Tag Archives: US

US seeking another ‘cold war’ – Chinese FM blames

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a press conference of the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People via video link on May 24, 2020 in Beijing, China. Du Yang–China News Service/Getty Images


The U.S. should give up its “wishful thinking” of changing China, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, warning that some in America were pushing relations to a “new Cold War.”

“China has no intention to change the U.S., nor to replace the U.S. It is also wishful thinking for the U.S. to change China,” Wang said Sunday during his annual news briefing on the sidelines of National People’s Congress meetings in Beijing. He also criticized the U.S. for slowing its nuclear negotiations with North Korea and warned it not to cross Beijing’s “red line” on Taiwan.

The U.S.-China relationship has worsened dramatically in the past few months as America became one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which was first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The world’s two biggest economies have clashed on a range of issues from trade to human rights, with Beijing’s latest move to tighten its grip on Hong Kong setting up another showdown between U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping.

“Some U.S. political forces are taking hostage of China-U.S. relations, attempting to push the ties to the brink of so-called ‘new Cold War,’” Wang said. “This is dangerous and will endanger global peace.”

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Wang cautioned the U.S. “not to challenge China’s red line” on Taiwan, after Secretary of State Michael Pompeo broke with tradition last week and congratulated the island’s President Tsai Ing-wen on her second-term inauguration. Beijing considers Taiwan a province.

“Reunification between the two sides of the Strait is an inevitable trend of history, no one and no force can stop it,” Wang said. China’s defense ministry blasted a U.S. plan to sell torpedoes to Taiwan.

And he blamed Washington for the stall in historic negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea, saying China hoped to see continued interaction between the two sides. The comments came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — who has faced questions about his health — made his first public statement in three weeks, ordering military leaders to increase the country’s “nuclear war deterrence.”

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“We have seen some positive steps taken by the DPRK in the last few years towards de-escalation and denuclearization,” Wang said. “Regrettably, these steps have not been reciprocated in a substantive way by the U.S. side. This is the main reason for the ongoing stalemate in the DPRK-U.S. dialogue.”

Hong Kong
Tensions spiked last week after China announced the NPC would write sweeping legislation into Hong Kong law to criminalize the harshest criticism of China and the ruling party. The move drew swift condemnation from pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, who defied virus-related social-distancing measures and rallied in the city center even as Wang spoke.

Pompeo called the measure a “disastrous proposal” and indicated that it could lead the U.S. to reconsider Hong Kong’s special trade status.

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Wang on Sunday repeated China’s stance that Hong Kong affairs were an internal matter and said the principle of non-interference must be upheld by all countries. He didn’t directly address potential U.S. retaliation over the legislation.

He also argued that the coronavirus pandemic showed how the world was a “global village” and needed to work together, while repeatedly rejecting foreign criticism of China’s internal affairs.

U.S. Bills
U.S. lawmakers have advanced several pieces of legislation targeting China in recent weeks with bipartisan support amid mounting calls for Beijing to be punished for its alleged failure to disclose information early on about the spread of Covid-19. The virus has cost almost 100,000 American lives and tens of millions of jobs.

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Xi said Saturday he won’t let China return to its days as a planned economy, pushing back against U.S. criticism that the nation has failed to deliver on promised reforms.

“We’ve come to the understanding that we should not ignore the blindness of the market, nor should we return to the old path of a planned economy,” he told political advisers gathered in Beijing, the official Xinhua news agency said.


#Newsworthy…

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Donald Trump backs CDC in reopening of US economy.

As deaths mount, once proud US science agency is politicised in Trump administration response to coronavirus pandemic.


Richard Jackson is a public health scientist who led the environmental health at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for nine years

He directed the CDC’s response to the September 11, 2001, attacks and proudly watched the agency win battles against smallpox, Legionnaire’s disease, and swine flu.

“This is the kind of thing the CDC has been preparing for. I expected they would be functional and they weren’t,” Jackson said

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“There should have been hands-on, omnipresent leadership from day one while this thing was breaking,” said Jackson, a retired professor at the University of California Fielding School of Public Health.

White House coronavirus taskforce members, including Dr Deborah Birx, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield and US Surgeon General Jerome Adams at a briefing at the White House in Washington, DC [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Instead of leading, the CDC and many of its scientists have been sidelined by President Donald Trump and its director, Dr Robert Redfield, creating a politicised and diminished role for the agency. Inside the CDC, morale among the agency’s bright and idealistic scientists has tanked, Jackson said.

“In my conversations, privately, the level of morale is very bad. It is very low,” Jackson said.

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Troubles between President Trump and the CDC began on February 25 when Dr Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, warned that the virus was spreading in the US and shutdowns would be required.

The stock market, already in free fall because the virus had spread to South Korea and Italy, plunged further. En route back to Washington, DC, from a visit to India, Trump was angered by the news. Messonnier’s message contradicted what the president had been saying.

“They were furious, and they basically silenced and marginalised her and Redfield was totally intimidated,” Jackson said of White House officials.

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For public health officials nationwide, the secondary role of CDC scientists in the White House’s policy decisions is visible and problematic, said Dr Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association in Washington, DC.

“Right now, the White House is controlling the message, controlling who says it,” Benjamin told Al Jazeera. The CDC has not held a public briefing since early March.

White House aides created friction with CDC officials by delaying for more than month publication of detailed guidelines from the CDC on how to reopen US businesses, schools, restaurants and public spaces. Edited guidelines were eventually posted on May 14 without notice or explanation from the CDC. More detailed guidance was delayed until May 19.

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“They rolled out their more complete guidance last night in the middle of the night when nobody could see it,” Benjamin said.

“Normally, they would have pulled together a call with all the state and local health officers and told us it was coming. There would have been a news conference to say, ‘Listen, this is the best way for America to get back to work.’ They didn’t do it, I’m clear, because they weren’t allowed to,” he said.

An earlier draft of the CDC reopening guidance was shelved by a White House political nominee, according to reports by The Associated Press news agency.

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Redfield and the CDC drew criticism from Democratic politicians at a May 12 Senate hearing on the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic.

Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, holds onto CDC guidelines for the phased ‘Opening Up America Again’ during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC [File: Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Senator Chris Murphy blasted the Trump administration for failing to bring forward public guidance from scientists at the CDC on reopening. The delay would “cost lives”, Murphy said.

There have been other reports of White House interference with the CDC.

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Trump and his White House team are pushing the CDC to change how it collects data from states on COVID-19 deaths, the Daily Beast reported on May 13. The changes would revise downward the number of cases reported, according to five CDC officials who spoke to the news outlet.

Some in the White House, including Birx and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, have begun to take aim at Redfield, according to a report in The Washington Post. In a recent taskforce meeting, Birx and Redfield engaged in a heated exchange about the accuracy of the CDC’s work.

“There’s nothing from the CDC that I can trust,” Birx reportedly said.

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Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services, in a move linked to Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, issued a $10.2m contract to a private company to collect data from states on hospital capacity and COVID-19 deaths. The data was already being collected by the CDC.

“The CDC’s epidemiological work around infectious diseases is stellar. It is second to none. So, the idea that the CDC would be out counting cases and deaths is exactly their job, and they are damned good at it,” said Jackson.

“This latest thing, where the president’s son-in-law goes out and finds a company to figure out how to undercount deaths is appalling,” he said.

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The conflict between the Trump White House and the US’s leading public health agency prompted an unusual editorial in UK-based medical journal The Lancet, rebuking the Trump administration.

“Punishing the agency by marginalising and hobbling it is not the solution,” The Lancet wrote on May 16.

“Only a steadfast reliance on basic public health principles like test, trace and isolate will see the emergency brought to an end, and this requires an effective national public health agency,” The Lancet wrote.

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The proof will be in the case data and death rates experienced in states outside of the New York City region, experts said. While case numbers are declining in the New York area, they are rising in the rest of the US, even as Trump and Republican governors push to reopen.

“What is really important moving forward is that we need transparency on the metrics for success or failure with these various reopening plans on a national level, a state level and a local level,” Dr Thomas Tsai, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health said.


#Newsworthy…

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US Presidency slam China over COVID-19 incompetence.

The US president says China is responsible for ‘mass worldwide killing’.


US President Donald Trump blamed China for “mass incompetence” and singled out Beijin for “mass worldwide killing”.

The number of deaths in a single day reached a record in Brazil – which has the world’s third-biggest outbreak.

China has accused the US of smearing Beijing and shirking responsibilities to the WHO after US President Trump threatened to quit the organisation.

Globally, there have been more than 4.9 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more than 323,000 people died, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.7 million people have recovered.


#Newsworthy…

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COVID-19: Trump sends ultimatum to WHO over global pandemic. [United States]

Trump gives WHO director-general 30 days to make ‘substantive improvements’ or US will stop funding and walk away.


  • US President Donald Trump has threatened to permanently halt US funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) and quit an organisation he earlier derided as a “puppet of China” in a letter to the agency’s director-general that he shared on Twitter.
  • The WHO chief has promised an independent review of the global pandemic response, after countries at a virtual meeting of the World Health Assembly called for a probe.
  • The US has set aside $11bn to ramp up coronavirus testing as the country reopens. 
  • Globally, there have been more than 4.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 318,500 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 1.8 million people have recovered.

#Newsworthy…

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Iran issue warning to US against seizure of oil tanker to Venezuela.

Reports suggest four US Navy warships are in the Caribbean for a ‘possible confrontation with Iran’s tankers’.


Iran’s foreign minister on Sunday warned the United States against deploying its navy in the Caribbean to disrupt Iranian fuel shipments to Venezuela.

According to an oil shipment analyst, five Iranian-flagged tankers loaded with tens of millions of dollars worth of fuel are heading towards Venezuela.

In a letter to United Nations chief Antonio Guterres, Mohammad Javad Zarif warned against “America’s movements in deploying its navy to the Caribbean in order to intervene and create disruption in [the] transfer of Iran’s fuel to Venezuela”.

He said any such action would be “illegal and a form of piracy” adding the US would be responsible for “the consequences”, according to a foreign ministry statement.

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A senior official in US President Donald Trump’s administration told Reuters news agency on Thursday that the US was considering measures it could take in response to Iran’s shipment of fuel to crisis-stricken Venezuela.

Iran’s Fars News reported on Saturday it received information that four US Navy warships are in the Caribbean for a “possible confrontation with Iran’s tankers”.

Zarif’s deputy summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents Washington’s interests in Tehran, to communicate Iran’s “serious warning” on Sunday. Abbas Araghchi said any potential threat to Iran’s tankers would be met with a “quick and decisive response”.

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The US has imposed unilateral sanctions aimed at ending oil exports by both Iran and Venezuela, both major crude producers.

Full speed ahead
Five Iranian tankers likely carrying at least $45.5m worth of petrol and similar products are now sailing to Venezuela, part of a wider deal between the two US-sanctioned nations amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington.

The tankers’ voyage come after Venezuela’s socialist leader Nicolas Maduro already turned to Iran for help in flying in chemicals needed at an aging refinery amid a petrol shortage, a symptom of the wider economic and political chaos gripping Latin America’s one-time largest oil producer.

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For Iran, the tankers represent a way to bring money into its cash-starved country and put its own pressure on the US, which, under President Trump, has pursued maximalist campaigns against both nations.

But the strategy invites the chance of a renewed confrontation between the Islamic Republic and the US both in the Gulf, which saw a series of escalating incidents often involving the oil industry last year, and wider afield.

“This is like a new one for everyone,” said Captain Ranjith Raja, an analyst who tracks oil shipments by sea at the data firm Refinitiv, of the petrol shipments. “We haven’t seen anything like this before.”

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All the vessels involved belong to Iranian state-owned or state-linked companies, flying under the Iranian flag. Since a pressure campaign on Iranian vessels began, notably with the temporary seizure of an Iranian tanker last year by Gibraltar, the country’s ships have been unable to fly flags of convenience of other nations, a common practice in international shipping.

Nothing to lose
The ships all appear to have been loaded from the Persian Gulf Star Refinery near Bandar Abbas, Iran, which makes petrol, Raja said. The ships then travelled around the Arabian Peninsula and through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea, according to data collected from the ship’s Automatic Identification System, or AIS, which acts as a tracking beacon.

Given the crushing US sanctions imposed on Iran, also-sanctioned Venezuela appears to be a country that would have nothing to lose from accepting the shipments.

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Raja said Refinitiv had no data on any Iranian petrol shipment ever going to South America before.

TankerTrackers.com, a website focused on the oil trade at sea, first reported the ships likely were heading to Venezuela.

The capacity of the five ships is some 175,000 metric tonnes. On the open market, the petrol and product carried within them would be worth at least $45.5m, though Iran likely reached a discounted, non-cash deal with Caracas given the circumstances the two nations face, Raja said.

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It remains unclear how the US will respond to the tankers. On Thursday, the US Treasury, State Department and Coast Guard issued an advisory warning the maritime industry of illegal shipping and sanctions-dodging tactics by countries including Iran.

The advisory repeated an earlier promise of up to $15m for information disrupting the Revolutionary Guard’s finances. It also warned anyone “knowingly engaged in a significant transaction for the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport or marketing of petroleum” faced US sanctions.

The US State Department and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Analysts already have been warning about the growing chance for a renewed confrontation between the US and Iran.

In April, the US accused Iran of conducting “dangerous and harassing” manoeuvres near American warships in the northern Gulf.


#Newsworthy…

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US Huawei’s Ban – China Threatens Retaliation.


China has urged the United States to stop the “unreasonable suppression of Huawei and Chinese enterprises”.

It also threatened retaliation against the US for the move by putting major U.S. firms on an “unreliable entity list”, according to Communist Party tabloid Global Times.

US tech giants Apple, Cisco, Qualcomm and plane maker Boeing are among the firms that may be targeted, the report said.

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The reaction came after Washington announced new export controls to restrict Huawei’s access to semiconductor technology.

The latest restrictions on the world’s second-largest smartphone manufacturer, which is at the centre of US spying allegations, are a new escalation in the US-China battle for global technological dominance.

“The Chinese government will firmly uphold Chinese firms’ legitimate and legal rights and interests,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Saturday.

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“We urge the US side to immediately stop its unreasonable suppression of Huawei and Chinese enterprises.”

The ministry said the Trump administration’s actions “destroy global manufacturing, supply and value chains”.

The US Commerce Department said Friday the controls would “narrowly and strategically target Huawei’s acquisition of semiconductors that are the direct product of certain US software and technology.”

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US officials have repeatedly accused the Chinese technology giant of stealing American trade secrets and aiding China’s espionage efforts.

This step ramps up tensions with the rival superpower while both sides were involved in a long-simmering trade war.

As a result, Huawei has increasingly relied on domestically manufactured technology.

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However, the latest rules will also ban foreign firms that use US technology from shipping semiconductors to Huawei without US permission.

The new restrictions will cut off Huawei’s access to one of its major suppliers, the Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC.

The Taiwan form also manufactures chips for Apple and other tech firms.

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The US last year banned Huawei from using US-manufactured semiconductors in their products.

US-China relations hit the rocks again with Washington and Beijing trading barbs over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.


#Newsworthy…

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COVID-19: Test results of returnees will not be disclosed to public – NCDC alleges. [Nigeria]


The Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Thursday said the agency does not share test results of individuals publicly and the test results of Nigerians evacuated from Dubai, UAE; the United Kingdom and the United States is not an exemption.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu who was responding to questions during the Presidential Task Force (PTF) briefing on COVID-19 on Thursday stressed that the results of the retunes will be shared only with them and not make public.

He added that the returnees are still in isolation undergoing the stipulated 14days of self-isolation.

“We are doing the test, even when the tests are out we are not going to offer it to you. We will offer it to the returnees. If they are patients we will manage that.

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“We are not going to make public the results whether you just came back from Dubai or you are living in Nigeria. Results are meant for patients who got tested,” he said.

No fewer than 253 Nigerians were recently evacuated from the United Kingdom (UK) by the Federal Government and 265 others evacuated from Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

Also on May 10, 160 Nigerians who were stranded in the United States following the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

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The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it plans to evacuate more Nigerians back home from Canada, China and other countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NCDC DG in his address also announced that the agency is working with research organisations in the country and focusing on domestic science and research. He said the agency is working with TETFUND, NIMR, ACEGID, LUTH, among others to find solution to the pandemic.


#Newsworthy…

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China trying to steal vaccines test – US declares.


US authorities warned Wednesday that Chinese hackers were attempting to steal coronavirus data on treatments and vaccines, adding fuel to Washington’s war with Beijing over the pandemic.

The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said organizations researching COVID-19 were at risk of “targeting and network compromise” by China.

They warned that Chinese government-affiliated groups and others were attempting to obtain “valuable intellectual property and public health data related to vaccines, treatments, and testing.”

“China’s efforts to target these sectors pose a significant threat to our nation’s response to COVID-19,” they said.

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The two organizations gave no examples to support the allegation.

But the warning added to the battle between the superpowers over the outbreak that began in China and has killed at least 293,000 worldwide, and more than 83,000 in the United States.

President Donald Trump has accused China of hiding the origins of the virus and not cooperating in efforts to research and fight the disease.

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Asked on Monday about reports that the US believed Chinese hackers were targeting US vaccine research, Trump replied: “What else is new with China?… I’m not happy.”


Spies, academics targeted


The warning Wednesday also underscored that Washington believes China has continued broad efforts to obtain US commercial and technology secrets under President Xi Jinping’s drive to make his country a technological leader.

In February the US Justice Department indicted four Chinese army personnel suspected of hacking the database of credit rating agency Equifax, giving them the personal data of 145 million Americans.

On Monday the Department of Justice announced the arrest of University of Arkansas engineering professor Simon Saw-Teong Ang for hiding ties to the Chinese government and Chinese universities while he worked on projects funded by NASA.

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The indictment said Ang was secretly part of the Xi-backed Thousand Talents program, which Washington says China uses to collect research from abroad.

Also on Monday Li Xiaojiang, a former professor at Emory University in Atlanta, admitted tax fraud in a case focused on his hidden earnings from China, also as a participant in the Thousand Talents program.

Senator Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said such cases combined with the coronavirus are forcing China to change its tactics.

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“Beijing has shifted its recruitment efforts for the Thousand Talents Program online, and it has increased efforts to hack US medical research institutes for COVID-19 information,” he said.


Race for a vaccine


Beijing has repeatedly denied the US accusations.

The FBI warning comes as dozens of companies, institutes and countries around the world are racing to develop vaccines to halt the coronavirus.

Many more groups are researching treatments for infected patients. Currently there is no proven therapy.

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An effective vaccine could allow countries to reopen and potentially earn billions of dollars for its creators.

Most expert believe it will take more than a year to get a vaccine fully approved, and much longer to produce enough of it.

Government-backed cyber operators in Iran, North Korea, Russia and China have been accused of pumping out false coronavirus news and targeting workers and scientists.

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Britain said last week it had detected large-scale “password spraying” tactics — hackers trying to access accounts through commonly used passwords — aimed at healthcare bodies and medical research organizations.

Sanctions, compensation
Increasingly US officials are discussing punishing China and seeking compensation for the costs of the pandemic.

In April the US state of Missouri sued China’s leadership over what it described as deliberate deception and insufficient action to stop the virus.

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On Tuesday Republican senators proposed legislation that would empower Trump to slap sanctions on China if Beijing does not give a “full accounting” for the coronavirus outbreak.

“Their outright deception of the origin and spread of the virus cost the world valuable time and lives as it began to spread,” Senator Jim Inhofe said in a statement.


#Newsworthy…

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[United States] Hillary Clinton Wants Joe Biden To Unseat Donald Trump?

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Hillary Clinton, former United States, US, Democratic presidential candidate, has declared support for Joe Biden as the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party.

Hillary made the declaration during a live event with Biden on Tuesday.

She stated that she was thrilled to be part of Biden’s campaign

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“As we face Coronavirus, Joe has been a voice. I want to add my voice to the many, who have endorsed you to be our president,

“I wish you were president right now. Think of what it would mean if we had a real president not just somebody who plays one on TV.

“It’s a real pleasure to be here with you and to be part of this very important discussion. And I am thrilled to be part of your campaign to not only endorse you, but to help highlight a lot of the issues that are at stake in this presidential election.”

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Recall that Bernie Sanders, Biden’s main rival, endorsed him too.

Sanders decision means Biden will emerge as presidential candidate of the Democratic Party unopposed.


#Newsworthy…

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United States Oil Price Falls Below $15.

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US oil prices fell heavily on Monday and slipped below $15 a barrel on renewed storage concerns as the coronavirus throttles demand, even as producers start slashing output to boost markets.

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American benchmark West Texas Intermediate dropped 15 percent to $14.39 a barrel in Asian afternoon trade, reversing direction after several days of gains last week.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, was off nearly six percent at $20.16 a barrel.

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Oil prices have collapsed in recent weeks as demand evaporated because of lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed worldwide to fight the virus.

Last week, US oil fell below zero for the first time as investors scrambled to offload it before the expiry of a trading contract, but could not readily find buyers.

Prices have recovered since, but remain at their lowest levels for years.

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A key worry for traders is that storage facilities — particularly in the United States — cannot cope with the oversupply.

“Concerns surrounding rising global inventories, especially in the US with the coronavirus pandemic weighing on gasoline consumption, are pressuring oil prices,” said Kim Kwangrae, a commodities analyst at Samsung Futures Inc.

The oversupply could test storage capacity limits in three to four weeks as tanks fill up, Goldman Sachs warned in a report.

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The continued concerns about storage overshadowed signs that some countries — including Kuwait and Algeria — are starting to slash production in line with a major agreement hammered out this month.

Top producers have agreed to reduce output by 10 million barrels a day from May to shore up markets, a deal that marked an end to a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.


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Tell the world how you begin COVID-19 – US tackles China again.

The US President, Donald Trump has said that his administration was trying to determine where the deadly Coronavirus disease originated from.


Also addressing reporters yesterday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the Chinese government “to come clean” on what it knows about COVID-19.

During his daily briefing on the pandemic at the White House on Wednesday, Trump was asked about the reports of the virus escaping from a laboratory in Wuhan China, where the coronavirus started.

“We are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation that happened,”

Trump said, NobleReporters gathered.

Pressed further on whether he had raised the subject in his conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the US leader added,

“I don’t want to discuss what I talked to him about the laboratory, I just don’t want to discuss, it’s inappropriate right now.”

Coronavirus has killed at least 136,000 people around the world, with almost 31,000 in the US alone.

Globally, more than two million people have tested positive with the virus, while at least half a million have recovered.

Trump’s top diplomat, Pompeo, told Fox News after Trump’s news conference, that, “We know this virus originated in Wuhan, China,” and noted that the Institute of Virology was only a handful of miles from the market, where people first came down with the disease.

“We really need the Chinese government to open up” and help explain “exactly how this virus spread,”

Pompeo added.

“The Chinese government needs to come clean,”

He said.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology which is backed by the government had dismissed reports that the virus may have been artificially synthesised at one of its laboratories or escaped from its facility as far back as February.


#Newsworthy…

WHO calls for China, US unity to fight COVID-19


The World Health Organization on Wednesday urged the United States and China to join forces to fight the coronavirus pandemic, saying there would be “many more body bags” without international unity.

“The United States and China should come together and fight this dangerous enemy,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing in Geneva, following criticism from US President Donald Trump that the UN health body “blew it” and was “very China centric”.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: UK PM, Boris Johnson spent night in intensive care as case worsen.


Mr Johnson, 55, is “in very good hands”, said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for the PM and chaired the government’s daily meeting.

World leaders have sent messages to Mr Johnson wishing him well.


It comes as Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove became the latest politician to go into quarantine.

Mr Gove said he was self-isolating at home, after a family member showed mild symptoms. He is not suffering any symptoms and will work from home.


He was moved as a precaution so he could be close to a ventilator – which takes over the body’s breathing process, NobleReporters learnt

Mr Gove said: “The prime minister’s not on a ventilator. He has received oxygen support.”


If there is any change in his condition “No 10 will ensure the country is updated”, Mr Gove added.

As the first secretary of state, Mr Raab is the minister designated to stand in for Mr Johnson if he is unwell and unable to work.


Mr Raab said earlier there was an “incredibly strong team spirit” behind the prime minister and that he and his colleagues were making sure they implemented plans Mr Johnson had instructed them to deliver “as soon as possible”.

Mr Johnson is the first major world leader to have announced he had the virus
Some politicians have called for greater clarity on what Mr Raab’s role as deputy entails, including Tory MP Tobias Ellwood who asked for details “as to where responsibility for UK national security decisions now lies”.


Lord Heseltine, who served as deputy prime minister under John Major, said it will be a “very difficult personal position” for Mr Raab, who “will be tested by the loneliness of the job”.

“He will be surrounded by lots of people who know what Boris Johnson said, believe Boris will be quickly back and have their own personal agendas anyway,” he said.


Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the government will “continue to work” as decisions are made collectively by the cabinet.

He also sounded a warning to people who have broken social distancing guidelines, saying: “I hope people who may have wandered out the other day and decided they can sit around having barbecues will really think about this carefully and recognise this is serious.


“If the most powerful man in Britain can come down with this, so can you”.

Mr Johnson was initially taken to hospital for tests after announcing 11 days ago that he had the coronavirus. His symptoms included a high temperature and a cough.


Earlier on Monday, he tweeted he was in “good spirits”.

Mr Gove is the latest cabinet minister to self-isolate, after Mr Johnson, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Scottish secretary Alister Jack.


The government’s chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty and the PM’s adviser Dominic Cummings also spent time self-isolating after showing symptoms.

The Queen has been kept informed about Mr Johnson’s health, Buckingham Palace said. She also issued a message thanking healthcare workers for their “selfless commitment and diligence” to mark World Health Day.


It comes as the number of coronavirus hospital deaths in the UK reached 5,373 – an increase of 439 in a day.

The Department of Health and Social Care said there were now 51,608 confirmed coronavirus cases.


Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics have been released, showing the majority of coronavirus deaths are happening in hospitals but some are in hospices and care homes.

Among those who have sent messages to Mr Johnson was Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who described it as “terribly sad news”.


“All the country’s thoughts are with the prime minister and his family during this incredibly difficult time,” he added.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Vladimir Putin wished Mr Johnson a speedy recovery, saying he was “convinced that your energy, optimism and sense of humour will help you overcome the disease”.


US President Donald Trump said Americans “are all praying for his recovery”, describing Mr Johnson as “a very good friend of mine and a friend to our nation” who is “strong” and “doesn’t give up”.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said his thoughts were with the prime minister and his pregnant partner, Carrie Symonds, and that Mr Johnson would “come out of this even stronger”.

On Saturday, Ms Symonds said she had spent a week in bed with the main symptoms. She said she had not been tested for the virus.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was “sending [Mr Johnson] every good wish”, while Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster added she was “praying for a full and speedy recovery”.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: U.S death surpasses China.


The United States has overtaken China in terms of death toll from the coronavirus pandemic.

According to http://www.worldometers.info, as of 1 a.m. on Wednesday, 3,850 lives have been lost to the outbreak in the U.S. This record has exceeded China’s tally of 3,305 deaths.


The deadly respiratory disease originated from Wuhan in China and has ravaged many parts of the world, leaving massive deaths.

United States, which already has the highest number of reported infections in the world, has become one with the third highest death records after Italy and Spain.


While Italy has a total of 12,428 deaths, Spain, after 700 deaths on Tuesday, recorded a total of 8,464.

New York City is the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.


According to experts, the death toll might be twice the current figure as many die without being tested.

Countries have continued to report inadequate testing kits for potential patients of COVID-19, a strain of coronavirus which currently defies science.


Meanwhile, the death toll in Africa has been relatively low compared to Europe and other parts of the world.

No country in the continent has recorded more than 50 deaths. Egypt has the highest number of fatalities – 41, followed by Algeria and Morocco with 35 and 33.


South Africa still leads the continent with over 1,000 cases but has only three fatalities.

Out of the 161 cases in Ghana, 31 had recovered, which is the highest recorded in Africa so far.

Nigeria has 139 cases as of Tuesday evening with two deaths. About eight persons have recovered and have been discharged.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: U.S plead India to lift pharmaceutical ingredients export


Officials of the US have asked India to lift the ban imposed on export of pharmaceutical ingredients amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The move comes due to the rise in demand in the US, now the most-affected country with nearly 164,500 confirmed cases and 3,100 deaths to date.


Currently, the US now has more confirmed coronavirus cases than any other country, surpassing China and Italy.

India and US governments are in discussions on lightening restrictions on pharmaceutical ingredients exports from India, reported N.Rs


India is one of the largest suppliers of generics and pharmaceutical ingredients.

The export ban in India has been put in place to ensure an adequate supply of medicines during the outbreak in the country, which reported 1,251 COVID-19 cases and 32 deaths so far.


Commenting on US’ request, India state department spokesperson said: “We are collaborating, healthcare technology and personal protective equipment remain open even as large portions of our countries are shut down to reduce the risk of transmission.”

Meanwhile, India is planning to establish a global framework to gain affordable access to medicines to combat pandemics and enable easier movement of health professionals across borders.

The country currently supplies pharmaceutical ingredients and products to around 190 countries globally, which could be affected by COVID-19.

India Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal was quoted as saying: “We are confident that with improved regulatory and R&D cooperation, India can further enhance its capabilities to serve the world in a crisis like this.”


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: U.S ‘stay at home’ measures extended till end of April.


President Donald Trump has said federal coronavirus guidelines such as social distancing will be extended across the US until at least 30 April.

He had previously suggested that they could be relaxed as early as Easter, which falls in mid-April.

“The highest point of the death rate is likely to hit in two weeks,” Mr Trump said.

He appeared to be referring to peak infection rates that experts fear could overwhelm hospitals.

White House medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci had earlier warned that the virus could kill up to 200,000 Americans.

Dr Fauci said that it was “entirely conceivable” that millions of Americans could eventually be infected.

As of Sunday evening, 2,493 deaths had been recorded in the country in relation to Covid-19, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University.

The US last week became the country with the most reported cases, ahead of Italy and China.

What did Trump say?

Speaking during the latest Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House on Sunday, the president said that measures such as social distancing were “the way you win”, adding that the US “will be well on our way to recovery” by June.

Suggesting that the “peak” of death rates in the US was likely to hit in two weeks, Mr Trump said that “nothing would be worse than declaring victory before victory is won – that would be the greatest loss of all”.

Analysts suggest that when Mr Trump referred to a peak in the “death rate”, he probably meant the total number of recorded infections.

He said the decision to extend social distancing was made after he heard that “2.2 million people could have died if we didn’t go through with all of this”, adding that if the death toll could be restricted to less than 100,000 “we all together have done a very good job”.

Mr Trump had previously said that Easter – 10-13 April – would be a “beautiful time” to be able to open at least some sections of the country. On Sunday he said that lifting restrictions at Easter was “just an aspiration”.

“I wish we could have our old life back… but we’re working very hard, that’s all I know. I see things, I see numbers, they don’t matter to me. What matters to me is that we have a victory over this thing as soon as possible,” he said.

The president also talked on Sunday about the medical response. He said that “rapid testing” had been approved to get Covid-19 results within five minutes, and that doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers would be tested.

What’s the situation in the US?

Nationwide measures mean citizens must continue to avoid non-essential travel, going to work, and eating at restaurants or bars. Gatherings are limited to groups of under 10 people.

But stricter restrictions apply to millions in some of the worst-hit states.

On Saturday residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were instructed not to travel elsewhere within the country for 14 days.

Non-essential gatherings in New York City are banned and most businesses are closed as the city faces more than 33,000 cases. Police can issue fines of $250-500 (£200-£400).

In California, a “shelter in place” order remains.

What about the shortage of equipment?
Earlier on Sunday, Mr Trump accused hospitals in some states of “hoarding” ventilators, face masks and other critical medical supplies.

“We do have a problem with hoarding… including ventilators. Hospitals need to release them – in some cases they have too many, they have to release medical supplies and equipment,” he said.

Hospitals “can’t hold [ventilators] if they think there might be a problem weeks down the road”, he said, alleging that some were “stocked up”.

The availability of ventilators is a major concern among health professionals as demand has surged. A number of states have warned that they will soon not have enough to treat patients suffering from Covid-19.

The virus can cause severe respiratory issues as it attacks the lungs, and ventilators help to keep patients breathing.

What’s the global picture?

More than 33,000 people are now confirmed to have died worldwide after being infected with the new coronavirus.

Some of the latest major global developments include:

In Germany the number of confirmed cases has jumped to over 57,000 – an increase of 4,751

Australia has tightened its restrictions, with public gatherings now limited to just two people and playgrounds, outdoor gyms and parks closed from Monday

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has said emergency cash payments will be made to all households except the top 30% by income

In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed that about 20,000 former NHS staff had returned to work to help the fight against coronavirus

Spain recorded a new daily record of deaths, reporting 838 victims on Sunday

Italy recorded 756 new deaths over 24 hours, bringing the total to 10,779 – a slight drop in the daily toll

France reported 292 new deaths, bringing its total to 2,606 as specially modified trains began transporting patients from the worst-hit areas to hospitals in the south

Tight new restrictions in the Russian capital Moscow allow residents to leave their homes only for medical emergencies, essential work and to shop for food or medicine

The price of oil has sunk to levels not seen since 2002 as demand for crude collapses


#Newsworthy…

US beg doctors, nurses to come for visas as case surpasses China.


The U.S. Department of State has announced the decision to hire international medical staff to handle the increasing rate of coronavirus cases in the country.

“We encourage medical professionals seeking work in the U.S. on a work or exchange visitor visa (H or J), particularly those working on #COVID19 issues, to contact the nearest U.S. Embassy/ Consulate for a visa appointment,” said a statement by the Bureau of Consular Affairs.


The U.S. is now the coronavirus infection capital of the world, after surpassing China and Italy last night, with 85,991 confirmed cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Particularly those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19 were encouraged to reach out to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to request a visa appointment, the statement added.


The State Department also urged foreign medical professionals already in the U.S. to take necessary steps to extend their stay.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Cases in United State surpass China.


The US now has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other country, with more than 85,500 positive tests.

According to the latest figures collated by Johns Hopkins University, the US has overtaken China (81,782 cases) and Italy (80,589).


But with almost 1,300 Covid-19-related fatalities, the US death toll lags behind China (3,291) and Italy (8,215).

The grim milestone came as President Donald Trump predicted the nation would get back to work “pretty quickly”.


How did the White House react?
Asked about the latest figures at a White House briefing on Thursday afternoon, President Trump said it was “a tribute to the amount of testing that we’re doing”.

Vice-President Mike Pence said coronavirus tests were now available in all 50 states and more than 552,000 tests had been conducted nationwide.


Mr Trump also cast doubt on the figures coming out of Beijing, telling reporters: “You don’t know what the numbers are in China.”

But later, he tweeted that he had had a “very good conversation” with China’s President Xi Jinping.


“China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!” President Trump said.

Mr Trump has set a much-criticised goal of Easter Sunday, 12 April, for reopening the country. That plan seemed to gather impetus on Thursday as it emerged an unprecedented 3.3 million Americans have been laid off because of the virus.


Media captionCoronavirus: Millions of Americans unemployed
At Thursday’s briefing, he said: “They [the American people] have to go back to work, our country has to go back, our country is based on that and I think it’s going to happen pretty quickly.

“We may take sections of our country, we may take large sections of our country that aren’t so seriously affected and we may do it that way.”


He added: “A lot of people misinterpret when I say go back – they’re going to be practising as much as you can social distancing, and washing your hands and not shaking hands and all of the things we talked about.”

He promised more details next week.


In a letter to state governors on Thursday, Mr Trump said his team plans to release federal social distancing guidelines that may advise some regions to loosen restrictions.

Mr Trump wrote of a “long battle ahead” and said “robust” testing protocols might allow some counties to lift their safeguards against the coronavirus.


He said the “new guidelines” would create low, medium and high risk zones that would allow the government to advise on “maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures they have put in place”.

On Thursday night, Mr Trump phoned in to Fox News host Sean Hannity’s programme and said he believed Iowa, Idaho, Nebraska and parts of Texas could reopen earlier than other states.


The plan emerged as new research on Thursday estimated Covid-19-related deaths in the US could top 80,000 over the coming four months – even if people observe strict social distancing.

As many as 2,300 patients could be dying every day by April, according to the study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.


The Republican president’s get-back-to-work goal found unexpected support on Thursday from a prominent Democrat.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, the current coronavirus epicentre in the US, said statewide quarantine orders may not have been the best approach to coronavirus.


“Young people then quarantined with older people was probably not the best public health strategy,” he told a news conference, “because the younger people could have been exposing the older people to an infection.”

Mr Cuomo said a better way forward might be a “get-back-to-work strategy” in tandem with a public health strategy.


Public health experts on the White House task force have demurred when asked about reopening the country by Easter, suggesting the timeline should be “very flexible”.

No. On 16 March, he set a 15-day period to slow down the spread of Covid-19 by urging all Americans to drastically scale back their public interactions.


But those guidelines were voluntary and did not amount to a national order.

The US Constitution makes clear states have the power for maintaining public order and safety, which scholars say means it is the responsibility of governors to decide when virus-related restrictions get lifted.


Currently 21 US states have told residents to stay in their homes or ordered the closure of non-essential businesses in order to contain the pandemic.

What’s happening elsewhere in the US?
There were growing fears that Louisiana could become the country’s next hotspot, with the governor warning that the state’s biggest city, New Orleans, could be out of ventilators by 2 April and potentially out of beds by 7 April.

“It’s not conjecture, it’s not some flimsy theory,” John Bel Edwards told a news conference. “This is what is going to happen.”

Additionally, Dr Deborah Birx, the co-ordinator of the White House coronavirus response, said two other cities showed signs of rapidly rising new infections – Detroit, where the mayor described the situation as “really concerning”, and Chicago.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Mike pence’s wife set to stand test.


US Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday that he and his wife would be tested for coronavirus after one of his office staffers contacted the illness.

Pence said that there was little reason to believe he had been exposed to the employee, who has not been to the White House since Monday.

However, he said, “Given the unique position that I have as vice president and as the leader of the White House coronavirus task force, both I and my wife will be tested for the coronavirus later this afternoon.”


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Brag & Get Quarantined – Mercy Aigbe mock UK, China returnees.


Amidst the pandemic coronavirus brouhaha, Nollywood actress, Mercy Aigbe has decided to make a joke out of the serious issues.

On her page on Instagram, the 42 year old shared a joke about people coming from outside Nigerian. According to her, nobody can brag about coming from UK, USA and China for now. Everyone is keeping it low so they won’t be segregated.


#Newsworthy…

U.S president announce why tax payments may be delayed.


On Tuesday, the White House announced some details on how taxpayers will be able to defer any tax payments they might have.

“If you owe a payment to the IRS, you can defer up to $1 million as an individual,” said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, adding that the payments would be “interest free and penalty free for 90 days.”

“All you have to do is file your taxes; you’ll automatically not get charged interest in penalties,” Mnuchin said during a coronavirus briefing with President Trump looking on.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Chrissy Teigen slam Melania Trump for being useless


In a series of tweets, the outspoken model mentioned that she sees regular people doing things daily to help amid the Coronavirus crisis but Melania ”does nothing.”

Chrissy tweeted:


“Has melania even thought about doing something with her be best shit during these times? I see regular ass awesome people on my timeline all day doing all they can to make people happy and this wifebot is working on whatever the fuck a tennis gazebo is.

“I expect Donald to be a do nothing fucking loser wimp but she could maybe possibly try to uhhh BE BETTER possibly the best be the best the best be best.”


By “be best”, Chrissy was making reference to the First Lady, who launched her “Be Best” initiative to combat cyberbullying when President Trump took office.

Then, by “tennis gazebo”, she was referring to Melania’s tweet earlier this month, talking about the Tennis Pavillion that was being constructed on the White House grounds. In the tweet, Melania encouraged her critics to “take time and contribute something good & productive in their own communities.”

Chrissy added in her tweets to Melania: “ALL I have seen this bot do is gently touch Christmas ornaments in a cape and stare in a cape and pat statues in a different cape and then change her cape into a rude ass jacket. Fuck you.”


#Newsworthy…