Bangladesh on Wednesday received 500,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine.Dhaka: Bangladesh on Wednesday received 500,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine as a gift to continue its vaccination drive, which was halted due to shortage of India-made Astrazeneca jabs.Chinese Ambassador Li Jiming handed over the vaccines to Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and Health Minister Zahid Maleque at State Guest House Padma, hours after a Bangladesh aircraft landed in Dhaka carrying the vaccines from China.Momen said that Bangladesh seeks to procure 40 to 50 million doses of the Chinese vaccine on a commercial basis.He proposed co-production arrangement of the Chinese vaccine in Bangladesh, saying it could create a “win-win” situation for both the countries.”We have the capacity to produce the vaccine and we can do it with their (Chinese) help . . . if they agree we can go for co-production,” he said.Maleque said that his office has sent a letter of interest to China to buy the vaccine on a commercial basis.Chinese envoy Li said the gift was the manifestation of China-Bangladesh anti-pandemic cooperation, which again shows that “our people are in the same boat and we will stand with each other till the end of this battle”.The development came after the World Health Organization (WHO) listed the Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use, giving green light for this vaccine to be rolled out globally.According to Momen, Bangladesh was initially reluctant to receive the Chinese vaccine until it got the WHO nod but the second wave of the pandemic forced the country’s health authorities earlier this month to approve the Chinese jabs alongside Russia’s Sputnik vaccine.The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said they would start the process of administering the Sinopharm vaccine among those who got registered for the first dose.Bangladesh launched the nationwide vaccination campaign on February 7 with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India.India provided 3.2 million doses of the vaccine to Bangladesh as a gift.However, the registration for the vaccination was halted on May 5 in view of shortage of the vaccine.Bangladesh purchased 30 million doses of the vaccine and under an agreement received seven million doses in two consignments until February, while the third consignment, which was expected in March, is yet to arrive, forcing the country to look for other alternatives to vaccinate its population.The Chinese vaccines arrived in the country as the ties between the two countries apparently witnessed a sudden strain with China warning Bangladesh against joining the Quad alliance, saying that Dhaka”s participation in the anti-Beijing “club” would result in “substantial damage” to bilateral relations.The Chinese envoy made the remarks which immediately drew a sharp response from Bangladesh’s foreign minister who called it “very unfortunate” and “aggressive”, adding that he never heard such comments from any Chinese diplomat before.Initiated in 2007, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, Quad for short, is an informal grouping of the US, India, Australia and Japan.
The French National Assembly has approved a bill that includes the implementation of a Covid-19 ‘health pass’ that will allow people to attend sports fixtures, festivals, and other such occasions that draw large crowds.
After being defeated in its first attempt on Tuesday evening, President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party was able to push through the introduction of its pass on Wednesday morning as the government looks to reopen the economy. It will come into effect on June 9, providing proof that someone has been vaccinated, has had a negative test, or has recently recovered from the virus and therefore has antibodies.Macron has said the pass won’t be required in everyday public places such as restaurants and bars, but will allow people to safely attend sporting events, music festivals and theme parks.
Also on rt.com
‘Certification is going to be necessary,’ says Hancock as England’s NHS app set to act as vaccine passport from next week
The bill was passed after Macron’s government agreed to shorten the transition period during which it will be able to re-impose Covid restrictions after France’s state of emergency is lifted on June 2.Cafes, restaurants, and bars will be allowed to reopen for outdoor service from May 19, with shops, museums, and cinemas also opening for business once again. Places of worship and sports stadiums will be able to admit up to 5,000 people from early June, and foreign tourists will be allowed to visit France.The move to relax the country’s third lockdown comes despite stubbornly high levels of Covid-19 and a stuttering vaccination campaign. The French health authorities have registered more than 20,000 new cases a day for more than two months, although it is clear that infection levels are falling.If you like this story, share it with a friend!
Inflation accelerated at its fastest pace in more than 12 years for April as the U.S. economic recovery kicked into gear and energy prices jumped higher, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.The Consumer Price Index, which measures a basket of goods as well as energy and housing costs, rose 4.2% from a year ago, compared to the Dow Jones estimate for a 3.6% increase. The monthly gain was 0.8%, against the expected 0.2%.Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the core CPI increased 3% from the same period in 2020 and 0.9% on a monthly basis. The respective estimates were 2.3% and 0.3%.The increase in the headline CPI rate was the fastest since September 2008.Energy prices overall jumped 25% from a year ago, including a 49.6% increase for gasoline and 37.3% for fuel oil. That came even though most energy categories saw a decline in April. Prices at the pump, which fell 1.4% in April, have resumed their climb in May, with the national average eclipsing $3 a gallon for the first time since November 2014, according to AAA.Used car and truck prices, which are seen as a key inflation indicator, surged 21%, including a 10% increase in April alone. Shelter, another key CPI component, was up 2.1% year over year and 0.4% for the month.In addition to rising prices, one of the main reasons for the big annual gain was because of base effects, meaning inflation was very low at this time in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic caused a widespread shutdown of the U.S. economy. Year-over-year comparisons are going to be distorted for a few months because of the pandemic’s impact.For that reason, Federal Reserve policymakers and many economists are dismissing the current round of numbers as transitory, with the expectation that inflation settles down later this year around the 2% range targeted by the central bank.Still, Fed officials repeatedly have said they will not raise interest rates or pull back on monthly bond purchases until inflation averages around 2% over an extended period.”As the cyclically-sensitive components of CPI are still rising at a modest pace, we doubt this report will change the view of officials that inflationary pressures are ‘largely transitory,'” wrote Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics. “It’s just that there’s a lot more ‘transitory’ than they were expecting.”Stock market futures briefly reached session lows after the release of the CPI numbers and pointed to a negative open on Wall Street. Government bond yields were mostly higher.Price surges also have come amid supply bottlenecks caused by a number of factors, from production issues with the ubiquitous semiconductors found in electronics products to the Suez Canal blockage in March to soaring demand for a variety of commodities.Lumber prices alone have risen 124% in 2021 amid persistent demand for building materials. Copper, often seen as a proxy for economic activity, has jumped nearly 36%.This is breaking news. Please check back here for updates.Become a smarter investor with CNBC Pro.Get stock picks, analyst calls, exclusive interviews and access to CNBC TV.Sign up to start a free trial today.
A Spanish foundation has awarded Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic one of the European nation’s most prestigious awards for the fine arts
The French artist who was sued by the Tintin creator Hergé’s heirs over his paintings that place the boy adventurer in romantic encounters has won his case after a court deemed them parodies.Xavier Marabout’s dreamy artworks imagine Tintin into the landscapes of Edward Hopper, including a take on Queensborough Bridge, 1913, or talking with a less-clothed version of Hopper’s Chop Suey.Earlier this year, the Breton artist was sued for infringement by Moulinsart, which manages the Tintin business. Moulinsart’s lawyer argued that “taking advantage of the reputation of a character to immerse him in an erotic universe has nothing to do with humour”. Marabout’s lawyer argued that the paintings were parody.On Monday, Moulinsart’s complaint was rejected by the court in Rennes. “The court recognised the parody exception and the humorous intention expressed by my client,” Marabout’s lawyer, Bertrand Ermeneux, said.The Rennes court also said that Moulinsart had “denigrated” Marabout by contacting galleries showing his work to say that it was infringing, Huffington Post France reported, adding €10,000 (£8,500) in damages for Marabout and €20,000 in legal fees to its ruling.Marabout told the Guardian in March that he “imagined a romantic life for Tintin in the intimate and voyeuristic universe of the American painter. Because frankly, the universe of Hergé is terribly virile and women are completely absent.”Moulinsart’s lawyer had argued that Hergé deliberately chose not to include women in his work, “because he found that they are rarely comic elements”.But Marabout said: “Who can imagine a world without women? My paintings where Tintin is staged with pin-ups are funny, but behind that I wanted to show that the two universes were perfect to meet. The mystery of Hopper paintings responding to the Tintin mystery.”His right to parody, he said, was “part of freedom of expression … a fundamental law in our democracy”.Moulinsart has a month to appeal the decision.
PARIS: France’s parliament on Wednesday backed President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to introduce a Covid “health pass”, after deputies pushed back against the move arguing it was discriminatory for those not yet vaccinated. Macron wants the pass to help speed up the lifting of coronavirus restrictions as his Covid vaccination programme gathers pace. It will be used to travel outside France for people showing proof of coronavirus vaccination, a recent negative test or recovery from a Covid-19 infection. Opposition parties have criticised the bill for posing a discrimination risk, not least because millions of people have yet to be inoculated. Even some deputies usually loyal to Macron balked at what they said was a lack of details on how the pass would be used, saying the government was basically asking for a blank cheque. They pressed for a firm number on how many passholders would be allowed at large gatherings, but the government insisted on a need to remain flexible. The disagreement led to an initial defeat of the bill by 108 votes to 103 in the lower-house National Assembly, with a high number of abstentions. But in the early hours of Wednesday it passed 208 to 85. “There was no dialogue and no listening” to concerns, said Philippe Latombe, a member of the centrist Modem party that usually backs the government. But in the end, the bill was modified so that a transition period during which the government can still impose restrictions was shortened, from June 2 to the end of September, rather the end of October. The health pass, which will take a digital or paper form, is to let people attend sporting events and other large gatherings, but would not be used to enter restaurants, cinemas or stores. It would dovetail with the “green certificate” the EU hopes to have in place next month to ease travel during the summer holidays. “The health pass will allow us to reopen places welcoming the public, festivals and gatherings,” Digital Affairs Minister Cedric O had said. “Without this health pass, we would have to wait much longer,” he added. Prime Minister Jean Castex told Le Parisien newspaper that “we are moving towards the end” of restrictions and “that is good news”. But France’s scientific council, which advises the government on health issues, has warned that coming months were “still very uncertain”. The council said the government should wait for new cases to drop to 10,000 per day, compared with 17,000 now, before lifting restrictions. The government has announced the reopening of cafe and restaurant terraces on May 19, with reduced numbers of patrons. Some 18.5 million people in France have now received their first vaccine dose, representing more than 35 percent of the adult population. Of the total, 8.2 million have also had their second jab.
This is the best tl;dr I could make, original reduced by 81%. (I’m a bot)The only way the children could be vaccinated against their mother’s wishes was for Oranga Tamariki to become their guardians.”In other words, the mother’s Internet research, which had found multiple sources of data opposed to vaccination, meant she could have an opinion which could carry the same weight with the court as that of the expert.”She felt that her detailed Internet search of articles on the issues enabled her to reach her own, equally as authoritative conclusions on the risks of immunisations for her children.In 2017, three children were ordered to be immunised over the objections of their mother, who said they had received homeopathic vaccination and were healthy, so were not in need of the orthodox vaccination.Extended Summary | FAQ | Feedback | Top keywords: children#1 mother#2 Court#3 Judge#4 vaccinated#5
The New York TimesExchange Over ‘Purity’ of Vote Puts Texas GOP Firebrand in SpotlightAUSTIN, Texas — It was an awkward few minutes for Briscoe Cain, the conservative provocateur and hand-picked Republican chair of the state House Elections Committee, as he fumbled through his defense last week of the restrictive new voting bill his party is moving through the Texas Legislature. Rep. Rafael Anchia, a Democrat, was grilling Cain, the bill’s sponsor, about a phrase in it calling for the “purity of the ballot box,” asking Cain if he knew that it evoked the discriminatory voting restrictions of Texas’ Jim Crow past. “Are you aware that references to purity of the ballot box used throughout this country’s history has been a justification for states to disenfranchise groups they deem unfit to vote or somehow lacking?” Anchia asked. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times “I didn’t know that,” Cain said haltingly, claiming he adopted the language because it was in the state’s Constitution, before admitting that “these are troubling things.” That opened floodgates for Democrats’ opposition, as they began hammering the structure of the bill, one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s priorities for the legislative session. Democrats eventually raised a point of order and added amendments that softened some of the harshest measures. Some of them may be restored in the next week as the House and the Senate meet in conference to work out the final bill. Viewed by some as a legislative lightweight and others as a rising conservative firebrand, Cain, 36, was a surprise choice when he was named to lead the House Election Committee earlier this year. As head of the committee, he would be charged with the critical responsibility of helping pass the Republicans’ voting bill, a priority with Abbott and a measure that adds restrictions to voting in a state that is already considered the hardest in the country in which to cast a ballot. There would be tricky waters to navigate against legions of detractors. Cain had only four years of legislative experience and a reputation as a brash and unpredictable combatant for his deeply conservative causes. In 2018, he crashed the state Democratic Party convention and handed out lawn signs that said, “This home is a gun-free safe space.” After the November election, he flew to Pennsylvania to help the Trump legal effort to overturn the results while posting selfies. He drew national attention in 2019 after being temporarily barred from Twitter for what was interpreted as a threatening post against Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. Cain’s fumbling of the questions about the “purity of the ballot box” phrase has brought even greater scrutiny to the Houston-area lawmaker. A clip of the exchange with Anchia went viral on social media, with views climbing into the millions, and exposed Cain as lacking knowledge about Texas’ history of discrimination against Black voters. The “purity of the ballot box” language was eventually removed. With just weeks left before the Republican-controlled Legislature adjourns, Cain will again play a lead role in the next round of sparring over the bill, this time as one of two committee co-chairmen shaping a final version. Critics who have protested Cain’s appointment to the committee say his lack of familiarity with the purity phrase and overall stewardship of the panel raise questions about his effectiveness going into the next phase of the debate. They also cite a chaotic committee session that was forced to recess after Cain refused to let Nicole Collier, chair of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, sit in on the session to question witnesses as a nonmember. His error led to a lengthy delay in moving the bill forward and enraged Democrats and civil rights groups. She was permitted to ask questions during a subsequent session. “This is our first rodeo with Briscoe Cain,” said Nina Perales, vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, who has engaged in legal battles against the state in behalf of Texas Latinos since 1996. “And after recovering from the shock that he was appointed chair of the election committee, I mean it’s been one misstep after the next.” Cain’s office declined a request for an interview or to answer questions about his exchange with Anchia. But several of his Republican colleagues gave high marks for his leadership and his handling of one of the governor’s top priorities. “One of the hardest bills to pass in this building is an omnibus election bill,” said Rep. Stephanie Klick, a Fort Worth Republican who preceded Cain as Election Committee chair. “I think he’s done amazing being able to get an omnibus bill in his first session as chair.” Bryan Hughes, chairman of the Elections Committee in the state Senate, said he had a “great relationship” with Cain and gave him a strong endorsement for his grasp of election law. “He knows the election code very well,” said Hughes, who is from East Texas. “He’s really immersed in it. He’s the ideal representative to be carrying this bill.” But Democrats on Cain’s Republican-dominated committee said the chairman led in a highly partisan and autocratic manner, shunning any effort to work with Democrats. Rep. Jessica González, a former White House intern who served in the Obama-Biden campaign and is vice chair of the Elections Committee, said Cain basically kept her out of the loop despite her position as No. 2. “Hey, just give us some notice,” she said in describing her frustration. “We’ve got to be able to communicate.” Rep. Michelle Beckley, a Democrat who represents a North Texas district that was in Republican control for decades, sat next to Cain on the House floor during the last session and said she normally had a friendly relationship with him, despite their partisan differences. “Our politics are a hundred percent polar opposites, but the one thing with Briscoe is that he does keep his word, which I will have to say is a rarity in this building,” she said. But the voting bill has been a different story, she said. “I really don’t want to be mean to him, but it was very disorganized from day one,” she said, recalling that Cain frequently did not follow protocols and rushed through bills, a practice that often led to procedural errors. Perales questioned Cain’s professed unfamiliarity with the toxic racial history of the “purity of the ballot box” phrase. She noted that at least two prominent civil rights organizations had submitted written testimony to Cain’s committee condemning the phrase. But Beckley said she too was unaware of the roots of the language. The day after the House debate, she recalled, Cain came to her desk and asked, “Did you know about this?” “I’m not going to lie,” she said in an interview, “I did not know that history.” In 2019, Cain revealed that he has Asperger’s syndrome during a speech on the House floor during Autism Awareness Month. He also injected a humorous note: “I suspect many of you are thinking to yourself, so that explains it. And yes, your assumptions are correct — that’s why I’m highly intelligent.” He lives with his wife and five children in Deer Park, where he grew up, and serves as a captain in the Texas State Guard. Cain’s four-year tenure in the Legislature has been somewhat of a roller coaster, at least by outside observations. As a freshmen legislator in 2017, Cain was put at the top of Texas Monthly’s “worst legislators” list, which called him “uninformed and belligerent.” The article cited an instance when Cain debated a member of his own party, Rep. John Zerwas, who is a doctor, over funding a state council that promotes palliative care. Cain repeatedly referred to the practice as a “death panel,” though when pressed by Zerwas, he was unable to further explain the practice. Eventually he conceded, “I recognize that you know about this and my apologies.” During his tenure in office, Cain has cultivated a quippy and lashing social media account that often seeps into right-wing troll territory. He buttresses his online reputation with a penchant for public stunts. He drew national outrage when he tweeted at O’Rourke, then a Democratic candidate for president, that “My AR is ready for you” when O’Rourke advocated taking away AR-15 rifles after the mass shooting in El Paso. O’Rourke likened the tweet to a death threat, and Twitter suspended Cain’s account for 141 days. Cain’s attention has recently turned to voting, and he has authored numerous bills in 2019 and 2021 that would have brought a raft of new restrictions with varying degrees of severity. Last year, he opposed any expansion to voting by mail during the pandemic, and Texas was one of five states that did not expand the option during the general election. In November, when it became clear President Donald Trump had lost to President Joe Biden, Cain was an enthusiastic supporter of Trump’s false claims that the election was rigged. “Election fraud is real and we must put an end to it,” he wrote on Facebook on Nov. 6. He quickly joined the Trump legal effort and took off for Pennsylvania. Before leaving, Cain posted a selfie to his Facebook account, clad in a cowboy hat and clear aviator glasses, captioned, “This Texas lawyer is flying to Philadelphia this morning to link up with a team of attorneys from across the country to fight for a fair and honest election.” His brief tenure as an election lawyer in Pennsylvania ended with the state Supreme Court rejecting his effort in a unanimous decision. This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
Paris, France – The landmark trial between a 79-year-old Vietnamese-French woman and 14 chemical multinationals was always going to be a David and Goliath legal battle.
Trần Tố Nga has breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart and lung problems, a rare insulin allergy, and other critical illnesses.
In 1966, then a war reporter in Vietnam, she was hiding in an underground tunnel with resistance fighters.
When she briefly came out, she was sprayed for the first time by the highly toxic herbicide, known as Agent Orange, used by the US military during the Vietnam War.
Like many other Vietnamese people, she continues to feel its destructive effects and claims she is a victim of the herbicide.
In 2014, Trần filed a lawsuit against the 14 agrochemical firms that manufactured and sold Agent Orange to the US army, including US companies Dow Chemical and Monsanto, now owned by German giant Bayer.
On Monday, May 10, a French court dismissed the case, calling Trần’s complaints “inadmissible”, and saying it did not have the jurisdiction to judge a lawsuit involving the US government’s wartime actions.
Despite this setback, Trần remains determined to keep fighting for justice “for all the victims of Agent Orange.”
“Justice and law do not go together. This was proven today, but sooner or later, it [justice] will come,” Trần told Al Jazeera.
Upon Trần’s request, her three lawyers from the Paris law firm Bourdon & Associates, who are working pro-bono, will appeal the verdict.
In a statement released on Tuesday, they said that the ruling “applies an obsolete definition of the principle of jurisdictional immunity,” and that the level of dioxin included in Agent Orange was the accused companies’ responsibility.
According to the Vietnamese Association of Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA), the US military sprayed nearly 80 million litres (21 million gallons) of toxic chemicals during the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1971, as part of Operation Ranch Hand, including 366kg (740 pounds) of dioxin across a quarter of the territory in South Vietnam.
Dioxin, contained in Agent Orange, is one of the deadliest chemicals known to science.
It contaminated the soil and destroyed the ecosystem of much of the region, stretching to Laos and Cambodia. Many species of animals and plants disappeared, and after it spread to fish and shrimp, the dioxin contaminated people.
VAVA estimates that 4.8 million people in Vietnam suffer illnesses or have been left with disabilities from exposure to Agent Orange.
Like Trần, many Vietnamese people – even two generations later – continue to suffer illnesses linked to this exposure, including leukaemia, Parkinson’s disease, Hodgkin’s, cancer, and birth deformities.
Trần herself lost her 17-month-old daughter because of a heart malformation.
Agent Orange has also left a dark mark on Vietnam’s legacy.
Dr Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, a Vietnamese novelist and journalist who writes extensively on the aftermath of the Vietnam War, said that she “remembers very vividly” how – as a child – her parents debated whether to eat the fish caught in the Mekong Delta, which was often disfigured.
They eventually did eat it, because they were starving, and because the repercussions of Agent Orange would not be known until much later.
“We use the word ‘poison,’ [for Agent Orange],” Nguyễn told Al Jazeera.
“I grew up in the countryside and people only use the word ‘poison’ because they knew it was poisonous. It could kill plants and animals, and it could kill humans.”
The novelist hoped Trần would be the first Vietnamese civilian to win a case recognising her illnesses, and wept after the verdict.
Military veterans from the US, Australia and Korea have been compensated for the after-effects caused by Agent Orange, notably through the $180m Agent Orange Settlement Fund in 1984, but no verdict has so far ruled in favour of compensating a South-East-Asian victim.
These differing rulings have seen activists describe Trần’s case as an example of “environmental racism,” a concept that emerged during the environmental justice movement of the 1970s.
“The real point is: Why these double standards? Why were the Americans compensated, and why not the Vietnamese?” Thuy Tien Ho, the coordinator of the support committee for Trần Tố Nga, told Al Jazeera.
Another term that emerged in the counterculture movement during the Vietnam War, and which Trần’s lawyers accused the agrochemical firms of, was “ecocide” – used to describe severe destruction of the environment.
In a statement sent to Al Jazeera, a Bayer spokesperson said that they agreed with the court’s decision to fully dismiss the claims and that wartime contractors are “are not responsible for any alleged damages associated with the government’s use of such a product in wartime”.
On Saturday, an annual march against Monsanto-Bayer and other agrochemical giants will go ahead, and is expected to draw thousands of people across France.
Trần’s case is being highlighted as one of the main appeals of the march.
According to Thuy Tien Ho, Trần has “become a symbol” for the fight for environmental justice in France.
While her loved ones remain concerned about her health – her two daughters call her every morning to check she is still alive – Trần is the one who lifts everybody’s spirits.
Although her team was disappointed by the verdict, she saw it as a victory, as the case succeeded in raising awareness about the victims of Agent Orange.
“Our cause is just, and I know that if I have a just cause, it must be defended,” she said.
“What proves that my cause is just is that I started alone, and now, I am supported by hundreds of thousands of people around the world.”
An independent review calls the international response to the pandemic a “toxic cocktail”.