US President Joe Biden on Saturday headed to London to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
The state funeral, the first in Britain since the death of Winston Churchill in 1965, will take place Monday at Westminster Abbey in London at 11:00 am (1000 GMT).
Biden will be among several hundred leaders from around the world attending the somber and historic event, along with some 2,000 other guests.
While the leaders of the European Union, France, Japan and many other countries will attend, those of Russia, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Syria and North Korea were not invited.
On Sunday, Biden will attend a reception organized by King Charles III, the White House announced. The two men spoke by phone on Wednesday, with Biden vowing to preserve the “special relationship” between their countries.
A meeting Biden was to have held Monday with new Prime Minister Liz Truss at her Downing Street residence has been canceled, US and British officials announced, but the two instead will meet Wednesday in New York when both arrive to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly.
World leaders were beginning to gather in London on Saturday to prepare for Monday’s funeral.
Their presence — along with that of hundreds of thousands of mourners from across Britain and around the world — poses an extraordinary challenge to British police.
It will be London’s largest ever policing event, the city’s Metropolitan Police force said Friday.
More than 2,000 officers have been drafted from across the country to help Scotland Yard.
After the funeral, the queen’s coffin will be transferred by royal hearse to Windsor Castle, west of London, for a committal service.
That will be followed by a family-only burial in which the queen will be laid to rest alongside her late husband Philip, both her parents and her younger sister.
US President Joe Biden took fierce aim Thursday at Donald Trump and his “extremist” supporters, labeling them enemies of American democracy in a prime-time address that sought to fire up voters ahead of key midterm elections.
Speaking in Philadelphia, the cradle of US democracy, the president launched an extraordinary assault on those Republicans who embrace Trump’s “Make America Great Again” ideology — and urged his own supporters to fight back.
“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” thundered Biden, speaking near the spot where the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were adopted more than two centuries ago.
“They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies.”
“There is no place for political violence in America. Period. None. Ever,” warned the 79-year-old Democrat — in a reference to last year’s assault on the US Capitol by hardline Trump supporters refusing to accept his defeat.
Citing the nationwide assault on abortion rights by hardline conservatives — and fears for other freedoms ranging from contraception access to same-sex marriage — the US leader charged that “MAGA forces” were “determined to take this country backwards.”
With control of Congress in the balance come November, Biden appealed directly to mainstream Republicans to join forces with Democrats and repudiate Trump’s brand of politics — which still holds sway over much of his party.
And he made it clearer than ever that Democrats intended to make the midterms a referendum on Trump, saying the Republican Party was wholly “dominated, driven and intimidated” by the former president and his MAGA agenda.
“And that is a threat to this country,” he said, insisting American democracy had to be defended.
“Protect it. Stand up for it,” Biden urged.
Trump hit back at Biden on his Truth Social site late on Thursday, saying the president is unfit for office.
“If he doesn’t want to Make America Great Again, which through words, action, and thought, he doesn’t, then he certainly should not be representing the United States of America!” Trump wrote.
Biden’s speech — billed as an address on the “battle for the Soul of the Nation” — harked back to an article he published in The Atlantic magazine in 2017, after a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that he says spurred his presidential run.
“We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden wrote then.
After his election in 2020, the veteran politician initially planned for more dialogue with moderate Republican lawmakers, and through economic and social policies aimed at the middle class.
But the talk of reconciliation has died down, as polls seem to indicate the Democratic leader is better served by being more aggressive.
Last week, Biden accused Trump’s supporters of being consumed by “semi-fascism.”
The term sparked indignation in conservative ranks — with Republican Senate Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy charging that it “vilifies” millions of “hardworking, law-abiding citizens.
“With all due respect Mr President, there’s nothing wrong with America’s soul,” retorted Republican senator and longtime Trump loyalist Lindsey Graham after Biden’s speech.
“The American people are hurting because of your policies.”
A new poll published Thursday by The Wall Street Journal shows that if the midterm elections were held today, 47 percent of eligible voters would cast ballots for Democrats, and 44 percent would vote Republican.
In March, the Republicans had a five-point advantage.
The Democrats are hoping for an upset in November’s elections, in which all of the seats in the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate seats are on the ballot. Traditionally, the midterms don’t favor the ruling party.
Things have been going well for Biden lately, however, with inflation slowing, a series of his landmark reforms finally pushed through Congress and Trump fighting off a series of criminal investigations. Polls show widespread support for abortion rights, which could put many Republicans on the back foot.
This would be enough to give hope to the Democrats, who are battling to keep their hold on the House and preserve their Senate majority — or even strengthen it.
And Pennsylvania will be crucial for any of that to happen.
Historically a key battleground in US politics, the Keystone State will likely prove vital to both parties in the midterms — and Biden will visit three times this week alone.
Trump is also planning an appearance in the state on Saturday to support his candidate in the Senate race, TV physician Mehmet Oz.
President Joe Biden’s Covid advisor Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert who became the face of the country’s fight against the pandemic, announced Monday that he will step down in December.
Fauci said in a statement he would be leaving both his position as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and that of chief medical advisor to Biden — though he added: “I am not retiring.”
The 81-year-old, who previously disclosed plans to leave by the end of Biden’s current term, announced he would go in December to “pursue the next chapter of my career.”
Biden extended his “deepest thanks” to Fauci in a White House statement.
“Because of Dr. Fauci’s many contributions to public health, lives here in the United States and around the world have been saved,” the president said, adding that the country is “is stronger, more resilient, and healthier because of him.”
Fauci has helmed the United States’ response to infectious disease outbreaks since the 1980s, from HIV/AIDS to Covid-19, and has served under seven presidents.
When Covid first spread globally from China in 2020, he became a trusted source of reliable information, reassuring the public with his calm and professorial demeanor during frequent media appearances.
But his honest takes on America’s early failures to get to grips with the virus brought Fauci into conflict with former president Donald Trump, and turned the physician-scientist into a hated figure for some on the right.
Fauci now lives with security protection after his family received death threats and harassment.
Biden said that after winning the 2020 election, as he was trying to build a team to lead the Covid-19 response, Fauci was “one of my first calls.”
“In that role, I’ve been able to call him at any hour of the day for his advice as we’ve tackled this once-in-a-generation pandemic,” the president stated.
The Pentagon said Wednesday that US forces killed 13 fighters of the al-Shabaab militant group in an airstrike in Somalia.
The strike took place on August 14 near Teedaan in the central-southern part of the country while Shabaab fighters were attacking Somali National Army forces, the Pentagon’s Africa Command said in a statement.
“US forces are authorized to conduct strikes in defense of designated partner forces,” the statement said.
It said that an initial assessment of the strike showed that no civilians were injured or killed.
Last week US forces killed four Shabaab members in a strike in the same region.
Al-Shabaab, which the United States labels a terrorist group, has led an insurrection against Somalia’s federal government for 15 years.
The group controls swathes of the countryside and frequently strikes civilian and military targets.
In May, President Joe Biden ordered the re-establishment of a US troop presence in Somalia to help local authorities combat Al-Shabaab, reversing a decision by his predecessor Donald Trump to withdraw most US forces.
The Pentagon announced Monday $1 billion in fresh military aid for Ukraine, including additional precision missiles for the Himars system that have helped Kyiv’s forces attack Russian troops far behind the front lines.
The package also includes more surface-to-air missiles for defense against Russian aircraft and rockets, more Javelin anti-armor rockets, and other ammunition, according to a statement from the US Department of Defense.
“These are all critical capabilities to help the Ukrainians repel the Russian offensive in the east, and also to address evolving developments in the south and elsewhere,” said Under Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl.
It took to $9.1 billion the amount of security assistance the United States has provided Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on February 24.
“The United States stands with allies and partners from more than 50 countries in providing vital security assistance to support Ukraine’s defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russia’s aggression,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“We will continue to consult closely with Ukraine and surge additional available systems and capabilities, carefully calibrated to make a difference on the battlefield and strengthen Ukraine’s eventual position at the negotiating table,” Blinken said in a statement.
Separately, the World Bank announced Monday $4.5 billion in aid for Ukraine paid for by the United States.
The funds will help Kyiv pay for services and pensions, key to easing economic impacts of the Russian invasion, the bank said in a statement.
“This economic assistance is critical in supporting the Ukrainian people as they defend their democracy against Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression,” US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.
US President Joe Biden’s government on Thursday declared monkeypox a public health emergency, a move that should free up new funds, assist in data gathering and allow the deployment of additional personnel in the fight against the disease.
The move came as nationwide cases topped 6,600, around a quarter of them from New York state, and experts warned swift action was needed if the outbreak is to be contained in its early stages.
“We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus,” Health and Human Services secretary Xavier Becerra said in a call.
Observers believe the real number of cases could be much higher than official figures suggest, since symptoms in the current global outbreak, which began in May, have included subtle signs, such as single lesions, in addition to the more familiar widespread rashes.
This can lead to cases being missed or misdiagnosed as the presentation is similar to common sexually transmitted infections.
The US has so far delivered some 600,000 JYNNEOS vaccines — originally developed against monkeypox’s related virus, smallpox — but this number is still far short of the approximately 1.6 million people considered at highest risk and who need the vaccine most.
Supply chain constraints mean the country should receive its next shipment of 150,000 JYNNEOS vaccines — which was developed with US federal funding but is made by a small Danish company called Bavarian Nordic — only by September, said Dawn O’Connell, a senior HHS official.
Sexual Activity Main Driver
Some 99 percent of US cases have so far been among men who have sex with men, HHS said last week, and this is the population authorities are targeting in the national vaccination strategy.
In contrast to previous outbreaks in Africa, the virus is now predominantly spread through sexual activity — but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says other routes are also possible, including sharing bedding, clothing, and prolonged face-to-face contact.
Authorities are carrying out specific outreach efforts to the MSM community, including advising them on new types of symptoms and suggesting reducing their number of sexual partners until vaccinated.
There are a small but rising number of women and children who have also been affected as a result of sexual or household contact.
Fortunately, there have been no reported US deaths, with all patients so far recovering. However, some have required hospitalization to treat extreme levels of pain.
Some 14,000 doses of an antiviral drug known as tecovirimat, or TPOXX by its trade name, have been delivered to treat the disease — but the drug was developed against smallpox and its efficacy against monkeypox isn’t yet fully understood.
The focus on MSMs has led to concerns of stigmatization.
But writing in Medscape, University of California, San Francisco professor Monica Gandhi said the focus on the most affected population was helpful.
“Just like with HIV and COVID, it is important to define populations most at risk so we can prioritize targeted messaging and resources toward those groups,” she said.
Five Vaccines from One Dose
The US declaration comes after the World Health Organization also designated the outbreak an emergency last month — something it reserves for diseases of highest concern.
Also Thursday, US Food and Drug Administration commissioner Robert Califf said his agency was considering changing the way the vaccine is injected, adopting an approach that would allow five times as many people to be vaccinated based on the same supply.
The vaccine is currently administered underneath the skin, but the new technique would involve administering it within the skin, at a more shallow angle.
This “means basically sticking the needle within the skin and creating a little pocket there into which the vaccine goes, so this is really nothing highly unusual,” said Califf.
The US will first need to declare another type of emergency so the new vaccine administration method can be greenlighted, he added. ia
The OPEC+ group of oil exporters meets Wednesday to discuss another output increase, weeks after US President Joe Biden sought to persuade Saudi Arabia to boost production during a controversial visit to the country.
The White House has been pressing the oil cartel to step up production to tame prices that have surged since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.
But the group, which is led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, has stuck to modest increases so far.
The 13-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, along with 10 allies that include Russia, had slashed production at the height of the Covid pandemic in 2020 after a plunge in demand caused prices to sink.
The group began to raise production last year, agreeing to add 400,000 barrels per day to the market. It backed an increase of nearly 650,000 barrels per day in June, still not enough to spark a big drop in oil prices.
The alliance’s output is back to pre-virus levels, but just on paper as a few members have struggled to meet their quotas.
All eyes will be on whether OPEC+ sticks to the same output policy or steps it up.
Biden travelled to Saudi Arabia in mid-July to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite his promise to make the kingdom a “pariah” in the wake of the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Part of the reason for the controversial trip was to convince Riyadh to continue loosening the production taps to stabilise the market and curb rampant inflation.
After his meetings with Saudi leaders in mid-July, Biden said he was “doing all I can” to increase the oil supply but added that concrete results would not be seen “for another couple weeks” — and it was unclear what those might be.
Wednesday’s meeting will reveal whether his efforts were successful.
“The US administration appears to be anticipating some good news but it’s hard to know whether that’s based on assurances during Biden’s trip or not,” Craig Erlam, analyst at OANDA trading platform, told AFP.
Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management, said it “wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Saudis announce something that Biden could tout as a win to voters at home.”
According to the London-based research institute Energy Aspects, OPEC+ could adjust its current agreement in order to keep raising crude production volumes.
However, analysts warn against expecting any drastic increases.
OPEC+ has to take into account the fact that the interests of Russia — a key player in the alliance — are diametrically opposed to those of Washington.
“Saudi Arabia has to walk a fine line,” said Tamas Varga, analyst at PVM Energy.
Any decision on Wednesday will have to be unanimous, which may lead to a longer meeting than normal.
“Any new OPEC+ deal aimed at further ramping up supplies is likely to be met with market scepticism, considering the supply constraints already evident within the alliance,” said Han Tan, chief market analyst at Exinity.
The group will decide output policy under a new secretary general, Kuwait’s Haitham Al-Ghais, who took office on Monday following the death of Nigeria’s Mohammed Barkindo last month.
“I look forward to working with all our Member Countries and our many partners around the world to ensure a sustainable and inclusive energy future which leaves no one behind,” Al-Ghais said in a statement.
The United States is sending a new batch of military assistance to Ukraine, the White House said Thursday, with the $450 million shipments including four more advanced rocket systems to use against Russian invasion forces.
“This package contains weapons and equipment, including new High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems,” White House spokesman John Kirby said. Also included are tens of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition and patrol boats.
The rocket systems known as HIMARS are at the top of Ukraine’s wish list as the pro-Western country battles a Russian invasion force advancing through the east of the country with the help of a significant advantage in heavy artillery.
An initial four units of the rocket system have already been delivered, kicking off the training program required for Ukrainian soldiers to operate the sophisticated and highly accurate weaponry. Another four are now being sent, the Pentagon said.
Also included are 36,000 rounds of artillery ammunition, 18 vehicles used to tow 155mm artillery pieces, 1,200 grenade launchers, 2,000 machine guns, 18 coastal and river patrol boats, and spare parts, the Pentagon said.
With the latest shipments, the US contribution to Ukraine’s military will amount so far to $6.1 billion since the start of Russia’s invasion in February, Kirby said.
US President Joe Biden announced a new package of arms and ammunition for Ukraine Tuesday after reaffirming Washington’s support for Kyiv against Russia’s invasion in a call with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The package of $1 billion worth of arms includes more artillery, coastal anti-ship defense systems, and ammunition for artillery and advanced rocket systems that Ukraine is already using, Biden said.
In the phone call, Biden said he “reaffirmed my commitment that the United States will stand by Ukraine as it defends its democracy and support its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of unprovoked Russian aggression,” according to a statement.