Tag Archives: US President

The US is mourning half a million lives lost to the coronavirus | Instant News


(Reuters) – More than half a million people have died from the coronavirus in the United States, as the country races to vaccinate its most vulnerable populations before a new variant of the deadly disease spreads.

More people have died in the United States from COVID-19 than any other country in the world. With 4% of the world’s population, the United States has 20% of all deaths from COVID and one of the highest death rates per 100,000 population, surpassed only by a few countries such as Belgium, Great Britain and Italy. (Graphic: tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi)

Unlike many countries around the world that have national lockdown and undercover mandates, former US President Donald Trump left public health decisions up to state and local governments, resulting in patches of rules that often run counter to the advice of doctors and health officials. After many unmasked year-end holiday gatherings, January has become the deadliest month of the pandemic so far with an average of 3,000 people dying each day.

With a total death toll of over 500,000, one in every 673 US population has died from the pandemic. Global deaths have reached 2.57 million or one in every 3,000 people on the planet.

The United States has reported more than 28 million cases to date, about 25% of all global infections. After peaking at nearly 300,000 new cases in a single day on January 8, the United States now reports about 70,000 new infections every day.

However, a new variant of the virus threatens to disrupt the road to normality.

Officials have also warned that most of these cases are from a more contagious variant first discovered in Great Britain called B.1.1.7, which could become the dominant variant in the United States in March.

Health officials are also concerned about a variant first identified in South Africa called 501Y.V2, which has multiple mutations in the important “spike” protein that today’s vaccines target.

Vaccination: SILVER LAYER

About 15% of the US population has received at least one dose of the vaccine so far and more than 63 million doses have been given, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At current rates, it will take the United States more than nine months or until the end of November this year to vaccinate 75% of the country’s population. Even if the current rate is to double, it will still take until early July to vaccinate 75% of the population.

In early February, the Biden administration said it was exploring options to increase production of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which is one-shot and can be stored in the refrigerator. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Inc vaccines both require two doses and the Pfizer vaccine requires a dedicated freezer.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is under review by US health regulators, and a panel of experts from the Food and Drug Administration is expected to discuss authorizing emergency use of the vaccine this week.

However, US President Joe Biden said in early February that it would be difficult for the United States to achieve herd immunity, at least 75% of the inoculated population, by the end of this summer.

Vaccine rollouts have been a challenge as the Trump administration leaves it up to states to design and implement their own launch plans. The United States also does not have a national health care system and often relies on grocery stores and drugstore chains to provide immunizations.

This has led to increasing discrepancies between states in the progress of vaccination, including that blacks and Hispanics are lagging behind in inoculation. In many parts of the country, long lines and hours of waiting times are not uncommon.

White House officials said last week that the country had 6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in stock because of the bad weather that has engulfed much of the United States.

Reporting by Sangameswaran S. in Bengaluru; Edited by Lisa Shumaker

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‘Let’s think big’ – Germany wants to work with Biden on trade, China, climate | Instant News


BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany wants Europe and the United States to strengthen transatlantic ties with trade deals to remove industrial tariffs, WTO reforms to increase pressure on China and a common carbon emissions trading system to protect the climate.

FILE PHOTO: Peter Beyer, Transatlantic Cooperation Coordinator in the Field of Public Relations, Culture and Information Policy for the German government speaks in an interview with Reuters in Berlin, Germany, 2 November 2018. REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch

Peter Beyer, transatlantic coordinator for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, told Reuters in an interview published on Monday that Germany and President Joe Biden’s new US government must “think big” and aim for an ambitious agenda based on shared values ​​and focus. on the common interest. .

“After the difficult years under Donald Trump, Germany and Europe now have a historic opportunity to revive the transatlantic partnership and improve relations with the US,” said Beyer.

Biden will hold his first event with other leaders from the G7 countries, including Merkel, in a virtual meeting on Friday to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, the world economy and tackling China.

German enthusiasm for a trade deal and stronger transatlantic ties may have to contend with a more cautious approach in France, where President Emmanuel Macron has prioritized reducing Europe’s dependence on rival superpowers.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that for Paris the priority was to increase European independence.

“We will not wait for the United States to give its sovereignty to Europe. It’s up to Europe to conquer it, “Le Maire told reporters.

Beyer said that while the two sides will continue to have differences on issues such as Russian gas imports, this should not stop Germany and the United States from engaging closely on economic, trade, tax and climate policies.

“Now is the time to put a package of trade proposals and economic policies on the agenda. This must include a comprehensive and ambitious free trade agreement, “said Beyer, a member of Merkel’s conservative party.

“This should include a general roadmap for WTO (World Trade Organization) reforms that, among other things, ultimately make China play by the rules of international trade – violations of these rules must be sanctioned.”

As a first step towards rebuilding trust, Beyer said, the new US administration should withdraw the punitive tariffs Trump unilaterally imposed on European aluminum and steel imports.

STEP BY STEP

Talks about an EU-US trade deal should start without preconditions from either side.

“And we also have to leave the adage that there can only be an agreement after we agree on all areas. Instead, we have to go step by step, “said Beyer.

“The first step could be a deal that will see the EU and US remove all tariffs on industrial goods. Progress can be made quickly here. Controversial areas such as agriculture should then be discussed in a second step. “

Germany views climate protection as another policy area with great potential for working more closely with the US as the two sides are now pulling in the same direction again, he said.

“Biden’s decision to return the US to the Paris climate agreement (which Trump left behind) sends an important signal.”

As medium-term goals, Europe and the United States should pursue a transatlantic emissions trading system, one that other large industrialized nations can follow.

“That may sound utopian from today’s perspective, but if we don’t think big, we won’t get far,” said Beyer.

“We have to install a common system where working for climate protection and investing in green technology, at both the government and business levels, will pay off. Transatlantic emissions trading systems can be an important building block for this. “

The idea is in line with a proposal from Germany’s powerful BDI industry association asking the EU and the US to develop a road map for global greenhouse gas pricing and agree on a minimum carbon tax by 2030, along with other key players.

Beyer pointed to encouraging signs from the Biden administration that Washington could re-engage in talks about reforming global tax rules for digital companies after discussions broke off under Trump.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Additional reporting by Michel Rose in Paris; Edited by Thomas Seythal, Mark Heinrich and Ed Osmond

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The Biden government plans to continue seeking the extradition of Assange: official WikiLeaks | Instant News


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s administration plans to continue extraditing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from Britain to the United States to face charges of conspiracy hacking, the US Justice Department said.

FILE PHOTO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addresses the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy, ​​in central London, England February 5, 2016. REUTERS / Peter Nicholls / File Photo

Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi on Tuesday said the US government would continue to challenge a British judge’s ruling last month that Assange should not be extradited to the United States because of the risk he would commit suicide.

In the Jan. 4 ruling, the judge, Vanessa Baraitser, said, “I find that Mr Assange’s mental state is such that it would be very pressing to extradite him to the United States.”

British judges set Friday as a deadline for the United States to appeal his decision to ban Assange’s extradition.

Raimondi said the United States would challenge Baraitser’s decision. We continue to work on his extradition.

WikiLeaks drew the ire of the US government after publishing thousands of pages of classified reports and documents produced by the American military and intelligence agencies, including detailed descriptions of the CIA’s hacking capabilities. WikiLeaks also published hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Democratic campaign and top advisers, which Clinton and some of her supporters said was a factor in her election defeat to Republican Donald Trump.

The debate over a possible American move to seek Assange’s extradition from Britain first emerged nearly a decade ago when Barack Obama was president and Joe Biden as vice president.

Obama’s Justice Department decided not to request Assange’s extradition on the grounds that what Assange and WikiLeaks were doing was too similar to journalistic activities protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Trump administration officials escalated public criticism of Assange and WikiLeaks just weeks after taking office in January 2017 and then filed a series of increasingly violent criminal charges accusing Assange of participating in a hacking conspiracy.

Assange’s supporters have pressured the Biden administration to drop the charges against him during Biden’s first 100 days in the White House.

Reporting by Mark Hosenball; edited by Jonathan Oatis

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The White House says it aims to strengthen ties with Brazil, but will speak of concerns | Instant News


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration is closely following developments in Brazil with regard to human rights and the environment, but aims to continue strengthening US economic and trade ties with the South American nation, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.

FILE PHOTOS: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilian Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco and Brazilian Lower House President Arthur Lira attend the opening session of the Legislative Year in Brasilia, Brazil February 3, 2021. REUTERS / Adriano Machado

Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration on Feb.5 announced an additional $ 300,000 (1.5 million reais) in funding from the US Agency for International Development to support Brazil’s COVID-19 emergency response, Psaki told a White House briefing.

“We are by far the largest investor in Brazil, including in many of Brazil’s most innovative and growth-focused companies, and will continue to strengthen our economic ties and enhance our large and growing trade relationship in the coming months,” he said.

Asked about calls by human rights groups and Democrats to end trade talks with Brazil over concerns about human rights and the environment, Psaki said the Biden administration would not hold back from raising concerns where there were differences.

“As is the case in many of our relationships, we are looking for opportunities to work together on issues where there is a common national interest, and there is clearly a significant economic relationship, and we will not hold back on areas that we disagree with, whether it is climate. or human rights, or vice versa, “he said.

The Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives Ways and Advice Committee last year slammed former President Donald Trump’s administration for being comfortable with Brazil.

In a letter in June, Ways and Advice Committee Chair Richard Neal said President Jair Bolsonaro’s government had demonstrated a “complete disregard for human rights,” and argued that expanding relations would undermine Brazil’s human, labor and environmental efforts to “advance the rule of law. and protect and preserve marginalized communities. “

Nestor Forster, Brazil’s ambassador to the United States, welcomed Psaki’s comments and said Brazil was “fully prepared” to tackle the issues of sustainable development and climate change, and hoped to expand trade ties.

“What we want is to keep moving, to continue working with the United States,” he told a trade conference organized by the Washington International Trade Association, adding that Brazilian investment in the United States has quadrupled over the past decade, generating thousands of jobs.

The Trump administration has sought to improve relations with Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, and provide a counterweight to China, which has become Brazil’s biggest trading partner.

In October, Brazil and the United States signed three agreements to ensure good business practices and stop corruption, and set a target to double bilateral trade in the next five years from an estimated $ 100 billion currently.

Bolsonaro last month wrote to Biden on the day he was inaugurated and said he hoped the two countries would pursue a broad free trade agreement during Biden’s term.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Edited by Leslie Adler and Rosalba O’Brien

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