Sunday, June 13, 2021

Sudan, Egypt Met in Khartoum Over How to Make Ethiopia Sign “Biding Deal”

June 10, 2021

Egypt seeks action from United Nations Security Council to pressure Ethiopia to sign a “binding deal,” before second phase of GERD filling 


Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, and the Irrigation Minister, Abdel Aty, were in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Wednesday this week when they met with their counterparts from Sudan. 

They met to discuss how to make Ethiopia sign a “binding agreement” over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam before the second filling of the dam, which is scheduled for next month. 

According to a report by Reuters, the two countries have reached an agreement and issued a joint statement. They agreed “to coordinate efforts to push Ethiopia to negotiate “seriously” on an agreement on filling and operating a giant dam it is building on the Blue Nile.”

Sudan Tribune reported that the two countries also agreed “to coordinate bilateral efforts at the regional, continental and international levels to press Ethiopia to negotiate in good faith and true political will to reach a comprehensive, fair and legally binding agreement on filling and operation of the Renaissance Dam.”

As the disputes over GERD heightens, the two countries rushed to sign a military cooperation agreement in March of this year- something many understood to be a sort of psychological war against Ethiopia. Not just that, in late May of this year, they undertook joint military training in  Sudan involving air and ground forces of the two countries. 

Meanwhile, on Thursday Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry had a conversation with the UN Secretary-General António Guterres regarding GERD.  He reportedly told him that “Security Council can push Ethiopia to ‘engage in serious negotiations with an honest political will’ to reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD),” as reported by Ahram. 

The last trilateral meeting between the three countries was held in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the African Union playing a leading role in brokering the deal.  The agreement reached a deadlock after Egypt and Sudan proposed changing the role of observers (namely United States, UN and European Union)  to a level that could impact the outcome of the negotiation. 

Ethiopia says the demand for “binding agreement” before the second filling of the GERD, which is expected to retain 13.9 billion cubic meters of water to run two turbines for early power generation, violates the Declaration of Principle agreement that the three countries signed in 2015. 

Another important difference is that Egypt and Sudan want to transform the negotiation in a way to make it a deal over the Nile river. Ethiopia rather wants the negotiation to be about GERD – particularly about the filling and operation of the dam. Even regarding the operation of the dam, ideas from Egypt to have an office in the project site to monitor operation is something that Ethiopia considers to be a violation of Ethiopia’s sovereignty for which the government seems to have popular support.  

Robbers in Mekelle, Tigray Region, Use Ethiopian Defense Force, Federal Police Uniforms

June 11, 2021 


Rising crime rate and security situation were among the key challenges in the post- TPLF Tigray.  Armed robbery and murder among the security challenges residents in cities like Mekelle were facing. 

A report by Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) indicates the situation is changing for the better.

Gebreegziabhier Hailu is head of the Mekelle City security office (of the provisional administration). He told EBC that most of the armed robbers disguised themselves as members of Ethiopian Defense Force and Federal police when they carried out searches in residential areas on grounds of hunting illegal arms. 

That way they will get access to residential homes and loot valuables including cash and jewelry.  The source said it spoke to residents in different parts of Mekelle city, and they have confirmed that Ethiopian Defense Force and Federal Police uniforms were used for robberies. 

He also told EBC that they have made arrests, but the number is unspecified. “The security situation has improved but there are still challenges,” he added. 

As part of the measure to tackle the security problem, the security chief said that they have recruited youth from neighbourhoods and provided them with community police training. 

So far 1006 youth have been recruited and trained, Mr. Gebreegziabhier said. 

Furthermore, he said that the provisional administration is facing challenges to fully control the security challenge in the city. Shortage of regular police and lack of adequate vehicles for  a 24 hours patrol service are some of them, he said. 

It was reported earlier this week that private and public schools have reopened in Mekelle and other parts of the Tigray region. First they  were closed in connection with the Coronavirus situation, but the closure was extended due to the law enforcement operation in the region. 

Islamist Party Makes Early Victory Claim in Algeria Election

Algerian president Abdelmadjid Tebboune speaks to the press after casting his vote in the legislative elections at the Ahmed Ouroua school, in Algiers, Algeria, Saturday, June 12, 2021. Algerians vote Saturday for a new parliament in an election with a majority of novice independent candidates running under new rules meant to satisfy demands of pro-democracy protesters and open the way to a "new Algeria." (AP Photo)

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — A moderate Islamist party claimed victory Sunday in Algeria’s legislative election even though results were not expected for several more days.

Less than 24 hours after polls closed in the North African country, the head of the Movement for a Peaceful Society said the party “leads results in the majority of wilayas (regions) and overseas.” Party chief Abderrazak Makri also denounced alleged fraud attempts “to change the results.”

The party did not provide the basis for its victory claim.

The turnout for Saturday’s parliamentary election was dismal, with less than a third of the 24 million eligible voters casting ballots, according to the chief of Algeria’s electoral authority said late Saturday. The low participation reflected disinterest, longstanding opposition in the Berber region and a boycott by the pro-democracy movement that forced the country’s longtime president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to resign in 2019.

The head of the National Independent Authority for Elections, Mohamed Charfi, said it would take about four days for official results to be finalized given the complexity of counting under a new system that opened the door to more than 1,000 independent candidates among more than 2,000 lists.

Charfi put the provisional turnout rate in the voting to fill 407 parliamentary seat at 30%.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune instituted new rules for the election as part of his bid to fashion a “new Algeria” where young people and women are represented and devoid of the corruption that has been a signature of politics in a nation run by a fistful of elites.

He dismissed a low turnout when he cast his ballot Saturday morning, saying that “What is important is that those the people vote for have sufficient legitimacy.” Turnout for the 2019 election that made Tebboune president was 40%.

In the Kabyle region, a traditional opposition bastion, some polling booths never opened or were pillaged Saturday, according to Algerian media.

Commentators have suggested the new parliament may end up representing a hodgepodge of interests, including those of moderate Islamists and novice independents. The parties that dominated the national legislature body in an alliance under Bouteflika, the FLN and RND, have been disgraced.

The election took place amid a government crackdown on protests by the pro-democracy Hirak movement and a recent rule requiring the organizers of demonstrations to declare marches in advance, something the leaderless movement is hard-pressed to do.

Supporters of the movement opposed the election, saying they want a more drastic political transition to upend the system and start with a fresh slate. Dozens have been jailed. 

Palestine’s Hamas Denounces US Congresswoman's Remarks for ‘Equating Victim with Executioner’

Sunday, 13 June 2021 2:26 PM 

Press TV

Ilhan Omar, a member of the US House of Representatives

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has lambasted a US congresswoman for “equating the victim with the executioner” during her remarks in condemning Israel’s recent brutal aggression on the besieged Gaza Strip, which killed hundreds of people.

In a statement on Saturday, Dr. Basem Naim, a member of the International Relations Office of Hamas Movement, said a recent statement by Ilhan Omar, a member of the US House of Representatives, was strange as she grouped Hamas with the Israeli regime, the US and the Taliban militants group.

“The remarks made by US congresswoman Ilhan Omar are very peculiar; she equated between the victim and the executioner when she treated the resistance of the Palestinian people, the Israeli crimes in Palestine, and the US aggression in Afghanistan as an equal footing,” the Hamas official said.

Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, posted a video on her official Twitter account on Tuesday, saying that “unthinkable atrocities” have been “committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban”, asking US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken “where people are supposed to go for justice.”

Naim, however, slammed Omar, saying that it was “unacceptable to make such an unfair comparison, which contradicts with basic norms of justice and international law.”

“The Palestinian people have been living under the Israeli occupation for more than seven decades, during which they have experienced unbearable suffering and against whom heinous crimes were committed,” the Hamas official further said.

A spokesman said another round of confrontation could begin if Israel does not end daily incursions into the Palestinian territory.

The reaction from Hamas came after Omar denied on Thursday that she was equating the Israeli regime and the US with Hamas and the Taliban. The resistance group did not accept her denial, which was a response to criticism from her Jewish colleagues over the equation.

“Fully backed and protected by successive US administrations, unfortunately, the Israeli occupation, however, refuses to abide by all international resolutions and continues its aggression against the Palestinian people in stark breach of international security and stability,” Naim further noted.

Hamas, nevertheless, praised Omar for her condemnation of Israel’s atrocities against Palestinians, particularly against the impoverished Gaza Strip. 

“Hamas highly appreciates Omar’s stances in support of justice and the rights of the oppressed around the world, foremost among them is the just rights of the Palestinian people,” Naim said, confirming that Palestinian people have the right to resist the Israeli occupation “with all means possible, including armed resistance.”

The Israeli aggression was launched on May 10, after the enclave rose up in protest against Tel Aviv’s escalations in the occupied West Bank.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said 260 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli war, including 66 children.

An Egyptian-brokered truce that came into force in the wee hours of May 21 finally ended the apartheid regime’s military confrontation.

The Israeli regime unanimously approved “Egypt’s proposal” for a ceasefire amid the resistance’s continued counterattacks.

The ceasefire came after the Gaza-based resistance movements fired more than 4,000 rockets into the occupied territories, some reaching as far as Tel Aviv and even Haifa and Nazareth to the north, in response to the Israeli bloodshed.

“The deliberate and brutal targeting of Palestinian civilians during this aggression was intended to inflict a heavy cost on the Gazan population in a bid to break the Palestinians’ will and their support for the Palestinian resistance,” the Hamas official added.

Naim also welcomed all the international investigation committees and expressed Hamas’s readiness to cooperate with them in a bid to achieve justice and hold the aggressors accountable. This is while the Tel Aviv regime completely refused to cooperate and allow them to access Palestine.

“We expect Omar and all defenders of Palestinian rights to describe things correctly and accurately because this is the most important starting point for establishing the foundations for a just solution to this chronic conflict,” The Hamas official said in conclusion.

More Palestinian Families Hit by Israeli Gaza Airstrikes

Sunday, 13 June 2021 6:18 PM

Ruba Shabit Press TV, Gaza

The latest Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip has already come to an end but its tragic humanitarian aspects continue to unfold further day by day. 

Most Gazans are in need of mental health support following the latest 11 day escalation that killed families in their homes in Gaza. The northern parts of the Gaza Strip, along with Beit Hanoun and Jabalia, was one of the areas that witnessed bombardment coupled with heavy artillery shelling.

Hundreds of Palestinians, including women and children were killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in 11 days of the conflict that began on May 10. Israel’s airstrikes also brought widespread devastation to the already impoverished territory

Palestinians say the aggression has not undermined their will to stand against the occupation regime. They say, despite their suffering, they will remain steadfast and fight for their rights.

Hamas: Repeated Elections Prove Zionist Regime’s Profound Political Crisis

Sunday, 13 June 2021 3:03 PM

Press TV  

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on his mobile phone during a special session of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem on June 2, 2021. (via AFP)

A spokesman for the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas says the repetition of Israel’s electoral process shows the depth of the regime’s political crisis in addition to its military and security crises in the face of the Palestinian cause.

“The repetition of the Israeli electoral process and its ramifications within the Zionist entity show the depth of the political crisis experienced by this entity in parallel with its ongoing military and security crises, as a result of the strength and impact of the Palestinian resistance’s action and the resilience and steadfastness of our people,” Fawzi Barhoum said in a press statement on Sunday, according to the Palestinian Shehab news agency.

Barhoum said the shape of the Israeli cabinet would not change the “nature of our interactions with it as an occupying and usurping entity,” underlining the need to resist the Tel Aviv regime by all means, the foremost of which being armed resistance.

“We are continuing to [insist] that the Palestinians’ blood and sanctities are a red line, and that the behavior of this entity on the ground will determine how it should be treated and dealt with.”

Attempts to ease a political stalemate that has produced four elections since 2019 in the occupied territories are expected to put an end to the premiership of the Israeli regime’s longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Sunday afternoon, the Israeli parliament opened a session to hold a vote of confidence to replace Netanyahu with his former minister of military affairs, Naftali Bennett, who has already vowed to oppose a Palestinian state and promised to annex more Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.

If confirmed, Bennett would lead a radically wide-ranging coalition – from the far-left to the far-right – that is united only by its animus toward Netanyahu.

Last month, a military confrontation broke out between Israel and Palestinian resistance groups in the blockaded Gaza Strip. The trigger was the regime’s continued acts of violence against the Palestinians in the West Bank, including attempts to displace the Palestinian residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem al-Quds.

Palestine Still Controlled by New Israeli Regime

Associated Press

The latest on Israel’s incoming government (all times local):

9:50 p.m.

JERUSALEM — U.S. President Joe Biden has congratulated Israel’s incoming Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, saying he looks forward to working “to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship” between the two nations. In a statement released by the White House, Biden said that “Israel has no better friend than the United States,” and that “the United States remains unwavering in its support for Israel’s security.”

8:31 p.m.

JERUSALEM — Israel’s parliament has appointed a new speaker, taking a key step toward approving a new coalition government that would end Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year rule.

With 67 votes in the 120-member chamber, parliament named Mickey Levy of the centrist Yesh Atid party its new speaker. He is to succeed the current speaker, Yariv Levin, of Netanyahu’s Likud party.

The move set the stage for a confidence vote to approve a new coalition government later Sunday.

7:49 p.m.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Gaza’s Hamas rulers say they will confront the new Israeli government that is expected to take office.

Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman for the Islamic militant group, said Sunday any Israeli government is “a settler occupier entity that must be resisted by all forms of resistance, foremost of which is the armed resistance.”

Hamas and Israel fought an 11-day war last month. The bitter enemies have fought a total of four wars since Hamas, which seeks Israel’s destruction, seized control of Gaza in 2007 from the rival Palestinian Authority.

Despite their enmity, the sides have been conducting indirect talks aimed at shoring up a cease-fire. Barhoum said “the behavior of this government on the ground will determine the way and nature of dealing with it on the ground.”

7:16 p.m.

The head of an Islamist party in Israel’s parliament says his faction will advance the interests of Palestinian citizens of Israel from within the new government.

Mansour Abbas said Sunday that his Raam party was making great sacrifices for the sake of his constituents, and will try “to advance a dialog that will bring about better, new, principled relations for all citizens of the state: Jews and Arabs.”

Raam is the first Arab party to join an Israeli government, and Abbas said that the partnership in the new government “will also bridge the gaps on the national level and the religious level.”

Abbas said that combatting crime and violence that has plagued Arab communities in Israel is a “top priority” for Israel’s Palestinian minority.

Abbas spoke ahead of a parliamentary vote that was expected to approve the new coalition government. Arabs make up about 20% of Israel’s citizens and largely identify with Palestinians in the neighboring West Bank and Gaza Strip.

5:25 p.m.

JERUSALEM — The Israeli politician who was the driving force in forming the country’s new government has called off a planned speech to parliament, saying he was ashamed that his 86-year-old mother had to witness the raucous behavior of his opponents.

In a brief speech, Yair Lapid said he wanted to “ask for forgiveness from my mother.”

“I wanted her to be proud of the democratic process in Israel. Instead she, along with every citizen of Israel, is ashamed of you and remembers clearly why it’s time to replace you,” he said.

Lapid led the efforts to form the new coalition, which is expected to be approved later Sunday. He is expected to be Israel’s new foreign minister for two years, and then become prime minister in a rotation agreement for the final two years of the government’s term.

5:20 p.m.

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vowing to lead his Likud Party back to power.

Netanyahu is slated to become opposition leader later Sunday when parliament is expected to approve a vote of confidence in a new coalition formed by his opponents.

In a speech to parliament, Netanyahu made clear he has no plans on giving up leadership of the Likud Party.

He vowed to “continue the great mission of my life, ensuring the security of Israel.” He added: “If it is destined for us to be in the opposition, we will do it with our backs straight until we topple this dangerous government and return to lead the country in our way.”

4:45 p.m.

JERUSALEM — Israel’s designated prime minister, Naftali Bennett, says that renewing the international nuclear deal with Iran will be a mistake.

In a speech to parliament, Bennett said that Israel remains ready to act against Iran. “Israel will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” Bennett said. He added that “Israel will not be a party to the agreement and will continue to preserve full freedom of action.”

The strong comments maintain the confrontational policy by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Bennett’s new government is scheduled to be sworn into office late Sunday after a parliamentary vote.

4:05 p.m.

JERUSALEM — Israel’s Knesset, or parliament, has convened for a vote that is expected to end the historic 12-year rule of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The parliament is to hold a debate ahead of a vote of confidence for a new coalition government formed by a collection of Netanyahu’s opponents.

If the coalition is approved, Naftali Bennett, a former ally turned rival of Netanyahu, would become prime minister over a disparate coalition of parties from the political right, left and center. Netanyahu is slated to become the opposition leader.

Bennett, whose parents immigrated to Israel from the United States, is expected to stress the need for close relations with the U.S.

But Bennett, who shares Netanyahu’s hardline ideology, is also expected to echo the outgoing prime minister’s opposition to restoring the international nuclear deal with Iran.

Knesset Approves New Coalition, Ending Netanyahu’s Long Rule


Israel's designated new prime minister, Naftali Bennett speaks during a Knesset session in Jerusalem Sunday, June 13, 2021. Bennett is expected later Sunday to be sworn in as the country's new prime minister, ending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year rule. (AP Photo/Ariel)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s parliament approved a new coalition government on Sunday that sent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into the opposition after a record 12 years in office and a political crisis that sparked four elections in two years.

Naftali Bennett, the head of a small ultranationalist party, was sworn in as prime minister after a narrow 60-59 vote in parliament. But if he wants to keep the job, he will have to maintain an unwieldy coalition of parties from the political right, left and center.

The eight parties, including a small Arab faction that is making history by sitting in the ruling coalition, are united in their opposition to Netanyahu and new elections but agree on little else. They are likely to pursue a modest agenda that seeks to reduce tensions with the Palestinians and maintain good relations with the U.S. without launching any major initiatives.

Netanyahu sat silently during the vote. After it was approved, he stood up to leave the chamber, before turning around and shaking Bennett’s hand. A dejected Netanyahu, wearing a black medical mask, briefly sat in the opposition leader’s chair before walking out.

Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, remains the head of the largest party in parliament and is expected to vigorously oppose the new government. If just one faction bolts, it could lose its majority and would be at risk of collapse, giving him an opening to return to power.

The country’s deep divisions were on vivid display as Bennett addressed parliament ahead of the vote. He was repeatedly interrupted and loudly heckled by supporters of Netanyahu, several of whom were escorted out of the chamber.

Bennett’s speech mostly dwelled on domestic issues, but he expressed opposition to U.S. efforts to revive Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

“Israel will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” Bennett said, vowing to maintain Netanyahu’s confrontational policy. “Israel will not be a party to the agreement and will continue to preserve full freedom of action.”

Bennett nevertheless thanked President Joe Biden and the U.S. for its decades of support for Israel.

Netanyahu, speaking after him, vowed to return to power. He predicted the incoming government would be weak on Iran and give in to U.S. demands to make concessions to the Palestinians.

“If it is destined for us to be in the opposition, we will do it with our backs straight until we topple this dangerous government and return to lead the country in our way,” he said.

Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, said the new government will likely be more stable than it appears.

“Even though it has a very narrow majority, it will be very difficult to topple and replace because the opposition is not cohesive,” he said. Each party in the coalition will want to prove that it can deliver, and for that they need “time and achievements.”

Still, Netanyahu “will continue to cast a shadow,” Plesner said. He expects the incoming opposition leader to exploit events and propose legislation that right-wing coalition members would like to support but can’t — all in order to embarrass and undermine them.

The new government is meanwhile promising a return to normalcy after a tumultuous two years that saw four elections, an 11-day Gaza war last month and a coronavirus outbreak that devastated the economy before it was largely brought under control by a successful vaccination campaign.

The driving force behind the coalition is Yair Lapid, a political centrist who will become prime minister in two years, if the government lasts that long.

He called off a planned speech to parliament, instead saying he was ashamed that his 86-year-old mother had to witness the raucous behavior of his opponents. In a brief speech, he asked for “forgiveness from my mother.”

“I wanted her to be proud of the democratic process in Israel. Instead she, along with every citizen of Israel, is ashamed of you and remembers clearly why it’s time to replace you,” he said.

The new government is expected to win a narrow majority in the 120-member assembly, after which it will be sworn in. The government plans to hold its first official meeting later this evening.

It’s unclear when Netanyahu will move out of the official residence. He has lashed out at the new government in apocalyptic terms and accused Bennett of defrauding voters by running as a right-wing stalwart and then partnering with the left.

Netanyahu’s supporters have held angry protests outside the homes of rival lawmakers, who say they have received death threats naming their family members. Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service issued a rare public warning about the incitement earlier this month, saying it could lead to violence.

Netanyahu has condemned the incitement while noting that he has also been a target.

His place in Israeli history is secure, having served as prime minister for a total of 15 years — more than any other, including the country’s founder, David Ben-Gurion.

Netanyahu began his long rule by defying the Obama administration, refusing to freeze settlement construction as it tried unsuccessfully to revive the peace process. Relations with Israel’s closest ally grew even rockier when Netanyahu vigorously campaigned against President Barack Obama’s emerging nuclear deal with Iran, even denouncing it in an address to the U.S. Congress.

But he suffered few if any consequences from those clashes and was richly rewarded by the Trump administration, which recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, helped broker normalization agreements with four Arab states and withdrew the U.S. from the Iran deal.

Netanyahu has portrayed himself as a world-class statesman, boasting of his close ties with Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has also cultivated ties with Arab and African countries that long shunned Israel over its policies toward the Palestinians.

But he has gotten a far chillier reception from the Biden administration and is widely seen as having undermined the long tradition of bipartisan support for Israel in the United States.

His reputation as a political magician has also faded at home, where he has become a deeply polarizing figure. Critics say he has long pursued a divide-and-conquer strategy that aggravated rifts in Israeli society between Jews and Arabs and between his close ultra-Orthodox allies and secular Jews.

In November 2019, he was indicted for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes. He refused calls to step down, instead lashing out at the media, judiciary and law enforcement, going so far as to accuse his political opponents of orchestrating an attempted coup. Last year, protesters began holding weekly rallies across the country calling on him to resign.

Netanyahu remains popular among the hard-line nationalists who dominate Israeli politics, but he could soon face a leadership challenge from within his own party. A less polarizing Likud leader would stand a good chance of assembling a coalition that is both farther to the right and more stable than the government that is set to be sworn in.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

"We Need More": UN Joins Criticism of G7 Vaccine Pledge

Elizabeth PiperKate Holton

Vials labelled "COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" are placed on dry ice in this illustration taken, December 5, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

A Group of Seven plan to donate 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to poorer countries lacks ambition, is far too slow and shows Western leaders are not yet on top of tackling the worst public health crisis in a century, campaigners said on Friday.

While the head of the United Nations welcomed the move, even he said more was needed. Antonio Guterres warned that if people in developing countries were not inoculated quickly, the virus could mutate further and become resistant to the new vaccines.

"We need more than that," he said of the G7 plan. "We need a global vaccination plan. We need to act with a logic, with a sense of urgency, and with the priorities of a war economy, and we are still far from getting that."

U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had used the G7 summit in England to announce the donation of 500 million and 100 million vaccines respectively for the world's poorest nations.

Canada is expected to commit to sharing up to 100 million doses and other pledges may follow after Johnson urged G7 leaders to help inoculate the world's nearly 8 billion people against the coronavirus by the end of next year. 

But health and anti-poverty campaigners said that, while donations were a step in the right direction, Western leaders had failed to grasp that exceptional efforts were needed to beat the virus. Help with distribution was also necessary, they said.

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, who has been pushing for richer countries to share more of the cost of vaccinating developing countries, said the G7 pledges were more akin to "passing round the begging bowl" than a real solution.

"It's a catastrophic failure if we can't go away in the next week or two ... with a plan that actually rids the world of COVID now we've got a vaccine," he told Reuters. read more

Alex Harris at Wellcome, a London-based science and health charitable foundation, challenged the G7 to show the political leadership the crisis demanded.

"What the world needs is vaccines now, not later this year," he said. "We urge G7 leaders to raise their ambition."


COVID-19 has ripped through the global economy, with infections reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

The race to end a pandemic that has killed around 3.9 million people and sown social and economic destruction will feature prominently at the three-day summit which began on Friday in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay.

British foreign minister Dominic Raab warned that other countries were using vaccines as diplomatic tools to secure influence. read more Britain and the United States said their donations would come with no strings attached.

Vaccination efforts so far are heavily correlated with wealth: the United States, Europe, Israel and Bahrain are far ahead of other countries. A total of 2.2 billion people have been vaccinated according to Johns Hopkins University data.

As most people need two vaccine doses, and possibly booster shots to tackle emerging variants, charity Oxfam said the world would need 11 billion doses to end the pandemic.

"If the best G7 leaders can manage is to donate 1 billion vaccine doses then this summit will have been a failure," Oxfam's health policy manager Anna Marriott said.

Oxfam also called on G7 leaders to support a waiver on the intellectual property behind the vaccines.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said intellectual property rights should not hinder access to vaccines during a pandemic, appearing to back Biden on the subject. 


But the pharmaceutical industry has opposed it, saying it would stifle innovation and do little to increase supplies. Britain, which backed Oxford-AstraZeneca's (AZN.L) not-for-profit shot, has said a patent waiver is not necessary.

Of the 100 million British shots, 80 million will go to the COVAX programme led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the rest will be shared bilaterally with countries in need.

Johnson echoed Biden in calling on his fellow leaders to make similar pledges and for pharmaceutical companies to adopt the not-for-profit model during the pandemic. The U.S. donation of Pfizer (PFE.N) shots will be supplied at cost.

The British doses will be drawn from the stock it has already procured for its domestic programme, and will come from suppliers Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ.N) Janssen, Moderna and others.

Congo President Says Kinshasa Hospitals 'Overwhelmed' by Coronavirus

By Reuters Staff

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Hospitals in Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa are “overwhelmed” by a rise in COVID-19 infections, President Felix Tshisekedi said on Saturday, as the country was hit by a third wave of the disease.

Like many African countries, Congo has officially registered relatively few cases. But the virus has killed a number of prominent politicians, and low vaccination rates have left the country vulnerable to more contagious variants.

Health officials recorded 254 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday, one of the highest daily totals since the pandemic began. In all, Congo has registered 35,000 cases and 830 deaths.

“I am going to take drastic measures to deal with this upsurge of the disease. We’re talking about the Indian variant in particular,” Tshisekedi told reporters, referring to the Delta variant, which was first discovered in India and is highly infectious.

He did not specify what measures he planned to take.

Congo delayed its vaccination campaign by more than a month because of concerns about very rare side effects from the AstraZeneca shot. Since the campaign finally started on April 19, fewer than 30,000 doses have been administered.

“You know very well that the AstraZeneca vaccine has been and continues to be problematic, both in terms of side effects but also in terms of trust with the population,” Tshisekedi said.

International drug regulators have said the benefits of using vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson outweigh risks as they investigate reports of extremely rare, but potentially fatal blood clots.

Experts say that in Congo, scarce testing means cases and deaths are likely to be heavily understated by official numbers. They also say hospitals are ill-equipped to deal with a fresh wave of the virus.

“There is a big problem with (the supply of) oxygen in Kinshasa,” said Pascal Lutumba from the tropical medicine department at the University of Kinshasa.

“In Kinshasa, they don’t care about COVID-19, they don’t believe in it, that’s the big issue,” he said, referring to the city’s population.

Reporting by Stanis Bujakera and Hereward Holland; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Frances Kerry 

Nigerian Police Fire Teargas to Break Up Protests Over Rising Insecurity

Afolabi Sotunde

Members of the Nigeria police force walk after chasing protesters away during a June 12 Democracy Day rally in Abuja, Nigeria June 12, 2021. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Police fired teargas and detained several demonstrators in the Nigerian cities of Lagos and Abuja on Saturday during protests over the country’s worsening security situation.

Anger over mass kidnappings-for-ransom, a decade-long Islamist insurgency and a crackdown on protesters in Lagos last October has fuelled demands for the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to do more to tackle violence and insecurity. read more

There was a heavy police presence in the country's two major cities as several hundred people gathered to protest on Democracy Day, which marks Nigeria's move to civilian rule more than 20 years ago.

Reuters witnesses in Lagos and the capital Abuja saw police shooting their guns into the air and firing teargas into the crowds to disperse the demonstrators, who held placards and chanted "Buhari must go".

"We cannot continue like this ... all the bad governance must stop," said protester Samson Okafor in Lagos, where teargas canisters smouldered in the street as police shouted at demonstrators to leave the scene.

Officers were also seen smashing mobile phones confiscated from protesters, some of whom criticised the government's decision to suspend access to Twitter after the social media platform removed a recent post by Buhari. 

Abuja police spokesman Yusuf Mariam said officers in the capital made no arrests but had "restored calm" after people gathered who were "inciting public disturbance and breaching public peace."

He did not comment on the Lagos protests, and other police spokesmen did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Before fleeing under clouds of teargas, demonstrators in Abuja marched with banners reading "#Buhari Must Go" and other slogans denouncing rising insecurity and the country's 33.3% unemployment rate.

Some also carried placards demanding the release of Ibrahim Zakzaky, the imprisoned leader of banned Nigerian Shi’ite group the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.

South Africa to Analyze J&J Vaccines Made at U.S. Plant Halted Over Error


Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Johnson & Johnson logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic//File Photo

South African health inspectors will carry out further checks on a batch of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) COVID-19 vaccines following a contamination error earlier this year at the U.S. plant where the doses were produced, the health ministry said.

As fears of a third COVID-19 wave grow in the hard-hit country, the ministry said late on Friday that officials from the health products regulator would assess the vaccines to ensure they are suitable for use.

"There is now a real possibility that they may not be, however this is for the regulator to rule on," a ministry statement said.

The ministry said 300,000 J&J doses had been cleared for export to South Africa and that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved an extension of the expiry date, saying the vaccine can be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius for 4.5 months instead of three.

"The FDA is still evaluating some batches and we will await those outcomes, in the hopes that this will make more doses of Johnson & Johnson available to the international community, including South Africa," the ministry added.

South Africa launched phase two of its vaccine rollout in May, aiming to inoculate five million people aged over 60 by the end of June. read more

Manufacturing at the Baltimore plant owned by Emergent Biosolutions Inc (EBS.N) was halted in April after the discovery that ingredients from AstraZeneca's (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine, also being produced at the plant at the time, had contaminated a batch of J&J's vaccine. read more

An inspection by the FDA also turned up a long list of sanitary problems and bad manufacturing practices at the Emergent plant.

Signs of Low Turnout as Algerians Vote in Parliamentary Election

By Lamine Chikhi, Hamid Ould Ahmed

ALGIERS (Reuters) -Algeria held parliamentary elections on Saturday that the ruling establishment hopes will turn a page on political unrest amid a crackdown on dissent, but early indications suggested few people were voting.

Two years after mass demonstrations forced a veteran president to step down in Algeria’s biggest political crisis for decades, the authorities are still struggling to quell the protest movement.

Saturday’s vote follows a presidential election in 2019 and a referendum on an amended constitution last year, but many Algerians still think real power is wielded by the army and security forces.

The election authority said only 3.78% of voters had cast ballots two hours after polls opened. By comparison, some 7.92% had voted three hours into the 2019 presidential election, when final turnout was 40%.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said decisions were made by the majority of those who voted, regardless of turnout.

Algeria Election Gets Low Turnout Amid Opposition Boycott

Men argue by electoral posters in Ain Ouessara, 190 kilometers (118 miles) from Algiers, Thursday, June 10, 2021. In addition to the traditional parties, dozens of independent candidates have decided to take part in the legislative elections on June 12, that the government organized earlier than expected under a new system meant to weed out corruption and open voter rolls — a major step in President Abdelmadjid Tebboune's promise of a "new Algeria." (AP Photo/Fateh Guidoum)

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algerians vote Saturday for a new parliament in an election with a majority of novice independent candidates running under new rules meant to satisfy demands of pro-democracy protesters and open the way to a “new Algeria.”

Tension surrounded the voting in the gas-rich North African nation. Activists and opposition parties boycotted the election, and voter turnout was low midway through the day.

Authorities have tightened the screws on the Hirak protest movement in recent weeks, with police stopping weekly marches and arresting dozens, the latest a Hirak figure and two journalists. The three prominent opposition figures, including journalist Khaled Drareni, a press freedom advocate, were freed early Saturday, three days after their arrests, the National Committee for the Liberation of the Detained said.

The early election is supposed to exemplify President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s “new Algeria,” with an emphasis on young candidates and those outside the political elite. A huge number of candidates — more than 20,000 — are running for the 407-seat legislature, once dominated by a two-party alliance considered unlikely to maintain its grip on parliament. Islamist parties all offered candidates.

It’s the first legislative election since former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was forced from office in 2019 after 20 years in power amid protests over corruption, joblessness and repression. Tebboune was elected eight months later, vowing to remake Africa’s largest country but with no sign of abandoning the preeminent though shadowy role of the army in governance.

“We are looking for change,” voter Mohammed Touait said at a polling station. “I am 84 years old, and today I woke up at 8 a.m. because I still have hope for change.”

The Constitutional Council announced Saturday that it would be 15 days before results of the balloting are known because of the number of candidates and the need to ensure against fraud, which marked past elections.

The participation rate among Algeria’s 24 million voters was 10% midway through the day, the electoral authority announced.

The president, at the start of the day, brushed off as irrelevant the number of people who vote.

“What is important is that those the people vote for have sufficient legitimacy,” Tebboune said after casting his ballot in Algiers.

The president also brushed off boycotts by the main opposition parties and Hirak supporters. Photos on social media showed images of some voting stations in the Kabylie region, east of Algiers, torn asunder with ballots strewn in streets. Kabylie, home of Berbers, is a traditional bastion of the opposition.

The president, at a voting station with his wife, said boycott calls shouldn’t prevent people from voting.

“These elections are another stage on the path to change and the construction of a new Algeria,” with sovereignty for the people, Tebboune said. “I respect the position of those who decided to boycott the elections, but they do not have the right to impose by force their viewpoint on others.”

“I call on Algerians to vote massively ... to deny the forecasts and catastrophic scenarios of the enemies of Algeria,” Communications Minister Amar Belhimer said on Algerian television.

Women make up half of candidates for the first time, among efforts to make a fresh start. But women have been largely invisible from the campaign — their faces often blurred or concealed in campaign posters.

Candidates had just 20 days to campaign, and Algerian media said real debate on major issues of concern, like unemployment, was mostly absent.

“With such a slew of candidates, the calculation of power is simple: to elect a patchwork assembly, without a majority, which will allow the president to create his own parliamentary majority with which he will govern,” said political scientist Rachid Grime.

Many candidates couldn’t afford campaign posters. Independent candidates like Djamel Maafa, a former TV producer, used social networks to spread his message for lack of access to the funds and logistical structure of big parties.

Parties supporting the Hirak movement called for a boycott because they want a more fundamental political transition.

“Elections in Algeria have always proved that they are not the solution. The solution lies in democratic transition, it also lies in a dialogue around a table in order to solve the crisis,” said activist Sofiane Haddadji.

US Intelligence Community Meddling in COVID-19-origins Tracing Echoes the Tactic of ‘Washing Powder’ Lie That Triggered Iraq War

By Zoey Zhang

Jun 12, 2021 05:17 PM

People tour the Nation Mall near the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C., the United States, on April 27, 2021. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unveiled new guidelines for fully vaccinated Americans on Tuesday, including activities they can safely resume without wearing masks.(Photo: Xinhua)

At the end of May, US President Joe Biden ordered the intelligence community to "redouble" its efforts in the investigation of the origin of COVID-19 and report back to him in 90 days. 

In his statement, Biden called out China's name with no reservation about his true intentions, saying that the US will "keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China."

Coincidentally, former US president Donald Trump just reiterated his "lab-leak" conspiracy theory last week. He also demanded that China pay $10 trillion to "compensate" for the damage caused by the pandemic.

Ironically, while Biden's executive orders have continuously called to revoke Trumpism, his actions have been doubling down on Trump's legacy, for instance, by declaring the origins tracing of COVID-19 a thing of the CIA.

What the two administrations have done echoes the former president George W. Bush administration's "washing powder" lie, which was fabricated to legitimize the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. 

Ignoring the international community

In 2003, then executive chairman of UNMOVIC Dr Hans Blix reported to the UN Security Council by recalling the previous inspections in Iraq and stating that it was not certain that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD). 

In the same month, Mohamed ElBaradei, then director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, also submitted a report confirming that there was no evidence that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons.

Though the two acknowledged international organizations had given clear conclusions, then US secretary of state Colin Powell still insisted in his remarks to the UN Security Council that Iraq possessed WMD. Powell alleged that Iraq had no willingness to cooperate and therefore would face "serious consequences." His vial of white powder presented as evidence at the UN was later teased as "washing powder" by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Nevertheless, the US unilaterally launched a military invasion of Iraq without the authorization of the UN Security Council, starting the 7-year-long Iraq War. What followed was endless turmoil and chaos, as well as "mass destruction" of the country. 

Angelina Jolie, an American actress, summarized the destruction in her statement during her Mosul visit in 2018. "They have nothing, but they are free," she said. Such emotional words are touching, but they are hardly an apt description of the loss, pain and suffering the Iraqi people have endured and are still facing every day.

In January 2021, after a four-week field study in Wuhan, a joint expert team convened by the WHO reported that the laboratory incident hypothesis is "extremely unlikely." The experts also suggested that further study be conducted in other places and countries around the world.

Apparently, these are not the results the US government had expected. In frustration, the Biden administration gave an emergency assignment to the US intelligence community, in an attempt to overturn the WHO report.

But we must wonder, how can a group of CIA agents specialized in assassinations and espionage understand coronavirus better than the leading scientists do?

Presumed guilt

According to revelations from some media outlets, people on the Capitol Hill had been scheming a coup d'etat in Iraq even before the 9/11 attacks.

After 9/11, US officials including then vice president Dick Cheney made up the allegations that Iraq had a link with al Qaeda and possessed WMD just to start a war against Iraq. 

Meanwhile, Cheney and his accomplices continued to pressure the intelligence community to collect evidence in line with this fabricated narrative.

Now it's Biden's turn. Under his command, the US intelligence officials are also conducting a so-called investigation based on the presumption of guilt that "the virus originated in China and the Chinese laboratory is suspicious." It's not hard to see their hidden intention.

Distorting the narrative

Before the Iraq War broke out, the US intelligence community was tasked with advising policymakers what it knew about Iraq's nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons program. But according to a report by the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction to the White House in March 2005, these assessments were "all wrong.''

As the media revealed, Bush and Cheney had deliberately exaggerated Iraq's WMD threat, knowing well that the intelligence community did not know the exact situation. Even rumors denied by the intelligence community itself, such as "Iraqi dissidents said the country harbored biochemical weapons," were utilized as "evidence" to convict Iraq.

Today, knowing the fact that the US intelligence community lacks both the knowledge and sufficient information, the Biden administration still constructs its narrative based on a conspiracy that "the virus originated in China and it is either a natural origin or a lab accident." Not to mention its repeated efforts to amplify the "lab-leak theory." To strengthen this argument, the US government is even reported to be drawing inspiration from the dark web. (Dark web refers to a part of the internet that is intentionally hidden and requires a specific browser to be accessed).

Undoubtedly, the US government has no conclusive evidence to prove the "lab-leak" conspiracy.  Foreseeably, the final investigation report the US intelligence community is supposed to submit will be a hodgepodge of spurious "evidences."

Manipulating the people

Polls showed that in early 2003, the majority of Americans still preferred a diplomatic solution to the Iraq issue to confrontation. But as the US government kept on reiterating that Iraqi possessed WMD, 64 percent of Americans finally swung to military might on the eve of the war.

With respect to the tracing of the origins of COVID-19, the US again resorts to its "whole industry chain" to smear other countries - a strategy where disinformation is used by the so-called experts, hyped up by media outlets and regurgitated by politicians. All this is to make the "lab-leak" conspiracy into some form of a "scientific assertion" and "international consensus."

What's interesting is that this story rightly conforms to classic Hollywood narratives in movies like Resident Evil and 28 Days Later, which greatly appeal to the Western audience. 

Not long ago, an American journalist named Michael R. Gordon quoted a so-called previously undisclosed US intelligence report which hinted a far-fetched connection between the "three sick staff" of a Wuhan lab and the outbreak. 

Nineteen years ago, it was the same reporter who concocted disinformation by citing unsubstantiated sources about Iraq's "attempt to acquire nuclear weapons," which gave the Bush administration a handy excuse to declare war on Iraq. 

Another interesting fact: On the same day when Biden called for further probe into the origins of the coronavirus, Facebook updated its misinformation rules, announcing that it will no longer remove posts claiming the virus is "man-made." 

It seemingly is a commitment to mere political correctness. This, in fact, is the engine start of the "whole industry chain" to manipulate public opinion.

Ganging up allies

The UN Security Council, trying to propose a resolution allowing military interference against Iraq, joined the US in the invasion. 

Then British prime minister Tony Blair eventually apologized for "mistakes" made in the US-led military invasion of Iraq, but still argued that Britain had to stand with the US as an ally.  

Eighteen years later, the US has once again assembled 13 other countries, and released a statement expressing their "concern" over the WHO report. 

Unsurprisingly, Great Britain followed up quick, saying its intelligence community will cooperate fully with America's "investigation."

With all these copycat tricks by the US, is history going to repeat itself?

Among the many US political plots disclosed by the international community, the "washing powder" lie is the most infamous one. The infamous image of Collin Powell wielding that test tube is not just an eternal moment of shame for the history of the United States of America, but also for the history of mankind.

Is there any possibility that the "washing powder" lie could work again? In retrospect, even Saddam Hussein had never knelt down for mercy. Now that China has made great success fighting the pandemic and outperformed the West, it's hard to imagine that China would ever flinch when the US tries to make provocations.

If an investigation is really intended to better prepare the world for unexpected epidemics in the future, there is no doubt that all countries would welcome it without reservation. But the US interference in the WHO investigation undermines that possibility. 

In early 2020, COVID-19 cases in the US soared to tens of millions within weeks, was that a sudden outbreak or actually a failure to cover-up? In late 2019, why on earth did the US Army suddenly close the biological lab at Fort Detrick, Maryland? What are the 200-plus overseas bio-labs of the US set for? Will the White House invite WHO experts to conduct origin tracing in the US and its labs?

Faced with the ravaging pandemic, the US government failed to protect more than 600,000 lives in America by playing down the virus, should the US be held accountable?

It hasn't been long since the end of the Trump regime. But the Biden administration's latest political gamble is indeed marching in the same direction of the previous administration, at the risk of basic human conscience and justice. Such copycat tricks of the "washing powder" lie will bring nothing but shame and scandals.

The author is a current affairs observer.

International Order is Not Based on a So-called System and Order Advocated by a Handful of Countries: Chinese Embassy in the UK

By Global Times

Jun 12, 2021 10:55 PM

(From L to R, Front) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, (From L to R, Rear) European Council President Charles Michel, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, stand for a family photo during the Group of Seven (G7) Summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, Britain, on June 11, 2021. Photo:Xinhua

Genuine multilateralism is based on the principles of the UN Charter and international order, not pseudo-multilateralism serving the interests of a small clique or political bloc, a spokesperson from the Chinese Embassy in the UK said while refuting the so-called rules-based international system advocated at the G7 Summit held in Cornwall, UK.

 “We always believe that countries, big or small, strong or weak, poor or rich, are equals, and that world affairs should be handled through consultation by all countries. The days when global decisions were dictated by a small group of countries are long gone,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying in a statement published on the embassy’s website on Saturday.

His remarks were made in response to the US seizing this opportunity in the G7 in the hope of bonding with other Western countries and safeguarding the so-called rules-based international system.

There is only one system and one order in the world, that is, the international system with the United Nations at its core and international order based on international law, not a so-called system and order advocated by a handful of countries.

There is only one set of rules for the world, that is, the basic norms of international relations based on the principles of the UN Charter, not the so-called rules formulated by a small number of countries, said the spokesperson. 

He said that there is only one kind of multilateralism, that is, the genuine multilateralism based on the principles of the UN Charter and international law, featuring equal treatment, cooperation and mutual benefits, not pseudo-multilateralism serving the interests of a small clique or political bloc.

It is our hope that relevant countries will take concrete steps to uphold the principles of the UN Charter, take the initiative to safeguard the core role of the UN, and make real efforts for an early victory over the coronavirus, to respond effectively to climate change and to work for a robust global economic recovery, the spokesperson noted.

Global Times

Pentagon Whistle-blower Under US Government Probe for Publishing op-eds at Global Times

By Wang Wenwen, Yu Jincui and Guo Yuandan

Jun 12, 2021 05:56 PM

Franz Gayl, a 64-year-old retired US Marine major who is now working at the Pentagon, is under a counterintelligence investigation by the Marine Corps for his two articles published in the Global Times that criticized the US policy toward the Taiwan Straits. 

In his first article, published on April 27, he argued that the US would lose a war with China over the island of Taiwan. He also suggested that the US advise Taiwan's secessionists to peaceably accept "one country, two systems" and cease its "independence" ambitions. The article was later translated and published in the Chinese version of the Global Times. 

Gayl further delivered his stance in another article a month later, in which he made it clear that "Attempting to support the renegade island of Taiwan's secession is directly contrary to the US national interest as we know in advance we will lose." 

He wrote this "as an American" whose priority is US national interest, he said in the article. And at the end of each article, he put a note saying that, "Opinions are of the author and do not represent the US government," 

But the Marine Corps and the Pentagon he works for view him as an unacceptable "whistle-blower." They have not only launched an investigation against Gayl, but also suspended his security clearances while seeking to determine whether he has been compromised. He faces an early exit from the civil service, according to a Washington Post article published on Friday (June 11). 

The fate of US military whistle-blowers is anticipated. In April last year, Captain Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt made a brave decision by sending an urgent letter to the US Navy to inform his superiors of the dire epidemic situation on board. However, the US Navy announced the firing of the captain, alleging that he sent a wrong signal about US weakness and would undermine sailors' confidence in the Navy.

Gayl had already felt his own fate. 

In the email exchanges with the Global Times editor he always contacted on June 3, Gayl expressed his regret that he can no longer publish articles on the Global Times. 

"My professional situation is not good because of my GT articles. I am assuming that my situation may appear in the news soon as well," he wrote, but did not speak to specifics. 

He stressed that he cares about all people - Chinese, Americans and all. "But my main love is for my fellow Marines," he wrote.

According to the Washington Post, on June 1, Gayl was summoned to the security office and stripped of his clearance. He was given a letter that said he was the subject of an investigation and hinted that the issue was his articles in the Global Times. 

On June 7, he informed the Global Times editor via email that he is resigning and retiring from his government job, "once the process is complete, I can perhaps write again," he said. 

The Global Times editor received his first email on April 20, in which he warned the danger the current US' Taiwan policy could bring and asked whether the Global Times was interested in publishing it. In the email, Gayl said, "Time seems to be running out for the U.S. to adopt common sense on the Taiwan issue." He also said he had previously sent the article to many US and Western media outlets but they either declined or never responded.

“I do not know why my opinions were not accepted. My sense of urgency is caused by the increasing tensions reported in US news media.  I am always concerned for my fellow Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, and my country,” Gayl told the Global Times on Saturday, after the investigation was disclosed by the Washington Post. 

After his first article was published in the Global Times, he kept proposing pitches for the newspaper, as he hoped "this may have a very positive impact in turning the USA away from interference in PRC's island of Taiwan internal affair." 

Just before the June 3 email exchanges, Gayl pitched two ideas to the GT editor - one related to the dangers of the US' violent resistance to its decline when it's already foregone and a globally recognized conclusion and the other related to China-Russia cooperation ̶ both to be tied to the topic of Taiwan. 

But his regret letter came before the Global Times editor could reply to his new ideas.

He rejected GT's offer of remuneration for his two articles - the Global Times pays every author for their articles. Still, there are some who reject the payment - it's mostly those who believe it is their obligation to write. 

Washington's Taiwan policy

Gayl has many regrets. One of them is that he can no longer write for the Global Times, and another is an imminent war in the Taiwan Straits that he thinks will be a tragedy. To prevent such a war was his motivation for publishing articles in GT. 

"As I get old now and towards retirement, I want to do all I can to make the small contribution of helping prevent a terrible war," he said in a previous email to GT. 

"People have criticized me and have asked me why I side with PRC on the issue of Taiwan.  I simply tell them that the PRC is absolutely right on Taiwan, and always has been. History is my guide," he wrote.

In the two articles he wrote for GT, he expressed his stance clearly, which, however, contradicts Washington's bellicose policy and rhetoric on Taiwan. 

The investigation against Gayl has demonstrated the hysteria of the US on the China issue, Wei Zongyou, a professor at the Center for American Studies, Fudan University, told the Global Times on Saturday. 

"The US views China as a strategic competitor and the Pentagon even regards the country as an imaginary enemy," said Wei, adding that the US government doesn't want to see the reunification across the Taiwan Straits in hopes to still use Taiwan as a tool to check the Chinese mainland. 

"Any voices that oppose the US option of war will not be allowed within the US military," Wei remarked.

With China-US relations continuing to intensify under the Biden administration, the option of war has constantly been raised in the US policymaking and academic circles, as they hype China's military strength. 

In early April, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the US "maintains the capacity to resist any resort to force or any other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan."

Washington's top military officer in Asia-Pacific, Admiral Philip Davidson, said in March that the Chinese mainland could invade Taiwan within the next six years.

Within the US, there have been debates whether the US should change its long-term strategy of "strategic ambiguity" over Taiwan to "strategic clarity" ̶ making clear that the US will defend Taiwan if and when a war breaks out. 

China seeks to achieve peaceful reunification between the mainland and the island of Taiwan. But China does not renounce the use of force and reserves the option of taking all necessary measures to guard against external interference and secessionists in Taiwan.

China Unveils Images of Mars Taken by Zhurong Rover, Marking Success of First Mars Exploration Mission

By Global Times

Jun 11, 2021 10:05 AM

China on Friday unveiled the first batch of images from the Tianwen-1 spacecraft's landing on Mars. The images were taken by its Zhurong Mars rover, including a panoramic view of the landing site and terrain of Mars. The release of these images marked a complete success for China's first Mars exploration mission.

The images were unveiled at a ceremony held by China's National Space Administration in Beijing. The panoramic view of the landing site is a 360° circular picture taken by the navigation terrain camera on the mast of the rover before it left the landing platform. The image shows that the land near the landing site is flat, and the horizon of Mars can be seen in the distance. 

The topographical map of Mars is the first topographical image taken by the navigational terrain camera after the Zhurong rover reached the surface of Mars. The image shows that the near surface is relatively flat, with stones of different sizes distributed. 

The rover traveled about 6 meters to the southeast of the landing platform and took an image of the landing platform. The image shows the Chinese national flag gleaming on the landing platform.

Named after an ancient fire god in Chinese mythology, the 1.85-meter-tall and some 240-kilogram Zhurong Mars rover safely drove off the landing platform and reached the surface of Mars at 10: 40 am on May 22, kicking off its roving mission.

China became the second country in the world to successfully deploy a robotic rover onto the surface of Mars, breaking up the US' monopoly in the field, Chinese space analysts hailed.

New COVID-19 Cases in Guangdong Have No Major Impact on Exporters: Ministry

By GT staff reporters

Jun 10, 2021 08:18 PM

A medical worker collects a swab sample from a resident for COVID-19 nucleic acid testing in Liwan District of Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, June 8, 2021. A new round of mass testing in high-risk areas of Baihedong Street and Zhongnan Street in Guangzhou started on Tuesday.(Photo: Xinhua)

The resurgence of COVID-19 cases in South China's Guangdong Province have not created any significant impact on the industrial and supply chain of local exporters, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said on Thursday, brushing off concerns over potential impact on China's top manufacturing and export base.

A survey of more than 2,000 export-oriented enterprises in Guangdong showed that over half of the surveyed firms reported a year-on-year increase in new orders, Gao Feng, a spokesperson for the MOFCOM, said at a regular press briefing. 

Gao said that the MOFCOM will fully support the province in accommodating anti-epidemic efforts and the development of foreign trade.

Several exporters in Guangdong told the Global Times that factories have kept on operating as new COVID-19 infections are "limited" to only a few districts, though some expressed concerns over delays in shipment. 

Duan Lianmin, a manager of a Shenzhen-based glass-making factory, told the Global Times on Thursday that overseas orders are flowing in as usual, and they have not felt any impact on either their exports or production. Her company mainly exports glass products to Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia. 

However, Duan said that she's concerned about "potential delays for shipment" due to stricter anti-epidemic measures imposed by local authorities. 

"We were informed that some local port authorities in Yantian have been requiring truck drivers to provide nucleic acid test reports upon entrance," Duan said, adding that the Nansha port in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, reported serious delays and other obstacles in delivery.

Yantian and Nansha port are among the world's busiest container ports.

Lin Musong, general manager of Shenzhen Enle Industrial Co, which produces electronic components for US and European markets, also told the Global Times on Thursday that the company's operation has not been affected and the number of orders remained the same in May.

"Exporters and factories have gradually formed a relatively mature system which can strike a balance between resuming normal production and curbing emerging cases. That is a stark contrast to last year, when there were too many uncertainties and factories did not know how to handle such challenges," Bai Ming, deputy director of the international market research institute at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Bai noted that apart from better management by companies, a lot of deals are actually made online and the goods are delivered via non-contact methods. 

In May, China's exports grew 27.9 percent year-on-year, while imports climbed by 51.1 percent in dollar terms, customs data showed. 

Production Line of mRNA Vaccine Co-developed by BioNTech and Fosun Expected to Be Completed by August: Fosun Chairman

By Global Times

Jun 12, 2021 12:02 PM

A dose of COVID19 vaccine BNT162b2 is given to a man.   Photo: Courtesy of BioNTech

Production line of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine co-developed by German-based BioNTech and China's Fosun Pharma is expected to be completed in China as early as August, which paves the way for mass production of the vaccine, said Fosun chairman. 

The information was disclosed by Wu Yifang, the chairman at Fosun's shareholders' meeting on Friday. Wu said her company is working on technology transfer, purchase of supply chain equipment and preparation of raw materials with BioNTech. The first expert dispatched by German already arrived in Shanghai to remodel the factory, according to Wu.

The whole production line is expected to be completed and begin production in August, said the chairman.

Wu also said conditional pharmaceutical related approvals are nearly finished, and the company already has a clear picture of requests about follow-up research and clinic experiments. 

The Global Times learned previously that Fosun Pharm has already submitted the clinical trial data and relevant materials to China's state regulator for reviews.

Experts said that approval of such imports could deepen the domestic vaccine pool and help facilitate reciprocal vaccine recognition.

Shao Yiming, China's leading physician-scientist and immunologist serving at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the imported mRNA vaccine will pave the way for mixed jabs in sequential inoculation, considering its efficacy.

The Fosun Pharma/BioNTech vaccine has been authorized for use or emergency use in multiple countries and regions including the US, the UK, Bahrain, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico.

President Receives Sputnik V Jabs for Zimbabwe

12 JUN, 2021 - 00:06 

President Mnangagwa receives 25 000 Sputnik V vaccines from Alrosa deputy chief executive and head of African Operations Mr Vladimir Marchenko (left), while Vice President and Health and Child Care Minister Dr Constantino Chiwenga and Russian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Nikolai Krasilnikov (far right) look on at State House in Harare yesterday. — Picture: Tawanda Mudimu.

Mukudzei Chingwere-Herald Reporter

President Mnangagwa yesterday received a consignment of 25 000 doses of the Russian manufactured Covid-19 vaccine — Sputnik V — donated by diamond mining giant Alrosa Group, becoming one of the few countries in the world to access the highly rated doses.

He received the donation at State House in the company of  Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Constantino Chiwenga, Cabinet ministers and senior Government officials.

The world’s largest diamond producer, Alrosa, which has operations in Zimbabwe, is finalising modalities for the shipment of the remaining 25 000 jabs, for the same number of people to be fully vaccinated by getting two jabs each.

Zimbabwe has been vaccinating its citizenry using highly rated jabs from China and India.

Before the current batch, it had been mainly using the Chinese-made Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines which were granted Emergency Use Authorisation by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Research conducted by the Gamaleya National Research Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) revealed that the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine has 97,6 percent efficacy.

President Mnangagwa said the donation was a culmination of the sound relations existing between Zimbabwe and the Russian Federation.

Bilateral ties between the two republics have stood the test of time and date back to the liberation struggle of Zimbabwe.

“On behalf of the Government and people of Zimbabwe and indeed on my own behalf, I would like to express my gratitude to the joint venture Alrosa (Zimbabwe) Limited for the generous donation.

“The Sputinik V vaccine consignment will augment the ongoing efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic through the national vaccination programme.

“The consignment will certainly contribute to the achievement of herd immunity in our country. It further attests to the commitment of the Russian Federation to enhance sustainable access to vaccines,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said it was a symbolic and momentous occasion as the vaccines came on the eve of the Russian National Day and sent a congratulatory message to his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin.

“The ceremony amplifies the time-tested and excellent relations that Zimbabwe and Russia have nurtured and continue to enjoy, dating back to our struggle for independence.”

President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe cherished the deep-rooted friendship, mutual support and cooperation that had been the hallmark of consistent collaboration at bilateral and multilateral levels.

“In the context of our mutual commitment to diversify cooperation and re-energise economic relations, our two countries have in the recent past exchanged high-level visits and signed numerous agreements, memoranda and other vital legal instruments.

“It is pleasing that a notable number are being implemented. These agreements will further lay a strong foundation for strengthening partnerships, cooperation and investments in mining, fertiliser production, risk insurance, environmental protection, nuclear energy development and cooperation in countering money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

“Additional scope exists for broadened economic and technical cooperation through trade, tourism and partnerships in critical skills and human capital development,” said President Mnangagwa.

“My Government remains committed to expanding and consolidating relations with other member states in the community of nations.

“We are pleased with the footprints of Alrosa through various mining investments. Other investors from the Russian Federation are most welcome to also explore the various investment opportunities which Zimbabwe has to offer,” said the President. 

Russian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Nikolai Krasilnikov handed over the vaccines to the President.

He was accompanied by Alrosa deputy chief executive and head of African operations, Mr Vladimir Marchenko.

“This partnership is about humanitarian support and mutual trust through thick and thin,” said Ambassador Krasilnikov.

“This remarkable event reflects the strong commitment of the Russian businesses to enhance comprehensive partnerships with Zimbabwe in order to meet the targets set by President Putin and President Mnangagwa.”

Mr Marchenko said the donation was their commitment to social corporate responsibility in the area they were conducting their business.

“With these mutual activities, I believe we will win this battle (against Covid-19) very soon,” he said.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Zimbabwe First Lady Takes Inheritance Program to Dema  

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa address the gathering during Inheritance awareness programme in Dema, Seke yesterday.

Tendai Rupapa in DEMA for the Herald

GOGO Juliet Mushamba (68) has neither slept soundly nor had peace of mind ever since she lost her husband three years ago.

The mother of four often scratches her head for clues over her late husband’s relatives who are refusing to hold a memorial service and distribute his clothes as per custom.

The deceased’s relatives want to forcibly inherit all the movable and immovable properties the couple had acquired, hence each day is a nightmare for the widow who ponders what the future holds for her family.

“I lost my husband three years ago,” said Gogo Mushamba while fighting back tears. “Since then, we are still to hold a memorial service for him and his clothes are still to be distributed as per custom. When I go to tell his relatives about the memorial service, they are taking no action because they are after the property that was left behind by my husband. 

“We had an eight-roomed house in Zengeza 5, Chitungwiza. We also built an identical house in the rural areas and had also acquired a farm and cattle. My husband’s relatives want to take everything. They do not want me near these properties since his demise. My children were told off and they said no one had powers to conduct the ceremony until they saw it fit to do so.” 

However, all hope is not lost for Gogo Mushamba, thanks to First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s inheritance awareness programme.

Amai Mnangagwa reignited her inheritance and property awareness campaign following calls on her office to do so by widows, widowers and orphans whose rights were being trampled on since the demise of breadwinners.

 Yesterday, she took the programme to Dema and for a robust awareness, the First Lady roped in a team of experts from the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Master of the High Court, the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ), Council of Estate Administrators and Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development.

The experts readily provided answers to various questions that were asked.

“We are grateful because the First Lady brought experts who are going to correct the problems we are facing as widows. We did not know where we would report such cases. Our mother has come to rectify the challenges we face,” said Gogo Mushamba. 

Gogo Mushamba is not alone in this predicament. 

Mrs Lista Sikochi (29) said she is going through horror after her husband’s death, with his relatives grabbing the property.

She wailed while narrating her ordeal to the First Lady.

“When my husband passed on in December last year, his relatives told me that it was part of their custom that I should go back to my people for a mourning period after which they would call me back,” said Mrs Sikochi. 

“However, when I returned, I found the locks changed and there were guards. There were also other people staying at our house who denied me entry. My husband’s sister and elder brother processed the death certificate and registered the estate without my knowledge. 

“They lied that the deceased was single and I received summons ordering my eviction and to surrender everything to the executor within seven days. I was left with a one-year-old child.” 

In response, Mrs Pauline Mandigo who was representing the Council of Estate Administrators said whatever the circumstances, Mrs Sikochi was supposed to have registered the estate within 14 days.

“Your husband’s relatives did not have the power to do what they did and registering the estate without your knowledge,” she said. “According to section 26 of the Administration of Estates Act (chapter 6:01), which is the major law in terms of administration of deceased estates, as the surviving spouse, you had to be given the first preference to register the estate.” 

Mrs Sikochi was advised to visit the Master of High Court’s office so that her file will be revisited.

Another widow, Mrs Violet Zano (74), said she is going through hell at the hands of a neighbour who was her late husband’s friend and is tampering with the boundary of her homestead.

“My husband passed on in October last year and a neighbour is encroaching into our boundary taking part of our land. When I took the issue to the headman, he took no action. I do not have transport fare to approach the courts for redress. Now that Amai is here today, our tears have been wiped. Tawana kwekuchemera,” she said amid sobs.

These are some of the harrowing tales that were recounted at yesterday’s programme.

In her address, the First Lady said; “Since 2018 when we rolled out this programme people were crying out that they were going through untold sufferings. I, however, am not an expert in the field and that is why you saw me bringing along people who are qualified to handle such matters. 

“This has been triggered by women and children who are writing and phoning my office daily over problems arising from inheritance issues.” 

The mother of the nation said it also emerged during her countrywide Gota/Nhanga/Ixiba programme that some challenges faced by children stemmed from inheritance issues, hence her decision to tackle the problem head-on.

“Mostly affected are women and children who would have lost a husband and a father,” she said. “Relatives often come and take away wealth from the hapless families, leaving others with nothing to live on. What is painful is that some of those who grab properties, are doing so at the expense of the bonafide beneficiaries. 

“We also have a Nharirire programme where we also look at those who head homes. These programmes are interrelated. These programmes seek to end chaos in the event of a bereavement. 

“Grandmothers are also facing challenges of being chased away by their grandchildren in the event of the death of the children’s parents. Some grandchildren are chasing away frail grandmothers from the homes.”

As part of yesterday’s interactive session, it was mainly women who narrated painful stories of what they are going through at the behest of heartless relatives.

In jest, the Master of High Court Mr Eldard Mutasa urged widows to cry with one eye open, while keeping another on inheritance.

“Women, when crying use one eye while the other one will be on the property left,” he said. “Sometimes relatives take advantage that you won’t be thinking straight and they pounce on you and take away all valuables. Relatives should only distribute clothes and leave everything else.” 

One old lady said she had a beautiful homestead and grinding mill, but following her husband’s death, his relatives hid the grinding mill.

An elderly woman narrates her story during Inheritance awareness programme organised by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa in Dema, Seke yesterday.

“After burial, they decided that I be taken by his younger brother (kugarwa nhaka) but I refused,” she said. “They chased me away with my children and took away my homestead and the grinding mill.” 

In response, Mrs Phillipa Muchemwa from the Law Society of Zimbabwe said the properties that were seized should be returned as it was illegal to do so and the law allowed for the prosecution of people who seized properties when they were not the intended beneficiaries.

Deputy Minister of Local Government and Public Works Marian Chombo said her ministry did not take kindly to corrupt headmen.

This was after some widows complained that there were some corrupt headmen who were selling their land.

One of elderly man follow proceedings during Inheritance awareness programme in Dema, Seke yesterday.

“Our Ministry of Local Government which works with headmen, does not accept this. If you visit the chief and the matter is not resolved, come to our offices and give us their names and evidence so that we remove that headman,” she said to applause.

Mr Mutasa said widows and orphans were not supposed to be ill-treated.

“What comes first is love, then people get married and live together,” he said. “A child is a gift that comes or may not come. Let us respect childless women because failure to give birth does not make her inadequate. 

“A childless woman has rights to inheritance. If you find yourselves being ill-treated, feel free to visit us and we will assist you because that kind of behaviour is not permitted at law.” 

Mr Mutasa said it was important for people to write wills to safeguard their property.

“We encourage people to write wills,” he said. “A will is powerful and respected. It protects your inheritance and do not be afraid to write a will.” 

Mr Charles Manhiri from the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs outlined steps that need to be take when registering an estate and ways through which estates can be protected.

“The biggest challenge is that we do not know that we should have the estate registered,” he said. “This is done immediately after death of our loved one at the magistrate’s court or the Master of High Court. 

“If we have our properties taken away by people who are not the intended beneficiaries, we have a right to report this. We have offices that assist you. We also have the Legal Aid directorate which assists even those who cannot afford lawyers.”