WASHINGTON, 21 September 2020, (TON): Microsoft co-founder and global health philanthropist Bill Gates criticized the current state of the United States’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic on Sunday, including slow turnaround times for tests.

Gates told “Fox News Sunday” that the access to fast testing is still inadequate more than six months into the pandemic and that the U.S. was set up for a rough fall of virus cases. 

“Even today, people don’t get their results in 24 hours. It’s outrageous that we still have that,” Gates said.

The United States has suffered more than 6.7 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, resulting in nearly 200,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. That puts the country with a much higher rate of infection and death per capita than many other developed countries, including South Korea, Australia, Germany and Canada. 

The early stages of the pandemic were marked by a severe shortage of tests, though the amount of daily testing has improved significantly over time. Gates said that political and health leaders need to publicly admit that the current testing situation is inadequate and find ways to make the system more efficient, saying that “we can’t pretend that we get a good grade even today.”

“I do think we need to own up to the fact that we didn’t do a good job. Part of the reluctance I think to fix the testing system now is that nobody wants to admit that it’s still outrageous ... The U.S. has more of these machines, more of this capacity than other countries by a huge amount. And so partly the reimbursement system is creating a perverse incentive,” Gates said. 

On CNN’s “State of Union” Adm. Brett Giroir from the Department of Health and Human Services said that part of the reason testing had not reached 1 million per day as he has had predicted was because the rate of new cases had slowed, lowering the number of contact tracing tests required. He also said that the administration would soon distribute $150 million of 15-minute tests.

Cases and hospitalizations have spiked in several European countries in recent weeks, which some experts have linked to “panademic fatigue” as adherence to social distancing measures slips. Daily cases in Spain and France have surpassed the United States when adjusted for population.

The U.S. saw initial outbreaks on the West Coast and in northeastern states during the spring, with rolling outbreaks spreading across the country in the months since. Gates attributed that in part to the travel restrictions imposed by the Trump administration, which created a “rush” of American citizens and residents to return home at a time when the U.S. did not have proper testing or quarantine protocols.

“That’s led to us not just having a bad spring — we’ve had a pretty tough summer. And sadly, because of the seasonality, until we get these new tools the fall is looking to shape up as pretty tough as well,” he said. 

In a statement to CNBC, a White House spokesperson said President Trump has always put the well-being of the American people first and highlighted the administration’s efforts to help develop a vaccine.

Gates had for years warned about the dangers of a global health emergency like a pandemic, and the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation has spent billions on health and anti-poverty initiatives around the world. 

ADDIS ABABA, 21 September 2020, (Nation): Ethiopia announced Saturday it was charging leading opposition politicians Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba with crimes including terrorism and incitement to violence, a move that risks further inflaming tensions in the restive Oromia region.

The charges -- which could bring life imprisonment -- relate to violence that erupted after the shooting death in June of Hachalu Hundessa, a popular singer from the Oromo ethnic group who gave voice to Oromo feelings of political and economic marginalisation. In the days that followed Hachalu’s June 29 killing, up to 239 people died in inter-ethnic violence and clashes with soldiers and police that underscored security challenges facing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Jawar and Bekele were among more than 9,000 people caught up in subsequent mass arrests that have stoked criticism that Abiy is seizing on the unrest to silence political opponents and critics. The attorney general’s office announced charges against 24 suspects in a Facebook post Saturday.

Pakistan reports 633 coronavirus in one day

These include “trying to incite ethnic and religious based conflict to cause citizens to turn on their fellow citizens”.

Among the other suspects are several high-profile Abiy critics living abroad like prominent Oromo activist Tesgaye Regassa and former Abiy ally-turned-critic Berhanemeskel Abebe.

Jawar’s lawyer, Tuli Bayyisa, told AFP Saturday that he had not been informed of the charges but dismissed them as baseless. “It’s very astonishing. I’m 100 percent sure that, it might take years and years and years, but they will not prove these allegations if the law really works,” Tuli said.

The attorney general’s statement did not provide details about the charges, but Tuli said in Jawar’s case they seemed to concern a scuffle over Hachalu’s dead body that resulted in the death of a police officer.

“No single witness has consistently spoken about any crime... by either Mr Jawar or Mr Bekele,” he said. Jawar played a central role in anti-government protests that swept Abiy to power in 2018.

Dozens of Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa complex

Abiy is Ethiopia’s first Oromo leader, but he faces intense criticism from Oromo nationalists like Jawar who accuse him of being a poor advocate for their interests and behaving like a dictator.

Putting Jawar on trial risks fuelling violence in Addis Ababa and in Oromia, the country’s most populous region which surrounds the capital.

Last month security forces shot dead at least five people in a crackdown on demonstrations against Jawar’s detention triggered by reports he was not receiving proper medical care.

And last October scores were killed after Jawar accused security forces of trying to orchestrate an attack against him.

Jawar and Bekele, both members of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, are expected to appear in court Monday.

MOSCOW, 21 September 2020, (AFP News Agency): Vil Mirzayanov's apology comes as another scientist who worked on programme denied Navalny was poisoned with Novichok.

A scientist involved in the secret Soviet programme to create the Novichok nerve agent has apologised to the Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny, who is recovering from poisoning in Berlin.

Vil Mirzayanov, a chemist who was the first to reveal Novichok's development, in an interview with Russia's TV Rain on Saturday evening said he wanted to apologise to Navalny after Germany said it found "unequivocal evidence" he was poisoned with Novichok.

Navalny described his severe symptoms after falling ill on a plane on August 20, including the inability to form words, saying he still struggled to pour a glass of water or use a phone.

"I offer my profound apologies to Navalny for the fact that I took part in this criminal business, developing this substance that he was poisoned with," said Mirzayanov, who now lives in the United States and wrote the first articles on Novichok's development in the early 1990s.

Germany has said laboratory tests in three countries have determined he was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent, and Western governments have demanded an explanation from Russia.

Mirzayanov's apology comes as another scientist who worked on the programme has denied that Navalny could have been poisoned with Novichok.

Mirzayanov predicted that Navalny would eventually recover.

"Navalny will just have to be patient but in the end, he should be healthy," Mirzayanov said, predicting recovery would take "almost a year".

He suggested that Navalny most likely took in the poison orally, since he appears not to have contaminated others.

This counters a suggestion by another scientist who worked on Novichok, Vladimir Uglev, who told Proyekt investigative site that Navalny's survival suggested he had only skin contact.

Navalny's aides gathered discarded objects from his hotel room in the Siberian city of Tomsk and sent them to German experts who found Novichok on a water bottle.

Russian scientist Leonid Rink, who state media says worked on the programme to develop Novichok, poured scorn on Mirzayanov's comments on Sunday.

Speaking to the RIA Novosti news agency, Rink said Mirzayanov, while he worked at the same research centre, he was an "ordinary" chemist not directly involved in Novichok's creation.

"He has nothing to do with the creation of Novichok," Rink insisted, adding Mirzayanov could not know its "biological effects".

Rink argued that if Novichok had been used on Navalny,  the opposition leader would have died.

"He wouldn't have survived if it was Novichok," he said.

Russians vote in regional polls overshadowed by Navalny poisoning.  

 

 

 

WASHINGTON, 21 September 2020 (NYTIMES): A US court has temporarily blocked the Trump administration's ban on downloads and other functions of the Chinese-owned social media app WeChat.

The administration had announced it would curtail the use of the multi-purpose app in the United States from Sunday. It claimed the Chinese government could misuse customer data compiled by the app.

US WeChat users filed a motion against the ban with a federal court in San Francisco.

In issuing the preliminary injunction on Saturday, the court said WeChat is effectively the only means of communication for many users in Chinese-speaking and Chinese-American communities.

It said there are no viable substitute platforms or apps available

WASHINGTON, 18 September 2020, (TON): President Trump on Thursday said he would create a commission to promote "patriotic education" and announced the creation of a grant to develop a "pro-American curriculum." The move is largely political — a reaction to a growing push by some academics for schools to teach an American history that better acknowledges slavery and systemic racism.

In the speech, President Trump claimed "twisted web of lies" being taught in US classrooms about systemic racism in America, calling it "a form of child abuse."  He said, "Teaching this horrible doctrine to our children is a form of child abuse, the truest sense." He clarified, “For many years now, the radicals have mistaken Americans' silence for weakness. They're wrong. There is no more powerful force than a parent's love for their children. And patriotic moms and dads are going to demand that their children are no longer fed hateful lies about this country."

WASHINGTON,23 August 2020, TON: Presidential candidate and his Vice President, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have greeted Hindu community on “Ganesh Chaturthi” and expressed hope for a new beginning. Biden tweeted, "To everyone celebrating the Hindu festival of Ganesh Chaturthi in the US, India, and around the world, may you overcome all obstacles, be blessed with wisdom, and find a path toward new beginnings." But Indian in US and back home are not happy and much concerned. Many people fail to understand the question on the lips of every second Indian, “Harris is Indian while Sonia Gandhi an Italian?” Sonia Gandhi is President of Indian National Congress and rumors have spread that she is considering resigning. Is this India’s internal affair or have something to do with forthcoming elections in United States relating to Joe Biden and Kamala Haris? Joe Biden has moved two steps forward by declaring “Will back India against threats on border”. Is this a “Trojan Horse” and repetition of  1813 Charter Act provisions which removed the ban on missionary activity and establishment of a Churches in India. 

President Donald Trump is a strong candidate for White House in the 3 November 2020 presidential elections in the United States. In the last week of June 2020, White House Deputy Press Secretary Ms Sarah Matthews in a statement to media said, "President Trump is incredibly grateful for the widespread support he has received from the people of India and from millions of Indian-Americans across the United States." It is now an open secret that traditionally Indian -America vote is for the Democratic Party but quickly the Indians and Pakistan origin are switching towards Republicans and President Donald Trump. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Trump have understanding the the investments in each other countries and in addition, India has become an important US’ multilateral partner around the world.

To counter, President Trump growing popularity in Pakistan and India, US forthcoming election rival, Joe Biden has played his Indian card to choose Ms Kamala Harris, a Senator having Indian origin background from mother side and married to a Jewish Los Angeles lawyer as his vice President to divide Indian votes. Ms Kamala Harris a fine lady made a good dent in President Trump popularity but not in the minds of those who were already in President Trump’s camp, forming 55% of total Indian-American votes. Other reports say Trump has 50% and not 55%. Interestingly, Joe Biden’s move has been supported by Indian National Congress Party back in India where former President of the Indian National Congress Rahul Gandhi tweeted on 29 April 2020, “I'm dismayed by the "unfollowing" of our President & PM by the White House. I urge the Ministry of External Affairs to take note.” 

Fair and transparent elections are much desired but as thing are being unfolded there are some quite suspicious thing coming up, which no one will like to share at present. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is much upset over nomination of Ms Kamala Harris as she claims to be of Indian origin of Christian-Jewish faith. Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement, “the government would not make any statement on the development, as it could be seen as interference in the US’ internal politics.” If we recall, PM Modi quoted US President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan Abki baar Trump Sarkar” in his speech. New Delhi is worried because Kamala Harris has remained a tough critic of India’s internal policies under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. She was quoted to have repeatedly said, “We’ve to remind the Kashmiris that they’re not alone in the world”. 

Bharatiya Janta Party, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and other like minded groups, in recently different formal and public meetings were much perturbed as President Trump never interfered in their religion and regarded Hinduism as religion of peace but Joe Biden and Ms Kamala Harris were reportedly targeting mass conversions of faith. This might be apprehensions of the Hindu religious groups and common Hindu, who struggled to get rid of European occupation which costed tens of thousand conversions from Hindus to Christianity.  Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam had also tweeted on the announcement, calling it a “moment of pride for Indians, especially for the people of Tamil Nadu”, as Ms. Harris’s mother belonged to Chennai. 

It is on record that after meeting the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi in January 2015, US President Barack Obama urged India not to stray from its constitutional commitment to allow people to freely "profess, practice and propagate" religion. Eric Metaxas in his show recently said that Kamala Harris has “no core values” and is only driven by ambition and power and also said she is an “evil protean figure”. President Trump tweeted last December, “have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President. No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close. You’ll not get anything from those Dems on stage. I won’t be reading ET again!” One wonders American withdrawal from Afghanistan has already been announced by President Trump but what Joe Biden announcement means about American presence in India, “Will back India against threats on border”.

NEW YORK: 18 March 2020, TON: "The temporary shutdown of cross-border movement within the EU will inevitably impact when and how vulnerable children in Greece are relocated to Germany, Finland and other states," a senior UNICEF official said.

European border bounds will affect refugee children because of the Coronavirus will affect plans to transfer hundreds of children out of "dire and dangerous" refugee camps in Greece, a senior official for the United Nations children's fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.

European countries including Finland, France, Portugal and Luxembourg, and the German city of Berlin, agreed in recent weeks to take unaccompanied minors from Greece after thousands of refugees and migrants arrived in the EU member state, including those fleeing violence in Syria.

But some EU member states have now imposed checks at borders that are normally in a zone of control-free travel, and EU leaders were expected later on Tuesday to seal the bloc's external borders.

"The temporary shutdown of cross-border movement within the EU will inevitably impact when and how vulnerable children in Greece are relocated to Germany, Finland and other states," Afshan Khan, Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant response in Europe, said by email in response to a question from Reuters.

She urged countries to explore "all possible measures to expedite the transfer of these children, so they can begin moving as soon as the borders reopen".

She also called for coronavirus testing procedures to be set up for the children and alternatives found to collective living arrangements.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday there were at least 10 confirmed coronavirus cases among refugees and asylum seekers in Germany. Some aid officials worry this might undermine future support for taking refugees.

UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic urged all national authorities to treat refugees and asylum seekers who fall sick with the virus the same way as other nationals.

Un should play its immediate role to assist the refugee children and to provide medical care and assistance to the effected.

Paris, 17 March 2020, TON: The French Open has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and will take place from September 20 to October 4, organisers said Tuesday.

The Grand Slam event was to have taken place from May 24 to June 7, but organisers said: "The current confinement measures have made it impossible for us to continue with our preparations and, as a result, we are unable to hold the tournament on the dates originally planned."

The new dates would mean the tournament would start just one week after the US Open, if that event remains in its scheduled slot.

"The whole world is affected by the public health crisis connected with COVID-19. In order to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved in organising the tournament, the French Tennis Federation has made the decision to hold the 2020 edition of Roland-Garros from 20th September to 4th October 2020," read a statement.

"In order to act responsibly and protect the health of its employees, service providers and suppliers during the organisation period, the FFT has chosen the only option that will allow them to maintain the 2020 edition of the tournament while joining the fight against COVID-19."

French federation of tennis president Bernard Giudicelli said: "We have made a difficult yet brave decision in this unprecedented situation, which has evolved greatly since last weekend. We are acting responsibly, and must work together in the fight to ensure everybody's health and safety."

Last week, the ATP announced it was suspending the men's tennis tour for six weeks "due to escalating health and safety issues" arising from spread of the virus. All events on the ATP Tour and second-tier ATP Challenger Tour are cancelled until April 27.

The International Tennis Federation, which runs the lower tiers of the professional game as well as the junior and senior circuits, followed the ATP by announcing there would be no tournaments on any of its tours until April 20 at the earliest.

The WTA Tour said Monday it was suspending the women's season until May 2, having already called off events in Bogota, Guadalajara and Charleston.

Next month's Fed Cup finals in Budapest have also been postponed indefinitely.

The revamped 12-team women's competition scheduled for April 14-19 as well as a series of play-off ties were both put on hold.

London, 17 March 2020, TON: England’s deputy chief medical officer has insisted the stricter measures to tackle the coronavirus had not been introduced too late.

Prof Jonathan Van-Tam told: “We are following the science very carefully and consider the measures we announced yesterday have been announced at the right time - not too early and certainly not too late."

“We don’t rule out taking further measures if these are necessary but much of this depends on how the next two weeks play out.”

He could not rule out the strict measures having to last for a year but predicted they would last at least “several months”.

The more people will encounter the coronavirus and become resistant with herd immunity, but “that will take time”.

“But, yes, you’re absolutely right that we can’t say how long this will need to go on for,” he said.

“I don’t know if it could be a year yet. I think we are too far out to make those kind of predictions but I certainly think it could be several months.”

ADDIS ABABA, 21 September 2020, (Nation): Ethiopia announced Saturday it was charging leading opposition politicians Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba with crimes including terrorism and incitement to violence, a move that risks further inflaming tensions in the restive Oromia region.

The charges -- which could bring life imprisonment -- relate to violence that erupted after the shooting death in June of Hachalu Hundessa, a popular singer from the Oromo ethnic group who gave voice to Oromo feelings of political and economic marginalisation. In the days that followed Hachalu’s June 29 killing, up to 239 people died in inter-ethnic violence and clashes with soldiers and police that underscored security challenges facing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Jawar and Bekele were among more than 9,000 people caught up in subsequent mass arrests that have stoked criticism that Abiy is seizing on the unrest to silence political opponents and critics. The attorney general’s office announced charges against 24 suspects in a Facebook post Saturday.

Pakistan reports 633 coronavirus in one day

These include “trying to incite ethnic and religious based conflict to cause citizens to turn on their fellow citizens”.

Among the other suspects are several high-profile Abiy critics living abroad like prominent Oromo activist Tesgaye Regassa and former Abiy ally-turned-critic Berhanemeskel Abebe.

Jawar’s lawyer, Tuli Bayyisa, told AFP Saturday that he had not been informed of the charges but dismissed them as baseless. “It’s very astonishing. I’m 100 percent sure that, it might take years and years and years, but they will not prove these allegations if the law really works,” Tuli said.

The attorney general’s statement did not provide details about the charges, but Tuli said in Jawar’s case they seemed to concern a scuffle over Hachalu’s dead body that resulted in the death of a police officer.

“No single witness has consistently spoken about any crime... by either Mr Jawar or Mr Bekele,” he said. Jawar played a central role in anti-government protests that swept Abiy to power in 2018.

Dozens of Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa complex

Abiy is Ethiopia’s first Oromo leader, but he faces intense criticism from Oromo nationalists like Jawar who accuse him of being a poor advocate for their interests and behaving like a dictator.

Putting Jawar on trial risks fuelling violence in Addis Ababa and in Oromia, the country’s most populous region which surrounds the capital.

Last month security forces shot dead at least five people in a crackdown on demonstrations against Jawar’s detention triggered by reports he was not receiving proper medical care.

And last October scores were killed after Jawar accused security forces of trying to orchestrate an attack against him.

Jawar and Bekele, both members of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, are expected to appear in court Monday.

KAMPALA, 18 September 2020, (TON). Over two hundred prisoners in a Uganda ran away on Thursday.  A military spokeswoman said on Thursday 219 jailbirds in a Uganda runaway from prison after overpowering the guards.

While giving statistic , Uganda military spokeswomen, Byekwaso told media personals that   before fleeing, they broke into the prison armoury and stole 15 AK-47 rifles, 20 magazines and other ammunition, 2 persons were also killed. A security operation has been planned to recapture the escapees.

Byekwaso said “It’s a mass escape … these were hard-core criminals… they included murderers, robbers and rapists”. It was Uganda’s third prisoner escape since the outbreak pandemic coronavirus in March various   measures like curfews and travel restrictions.

ZIMBABWE, 15 March 2020, TON: Zimbabwe’s Defense Minister says the coronavirus pandemic is God’s way of exacting revenge for countries that have imposed economic sanctions on the country.

Minister Oppah Muchinguri singled out the United States going as far as saying President Trump should know that “he is not God.” Trump renewed sanctions on the country recently.

She was speaking on Saturday at an event in Chinoyi, capital of the West Mashonaland Province. Her address was in a local language, a translation of which was as follows.

They are now stuck in their homes. There is nothing else for them to do. Their economies are now screaming. Isn't it they are making ours scream too? Trump must know that he is not God. They are suffocating us, where do they want us to go? Now it is your turn to be suffocated by coronavirus. So that you will feel how p

“This coronavirus that has come, these are sanctions, isn’t it? These are sanctions that have been imposed on countries that imposed sanctions on us. God has punished them.

“They are now stuck in their homes. There is nothing else for them to do. Their economies are now screaming. Isn’t it they are making ours scream too? Trump must know that he is not God.

“They are suffocating us, where do they want us to go? Now it is your turn to be suffocated by coronavirus. So that you will feel how painful it is.”

Zimbabweans on social media have been reacting to the pronouncements. A section calling for her to be fired, others making jest of the comment whiles for others the fact that China, an ally of the country, was the epicenter of the outbreak, has caused them to brand the Minister as ignorant.

“On behalf of the people of Zimbabwe, I would like to apologise to those countries that have been affected by the coronavirus; the provocative and ignorant comments by the Defence Minister do not reflect the thinking of the generality of Zimbabweans who wish you a speedy recovery,” a former deputy ministerGodfrey Gandawa  tweeted on Sunday.

The Zimbabwe government continues to insist that economic sanctions was all but worsening the struggling economy of the southern African nation. 

Go to top