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Brazil reaches deal to begin administering Chinese-made coronavirus vaccine

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Brazil's health minister said Tuesday the country would add the Chinese-made CoronaVac vaccine against Covid-19 to its national immunization program, despite a political and diplomatic row over whether to use it.

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Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said the federal government had reached a deal with Sao Paulo state, which is helping test and produce the vaccine, to buy 46 million doses to be administered starting in January.

"This vaccine will be Brazil's vaccine," in addition to another developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, Pazuello told a video meeting of the South American country's 27 governors.

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"That's our big news. This is going to recalibrate the process" of eventually vaccinating Brazil's population against Covid-19, which has claimed more lives here than any country except the United States.

CoronaVac, developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech, has been caught up in a messy battle in Brazil.

Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro had labelled it the vaccine from "that other country," and resisted using it, pushing for the Oxford vaccine instead.

Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, a top Bolsonaro opponent, meanwhile pushed a deal between Sinovac and Brazil's Butantan Institute to test and produce the vaccine in his state.

Doria has touted the vaccine as safe and effective, personally holding press conferences to announce preliminary results from the clinical trials.

He and Bolsonaro have also clashed over whether vaccination should be compulsory, as Doria wRead More – Source

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Trump’s soft spot for authoritarian leaders

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He "fell in love" with Kim Jong Un, praises Vladimir Putin and calls Recep Tayyip Erdogan "a friend": President Donald Trump's flattery of autocrats has confounded US allies and raised questions about his regard for democratic norms.

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But analysts expect America's traditional friendships to be restored in a post-Trump era, saying his fascination with unfettered power is a personality quirk that has not translated into an official change in foreign policy.

"He's psychologically terrified by weakness," Peter Trumbore, professor of political science at Oakland University in Michigan said.

Trump's attraction to power was on display long before he won the White House on a promise to "make America great again."

In a 1990 interview with Playboy magazine, the billionaire property developer declared that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who helped end the Cold War, had "not a firm enough hand" with pro-democracy demonstrators.

Three decades later, he continues to lavish praise on leaders who wield power ruthlessly while bashing longtime democratic allies such as Canada and Germany.

In a recording, the US president admitted he was fond of authoritarian leaders, telling journalist Bob Woodward the "tougher and meaner" they are, "the better I get along with them."

'President for life'

In 2017, he threatened dictator Kim Jong Un with "fire and fury" if "Little Rocket Man" endangered the US, only to shake his hand in a historic visit to North Korea two years later.

While Trump's outreach to Kim won plaudits, his assessment that the mercurial North Korean, who is accused of gross human rights violations, had a "great and beautiful vision for his country" was met with widespread derision.

With China too, his message has swung wildly, lurching between tough talking on trade and the spread of Covid-19, to praise for Chinese President Xi Jinping after China's ruling party abolished term limits in 2018.

"He's now president for life… I think it's great," Trump declared.

While some surmised the remark was made in jest it chimed with the warm words he has had for Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has also steadily increased his own powers and whom Trump calls a "friend."

But it is the Republican's relationship with Russia's Putin that has attracted the most attention, in light of claims that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election to boost Trump's chances, allegations which Russia denies.

At a summit with Putin in 2018, Trump appeared bowled over by the former secret services chief, saying he believed him over the FBI on the allegations of campaign interference, and describing his counterpart as "very, very strong."

'Real man' rule

For Trumbore, it's plain to see: Trump is "envious of the power these strongmen wield".

"When he sees Erdogan or (Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor) Orban he sees democratically elected presidents who have essentially used institutions of democracy to turn their states into soft authoritarian regimes. I think Trump wants that for himself."

Charles Kupchan, professor of international affairs at Georgetown University, also ascribed Trump's rapport with autocrats to envy, tinged with "a certain macho inclination."

"He probably likes that Putin rides a horse without a shirt on and appears like a 'real man'," Kupchan said.

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Final Trump-Biden debate will feature ‘mute’ button to avoid interruptions

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The final debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden will feature a mute button to allow each candidate to speak uninterrupted, organisers said on Monday, looking to avoid the disruptions that marred the first matchup.

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The Trump campaign voiced objections to the change – made after the president repeatedly talked over both Biden and the moderator at last month's debate in violation of its agreed-upon rules – but said the Republican would still take part in the Thursday night event, one of his last chances to reach a large prime-time audience before voting ends on Nov. 3.

The Presidential Commission on Debates said each candidate's microphone at the debate in Nashville, Tennessee, would be silenced to allow the other to make two minutes of opening remarks at the beginning of each 15-minute segment of the debate. Both microphones will be turned on to allow a back-and-forth after that time.

"President Trump is committed to debating Joe Biden regardless of last-minute rule changes from the biased commission in their latest attempt to provide advantage to their favored candidate," campaign manager Bill Stepien said.

The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

More than 30 million Americans have already cast their ballots, limiting Trump's chances of reframing a contest that national and state opinion polls show him trailing.

Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden during a chaotic and ill-tempered debate on Sept. 29, at one point provoking Biden to snap: "Will you shut up, man?"

'THEY CUT YOU OFF'

Trump backed out of a second scheduled debate set for last Thursday over a disagreement about the virtual format following his COVID-19 infection. At that time, he raised concerns about having his microphone muted.

"You sit behind a computer and do a debate – it's ridiculous, and then they cut you off whenever they want," Trump said in an Oct. 8 interview on Fox Business.

Earlier on Monday, Trump's campaign said it was unhappy with the announced set of topics for Thursday's debate, arguing that it should focus more on foreign policy and asserting that the nonpartisan group was tilted toward Biden.

Biden's campaign said both sides previously agreed to let moderators choose the subjects. It said Trump wanted to avoid discussing his stewardship of the coronavirus pandemic, which surveys show is the top issue for voters.

"As usual, the president is more concerned with the rules of a debate than he is getting a nation in crisis the help it needs," Biden spokesman TJ Ducklo said.

The number of Americans who voted early reached 30.2 million on Monday, according to the University of Florida's United States Elections Project. That number represents more than one-fifth of all the votesRead More – Source

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How farming is drying up Arizona’s water supplies

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In this part of Arizona, large-scale farms have control over the water. These wells pump tremendous amounts for producing alfalfa, a plant used for animal feed.

In this part of Arizona, large-scale farms have control over the water. These wells pump tremendous amounts for producing alfalfa, a plant used for animal feed. © France 2

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FRANCE 2

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James VASINA

With a lack of restrictions on water use, owners of some large-scRead More – Source

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Churches burnt as Chile anniversary rallies turn violent

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Tens of thousands of Chileans gathered in the central square of Santiago to mark the one-year anniversary of mass protests that left over 30 dead and thousands injured, with peaceful rallies on Sunday devolving by nightfall into riots and looting.

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People gathered early in the day in demonstrations downtown and in cities throughout Chile that gained size and fervor through the evening. Many touted signs and rainbow colored homemade banners calling for a "yes" vote next Sunday in a referendum over whether to scrap the country's dictatorship-era Constitution, a key demand of the 2019 protests.

The demonstrations, while largely peaceful early on, were marred by increasing incidents of violence, looting of supermarkets and clashes with police across the capital later in the day. Fire truck sirens, burning barricades on roadways and fireworks on downtown streets added to a sense of chaos in some neighborhoods.

Interior Minister Victor Perez spoke late in the evening, praising the early, peaceful rallies while blasting the late-night mayhem. He called on Chileans to settle their differences by voting in the upcoming Oct. 25 constitutional referendum.

"Those who carry out these acts of violence do not want Chileans to solve our problems through democratic means," Perez told reporters, vowing to punish those who crossed the line Sunday.

Early in the day, an angry mob jeered and threatened a Communist Party mayor. Later, masked individuals firebombed a police headquarters and church. Vandals attacked another Santiago church in the early evening, setting its spire aflame and choking side streets with smoke.

More than 15 metro stations were temporarily closed amid the unrest. Police fired tear gas and water cannons in skirmishes with sometimes violent, hooded and masked people.

Last year's protests, which began Oct. 18, raged until mid-December as Chileans gathered nationwide to call for reforms to the pensioRead More – Source

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Trump gaffe demotes France’s Macron from president to prime minister

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President Donald Trump likes to make fun of his rival Joe Biden's verbal lapses but on Saturday he made his own goof as he took a pot shot at French President Emmanuel Macron and effectively demoted him.

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Trump's error downgrading Macron to prime minister came as he spoke at a campaign rally in Michigan, one of a flurry of stops he is making in the final three weeks of the presidential race as he trails Democrat Biden in the polls.

Trump had been speaking about the old NAFTA trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, which he called a bad deal for America and insisted on renegotiating, when he turned his attention to Macron and the Paris climate change accord.

Trump, who questions the science behind global warming, pulled the US out of that landmark global accord in 2017, saying it was costing American jobs.

"And you know what else I stopped? The Paris environmental accord," Trump said.

"And I like Prime Minister Macron a lot. But I said 'how's it going over there? How is the accord doing?' They're not doing too good," Trump said.

"I savRead More – Source

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Deadly wildfires scorch northern California, ravaging wine country

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Northern California’s wine country was on fire again Monday as strong winds fanned flames in the already scorched region, destroying homes and prompting orders for nearly 70,000 people to evacuated. Meanwhile, three people died in a separate fire further north in the state.

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In Sonoma County, residents of the Oakmont Gardens senior living facility in Santa Rosa boarded brightly lit city buses in the darkness overnight, some wearing bathrobes and using walkers. They wore masks to protect against the coronavirus as orange flames marked the dark sky.

The fire threat forced Adventist Health St. Helena hospital to suspend care and transfer all patients elsewhere.

The fires that began Sunday in the famed Napa-Sonoma wine country about 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of San Francisco came as the region nears the third anniversary of deadly wildfires that erupted in 2017, including one that killed 22 people. Just a month ago, many of those same residents were evacuated from the path of a lightning-sparked fire that became the fourth-largest in state history.

“Our firefighters have not had much of a break, and these residents have not had much of a break,” said Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire.

Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin evacuated her property in the Oakmont community of Santa Rosa at about 1 a.m. She is rebuilding a home damaged in the 2017 fires.

Gorin said she saw three neighboring houses in flames as she fled early Monday.

“We’re experienced with that,” she said of the fires. “Once you lose a house and represent thousands of folks who’ve lost homes, you become pretty fatalistic that this is a new way of life and, depressingly, a normal way of life, the megafires that are spreading throughout the West.”

More than 68,000 people in Sonoma and Napa counties have been evacuated in the latest inferno, one of nearly 30 fire clusters burning across the state, said Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nichols.

Trump, Biden face off in first US presidential debate of 2020

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Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden will square off on Tuesday in the first of three scheduled debates, an encounter that will showcase a stark clash of styles andRead More – Source

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US-Canada border closure puts sick Americans’ lives in danger

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FOCUS © FRANCE 24

By: François RIHOUAY | Gloria Henriquez

Since the spring, the border between the United States and Canada has been closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. TRead More – Source

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‘Round 1: Mayhem’: US press reacts to first presidential debate

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IN THE PAPERS – Wednesday, September 30: We take a look at reactions in the American press following a chaotic first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. We then turn to Lebanon, where Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah has reacted to French President Emmanuel Macron's recent criticism of Lebanese politicians. We also tRead More – Source

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