Tuesday, Aug. 09, 2022 |
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Biden says US to hit 100 million vaccine goal today
WASHINGTON — With the U.S. closing in on President Joe Biden’s goal of injecting 100 million coronavirus vaccinations weeks ahead of his target date, the White House announced Thursday the nation is now in position to help supply neighbors Canada and Mexico with millions of lifesaving shots.
The Biden administration revealed the outlines of a plan to “loan” a limited number of vaccines to Canada and Mexico as the president announced the U.S. is on the cusp of meeting his 100-day injection goal “way ahead of schedule.”
” I’m proud to announce that tomorrow, 58 days into our administration, we will have met our goal,” Biden said. He promised to unveil a new vaccination target next week, as the U.S. is on pace to have enough of the three currently authorized vaccines to cover the entire adult population just 10 weeks from now.
Ahead of Biden’s remarks, the White House said it was finalizing plans to send a combined 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Mexico and Canada in its first export of shots. Press secretary Jen Psaki said the details of the “loan” were still being worked out, but 2.5 million doses would go to Mexico and 1.5 million would be sent to Canada.
“Our first priority remains vaccinating the U.S. population,” Psaki said. But she added that “ensuring our neighbors can contain the virus is a mission critical step, is mission critical to ending the pandemic.”
for migrant children raising safety concerns
McALLEN, Texas — The U.S. government has stopped taking immigrant teenagers to a converted camp for oil field workers in West Texas as it faces questions about the safety of emergency sites it is quickly setting up to hold children crossing the southern border.
The Associated Press has learned that the converted camp has faced multiple issues in the four days since the Biden administration opened it amid a scramble to find space for immigrant children. More than 10% of the camp’s population has tested positive for COVID-19 and at least one child had to be hospitalized.
An official working at the Midland, Texas, facility said most of the Red Cross volunteers staffing the site don’t speak Spanish, even though the teenagers they care for are overwhelmingly from Central America. When the facility opened, there weren’t enough new clothes to give to teenagers who had been wearing the same shirts and pants for several days, the official said. And no case managers were on site to begin processing the minors’ release to family elsewhere in the U.S.
Bringing in teenagers while still setting up basic services “was kind of like building a plane as it’s taking off,” said the official, who declined to be named due to government restrictions.
U.S. Health and Human Services notified local officials in Midland on Wednesday that it had no plans to bring more teenagers to the site, according to an email seen by the AP. HHS spokesman Mark Weber said taking more teenagers to Midland was on “pause for now.” There were still 485 youths there as of Wednesday, 53 of whom had tested positive for COVID-19.
From wire sources
Asian American churches plan acts beyond prayer for healing
Asian American Christian leaders said Thursday their congregations are saddened and outraged after a white gunman killed eight people — most of them women of Asian descent — at three Atlanta-area massage parlors. And they’re calling for action beyond prayers.
Asian Americans were already rattled by a wave of racist attacks amid the spread of the coronavirus pandemic across the United States. While the motive behind Tuesday’s rampage remains under investigation, some see it as a wake-up call to stand up against a rise in violence against the community.
The lead pastor at Korean Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, located a few miles from two of the spas that were targeted, said he will ask congregants during his Sunday sermon to “not just pray, not just worry,” because “it’s time for us to act.”
“I’m going to urge people with love and peace that we need to step up and address this issue, so that … our next generation should not be involved in tragic … violence,” the Rev. Byeong Han said. “That’s what Christians need to do.”
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry says diplomats in Atlanta have confirmed with police that four of the dead were women of Korean descent, and are working to determine their nationality.
US, China spar in first face-to-face meeting under Biden
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Top U.S. and Chinese officials offered sharply different views of each other and the world on Thursday as the two sides met face-to-face for the first time since President Joe Biden took office.
In unusually pointed public remarks for a staid diplomatic meeting, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief Yang Jiechi took aim at each other’s country’s policies at the start of two days of talks in Alaska. The contentious tone of their public comments suggested the private discussions would be even more rocky.
The meetings in Anchorage were a new test in increasingly troubled relations between the two countries, which are at odds over a range of issues from trade to human rights in Tibet, Hong Kong and China’s western Xinjiang region, as well as over Taiwan, China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea and the coronavirus pandemic.
Blinken said the Biden administration is united with its allies in pushing back against China’s increasing authoritarianism and assertiveness at home and abroad. Yang then unloaded a list of Chinese complaints about the U.S. and accused Washington of hypocrisy for criticizing Beijing on human rights and other issues.
“Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability,” Blinken said of China’s actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and of cyber attacks on the United States and economic coercion against U.S. allies. “That’s why they’re not merely internal matters, and why we feel an obligation to raise these issues here today.”
Garment workers in Myanmar fight for democracy, livelihoods
NEW YORK — Tin Tin Wei used to toil 11 hours a day, six days week sewing jackets at a factory in Myanmar. But following the military coup in early February, she hasn’t stitched a single garment.
Instead, she has been protesting on the streets and helping to mobilize the fight for democracy.
Tin Tin Wei, 26, is an organizer for the Federation of Garment Workers in Myanmar, one of the largest clothing unions in the country. She is among the throngs of young workers urging major international brands like H&M, Adidas and Mango, which source some of their products in Myanmar, to denounce the coup and put more pressure on factories to protect workers from being fired or harassed — or worse arrested and killed for participating in the protests.
“If we go back to work and if we work for the system, our future is in the darkness and we will lose our labor rights and even our human rights,” said Tin Tin Wei, who has been a clothing factory worker since age 13.
The response from companies so far has been mixed. Only a few have said they would curtail their business in Myanmar. Most others have put out statements that stop short of taking action, saying that while they denounce the coup, they want to support the workers by providing them with jobs.
With striking of Black juror, Floyd activists see racism
MINNEAPOLIS — A prospective juror who once lived in the neighborhood where George Floyd was arrested told the attorney for an ex-officer charged in Floyd’s death that he had a personal reason for wanting to serve on the jury.
“Because me, as a Black man, you see a lot of Black people get killed and no one’s held accountable for it, and you wonder why or what was the decisions,” Juror No. 76 said under questioning during jury selection in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. “So, with this, maybe I’ll be in the room to know why.”
But the man won’t be in the room. Even though he said he felt he could weigh the evidence fairly, he was struck by the defense. It was an illustration of how difficult it can be for people who say they have personal experience with police misconduct to make it onto juries that hold them accountable.
“We have a Black man who was probably in the best position to judge the case being excluded,” said Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights attorney and head of a community activism organization called Wayfinder Foundation.
The man said he experiences daily racism, and he strongly agreed that police are more likely to respond with force on Black people than on white people. Levy Armstrong called the juror’s exclusion a “huge slap in the face” that “just underscores why people believe there is systemic racism at work within these judicial processes.”
Medicaid incentive so far not enough to sway holdout states
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Democrats’ nearly $2 trillion coronavirus relief package includes a big financial incentive for the states that have opted against expanding Medicaid to provide health coverage for more low-income Americans. It’s proving to be a tough sell.
The Associated Press surveyed top Republican elected officials in the dozen states that have resisted expanding coverage under a key provision of former President Barack Obama’s heath care law. Some have softened their opposition, but the key gatekeepers— governors or legislative leaders — indicated they have no plans to change course.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster remains firmly opposed to the Medicaid expansion.
“Gov. McMaster isn’t for sale, regardless of whatever ill-conceived ‘incentives’ congressional Democrats may come up with,” spokesman Brian Symmes said in a statement. “What the federal spending plan does is attempt to offer a short term solution for a long term problem.”
The federal government already pays 90% of the costs of expanding Medicaid coverage to more low-income adults. Thirty-six states have signed on to the expansion. Two more — Missouri and Oklahoma — are scheduled to begin their expansions in July.
China to open 1st trial of Canadians held on spy charges
DANDONG, China — China was expected to open the first trial Friday for one of two Canadians who have been held for more than two years in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of a senior Chinese telecom executive.
Canada said its consular officials were not given permission to attend the proceedings despite several requests. They have been notified that a court hearing for Michael Spavor would be held Friday, and one for Michael Kovrig would follow on Monday.
China has not publicly confirmed the court dates, and calls to the court in Dandong, the northeastern city where Spavor was charged, went unanswered.
Sidewalks were roped off with police tape and journalists were kept at a distance as police cars and vans with lights flashing entered the the court complex, located beside the Yalu River that divides China from North Korea.
The Canadian Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Jim Nickel knocked on a door to the court seeking entry but was refused. He was told the trial would begin at 10 a.m. but was given no word on how long it would last or when a verdict would be announced.
Forecast for spring: Nasty drought worsens for much of US
With nearly two-thirds of the United States abnormally dry or worse, the government’s spring forecast offers little hope for relief, especially in the West where a devastating megadrought has taken root and worsened.
Weather service and agriculture officials warned of possible water use cutbacks in California and the Southwest, increased wildfires, low levels in key reservoirs such as Lake Mead and Lake Powell and damage to wheat crops.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s official spring outlook Thursday sees an expanding drought with a drier than normal April, May and June for a large swath of the country from Louisiana to Oregon. including some areas hardest hit by the most severe drought. And nearly all of the continental United States is looking at warmer than normal spring, except for tiny parts of the Pacific Northwest and southeast Alaska, which makes drought worse.
“We are predicting prolonged and widespread drought,” National Weather Service Deputy Director Mary Erickson said. “It’s definitely something we’re watching and very concerned about.”
NOAA expects the spring drought to hit 74 million people.
LA police: Armie Hammer under sexual assault investigation
LOS ANGELES — Actor Armie Hammer is under investigation for sexual assault, Los Angeles police said Thursday.
Hammer’s attorney denied the allegation.
Hammer is the main suspect in a sexual assault that was reported to police on Feb. 3, LAPD spokesman Officer Drake Madison said. Police would give no further details on the incident or who made the report.
Earlier Thursday at a video news conference, a woman said that on April 24, 2017, in Los Angeles, Hammer raped her for four hours, slammed her head against a wall and committed other violent acts against her.
The Associated Press does not generally identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
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