Mala Adiga Policy Director US

US President-elect Joe Biden appoints Indian-American Mala Adiga as policy director of his wife Jill Biden

US President-elect Joe Biden has appointed an Indian-American Mala Adiga, as the policy director of his wife Jill Biden, who will be the first lady.

Adiga has served as a senior advisor to Jill and a senior policy advisor on the Biden-Kamala Harris campaign.

Previously, Adiga was director for Higher Education and Military Families at the Biden Foundation.

During former President Barack Obama’s administration, Adiga served as the deputy assistant secretary of state for Academic Programs at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Cathy Russell, Vice-Chair of the Biden-Harris campaign, has been named as the director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.

Louisa Terrell, who currently oversees legislative affairs for the Biden-Harris transition team, will serve as the director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs in Biden administration.

Finn at Nordic

Minister Blomqvist attends meeting of Ministers for Nordic Cooperation.

Minister for Nordic Cooperation and Equality of Swedish People’s Party

Ministry for Foreign Affairs  23.11.2020 8.50 | Published in English on 23.11.2020 at 9.26PRESS RELEASE

Minister for Nordic Cooperation Thomas Blomqvist will attend an informal online meeting of Ministers for Nordic Cooperation on 23 November 2020.

The meeting will approve next year’s budget for the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Council’s Action Plan for 2021–2024. The Action Plan paves the way for implementation of the Vision 2030 that the Nordic Prime Minister adopted last summer. According to the new vision, the objective is to make the Nordic region the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030. A draft version of the document, called Our Vision 2030, has been published on the Secretariat’s website. The Action Plan will be translated into Finnish after its adoption. 

At the meeting, the ministers will discuss the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nordic cooperation. Other topics of discussion on the agenda are strengthening of civil society’s participation in the Nordic cooperation, and the Nordic Council of Minister’s stronger role in Belarus to support its democracy development.

The meeting will be the last one during the Danish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Finland’s Nordic Presidency will start in January 2021.

Paris Accord to kill US Economy

Paris Accord was made to kill American economy: US President Donald Trump.

US President Donald Trump has said that the Paris Accord was made to kill American economy.

Speaking at the G-20 Summit via video conference, Trump said that his decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement was to protect American workers.

He further said that he refused to surrender millions of American jobs and sent trillions of American dollars to the world’s worst polluters and environmental offenders.

Trump said since withdrawing from the Paris Accord, the United States has reduced carbon emissions more than any nation anywhere in the world.

He also added that our air is 7 percent cleaner than when he took office.

The Summit saw the participation of heads of state or government of 19 member countries, the European Union, other invited countries and international organisations like the UN, IMF, FATF, OECD.

EU: Gender Equality

1st meeting of @GENDERACTION_EU final conference task force this afternoon. We have discussed the target audience, date & venues, and of course main topics.

EU’s top court said the extra leave had to be linked to pregnancy or birth, otherwise, it risks falling foul of the bloc’s gender equality rules.

EU development ministers to discuss gender equality and debt sustainability in partner countries

Ministry for Foreign Affairs  20.11.2020 12.51 | Published in English on 20.11.2020 at 14.42PRESS RELEASE

EU development ministers will gather to discuss debt sustainability and debt relief in partner countries on 23 November 2020. Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari will represent Finland in the informal video conference.

The COVID-19 pandemic has weakened the economic situation and deepened the debt crisis in many developing countries. As a result, debt sustainability in developing countries has attracted international attention once again. 

“Finland emphasises that ensuring debt sustainability in developing countries is a joint mission for all EU Member States. We must take the role of China and the private sector into consideration and encourage them to take part in the mission”, says Minister for Development and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari.

At their meeting, EU development ministers will also discuss gender equality and promoting the empowerment of women in all external relations. The EU’s new action plan for promoting gender equality in external relations, Gender Action Plan, will be published on 24 November. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, aimed at strengthening women’s human rights, and the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Resolution 1325 ‘Women, Peace and Security’.

“All women and girls have the right to have control over their own bodies, sexuality and reproduction. Including sexual and reproductive health and rights in the action plan will promote its implementation. It is important that the action plan cover all external relations. In accordance with UN Resolution 1325 ‘Women, Peace and Security’, Finland will continue its efforts to strengthen the role of women in peace processes”, Minister Skinnari says. 

Tarun Gogoi No More

TarunGogoi Ji was a popular leader and a veteran administrator, who had years of political experience in Assam as well as the Centre. Anguished by his passing away. My thoughts are with his family and supporters in this hour of sadness. Om Shanti: PM @narendramodi

Tributes pouring Congress Leader and Forrmer Assam CM Tarun Gogoi 86 passed away.

Former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi died here on Monday while undergoing treatment for post- COVID-19 complications, State Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

He was first admitted to the hospital on August 26 after testing positive for COVID-19 and was released for a brief period before being admitted again on November 2.

Former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi died here on Monday while undergoing treatment for post-COVID-19 complications, State Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said. reports Thindu.

Former #Assam chief minister #TarunGogoi has passed away, says state health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi mourns former Assam CM death.

CM Shri @sarbanandsonwal condoles the demise of former CM #TarunGogoi 5.34 PM today. reaches Gauhati Medical college. State has lost an experienced, capable and efficient political leader: CM

RahulGandhi : Shri #TarunGogoi was a true Congress leader. He devoted his life to bringing all the people and communities of Assam together For me, he was a great & wise teacher I loved & respected him deeply I will miss him My love & condolences to Gaurav & the family

Capt.AmarinderSingh@capt_amarinder – Deeply pained by the unfortunate demise of veteran Congressman and former CM Assam #TarunGogoi Ji. He was a visionary leader and played a pivotal role in rebuilding Assam. My heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and supporters. Rest In peace!

Mamata Banerjee@MamataOfficial·Saddened to hear about the passing away of veteran leader and former Chief Minister of Assam for 3 terms, Tarun Gogoi Ji. My deepest condolences to his family, followers and well-wishers

 Assam government on Monday announced a three-day state mourning in the honour of former chief minister Tarun Gogoi who died while undergoing treatment for post-COVID-19 complications.
The ruling BJP and opposition Congress also cancelled all party functions, including the ongoing campaign for Bodoland Territorial Council elections, for the next three days as a mark of respect for the three-time chief minister.


“Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal announced that State government would observe three-day State mourning in honour of the former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi who breathed his last this evening,” an official statement said.


Sonowal also paid his last respect to the mortal remains of the veteran Congress leader at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital.

EU Leaders discuss COVID

EU leaders discuss joint efforts to fight COVID-19.

Government Communications Department 19.11.2020 22.47 |Published in English on 20.11.2020

At their informal videoconference on 19 November, the members of the European Council discussed COVID-19 testing, vaccination and measures to prevent a new wave of the disease during the holiday season at the turn of the year. Finland emphasised the need for a common strategy.

At the beginning of the meeting, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, which currently holds the EU Council Presidency, reported on the state of play regarding the EU’s multiannual financial framework and the recovery fund, but there was no further debate on the matter. The major recovery package aims to support EU economies in recovering from the setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Finland’s view, it is important for the work to proceed in line with what the EU leaders agreed in July. 

“Finland considers it important to remain closely in line with the conclusions of the July European Council and to ensure that the key elements of the recovery instrument are not separated from one another. Creating a rule of law mechanism that functions as effectively as possible is an essential part of the recovery package,” said Prime Minister Sanna Marin. 

During the video meeting, Finland expressed support for the European Commission’s 18 November recommendation on the use of rapid antigen tests to diagnose the disease and for the mutual recognition of test results among the Member States.

The EU leaders were briefed on the current situation with regard to the procurement and distribution of vaccines. The meeting highlighted the increasing need for Member States to share information with one another in order to support research and development. 

The EU leaders have also focused on efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in their previous meetings. Joint EU actions were widely discussed at the European Council on 15 October in Brussels and in the videoconference on 29 October.

San Jose stabbing in Church

Police: No services were taking place at the time of the stabbing, but that homeless people had been brought to the church to take shelter from the cold. Youth appears to be suspect

Police say the stabbing happened at Grace Baptist Church in San Jose, California. At least two people were reported dead, but it is unclear exactly how many others may have been wounded.

Two dead, several others injured in multiple stabbings at a church city San Jose in California.

San Jose church stabbings are part of a shocking news of stabbing, perhaps unsurprising spike in murders across the country.

Mayor Sam Liccardo said,
Two people died in a stabbing at a church in #California, and multiple other people are “seriously wounded,” San Jose police and Mayor Sam Liccardo said,on suspect arrest once tweeted later depleted.

SC: Seek Covid Status

After Delhi and Maharashtra, COVID-19 situation in Gujarat has also worsened and it is going out of control: SC

Reports of Covid 19 making second and third wave across globe.

India too under covid attack from one week is on way to the lethal wave. With winters begining shows virus initial surge the fear is obvious for pandemic to be lethal on human health.

Thus SC timely intervention of report for preparedness of State’s of heath infrastructure guildines strategies in place to brace covid.

SupremeCourt

SC seeks status report from all states in two days over #COVID19 situation.

SC expressed concerned over surge in COVID-19 cases in Delhi. Delhi Govt says it has reserved beds for COVID 19 patients in all hospitals. SC to hear the matter next on Friday.

Not only situation in Delhi but Gujarat, Maharashtra, COVID-19 virus influence has also worsened and it is going out of control, now life threatening health on rise in last two weeks, SC observes.

A Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan also pulled up Gujarat and Delhi over the worsening COVID-19 situation and asked all states to file status reports detailing steps they have taken, steps intended to be taken and the help needed from the Centre to combat the situation.

“Things have worsened in the last two weeks, in November. Our question is what is your present situation? What more steps are you taking? That is what we are going to look into,” the Bench asked the Delhi government. The Bench also observed that in the month of November there was a spike of COVID-19 cases in Delhi, Maharashtra and Gujarat. It also noted Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s submission that the Union Home Minister has taken specific steps with regard to the COVID-19 situation in Delhi.

“Let counsel appearing for Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Assam file status report with regard to the current COVID-19 situation,” the Bench said.

Further, pointing towards Gujarat’s condition is worst after Delhi and Maharashtra, the Bench also pulled up the Gujarat government for allowing weddings and gatherings despite rising COVID-19 cases. “What is your policy? What is happening? What is all this?” Justice MR Shah asked the counsel appearing for state.

Media agencies

Covax, Oxford-Astra Zeneca Vaccine

Global covid program called Covax has made strides in an ambitious effort to deploy future vaccines equitably around the world, getting dozens of countries to join and securing deals for 700 million doses 

Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine shows strong immune response in elderly.

Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine candidate shows a strong immune response in adults in their 60s and 70s, according to researchers, raising hopes that it can protect age groups most at risk from the virus.

Researchers say the Lancet phase two findings, based on 560 healthy adult volunteers, are encouraging.

Oxford finding itself in race of efficacy lagged behind Pfizer-BioNTech, Sputnik and Moderna has issued its revised efficacy to match variant three in market.

Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine can be up to 90% effective, trial showsA COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford,British pharma AstraZeneca was found to have an average efficacy rate of 70% following a large-scale trial.

The trial involved two separate dosing regimens, one which showed a 90% efficacy rate, and the other with 62%. Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and Chief Investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial, said the results “show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives.”

Three vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech, Sputnik and Moderna – have already reported good preliminary data from phase three trials, with one suggesting 94% of people over 65 could be protected from Covid-19.

Older people’s weaker immune systems generally mean vaccines do not tend to function as well as they do in younger people. But, these trial results from the University of Oxford, peer-reviewed in the Lancet, suggest that may not be a problem. They show that older adults aged 56-69 and over 70 had a similar immune response to younger adults aged 18-55.

Dr Maheshi Ramasamy, an investigator at the Oxford Vaccine Group, said two weeks after the second dose, more than 99% of participants of all ages had neutralising antibody responses.

The T-cell response – another measure of how well the immune system responds – peaked two weeks after the first dose of the vaccine, regardless of age. 

The robust antibody and T-cell responses seen in older people in the study are encouraging, Dr Ramasamy said.  The populations at greatest risk of serious Covid-19 disease include people with existing health conditions and older adults and hence, this vaccine may help to protect some of the most vulnerable people in society, he said.

Pfizer applied Friday for an emergency use authorization in the U.S., and may begin the rollout in mid-December. While wealthy nations are in a position to receive the first supplies of the Pfizer and Moderna shots thanks to significant quantities they’ve snapped up in advance, most regions are depending heavily on companies following the front-runners, especially AstraZeneca, Novavax Inc. and Johnson & Johnson. Supplies will likely struggle to meet demand in the months after vaccines arrive, raising concerns about global access.

“The vast majority of the global population live in low- and middle-income countries,” said Mark Eccleston-Turner, a law and infectious disease specialist at Keele University in England. “It’s not just a problem for people over there, far away from us. This is a problem for most people in the world.”

A global program called Covax has made strides in an ambitious effort to deploy future vaccines equitably around the world, getting dozens of countries to join and securing deals for 700 million doses so far.

AstraZeneca reached an agreement to supply the initiative, while a collaboration including the Serum Institute of India agreed to accelerate the production of Astra or Novavax shots for low- and middle-income nations, priced at a maximum of $3 per dose, with an option to secure more. A Covax pact with Sanofi and partner GlaxoSmithKline Plc followed last month.

The program, led by the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, expects more deals in the coming weeks. Pfizer and BioNTech, along with Moderna, remain in talks with Covax.

AstraZeneca has easily been the most active in reaching supply accords. Of all the volumes committed globally, almost a third — about 3.2 billion doses — are set to come from the U.K. company, according to Airfinity. More than 50 lower- and middle-income countries would receive Astra and Oxford’s shot, in regions including Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe, along with wealthy governments too, the research group found.

If the vaccine is successful, fulfilling that demand won’t be easy. In the U.K., a shortfall in supplies of the shot expected by the end of the year casts doubt on how swiftly AstraZeneca will be able to immunize the public. Yet the company has said it’s confident it can begin supplying hundreds of millions of doses on a rolling basis once it gains approval.

Price Advantage

One of the key factors behind the reliance on the Astra-Oxford vaccine is the initial price. Astra has said it won’t profit during the pandemic and that the vaccine will cost between $4 and $5 a dose, though health advocates worry what that company and others will charge when the crisis is deemed over.

Antonio on Kabul Attack

UN Chief Antonio Gutterres condemns rocket attacks in Kabul

UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutterres has condemned the rocket attacks in Kabul, which resulted in the death and injury of many civilians.

In a statement, Secretary-General underlined the urgency of ending the violence in Afghanistan.

He has expressed hope that the upcoming Afghanistan Peace Negotiations can swiftly achieve a de-escalation of the conflict and cessation of attacks in order to save lives.