno

Gen Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno

The son of the late President Idriss Deby Itno of Chad has been named interim president of the central African nation by a transitional military council.

Wednesday’s announcement comes a day after 37-year-old Gen Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno was named head of the 18-month council as the army announced the death of his 68-year-old father from injuries sustained while visiting troops on the front line.

A rebel force known as the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, known by its French acronym FACT, has advanced from the north in recent days toward the capital, N’Djamena. The group had been based in neighbouring Libya. The rebel group released a statement Tuesday vowing to take the capital and depose the younger Deby.   
 
“Chad is not a monarchy,” the statement read. “There can be no dynastic devolution of power in our country.”
 
A day before his death, the elder Deby was declared the winner of Chad’s April 11 election with 79 per cent of the vote, giving him a sixth term in office. Most opposition groups had boycotted the poll, citing arrests and a government ban on opposition rallies.  

Deby had ruled Chad since coming to power in a December 1990 coup, making him one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders. Opponents called him an autocrat and criticized his management of Chadian oil revenue. In 2008, a different rebel force reached N’Djamena and came close to toppling Deby before French and Chadian army forces drove them out of the city.
 
In the West, however, Deby was seen as an important ally in the fight against Islamist extremist groups in West Africa and the Sahel, like Nigeria-based Boko Haram.
 
The Libya-based FACT had attacked a border post on the day of the election and then moved hundreds of kilometres toward the capital. On Monday, the Chadian army said it had inflicted a heavy loss on the rebels, killing more than 300 of them.



Source – observer.ug

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COVID vaccine scarcity and fake doses hamper efforts in Americas | Latin America News

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Amid a limited supply of vaccines, COVID-19 cases have been on the rise across the Americas, PAHO officials said.

Amid a scramble to secure enough coronavirus vaccines in the Americas, there are reports of fake doses proliferating on the black market in several countries in the region, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

“We have received some information from Mexico, Argentina and Brazil that some doses have been offered through social media, illegal markets offering vaccines that probably are falsified,” Jarbas Barbosa, assistant director of PAHO said during a weekly news conference.

“They are not real vaccines or maybe they are stolen doses from a health facility that no one can assure that they were properly stored,” Barbosa said.

A woman receiving a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, during a vaccination day campaign in Duque de Caxias near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil [Ricardo Moraes/Reuters]

On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer had identified counterfeit vaccines in Mexico and in Poland. According to the report, 80 people in Mexico had been jabbed with fake doses in a clinic, after paying $1,000 per dose.

According to the report, the people who received the fake vaccines were not adversely affected. Citing authorities, the report said in Poland the fake vaccines were seized before they were administered.

During Wednesday’s news conference, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said the organisation was also concerned about vaccine hesitancy. She said “insidious rumours and conspiracy theories” were “inspiring fear and costing lives”.

She said PAHO was working with tech companies to tackle misinformation that has quickly proliferated on the internet and on social media sites.

“Because unreliable information spreads quickly, PAHO is collaborating with tech companies like Twitter, Google, and Facebook to address fake news and ensure the public can easily find accurate information,” she said.

The reports of fake vaccines and vaccine hesitancy in the Americas came amid a scarce supply of vaccines in the region, and a rising number of COVID-19 cases.

Brazil has so far vaccinated 11.6 percent of its population and Mexico has vaccinated 8.7 percent. Other nations in the region are lagging behind [Ricardo Moraes/Reuters]

“Latin America is the region that currently has the greatest need for vaccines,” Etienne said, “this region should be prioritised for distribution of vaccines.”

“No one will be safe until we are all safe.”

Nearly half of the world’s coronavirus deaths during the weekend were in the Americas, Etienne said, adding that nearly every country in Central America is reporting a rise in infections. Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, she said were the worst hit.

“Over the weekend, the world reached a tragic milestone – more than three million have lost their lives to COVID, and nearly half of these deaths happened right here in the Americas,” Etienne said.

Chile is seeing a plateau in cases, while Brazil is reporting a drop. But despite the drop, Etienne said, cases in Brazil “remain alarmingly high.” Argentina ranked third regionally in the weekly number of new cases. Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia and Uruguay were also seeing a worsening. And Mexico, after weeks of decline in new cases, is seeing a slight increase.

Regionally, the United States and Chile have made the most progress in their vaccination campaigns – both have vaccinated about 40 percent of their population – according to Our World in Data.

Uruguay has inoculated more than 30 percent of its population while Brazil has so far vaccinated 11.6 percent and Mexico has vaccinated about 8.7 percent. Other nations in the region are lagging behind.

During the news briefing, officials said most of the region’s countries are relying on the global COVAX mechanism, which aims to equitably distribute vaccines to developing nations.

Etienne said more than 4.2 million vaccine doses have so far been supplied to 29 countries in the Americas through COVAX, and more doses are on the way.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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