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Pence claims US victory over coronavirus, condemns racial unrest | News

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Vice President Mike Pence headlined the third night of a virtual Republican National Convention with a patriotic call for the re-election of President Donald Trump who he said had set the United States on “a path of freedom and opportunity”.

Backed by the red-white-and-blue symbolism of the American flag, Pence spoke at Fort McHenry which withstood a naval bombardment by the British Navy in 1814 and inspired the words of the US national anthem, “O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave…”

“If you look through the fog of these challenging times you will see our flag is still there,” Pence told a Republican audience in remarks on the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest sweeping the country.

For the first time in the Republican convention, which concludes on Thursday with President Trump’s acceptance speech, Pence offered the core argument Trump and his Republican Party are making for his re-election; that the US economy was soaring before the pandemic and Trump is succeeding in controlling the outbreak and getting the economy moving again.

“The coronavirus struck from China,” Pence said, repeating a line Trump uses to cast blame for the outbreak on China because the novel coronavirus was first discovered in the central city of Wuhan.

“The president took unprecedented action and suspended all travel from China,” Pence said, exaggerating the president’s action.

Trump’s travel restrictions to China announced on January 31 were only partial and did not apply to Americans going back and forth.

Coronavirus crisis

Pence touted the White House’s partnership “with private industry to reinvent testing and produce supplies across the country including producing 100,000 ventilators in 100 days.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet the crowd after Vice President Mike Pence acceptance speech as the 2020 Republican vice presidential nominee at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

The US now conducts thousands of tests a day and has delivered “billions of pieces of personal protective equipment”, Pence said, although hospitals and public health officials continue to report constraints in testing and shortages of equipment.

The administration built field hospitals and mobilised military medical personnel and signed an economic rescue package that saved 50 million jobs, he claimed.

“We are on track to have the world’s first, safe and effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year,” Pence said, praising the heroism of American health care workers and emergency responders.

“Thanks to the courage and compassion of the American people, we are slowing the spread, we’re protecting the vulnerable, and we’re saving lives, and we’re opening up America.”

Pence was the first speaker at the largely virtual Republican convention to directly address the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 180,000 people in the US, devastated much of the economy and put more than 30 million people out of work. First Lady, Melania Trump, on Tuesday expressed her sympathy for the families of those who had died.

Pence took note of Hurricane Laura’s landfall on the Gulf coast of Louisiana and Texas and said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was prepared to assist people displaced by the Category 4 storm that was packing a catastrophic sea water surge of 15 to 20 feet.

Unrest in Kenosha

Pence condemned “the violence and chaos engulfing cities across this country.”

“The violence must stop whether in Minneapolis, Portland, or Kenosha too,” he said.

The convention has been overshadowed by civil unrest and riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where two people protesting against the police shooting of a Black man were allegedly killed by a white teenager who sympathised with police. Trump has sided with police over protesters since the unrest began in May.

An incendiary device goes off in front of a Kenosha Country Sheriff Vehicle as demonstrators take part in a protest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.

An incendiary device goes off in front of a Kenosha Country Sheriff Vehicle as demonstrators take part in a protest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, August 25, 2020. [Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

Police arrested a 17-year-old, Kyle Rittenhouse from nearby Antioch, Illinois and charged him with homicide on Wednesday. A Kenosha County sheriff said Rittenhouse may have been part of a vigilante group that intended to protect property from protesters.

Several African American speakers voiced Trump’s appeal to Black voters and cited Trump’s support for federal funding for historically black colleges, tax advantages for urban opportunity zones, and bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation passed by Congress.

“Donald Trump is offering real and lasting change and unprecedented opportunity to rise, a country that embraces the spirit of the civil rights movement of the Sixties, a place where people are judged by the content of their talents and abilities , not by the colour of their skin,” said Clarence Henderson, a civil rights activist who participated in a lunch-counter sit-in in 1960.

Clarence Henderson speaks to Republican convention

Clarence Henderson, a participant in the 1960 Woolworth lunch counter sit-in civil rights protests in Greensboro, North Carolina, speaks during the largely virtual 2020 Republican National Convention broadcast from Washington, U.S. August 26, 2020. [Republican National Convention/Handout via Reuters]

Three nights of destructive protests in Kenosha had been sparked by the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, who was paralysed below the waist and has undergone surgery.

Blake, who was unarmed, was shot multiple times in the back at close range by an officer who was holding onto Blake’s shirt as he tried to lean into his vehicle. Police said they later found a knife on the driver-side floor of Blake’s car.

The officer who shot Blake was identified by Wisconsin state authorities as Rusten Sheskey, a white man who has been working at the Kenosha Police Department for seven years.

Sports boycott

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers called out the National Guard on Monday after protesters set cars on fire, smashed windows and clashed with police in riot gear.

Trump and Republican speakers in the convention programme have sought to characterise the protests against police shootings that have swept the US since May as riots by a dangerous, violent mob encouraged by Democrats.

Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning that he was sending more National Guard troops and federal agents to impose “law and order”.

“From Seattle and Portland to Washington and New York, Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs,” claimed South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem at the opening of the Republican convention on Wednesday night.

“The violence is rampant. There’s looting, chaos, destruction, and murder. People that can afford to flee have fled. But the people that can’t – good, hard-working Americans – are left to fend for themselves,” Noem said.

Republican US Senator Marsha Blackburn, who represents the state of Tennessee, said Democrats want to defund “our military, our police, even ICE” and “take away their tools to keep us safe”.

“Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and their radical allies try to destroy these heroes, because if there are not heroes to inspire us – government can control us,” Blackburn said.

Michael McHale, NAPO president

Michael McHale, the president of the National Association of Police Organizations, said, “Joe Biden has turned his candidacy over to the far-left, anti-law-enforcement radicals.” [Republican National Convention/Handout via Reuters]

But outrage over the shooting of Blake spread on Wednesday to the National Basketball Association when members of the Milwaukee Bucks team decided to boycott a scheduled playoff game against the Orlando Magic.

Los Angeles Lakers star player LeBron James tweeted “WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT”

The NBA announced it would postpone three playoff games on Wednesday to a later date.

The boycott triggered more game cancellations by the WNBA and Major League Baseball in a widening political shutdown of sports events.





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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