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Thursday,26-November-2020

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Russia ready to produce Covid vax at foreign sites of partners: Vladimir Putin

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia is ready to produce Covid-19 vaccines at the sites of foreign partners.

“Most importantly, we are ready to agree to produce this vaccine or these vaccines at the production sites of our foreign partners. They have this equipment, and I want to emphasise this, not to the detriment of vaccination in Russia itself, since we still have to purchase or develop this equipment, we are ready to work with our foreign partners,” Putin said.

“I just want to remind you that we are generally ready to work more closely with our colleagues in science than we have done so far. We know that many European countries have already signed contracts for the supply of vaccines from the UK,” he added.

Putin also slammed the Western vaccines saying they were made from monkey and chimpanzee adenovirus.

“Unfortunately, our colleagues there have experienced some malfunctions, they make their vaccine based on monkey and chimpanzee adenovirus, and our specialists at the Gamaleya Institute make it based on the human adenovirus in order to deliver the necessary components to the cells in the human body. And it works effectively. Thank God, without glitches,” Putin said.

He added that mass vaccination will start by the end of the year.

“We do not have a single serious glitch in this area. Both the vaccines by Vector and the Gamaleya Institute work effectively. The question is how to mass produce it. The vaccine has already been delivered to all regions of Russia. I hope that we will be able to start mass vaccination at the end of the year,” he said.

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Netanyahu threatens more strikes on in Syria

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to carry out more airstrikes in Syria if Iran continues to maintain a military presence in the war-torn country.

“We will not allow Iranian military entrenchment against us in Syria and we will not tolerate any attempt to attack us from Syrian territory,” Xinhua news agency quoted Netanyahu as saying in a statement issued by his office on Wednesday hours after a deadly Israeli airstrike in Syria.

“This morning, the air force attacked significant Iranian Quds Force targets and Syrian military targets in Syria,” the Prime Minister said, in a rare acknowledgment of Israeli airstrikes in Syria.

The airstrike was carried out as part of “a clear policy that I have been leading for years”, he noted.

“Whoever tries to attack us or attacks us will bear the consequences,” Netanyahu warned.

At least 10 Syrian soldiers and pro-government fighters were killed in airstrikes on Syrian military sites in the capital Damascus on Wednesday, the UK-based watchdog Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

In recent years, Israel has conducted hundreds of airstrikes against Iranian-linked targets in Syria.

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Donald Trump terminates election official who contradicted him

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Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (Cisa) chief Chris Krebs was fired by Donald Trump for contradicting the US president’s claims of voter fraud.

Trump said he “terminated” Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (Cisa) chief Chris Krebs for his “highly inaccurate” remarks on vote integrity, the BBC reported.

Trump has refused to concede the US election, and has made unsubstantiated claims of “massive” voter fraud.

Election officials said the vote was the “most secure” in US history.

Krebs is the latest official to be dismissed by the US president following his defeat, with Defence Secretary Mark Esper also shown the door amid reports Trump doubted the Pentagon chief’s loyalty.

There is speculation in Washington DC that before Trump leaves office in January, CIA director Gina Haspel and FBI director Christopher Wray could also be for the chopping block.

Like many others fired by Trump, Krebs reportedly only learned he was out of a job when he saw the president’s tweet on Tuesday.

But following his dismissal, the former Microsoft executive appeared to have no regrets.

He had run the agency from its inception two years ago in the aftermath of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

To guard against potential cyber-threats, Cisa works with state and local election officials and the private companies that supply voting systems, while monitoring ballot tabulation and the power grid.

He had reportedly incurred the White House’s displeasure over a Cisa website called Rumor Control, which debunked election misinformation, much of it amplified by the president himself.

Hours before he was fired, he posted a tweet that appeared to take aim at Trump’s allegation that voting machines in various states had switched ballots to Biden.

Krebs tweeted: “ICYMI: On allegations that election systems were manipulated, 59 election security experts all agree, ‘in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.’ #Protect2020”.

This post, and others by Krebs dating back to the end of July this year, appear to have been deleted from his Twitter account.

He was among senior officials from the Department of Homeland Security who last week declared the November 3 US general election the “most secure in American history”, while rejecting “unfounded claims”.

Though that statement did not name Trump, on the same day it was published Krebs retweeted a Twitter post by an election law expert saying: “Please don’t retweet wild and baseless claims about voting machines, even if they’re made by the president.”

Krebs dismissal brought outrage from Democrats. A spokesman for President-elect Joe Biden said “Chris Krebs should be commended for his service in protecting our elections, not fired for telling the truth”.

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Donald Trump may have lost, but populist conservatism still strong

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The euphoria over Donald Trump losing the race for President may be clouding the political picture with claims of the liberals and the left crushing the conservatives.

But beneath the election results, populist conservatism still remains a strong force, and instead of a wipeout Trump has won 72 million popular votes so far – the second-highest in United States’ history and more than President Barack Obama’s record set in 2008.

Democrat Joe Biden, of course, is ahead in the continuing vote count with record-setting 77 million votes but the five million votes separating them is only 3.4 per cent of the 149 million votes counted as of Wednesday afternoon.

Biden increased his share of the popular votes by 1.3 per cent over what Hillary Clinton received in 2016 and the different way the votes are distributed among the states give Biden a lead in the electoral college.

In Georgia where there is going to be a recount, Biden leads by only about 14,000 votes or 0.3 per cent.

Only 49,000 votes or 0.7 per cent separate Biden from Trump in Pennsylvania. And Biden’s lead in some other states like Arizona and Wisconsin is also less than one per cent.
Even though the Democrats will retain the House of Representatives, the Republicans have defeated Democrats in nine constituencies held by them and lost only three, with 12 results pending. The blue wave didn’t crest.

With 47.6 per cent of the votes for Trump, the conservatives and populists are a force that cannot be written off.

It is not a black and white, or, more appropriately, a red or blue matter, and Trump’s voters are not all the racist, die-hard lumpen proletariat that the elites and their allies make them out to be.

43 per cent of college graduates voted for Trump as did 19 per cent of African American men, 32 per cent of Latinos and 34 per cent of Asians, a broad category that includes

Indian Americans — ethnic groups that can hardly be labelled White supremacist.

Trump received 55 per cent of the votes of White women, but that was six per cent less than what he got from White men. (He also lagged among among African American women voters by 10 per cent and by six per cent among Latino women.)

The data is from the National Election Pool, a consortium of four major TV networks that worked with Edison Research in an extended form of exit polling to account for higher numbers of early voting and postal ballots.

The degree of polarisation and the near-vertical split points to Biden’s difficulties in uniting the nation — even if the left in his party would allow it.

The votes were split on what is more important to the voters, the economy and safety or fighting Covid-19 and ending racial inequality.

Of the top five issues that governed their decision, Trump voters went for the economy and public safety while Biden voters overwhelmingly chose racial inequality and the Covid-19 pandemic and the proportions were almost identical.

Of the 42 per cent of the voters who were for prioritising rebuilding the economy over efforts to contain the coronavirus, 78 per cent went for Trump and 20 for Biden.

Of the 52 per cent who considered fighting COVID-19 more important than the economy, 79 per cent voted for Biden, and 19 for Trump.

Speaking on Saturday after the media – and not the officials who were still counting votes – declared Biden the winner, he promised “to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify, who doesn’t see Red States and Blue States, only sees the United States.”

Reaching out to Trump voters, he said, “It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again. And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies.”

That would be something his supporters would have also to do, perhaps starting with asking why did African Americans and Latinos join Whites and others, all of whom could not be denounced as racists, vote for Trump.

If in 2016 the motivation to vote for Trump was creating jobs and re-industrialising – which did come about during the first three years of the Trump administration recording the lowest unemployment rate in decades and the lowest ever for African Americans and Latinos – the attraction this time was Trump’s promise to bring back the coronavirsu-pummeled economy, which was slowly beginning to recover.

Trump had put his finger on the de-industrialisation of the US under previous Republican and Democratic administrations that hurt the working class voters and came up with his slogans of “America First and “Bring Jobs Back to the US” and launched an economic and a more vocal attack on China.

The elites (who had financially benefited by exporting jobs) and the media criticised him, but Biden quietly included in his manifesto a section about the need to “stand up to the Chinese government’s abuses, insist on fair trade” to ensure that “many of the products that are being made abroad could be made here today.”

The Covid-19 pandemic economically hurt the working class and the minorities harder as they had thin financial cushions to see them through and wanted to the economy to open. Moreover, the elites who were for extended closure of the economy, were themselves benefiting from service workers like delivery people and shop assistants who were mostly minorities in the cities.

There was also fallout from the Black Lives Matter Movement that started against police brutality but spiralled into an anti-police protest demanding cutting the budgets of or even abolishing police departments.

In the crime wave that followed – in New York, for example, in summer the number of shooting doubled and the number murders rose by 50 per cent compared to the previous year – most of the victims were non-White minorities, not the privileged.

A corollary to that was the resurgence of the cultural war that saw absurdities like a statue of Abraham Lincoln being pulled down because he was White, as also the defacing of a Mahatma Gandhi statue.

Although the Democrats pushed their message of Trump’s racism by referring to his campaign against illegal immigration and his remarks about Mexican “rapists” and criminals illegally in the US, according to NBC,between 41 and 47 per cent of Latino voters – many of them Mexicans – in the border areas of Texas backed Trump. It was likely because of the economic message.

While Biden, who made the pandemic the centrepiece of his campaign, has his work cut out for him starting on January 20, Trump’s continued leadership of the populist conservatives remains is a question mark.

Many of the traditional conservatives have already fled Trump, their Lincoln Project of campaigns to defeat Trump being the most visible manifestation.

Trump is grandstanding on the election results – which have yet to be declared officially and can be legally challenged – for the benefit of his hardcore base.
But when he leaves office, he will have to figure out what his future role with the movement he started and built up with fury and bluster will be – that is when he will not be defending himself in an expected slew of cases.

As for the Republican Party, its identity was subsumed by Trump and if it is to operate without him, it will have to, ironically, turn to the working class with a message beyond the mix of social conservatism and free enterprise.

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