U.S. To Collaborate With Nigeria To Fight Terrorism

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor, Jon Finer, brief reporters at the end of the meeting held in Abuja on October 18, 2021.

 

The United States Government is not only fighting terrorism within its territory but also extending a helping hand to Nigeria in a new move to address global terrorism.

As part of measures to tackle the menace, the US Deputy National Security Advisor, Jon Finer, met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, on Monday in Abuja where modalities for collaboration between both countries were discussed.

Although there are plans for other areas of collaboration, tackling terrorism is a common priority for both countries.

According to the US official, the Joe Biden administration underscores the importance of mutual collaboration in areas of climate change, COVID-19, as well as tackling insurgency in the country.

“It is important and consequential for close relationship for the United States and I want to start by underscoring that,” said Finer.

“It is at the centre of so many of us, strategic priorities from getting our arms around the global pandemic to climate change to democracy agenda.”

On his part, Onyeama said the Nigerian government had a fruitful engagement – that bordered on cooperation on the coronavirus disease – with the United States.

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He praised the US for providing over 3.5 million Pfizer vaccines delivered to complement the Nigerian government’s response in tackling the pandemic.

A file photo of three armed men.

 

Nigeria has been battling terrorism for more than a decade now, with Boko Hara and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) emerging as the dominant forces in the conflict.

Since May when Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau killed himself to avoid capture by jihadist rivals, ISWAP has been consolidating in areas it controls in the North East.

The group split from Boko Haram in 2016 and rose to become the dominant jihadist group, focusing on attacking military bases and ambushing troops.

Thousands have been killed and millions displaced in the region as a result of the conflict which began in 2009, and the violence has spread over the borders to Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.

Bill Clinton To Spend Another Night Hospitalised For Infection

In this file photo former US President Bill Clinton speaks at the fifth annual Town & Country Philanthropy Summit on May 9, 2018 at Hearst Tower in New York City. ANGELA WEISS / AFP
In this file photo former US President Bill Clinton speaks at the fifth annual Town & Country Philanthropy Summit on May 9, 2018, at Hearst Tower in New York City. ANGELA WEISS / AFP

 

Former US president Bill Clinton will spend another night in hospital, a spokesman said Friday, as he undergoes treatment for a reported case of sepsis.

“All health indicators are trending in the right direction, including his white blood count which has decreased significantly. In order to receive further IV antibiotics he will remain in hospital overnight,” said Clinton spokesman Angel Urena.

Clinton, who led the United States from 1993 to 2001, was admitted Tuesday evening to the UCI Medical Center in Irvine, south of Los Angeles.

Urena said that Clinton, 75, was responding well to treatment for a non-Covid-related blood infection.

The New York Times, quoting an aide, said the former president had been hospitalized after a urological infection developed into sepsis.

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Sepsis is an extreme bodily reaction to infection that affects 1.7 million people in America every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It kills 270,000 of those infected every year.

“Infections that lead to sepsis most often start in the lung, urinary tract, skin, or gastrointestinal tract,” the CDC says on its website.

“Without timely treatment, sepsis can rapidly lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.”

Photographs in US media showed his wife, former secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, visiting the hospital.

President Joe Biden said he had spoken to Clinton.

“He seems to be, God willing, doing well,” Biden told reporters.

At the hospital on Friday, there was a small visible police presence and a large group of reporters.

Quadruple Bypass

It was the latest health scare for America’s 42nd president. In 2004, at age 58, he underwent a quadruple bypass operation after doctors found signs of extensive heart disease.

Six years later he had stents implanted in his coronary artery.

Known for a generous appetite that embraced fried foods, notably french fries, Clinton went clean and adopted a low-fat vegan diet.

Since then he has lost substantial weight.

The former governor of Arkansas was elected president at age 46, the third-youngest president in US history.

Garrulous, charming, and well-read, he was a star for the Democratic Party and well-liked among fellow world leaders.

He remained popular even after his second term in the White House was marred by an affair with the young intern Monica Lewinsky that snowballed into his impeachment for lying in relation to an investigation.

But he stepped away from the limelight as his wife Hillary plunged into her own political career, winning election as a senator from New York and training her own sights on the presidency.

Despite his help, she lost the 2008 Democratic nomination to Barack Obama.

In 2016 she won the Democratic nomination for president but lost the election to Republican Donald Trump.

Criticism Of Trump

Bill Clinton meanwhile gave speeches, led his nonprofit, the Clinton Foundation, and helped raise money for the Democrats.

In 2004, he published an autobiography and in 2011 another volume on how to revive the economy.

And since 2018 he has written two thrillers together with best-selling novelist James Patterson.

He has made brief returns to the political stage, helping his wife and others during election campaigns, and traveling to North Korea in 2009 to negotiate the freedom of two Americans held by the North Korean regime.

In January he and former presidents Obama, Jimmy Carter, and George W. Bush, came together to condemn the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, directly accusing then-president Trump of inciting it and of spreading baseless lies.

But Clinton has also fought to avoid being pulled into the type of scandal that dogged his presidency.

His name surfaced in the sex trafficking scandal around late financier Jeffrey Epstein, with a former aide and a victim both saying Clinton had visited the Caribbean island where Epstein took underage women for sex parties.

Clinton knew Epstein but denied ever having visited the island.

AFP

Bitcoin Exceeds $60,000 On US Fund Approval Hopes

Bitcoin Plunges As Investors Suffer 'Reality Check'
(FILES) This file photo taken on June 17, 2014, shows bitcoin medals in Washington, DC. KAREN BLEIER / AFP

 

Bitcoin breached the $60,000 mark for the first time since April on growing optimism that American regulators will greenlight the first US futures exchange-traded fund for the cryptocurrency.

The digital currency was up more than 40 percent from a month ago, reaching $62,253 at 2050 GMT, according to Bloomberg News data, which reported that the US Securities and Exchange Commission could allow the ETF to trade next week.

The SEC has rejected attempts to create a Bitcoin ETF since 2013.

“An SEC Bitcoin ETF approval is a watershed moment for the crypto industry as this could be the key driver for getting the next wave of crypto investors,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.

An ETF is a financial instrument that can include different assets and be traded on an exchange like other securities. A futures ETF means the product will be bought or sold at a set price at a later date.

READ ALSO: NEC Proposes Psychiatric Evaluation, Drug Tests For Police, Army Before Enlistment

The SEC fuelled speculation of the imminent approval after writing the following advice on one of its accounts on Twitter: “Before investing in a fund that holds Bitcoin futures contracts, make sure you carefully weigh the potential risks and benefits.”

The ETF would add to an eventful year for the world’s leading cryptocurrency, which hit a record high at $64,870 in April and became a legal tender in El Salvador, the first country to adopt it officially.

China, meanwhile, has cracked down on trading and mining cryptocurrencies, which are created through solving complex equations — an endeavour that consumes enormous amounts of energy.

SEC U-Turn

Bloomberg, which cited unidentified people familiar with the matter, reported that, unlike past Bitcoin ETF applications that the SEC rejected before, the proposals made by financial firms ProShares and Invesco are based on futures contracts.

The proposals were filed under mutual fund rules that SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has said provide “significant investor protections”, the news agency reported.

“This is a key development for the crypto space as it would allow many investors who were on the fence to enter the market in more traditional ways,” said Walid Koudmani, an analyst at XTB online trading.

An ETF would reassure investors “about previously associated risks such as lack of regulations and the possibility of having their wallet hacked”, Koudmani said.

There are ETFs that include Bitcoin in other countries but getting one in the United States would take the cryptocurrency to another level.

“In America’s case, it’s the largest, most important market. To date, they (traditional investors) haven’t had a simple vehicle in which to invest in Bitcoin,” Charlie Erith, CEO of ByteTree Asset Management, which specialises in cryptocurrencies, told AFP

Erith cautioned that “the impact on the market might be overblown. You might see a short selloff but it won’t be meaningful”.

But, he added, “long term, it’s an important development. It signals that authorities are getting more comfortable with people owning crypto-assets”.

AFP

US Rejoins UN Human Rights Council, Years After Walk-Out

File Photo: A general view taken on September 10, 2018 during the opening day of the 39th UN Council of Human Rights at the UN Offices in Geneva. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

The United States returned to the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday, three-and-a-half years after its dramatic walk-out — time seized upon by China to assert wider influence.

The United Nations General Assembly elected 18 new members of the UN’s top rights body, with countries kicking off their three-year council term from January 1.

Though member states were chosen in a secret ballot, the election was a non-contest, with 18 candidate countries standing for 18 seats.

Beyond the United States, the other states elected are: Argentina, Benin, Cameroon, Eritrea, Finland, Gambia, Honduras, India, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Montenegro, Paraguay, Qatar, Somalia and the United Arab Emirates.

The council is tasked with promoting and protecting human rights worldwide, addressing violations and making recommendations, but the election of Eritrea again raises the issue of having authoritarian regimes on the body.

Under former president Donald Trump, the United States quit the council in 2018, accusing it of hypocrisy and obsession with haranguing Israel.

READ ALSO: Quicker Vaccinations Key to Pandemic Recovery, Says IMF

But when Washington returns in January under President Joe Biden, it will come face to face with an emboldened China that took advantage of the US absence to flex its muscles.

“The Chinese and all those who are fundamentally against human rights as Europeans understand them… oppose economic, social and cultural rights. It is not a new trend, but it is undeniably growing stronger,” one European diplomat told AFP.

According to another, “China’s objective is simple: to destroy the concept of the universality of human rights and to assert a vision consistent with its political system”.

In recent years, China and its partners, including Belarus and Venezuela, have wheeled out joint statements supporting Beijing’s actions in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet, and denouncing “human rights violations” in Western countries, including against indigenous Canadians.

– ‘Fed up’ –

Faced with growing polarization, some fear that Washington’s return will reinforce the trend and see the council dominated by pro-US and pro-Chinese rivalry.

Marc Limon, executive director of the Universal Rights Group think tank in Geneva, said the United States has “basically focused on just one thing, which is China”, since re-engaging with the council earlier this year as an observer.

Those attacks and Beijing’s reprisals are “sucking the oxygen out of all of the other important work of the Human Rights Council”, he said.

“A lot of countries are fed up, because they don’t want to see the multilateral system being held hostage by these big geopolitical power games.”

He urged Washington to broaden its focus to win back support from developing countries that had warmed to Beijing during the US absence.

In a statement, the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, confirmed that China was a top concern for Washington.

“Our initial efforts as full members in the council will focus on what we can accomplish in situations of dire need, such as in Afghanistan, Burma, China, Ethiopia, Syria and Yemen,” she said.

China’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Chen Xu, told reporters on Wednesday before the vote that he hoped Washington would “conduct a constructive dialogue and try not to make human rights a political vehicle” once back on the council.

– Electoral ‘facade’ –

The council in Geneva is made up of 47 member states elected by the UN General Assembly in New York.

A third of the council is elected every year, and countries can only serve for two consecutive three-year terms.

The membership is split proportionally by geographic regions.

Eritrea’s election has especially raised eyebrows.

In June, Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker, the new UN special rapporteur on the rights situation in Eritrea, painted a bleak picture in his first report to the council.

There was no sign of improvement, he said, pointing to arbitrary and incommunicado detention, inhumane prison conditions, lack of basic freedoms, and indefinite military service, where conscripts are subjected to forced labor and sexual violence.

Non-governmental organizations accuse the regional groups of stitching up a “legitimizing facade” rather than a genuine contest at the council, by presenting the same number of candidates as vacant seats.

The executive director of the non-governmental organization UN Watch said the elections were designed to weed out the world’s worst rights abusers.

But “oppressive regimes like China, Cuba, Libya, Russia and Eritrea routinely win election, and the stamp of international legitimacy”, said Hillel Neuer.

The Geneva director of Human Rights Watch, John Fisher, told AFP the regions had a “responsibility” to make sure their candidates met the minimum standards, pointing the finger at countries like Eritrea, Cameroon and the United Arab Emirates — all elected on Thursday.

AFP

Thousands of US Hospital Workers Vote To Strike

An image of the U.S. flag.
An image of the U.S. flag.

 

Thousands of health care workers at Kaiser Permanente facilities in the US states Oregon and California gave a green light Monday to call a strike should contract talks fail.

Sticking points in negotiations appeared to be staffing levels and wages for nurses and others who have been on the front line of the pandemic.

“Health care workers are facing record levels of burnout after 20 months of the Covid pandemic,” said Michael Barnett, president of the United Steelworkers local in Southern California.

Some 31,000 of the group’s members who work at Southern California Kaiser Permanente locations voted by an overwhelming majority to authorize union leaders to call a strike, according to a USW statement.

READ ALSO: G20 Leaders To Discuss Afghanistan In Virtual Summit

The USW along with the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals represent the workers.

Nearly 3,400 workers at the major US provider’s facilities in Oregon have also voted by a large majority to strike, according to the Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals there.

“This is an unprecedented strike authorization vote, showing total unity amongst Kaiser workers to stage a strike over issues like safe staffing, patient care, and a fair contract,” the federation said.

With strikes authorized, elected union leaders can tell workers to walk out at any time, but must provide 10-day notice to Kaiser.

The Oregon federation of nurses said it was part of a 21-union alliance of health care workers, many of which have also authorized strikes.

“We urge Kaiser Permanente management to come to the table and bargain a fair contract that addresses chronic understaffing and safety issues rather than forcing workers into a labor dispute by insisting on dangerous cost-cutting measures,” Barnett said in a release.

Kaiser senior vice president of human resources Arlene Peasnall said the health care provider is committed to settling contract negotiations quickly and fairly.

“We ask that our employees reject a call to walk away from the patients who need them,” Peasnall told AFP.

“In the event of any kind of work stoppage, our facilities will be staffed by our physicians along with trained and experienced managers and contingency staff.”

US To Hold First In-Person Talks With Taliban Since Afghan Withdrawal – Official

Taliban fighters stand guard near the venue of an open-air rally in a field on the outskirts of Kabul on October 3, 2021. Hoshang Hashimi / AFP

 

The United States and the Taliban will hold their first in-person talks since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan starting Saturday, the State Department said.

The US delegation will meet Saturday and Sunday in the Qatari capital Doha with senior Taliban representatives, a State Department spokesperson said.

The United States has remained in contact with the Taliban since the longtime foes seized Kabul in August as US troops pulled out but the meeting will be the first that is face to face.

“We will press the Taliban to respect the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls, and to form an inclusive government with broad support,” the spokesperson said Friday.

READ ALSO: 51 Dead, Scores Missing As Makeshift Vessel Sinks In DR Congo

“As Afghanistan faces the prospect of a severe economic contraction and possible humanitarian crisis, we will also press the Taliban to allow humanitarian agencies free access to areas of need,” he said.

The State Department stressed that the meeting did not indicate that the United States was recognizing Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

“We remain clear that any legitimacy must be earned through the Taliban’s own actions,” the spokesperson said.

The US team will also press President Joe Biden’s key priority of letting US citizens and Afghan allies during the 20-year military operation leave the country.

The United States says that the Taliban have largely cooperated on letting out US citizens. Around 100 remain, predominantly US citizens with roots in Afghanistan who are undecided on whether to leave, according to US officials.

But the United States acknowledges that it was not able to get out most Afghan allies who wanted to leave during a hasty airlift that pulled tens of thousands of people out of Kabul before the withdrawal.

The spokesperson did not specify who would represent the two sides. Senior US officials including Central Command chief General Frank McKenzie met with the Taliban in Kabul in August as US troops took over the airport for the airlift.

US To Sell 12 Attack Helicopters To Australia

In this file photo taken on July 16, 2020, two US-made AH-64E Apache attack helicopters release flares during the annual Han Kuang military drills in Taichung. Sam Yeh / AFP

 

The US government has decided to sell 12 attack helicopters and an electronic warfare plane to Australia for more than a billion dollars, the State Department said Friday.

Australia, which recently signed a strategic defense alliance with the United States and Britain as a way to counter a rising China, had asked to acquire 12 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters and accompanying equipment to the tune of 985 million dollars.

President Joe Biden’s administration has told Congress it decided to go ahead with this sale, the State Department said.

READ ALSO: 51 Dead, Scores Missing As Makeshift Vessel Sinks In DR Congo

The helicopters are multi-mission aircraft that can be deployed on a ship for operations against surface vessels or submarines, but also for rescue, refueling, or transport purposes.

Australia also asked to buy a Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic warfare plane and the US agreed, the State Department said.

“Australia is one of our most important allies in the Western Pacific,” the State Department said.

“The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region. It is vital to the US national interest to assist our ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability,” it added.

Australia already has 24 Seahawk helicopters and around 10 Growler planes.

The three-way military pact announced last month by the US, Britain and Australia will see the latter acquire US nuclear-powered submarines and at the same time cancel a huge contract with France for conventional subs.

US Nuclear Sub Damaged In Underwater Collision

In this image released by the US Navy, The Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) departs Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton for deployment in Bremerton, Washington on May 27, 2021. Lt. Mack Jamieson / US NAVY / AFP

 

A US nuclear submarine was damaged after hitting an unidentified object while operating underwater in Asia, the US Navy said Thursday.

The USS Connecticut, a nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine, “struck an object while submerged on the afternoon of Oct. 2, while operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region,” the navy said in a statement.

It said there were no life-threatening injuries, but USNI News, a site specializing in navy news, reported that about a dozen sailors were hurt “with moderate to minor injuries.”

USNI News also said the submarine was operating in the South China Sea, where the US Navy has sought to challenge China’s disputed territorial claims on small islands, reefs and outcrops.

Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by four Southeast Asian countries as well as the self-ruled island of Taiwan.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Friday that Beijing was “extremely concerned” about the collision and accused the US of deliberately concealing the nature of the incident.

Washington should provide “detailed clarification” of the event, including information about what the submarine collided with, whether it caused nuclear leakage and whether it damaged the local marine environment, Zhao said at a regular press briefing.

He accused the US of long “disturbing the peace” in the South China Sea “under the banner of freedom of navigation.”

The US Navy said the extent of the damage is being examined and the incident investigated.

“The submarine remains in a safe and stable condition. USS Connecticut’s nuclear propulsion plant and spaces were not affected and remain fully operational,” it said.

USNI News said the vessel is now headed to the US base at Guam.

AFP

US Consulate Opens Information Centre In Osogbo

The US consulate opened a Window on America in Osogbo on October 5, 2021.
The US consulate opened a Window on America in Osogbo on October 5, 2021.

 

The US Consulate General on Tuesday opened a Window on America in Osogbo, the Osun State capital.

A Window on America is a type of American Space located in over 150 countries worldwide.

Windows on America provide a venue for the Embassy and Consulate outreach activities, offering a meeting place for U.S. Government alumni, and a host for visiting speakers (including Embassy staff, Fulbright scholars, and other Americans), film series, and other events that promote a better understanding of the US.

Hosted at the Osun State University Teaching Hospital, the Osogbo Window on America will serve as a community resource center for accurate and current information about the political, economic, cultural, educational, and social life in the United States.

READ ALSO: EU Leaders Seek Unity On How To Face China And US

Delivering keynote remarks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, U.S. Consulate Public Affairs Officer Stephen Ibelli noted that the new space will offer a calendar of programs on topics of interest designed to bring Americans and Nigerians closer together.

“We are so excited today to launch the Window on American here in Osogbo,” Ibelli said. “With its modern design, computer workstations, books, and perhaps most importantly, an open space for members of the community to host conversations of mutual interest, the new center exemplifies the U.S. government’s commitment to a core tenet of democracy: A citizen’s right to free access to information.”

Ibelli explained that the Osogbo Window on America will be a reference point for free information.

“Through the Osogbo Window on America we will provide employability and leadership training for young people, offer information on study opportunities in the U.S., showcase American culture and values, as well as foster closer people-to-people ties between the people of Nigeria and the United States,” Ibelli added.

Chief Medical Director, Osun State University Teaching Hospital, Professor Peter Olaitan, expressed appreciation at the location of the Window on America at the medical facility. He expressed optimism that staff, students and residents of Osogbo will benefit from the resources available at the center.

EU Leaders Seek Unity On How To Face China And US

A logo for the European Union

 

EU leaders will have a hard discussion on Europe’s place in the world at a summit on Tuesday, as they seek unity on how to deal with superpowers China and the United States.

The 27 heads of state and government will meet at Brdo Castle in Slovenia, the country that currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

While no concrete outcome is expected, it is the first leaders meeting since June, one senior EU diplomat commenting that “with everything that has happened, that seems ages ago”.

The dinner takes place on the eve of an EU-Western Balkans summit in which countries to the bloc’s east will seek assurances they will one day be admitted to the European Union.

Leaders will have a “strategic discussion on the role of the Union on the international stage”, according to an invitation letter sent out by EU Council chief Charles Michel.

France is still smarting over a decision last month by Australia to cancel a French submarine deal worth tens of billions of dollars in favour of a US offer.

With anger still raw, French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to again warn at the talks that Washington’s close allegiance to Europe is no longer a given.

“It would be a mistake to pretend that nothing happened,” said a French presidency source.

Although some EU nations have backed France, others like Baltic and Nordic countries are reluctant to criticise the US, which they deem their ultimate protector against Russia.

US President Joe Biden stressed the bloc was a “fundamental partner” for Washington in a call on Monday with EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, the White House said.

An EU official said the call — which covered China, EU defence efforts, and trade — showed Biden wanted to “strengthen dialogue” with Europe.

Next week, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will head to Washington for talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Afghanistan Lessons

The submarine row came weeks after the US withdrew from Afghanistan and the Taliban swept to power, catching the Europeans off guard.

The Europeans had provided troops for NATO-led missions in the country and were major donors to the overthrown government.

The collapse in Afghanistan and the submarine fallout has given fresh impetus to those pushing for the EU to develop a separate military capability, with France leading the charge.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the dominant EU leader for the past 15 years, will attend the summit as coalition talks rumble on in Berlin to come up with a government that will replace hers.

Merkel’s cautious, pro-US strategy has dominated Europe and her imminent departure will see leaders like Macron, Italy’s Mario Draghi and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte seeking to make their mark.

As leader of the EU’s export powerhouse, Merkel has always encouraged close ties with China, but this has also proven harder to defend as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s leadership turns more centralised and hard line.

The relationship with Beijing grew even more complicated when an EU-China investment deal wanted by Germany was put on indefinite standby after both sides exchanged tit-for-tat sanctions over the treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority in China.

Spain will highlight more immediate concerns, calling for a bold EU answer to focus on the sudden rise in energy prices, with France, Greece, and Poland also seeking action.

The issue is to be given more in-depth discussion by leaders at a summit in Brussels on October 21-22.

AFP

US Envoy To Haiti Resigns, Slams Migrant Deportations

Daniel Foote. Photo: Drew Angerer/AFP

 

 

The US special envoy to Haiti resigned Thursday two months after his appointment, denouncing the Biden administration’s deportation of Haitian migrants from the US-Mexico border back to their poverty-stricken homeland. 

“I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti,” State Department envoy Daniel Foote said in a scathing letter of resignation.

In the letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Foote described Haiti as a place where US diplomats “are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life.”

“Mired in poverty, hostage to the terror,” Foote wrote, the Haitian population “simply cannot support the forced infusion of thousands of returned migrants lacking food, shelter, and money without additional, avoidable human tragedy.”

“More refugees will fuel further desperation and crime,” he wrote.

The resignation came after the administration of President Joe Biden began last weekend loading Haitian migrants who crossed into the country from Mexico onto aircraft and flying them back to haiti.

Many of the thousands who crossed the border actually travelled from South America, where some said they fled to years ago from the grinding poverty and violence of Haiti.

Thousands at the US border 

Well over 10,000 migrants, the largest part of them Haitian, flowed into the Texas border city of Del Rio in recent weeks seeking to remain in the United States.

Footage of the migrants, many of them families, massing under a highway bridge and moving back and forth to Mexico for food, have stunned America and sparked a fresh crisis over migrant policy.

Biden came under strong criticism after photographs and videos showed mounted Border Patrol officers using their horses to try and control the migrants, with some appearing to threaten migrants with their horses’ long reins.

That has led to calls from Biden’s own Democratic party to give the Haitians asylum rather than fly them back to Haiti.

On Wednesday Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he was in talks with Brazil, Chile and other South American countries to send the migrants back to them.

Tens of thousands of Haitians fled to South America after the massive 2010 earthquake wreaked heavy damage across the Caribbean nation.

Foote said in his letter that Haiti needs more assistance and a democratically chosen government, after the July assassination of president Jovenel Moise.

“What our Haitian friends really want, and need, is the opportunity to chart their own course, without international puppeteering and favored candidates but with genuine support for that course,” he said.

US Authorizes Pfizer COVID-19 Booster For The Elderly And High-Risk

File photo: A nurse prepares a dose of the Pfizer-Biontech Covid-19 corona virus vaccine. (Photo by Bodo Schackow / POOL / AFP)

 

The United States on Wednesday authorized the use of boosters of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for people aged over 65, as well as adults at high risk of severe disease and those in high-exposure jobs.

The announcement means a significant part of the population — amounting to tens of millions of Americans — are now eligible for a third shot six months after their second.

“Today’s action demonstrates that science and the currently available data continue to guide the FDA’s decision-making for COVID-19 vaccines during this pandemic,” said Janet Woodcock, acting head of the Food and Drug Administration, in a statement.

The decision was expected and came after an independent expert panel convened by the regulatory agency last week voted in favor of recommending the move.

The panel, however, rejected an initial plan by the White House to fully approve Pfizer boosters to everyone aged 16 and over, in what amounted to a rare rebuke of President Joe Biden’s administration.

The group of vaccinologists, infectious disease specialists and epidemiologists concluded that the benefit-risk balance differed for younger people, especially young males who are more susceptible to myocarditis.

– More boosters debated –

Pfizer Covid-19 boosters are currently being debated by a separate body of experts convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which may recommend further specifics about recipients.

For example, if obesity is considered as putting a person “at high risk of severe Covid,” that definition would cover more than 42 percent of the US population aged over 20.

The CDC may also have to define which workplaces and other settings might lead to “frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2.”

For its part, the FDA indicated this would cover “health care workers, teachers and day care staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others.”

READ ALSO: Nigeria Reports Two More COVID-19 Deaths, 377 New Infections

The FDA’s emergency use authorization (EUA) applies to those aged 18 and up for the high risk of severe disease and high-exposure categories. It also only applies to Pfizer’s vaccine.

Recipients of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, the other US-authorized vaccines, will now await news for when they, too, might become eligible for another shot.

A number of studies have shown two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or a single shot of J&J, continue to confer high protection against severe outcomes — but this is slightly reduced for the elderly.

The World Health Organization has called for a moratorium on wealthy countries giving out boosters, while many countries — especially those in Africa — have barely begun their immunization campaigns.

The United States argues, however, it is possible to both help middle- and lower-income nations while also protecting its own vulnerable people.

On Wednesday, President Biden announced the United States would buy 500 million more Pfizer doses for the world, bringing its total contribution of the global supply to 1.1 billion.

Speaking to CNN on Sunday, top government scientist Anthony Fauci said that more research is needed to make a decision on whether a booster shot is warranted for the general public.

“As we said in the beginning, we would want to plan for the possibility of vaccinating all those who have gotten their initial vaccination with Pfizer,” Fauci said. “And it was always pending the evaluation of all of the totality of the data from the United States, from Israel, and any bit of data that we could get by the advisory committee to the FDA.”

Fauci added that the FDA panel decided against a third shoot for everybody aged 16 and over “in the proper deliberative process and they came up with a recommendation.”

AFP