President-elect Joe Biden on Monday received his second Covid-19 shot, and said that getting vaccines into people’s arms would be a “number one priority” for his incoming administration.
It comes as vaccine rollout has faltered badly in the world’s hardest-hit country, where some 375,000 people have died from the coronavirus and about 3,000 more are dying every day.
Some 25.5 million first doses of Covid vaccines have been shipped out to hospitals, clinics and nursing homes across the country, but only around 9 million have been injected, according to official data.
The 78-year-old incoming president arrived at the Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware in the early afternoon, removed his blazer, and thanked the nurse who injected his left arm with the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
“My number one priority is getting vaccine in people’s arms, like we just did today, as rapidly as we can,” he told reporters, adding that he would be holding a virtual meeting with his coronavirus team later on, and announcing a new strategy on Thursday.
“Three to four thousand people a day dying is just beyond the pale… it’s wrong, and we can do a lot to change it.”
He emphasized the need to continue social distancing and mask wearing, and added that he was “appalled” that Republican lawmakers refused to wear masks when they were forced into a security lockdown during last week’s Capitol attack by supporters of President Donald Trump.
“I think it’s irresponsible. It’s not a political issue, it’s an issue of public safety.”
Biden has also pledged to push for more direct stimulus checks to taxpayers, and said he was speaking with Republican lawmakers about moving on a second package “sooner rather than later.”
President-elect Joe Biden and President Donald Trump will be holding dueling campaign rallies in Georgia on Monday, the eve of a pair of crucial Senate runoff elections in the southern state.
Biden, 78, announced on Wednesday that he would travel to the Georgia capital Atlanta to campaign for Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
Trump, 74, had previously announced that he would be in the town of Dalton on Monday night for a rally in support of the Republican candidates, incumbent senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.
Tuesday’s runoff election featuring Ossoff against Perdue and Warnock against Loeffler will determine which party has control of the Senate.
Both races are tight with polls showing the candidates neck and neck.
Republicans currently hold 50 seats in the Senate and a victory in just one of the Georgia races will give them a majority and the ability to hamstring Biden’s agenda after he takes office on January 20.
President-elect Joe Biden vowed on Saturday immediate action to contain the United States’ coronavirus crisis, signalling science would dominate the national response once Donald Trump leaves the White House.
Biden’s pledge, in his first national address since defeating Trump, followed three days of record infections in the United States and came as the nation’s death toll surpassed 237,000.
Europe’s second-wave woes also deepened, with Greece becoming the latest European nation to enter a lockdown on Saturday and Poland introducing new restrictions on people’s movement.
In France, where a dramatic increase in infections has heaped pressure on hospitals, 306 new confirmed fatalities took the national death toll above 40,000.
The United States has long been the worst-hit nation.
Critics of Trump have blamed this on his chaotic response, which has seen him discredit the top US infectious disease expert, discourage face masks and speak at crowded campaign rallies.
At Biden’s victory event, which took into account social-distancing guidelines, the president-elect announced top scientists would be appointed to his coronavirus task force on Monday.
“On Monday I will name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisors to help take the Biden-Harris plan and convert it into an actual blueprint that will start on January 20, 2021,” Biden told supporters.
Earlier in the day, he had emphasised the urgency he placed on beating the pandemic.
“I want everyone, everyone, to know on day one we’re going to put our plan to control this virus into action,” Biden said before he had been declared the winner.
Unlike Biden, Trump held massive campaign rallies ahead of the November 3 vote, insisting the US was “rounding the turn” despite the virus surges.
Trump campaigned after contracting the virus himself.
Senior members of his administration have also contracted the virus recently. Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was the latest to test positive, media said late Friday.
– European epicentre –
Global infections have surged past 49 million, with Europe in recent weeks becoming the new pandemic epicentre.
Under the new measures in Greece, people can only leave home if they make a mobile phone request and receive authorisation.
Essential shops can stay open, including supermarkets and pharmacies.
Hairdressers have also been allowed to stay open, but just for two more days, and they were booked out.
“I want to have my hair done so that what I see in the mirror every morning during lockdown won’t cause me sadness,” said Petrina, ahead of her Sunday appointment.
The measures follow the imposition of tough restrictions in Italy, France, Ireland and Britain, while Germany and other nations have also imposed new measures.
Britain on Saturday banned entry to all non-resident foreigners coming from Denmark after a mutated version of the coronavirus linked to mink farms was found in humans.
Germany reported record daily figures on Saturday with 23,399 new cases and 130 deaths.
But demonstrators, few of whom wore masks, protested against new restrictions in the eastern German city of Leipzig.
Organisers put the turnout at 20,000 while police said some attacked them after being told to disperse.
“I simply see the collateral damage that these measures cause: the isolation of people, the bankruptcy that threatens them,” protester Robert Koehn, 39, told AFP.
Fellow protester Anne, 65, said that “for me, there is no virus, they cite the coronavirus crisis as a motive, but there are other things behind this”.
Demonstrators and the police have also clashed in parts of Italy and the Czech Republic in recent weeks.
In the mainly Catholic Philippines, home to the world’s longest Christmas festivities that start in September, people were trying to get into the festive spirit despite public gatherings being banned and night-time curfews imposed.
“With or without Covid we have to celebrate Christmas whatever it takes, this is a Filipino tradition,” said Cecilia Moore, wearing a mandatory mask as she paid 2,500 pesos ($52) for festive lights to decorate her home.
Brazil’s far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro has wasted no time showing his hostility to the independent news media, raising fears for the press under his administration, watchdog groups say.
International media associations are just the latest group to voice concern about the Latin American giant’s future under the former army captain, who has made derogatory comments against women, gays and blacks, and defends the use of torture by Brazil’s brutal military dictatorship (1964-1985).
The media controversy blew up after Bolsonaro threatened in one of his first interviews as president-elect to cut state advertising in newspapers or broadcasters that “behave disgracefully.”
That prompted the Inter American Press Association to say it was worried over “reprisals Brazil’s president-elect would take against the press.”
“We are concerned that the president-elect does not draw a distinction between government and state, in saying that he would use the public administration to punish media that turn out to be uncomfortable, denying them official advertising,” said the organization’s president, Maria Elvira Dominguez.
The Brazilian Investigative Journalism Association said it was fearful for the future given Bolsonaro’s comments, and the National Newspaper Association also registered its disapproval.
“Possible differences of opinion with the news media cannot be confused with unacceptable retaliation against newspapers via state advertising money,” said its president, Marcelo Rech.
The president-elect did not shy from naming names of the media outlets that have invoked his wrath.
First on the list: Brazil’s leading newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo, which broke a story on an illicit campaign to send bulk WhatsApp messages slandering Bolsonaro’s opponent, Fernando Haddad, and his Workers’ Party.
The contracts with the companies that sent the message were worth up to $3.2 million, the newspaper reported — money that was not declared to the electoral authorities.
The paper also infuriated Bolsonaro with an investigation that found he had a ghost employee on his payroll as a congressman.
Speaking after the election, Bolsonaro declared his commitment to the free press — then followed it up by saying of Folha: “That newspaper is finished.”
“As far as I’m concerned, media that behave disgracefully will not get federal government funds,” he said.
‘Get used to it’
“Get used to it,” Folha fired back Wednesday in an editorial.
“This newspaper will comfortably continue standing guard because it doesn’t depend on federal advertising,” it said.
The Brazilian press “will not stop scrutinizing the workings of power just because those who hold it at the moment employ the tactic of intimidation.”
Folha told AFP it receives less than five percent of its advertising revenue from the federal government.
The newspaper got a surge of public support in the form of shout-outs on social media, as well as new subscriptions.
But Bolsonaro’s supporters have also taken to social media to attack journalists perceived as critical of the politician.
Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders warned last week there has been an increase in both physical attacks and threats against journalists in Brazil’s highly polarized climate.
The Brazilian Investigative Journalism Association said it had registered 141 cases during the campaign.
The Sao Paulo Foreign Correspondents’ Association meanwhile said journalists had reported “countless” stories of physical and verbal harassment, calling on both Bolsonaro and his supporters to respect the Brazilian constitution’s guarantee of freedom of the press.
Mexico’s incoming president on Sunday said he had floated the idea of a new relationship between the neighbouring countries in a letter to US President Donald Trump.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he sent Trump proposals on bilateral relations — which have reached one of their lowest points in decades — in the areas of migration, public safety and trade.
Lopez Obrador, who won the presidential election July 1 with 53 per cent of the vote and will take office in December, said Sunday that the letter was sent to Trump through the delegation of senior US officials that visited him in Mexico City on July 13.
“It encourages me that we both know how to keep our pledges, and we have faced adversity successfully, we’ve managed to put our voters and citizens at the centre, displace the establishment or the predominant regime,” Lopez Obrador wrote.
While noting that he is awaiting Trump’s response, Lopez Obrador published the letter “so that all Mexicans know our position on the new relationship we want” with the United States.
The incoming president said Mexico wants a relationship of “respect, friendship and focused on development cooperation,” and said that the more developed Mexico is, the fewer people will have to leave their country in search of work.
US-Mexican relations have been severely strained since Trump won the 2016 presidential election after a campaign laced with anti-Mexican insults, attacks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and vows to make Mexico pay for a wall on their border.
Since then, US tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum, Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy on undocumented immigrants, and President Enrique Pena Nieto’s two abrupt cancellations of visits to Washington have only added to the tension.
Lopez Obrador, 64, pledged during the campaign to “put (Trump) in his place.”
But both men say they had a positive phone call the day after Mexico’s July 1 election, and Lopez Obrador has invited Trump to his inauguration.
President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated former football star, Mr George Weah, on his election as the next President of the Republic of Liberia.
Buhari also commended the people of the West African country on the peaceful conduct of the polls, according to a statement from his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, on Friday.
“On behalf of the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari warmly congratulates Mr George Weah on his election as the next President of the Republic of Liberia,” Buhari said.
While praising the efforts of the National Election Commission of Liberia and both local and international observers, Buhari noted their contributions have helped shape the democratic process of the once war-torn country.
He also described Weah’s victory as an affirmation of the will of the Liberian people to remain united, peaceful and prosperous.
On the need for a more regional cooperation within the continent, Buhari pledged Nigeria’s readiness to work with Liberia on issues of mutual interest at bilateral, regional and global levels for the benefit of citizens of both countries.
The statement read in part: “The Nigerian leader also commends outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, under whose 12-year watch Liberia had transformed from being a pariah state to a country doing remarkably well on many fronts such as, women and civil rights issue, peace building and consolidation, ECOWAS and the Mano River Union.
“President Buhari also notes that President Sirleaf deserves special commendation for the statesmanship she has shown in ensuring free and fair elections that will pave the way for a peaceful transfer of political power from one democratically elected leader to another for the first time in 73 years.”
Donald TrumpUS President-elect, Donald Trump, has awarded key roles in his incoming team to a top Republican party official and a conservative media chief.
Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), Reince Priebus, will be his Chief of Staff while Stephen Bannon, from the right-wing Breitbart News Network, will serve as Mr Trump’s Chief Strategist.
In a statement on Sunday afternoon, the transition team emphasized that the two men would work “as equal partners to transform the federal government”.
Mr Trump described Mr Priebus and Mr Bannon as “highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory”.
Mr Bannon said on Sunday: “I want to thank President-elect Trump for the opportunity to work with Reince in driving the agenda of the Trump administration.
“We had a very successful partnership on the campaign, one that led to victory. We will have that same partnership in working to help President-elect Trump achieve his agenda.”
Thousands have remained unhappy with president-elect Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S presidential elections, and have continued to take to the streets of major cities, in a third day of more violent protests.
Following Wednesday’s election results, the protesters had since begun protesting across the cities of Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, while smashing windows and starting up fires as a way of expressing their frustration.
Unperturbed, Mr Donald Trump, has said that he will soon be making ‘very important decision’ on persons that will be in his cabinet.
The Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, has emerged as the new Chairman of the South South Governors Forum following a meeting which is recorded as the first to be held shortly after the unveiling of the Calabar International Convention Center.
The governors of the BRACED Commission unanimously endorsed the Edo State Governor following his wealth of experience which other South South state governors believe can be beneficial to the region.
Adams Oshiomhole, speaking after unveiling the Calabar International Convention Center in Cross River State, South South Nigeria, described the center as beautiful image to Nigeria’s Tourism Sector.
Speaking on the importance of the 5,000 Capacity Calabar International Convention Center to the South South region, the new Chairman described the edifice as a well packaged parting gift from Liyel Imoke to not just Cross River State but the South South region and Nigeria as a whole.
The Comrade, who was overwhelmed by the project, described Liyel Imoke as a silent achiever in spite of the financial constraints the state is faced with.
Oshiomhole reasoned that by this feat, Imoke has laid a solid foundation for his successor to build on, thereby boosting the tourism map of the state.
In his remarks, Imoke disclosed that, the project which was 95% complete, is a catalyst to bringing alive other tourism related investments in the state.
The BRACED comprises of Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta States and had in attendance representatives who were part of installing its new leadership.
Nigeria’s Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has asked Nigerians not to expect a miracle from the incoming government of the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Channels TV correspondent, Seun Okinbaloye, the former Vice President stressed that the challenges facing the country are enormous, stating that such would require a step-by-step approach to solving them.
He also noted that devolution of powers should be an urgent matter the Buhari administration should pursue, expressing his fears that too much powers lie within the office of the President of Nigeria.
Alhaji Abubakar decried the weakness of the Nigeria institution, advising that Nigerians should be patient with the incoming government in order to achieve its campaign promises.
The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has pleaded with the Nigerian government to lift the embargo on employment of its members that has been on for over three years.
On Tuesday, the doctors expressed displeasure with the embargo placed on the employment of its members in both the State and Federal Government Hospitals.
The plea was made by the National President of the Group, Prince Dan-Jumbo at a brief in the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital in Rivers State.
Apparently worried by the state of affairs in the Health Sector, the NARD President queried the personnel funds that run into billions released to the Federal Ministry of Health when resident Doctors are not being employed, calling on the President-elect, General Mohammadu Buhari, to look into the plight of the Health Workers and residency programmes in the country, to avert any possible crisis in the sector.
The group (NARD) also frowned at the non payment of the wages of its members in Kogi, Benue, Edo and Lagos States, appealing to the various State Governments to fulfill their obligations to the Doctors and to take health matters more seriously.