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Member since: Thu May 18, 2017, 12:36 PM
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Rep. Liz Cheney: GOP is at a 'turning point'

Number 3 House Republican Liz Cheney called on members of her party to choose allegiance to the Constitution over the "cult of personality" of former President Donald Trump in a scathing editorial published online by the Washington Post on Wednesday.

"The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution," wrote the Wyoming Republican.

"In the immediate wake of the violence of Jan. 6, almost all of us knew the gravity and the cause of what had just happened — we had witnessed it firsthand."

Cheney was among only 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump in January, in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

She has since been harshly criticized by some Republicans, and is expected to lose her leadership position in the House Republican caucus soon.

At: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/05/05/liz-cheney-republican-party-turning-point/

Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY):

"Republicans need to stand for genuinely conservative principles, and steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality."

Biden backs waiving international patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines

President Joe Biden threw his support behind a World Trade Organization (WTO) proposal on Wednesday to waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines.

This would clear a hurdle for other vaccine-strapped countries to manufacture their own vaccines even though the patents are privately held.

"This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures," United States trade representative Katherine Tai said in a statement.

"The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines."

The pace of vaccinating against the coronavirus in the U.S. is slowing down. In some places in the U.S., there are more vaccine doses than people who want them.

Meanwhile, India is now the epicenter of the pandemic with nearly half the world's 800,000 average new daily cases - and just 2% of its population is fully vaccinated.

At: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/05/05/993998745/biden-backs-waiving-international-patent-protections-for-covid-19-vaccines

Demonstrators held a rally on May 5th to "Free the Vaccine," calling on the U.S. to commit to a global coronavirus plan that includes sharing formulas with the world to help ensure that every nation has access to a vaccine, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The Biden administration today announced its support for a global waiver on patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines - which might let manufacturers in poorer countries make their own - and said it will negotiate the terms at the WTO.

The world's vaccination rate thus far, 13 per 100 people (excluding the U.S.), is about one sixth the U.S. total of 74 per 100 people.

Argentine Supreme Court rules in favor of Buenos Aires' refusal to suspend in-person classes

Argentina's Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Buenos Aires city government in its dispute with the national government, confirming that City Hall has the right to decide whether in-person classes at schools in the capital should continue.

Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta - whose right-wing JxC coalition staunchly opposes center-left President Alberto Fernández - challenged the in-person schooling suspension ordered by Fernández for the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA) on April 9th.

The city lost in federal court on April 20th - a decision overturned by today's Supreme Court ruling.

Four of the five Supreme Court justices voted to limit the national government's say over educational matters; Elena Highton de Nolasco chose to abstain, on grounds that the issue was not a matter for the court.

The ruling was condemned the president, as well as by teachers' unions and the medical community.

After the 2021 Argentine school year began on March 1st (two weeks earlier for Buenos Aires), new COVID-19 cases jumped from around 7,000 daily in March, to nearly 30,000 by April 16th.

New cases have slowed to 15,920 on Monday, but daily deaths remained at 540 - over four times the March average (126). Occupancy in intensive care units reached 65% nationwide, and 82% in Buenos Aires.

Some 63% of those surveyed in a recent poll backed the president's abatement measures.

At: https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/supreme-court-rules-in-favour-of-city-hall-in-education-dispute.phtml

Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Argentine President Alberto Fernández during an April 29th press conference.

Today's Supreme Court ruling upholding the mayor's refusal to suspend in-person schooling was seen as a victory for Larreta's right-wing JxC coalition - still smarting from defeat at the polls in 2019.

But Fernández, as well as educators and the medical community, see it as a threat to public health.

“Suspending in-person schooling is an indispensable measure, and every country that's been in this situation has suspended classes,” Dr. Arnaldo Dubín, head of Intensive Care at Buenos Aires' Otamendi Hospital, noted.

“What we have here is a political use of the health crisis, which we've seen from the beginning - with the lockdown, with the vaccine, and now in this novel way.”

Argentina: Fernandez extends curfew, school closures as Covid-19 cases rise

Argentine President Alberto Fernández on Friday announced a three-week extension of restrictions to tackle the Covid-19 second wave, warning the nation that the “next few weeks may be very hard.”

Fernández confirmed that the existing 8pm-6am nighttime curfew in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA) - home to one in three Argentines - and other at-risk regions would remain in place.

The most controversial has been the cancellation of in-person classes at Buenos Aires metro-area schools.

Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta - whose right-wing JxC coalition staunchly opposes Fernández - has challenged the in-person schooling suspension. The city lost in federal court on April 20th and the case has gone to the Supreme Court.

Over 5,300 patients with Covid-19 are hospitalized in intensive care units across the country, with bed occupancy today at 69.1% nationwide and 77.9% in the AMBA region.

At: https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/fernandez-extends-curfew-school-closures-as-covid-19-cases-rise.phtml

Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta visits a classroom on the first day of the current school year, February 17th.

Since then, new Covid-19 cases have jumped from around 6,000 to 22,420 today - with average daily deaths this week tripling to 384.

President Fernández's order suspending in-person schooling in the metro area has been challenged in court by the mayor.

Brazil registers record 14.4 million unemployed

Pandemic-battered Brazil registered a record 14.4 million unemployed workers in the three-month period to February 2021, up two million from the year before, officials said Friday.

The unemployment rate for the period came in at 14.4%, said the national statistics institute IBGE. That was up from 11.6% the year before, when the coronavirus pandemic was just starting to be felt in Brazil - and the highest since 1999.

Latin America's biggest economy has been hit hard by Covid-19, which has devastated the country since the first case was confirmed in February 2020.

GDP fell last year by 4.1%, to its lowest level since 2010.

"In one year of the pandemic, 7.8 million jobs were lost," IBGE said in a statement.

At: https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/latin-america/brazil-registers-record-144-million-unemployed.phtml

Unemployed Brazilians at a job center in São Paulo.

Unemployment in Latin America's largest economy rose from an already high 11.6% to 14.4% during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Nearly 15 million cases and over 400,000 deaths have been recorded in Brazil thus far.

The economy grew 6.4% in Q1 amid stimulus checks, COVID-19 shots, looser business constraints

A U.S. economy that was supposed to be ailing this past winter instead got a couple of big shots in the arm, kicking off what’s likely to be a historically strong year.

Economic growth accelerated in early 2021 as federal stimulus checks and fast-growing COVID-19 vaccinations left consumers flush with cash and ready to spend it just as more states lifted business constraints.

The developments pushed up a recovery that wasn’t supposed to gather force until midyear.

The nation’s gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced in the U.S., increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.4% in the January-March period, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast a 6.9% rise in GDP.

U.S. economic output is now just 1% below its pre-pandemic level and should reclaim that mark in the current quarter, Capital Economics says. After the economy contracted 3.5% in 2020 – its worst performance since just after World War II – GDP is poised for a historic turnabout.

Private spending grew at a 10.7% rate in the 1st quarter - led by a 41.4% annualized boost in durable goods spending.

Gross private domestic investment fell 5% in the quarter due to a $90 billion drawdown in inventories. Fixed investment grew at a 10.1% rate, led by equipment purchases of 16.7%.

Government purchases grew 6.3%, with defense declining at a 3.4% rate - and non-defense jumping by a record 44.8% annualized rate.

At: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/29/business/economy/united-states-gdp.html

Colombians protest tax increase proposal amid pandemic

Tens of thousands of people marched in Colombia Wednesday against a proposed tax reform they say will leave them poorer as the country battles its deadliest phase yet of the coronavirus pandemic.

President Iván Duque's government wants to tax the incomes of those earning more than US$656 a month, lowering the threshold to broaden the tax base.

It also wants to impose a tax on basic services in upper-middle class areas and on funerals.

The measures are meant to raise some US$6.3 billion in 10 years for the country which saw GDP drop 6.8% in 2020 – its worst performance in half a century.

At: https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/latin-america/colombians-protest-tax-reform-proposal-amid-pandemic.phtml

Demonstrators clash with riot police during a protest in Bogotá yesterday against a tax reform bill proposed by Colombian President Iván Duque.

LIVE: President Joe Biden's address to a joint session of Congress

The world needs many more Coronavirus vaccines

Low- and middle-income nations are facing an unconscionable shortage of coronavirus vaccines that threatens to upend progress against the pandemic.

So far, this global shortage has been obscured by pockets of vaccine abundance in wealthier countries like the United States.

But if the shortage isn’t addressed soon, the trouble will become all too clear. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people will continue to get sick and die, even as the pandemic recedes in richer nations.

Nearly as soon as vaccines entered clinical trials, wealthy countries began hoarding doses, ensuring that instead of the most vulnerable people everywhere being vaccinated, their residents would be first in line.

Then, as the vaccines came to market, some vaccine makers insisted on sweeping liability protections that further imperiled access for poorer countries.

In other countries, Pfizer has reportedly not only sought liability protection against all civil claims — even those that could result from the company’s own negligence — but has asked governments to put up sovereign assets, including their bank reserves, embassy buildings and military bases, as collateral against lawsuits.

Some countries have understandably balked at such demands, according to the nonprofit Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and the pace of purchasing agreements has slowed as a result.

At: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/24/opinion/covid-vaccines-poor-countries.html

Senior citizens being vaccinated recently at an old age home in Buenos Aires, Argentina - where vaccinations, while ramping up, are failing to keep up with surging cases and deaths.

Export restrictions on vast U.S. Covid vaccine supplies - as well as Pfizer's demands on sovereign assets as collateral (including embassies and even central bank reserves) - have left developing countries dependent on Russia, China, and (until recently) India for most of their scarce vaccines.

While daily cases in the U.S. have fallen 77% from January highs, average daily cases worldwide have more than doubled to 825,000.

Gavin Newsom recall gathers enough signatures to qualify for California ballot

The campaign to recall Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom has gathered enough signatures to trigger a special election that could oust him from office.

California's Secretary of State Shirley Weber announced the validation of the 1,495,709 petition signatures needed to trigger the recall election on Monday evening.

The petition signers will have the option to remove their signatures as state officials calculate the election's cost, a process which could take up to three months, according to The Los Angeles Times.

After Weber issues an official final certification of the signatures, the state's Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis can then call for the election to occur within 60 to 80 days.

At: https://www.newsweek.com/gavin-newsom-recall-gathers-enough-signatures-qualify-california-ballot-1586597

Opponents of California Governor Gavin Newsom protest in Fresno in favor of a recall election - which will now be held within the next few months, pending certification of all signatures.
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