Category: Бізнес

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Dow Jones Industrial Average Reaches 30,000 for First Time

The Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 30,000 for the first time on Tuesday, buoyed by favorable investor sentiment over coronavirus vaccine developments and news that  President-elect Joe Biden’s transition process has begun.
 
The Dow rose 1.4% in midday trading while the S&P 500 index, which has a far greater impact on retirement accounts than the Dow, climbed 1.3%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index was up 1%.
 
President Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations to “everybody” for reaching the milestone, although analysts partly attributed the gains to news that his incoming successor, Biden, had chosen widely respected former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen as treasury secretary.
 
The Dow traded above 30,000 amid growing optimism that coronavirus vaccine developments will allow governments to relax restrictions that have weakened the U.S. and other economies. AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna have all recently announced good results from ongoing vaccine studies.
 
Additionally, the U.S. General Services Administration acknowledged on Monday that Biden is the apparent winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election. The acknowledgement allows Biden to coordinate with federal agencies on plans to assume control of the White House on Jan. 20, despite ongoing efforts by President Donald Trump to overturn the election.
 
Speaking at the White House, Trump said, “I just want to congratulate everybody. The stock market Dow Jones Industrial average just hit 30,000, which is the highest in history…That’s a sacred number 30,000. Nobody thought they’d ever see it.”

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Egyptian Suspects in Murder of Italian Student Likely to Face In-Absentia Trial

Italian prosecutors investigating the 2016 death of an Italian student who was killed in Egypt are set to request authorization for a trial-in-absentia of several Egyptian security officials, according to Italian press reports.  
 
Italy has no extradition treaty with Cairo. According to Italian officials, Egyptian authorities have often stonewalled the two-year long probe by investigative magistrates in Rome into the death of 28-year-old Giulio Regeni.  
 
The student’s badly disfigured and tortured body was discovered in February 2016 dumped alongside the Cairo-Alexandria highway nine days after he disappeared.
 
Regeni, a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge who was born in Friuli, a mountainous northeast Italian region, had been burnt and many of his bones broken. Initials were carved into his skin. His mother struggled to identify him.  
 Spotlight on el-Sissi
 
A trial would throw an international spotlight on Egypt’s jailing of more than 60,000 political opponents and how detainees are treated, analysts say.  
 
Italy’s newspaper of record, Corriere della Sera, says Rome prosecutors, due to unveil their findings next week, plan to ask for up to five intelligence officers to be charged for the murder.  
 
“It will turn into a trial of the Egypt of [President] Abdel Fattah el-Sissi,” the paper said.  
 
Last year, Italian prosecutors said Regeni had been ensnared in a “spider’s web” spun by the Egyptian security services in the weeks before his death.  
 
Prosecutors Sergio Colaiocco and Michele Prestipino placed five members of Egypt’s security forces under official investigation for alleged involvement in the disappearance of the postgraduate student.
 
Egyptian officials have offered multiple explanations for Regeni’s death, including claims he died as a result of a car accident or because of a lovers’ quarrel. Later, Egyptian authorities said he had been murdered by a crime gang, whose members died in a gunfight with police.  
 
But Italian officials and rights groups, as well as his family, have long suspected he died at the hands of Egyptian security officers, who suspected he was spying. Regeni’s research was into trade unions and he interviewed street hawkers for his work, prompting one to tell police the Italian was a spy.  
 
Last year, Colaiocco told an Italian parliamentary commission that Egyptian officials had tried on several occasions to mislead investigators.FILE – Amnesty International activists hold a candle light vigil in Rome’s Pantheon square, July 25, 2016, in remembrance of the late Italian student Giulio Regeni.Italian prosecutors are scheduled to conclude their probe on December 4 and will have to seek a court’s agreement for a trial to take place without the suspects being present.  
 
Italian officials say they do not expect the Egyptian president will agree to extradite them. Among those under investigation are Major Magdy Ibrquaim Abdelaal Sharif and his superior, Colonel Osan Helmy, both of Egypt’s National Security Agency.  
 
In 2016 Italy recalled its ambassador to Egypt due to lack of cooperation from the Egyptian authorities. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has pressed President el-Sissi for cooperation in several phone calls in the five years since the student’s murder.  
 
“Conte managed to secure some material but often it was unhelpful,” an Italian official told VOA. He cited CCTV footage from a Cairo metro station where Regeni was last seen, but there were crucial gaps in the recording. Italian authorities were able to secure the phone records of the suspects.
 
In 2018, el-Sissi promised to bring Regeni’s killers to justice, but issued a statement rejecting Rome’s list of suspects. Last year, Regeni’s exasperated parents, Paola and Claudio, issued a counter-statement, saying, “We cannot be satisfied by your condolences anymore, nor by your failed promises.” Regeni’s family and rights campaigners have been critical of Rome for not pressuring Cairo more and continuing to conduct arms deals with Egypt, including the sale of two frigates.  
On Friday, a spokesman for el-Sissi said instructions have been given to Egyptian officials to cooperate fully with Italian counterparts. He underlined the “unprecedented” judicial cooperation already offered.  
 
Regeni disappeared on 25 January 2016 — the fifth anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.  
 Rights activists arrested
 
Meanwhile, the Egyptian government this week has faced an international outcry following the arrests of members of a leading Egyptian human rights organization. Three NGO workers from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, EIPR, including its executive director Gasser Abdel Razek, were seized after meeting with foreign diplomats. The charges against them include belonging to a terrorist organization, undermining public security by spreading false information and using the Internet to promulgate false news.
 
Razek’s lawyer told reporters his client’s head had been shaved and he is being kept in solitary confinement without mattress or blankets and with no heat.
 
Several countries have condemned the arrests. Britain’s foreign office told the Egyptian government “all human rights defenders should be able to work without fear of arrest or reprisals.” The European Union has voiced “significant concern” over the arrests. And President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to be U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, tweeted: “Meeting with foreign diplomats is not a crime. Nor is peacefully advocating for human rights.”
 Share concern re. #Egypt’s arrests of three employees of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. Meeting with foreign diplomats is not a crime. Nor is peacefully advocating for human rights. https://t.co/hR5JtLcAYI— Antony Blinken (@ABlinken) November 20, 2020Egypt says EIPR was not registered and says the international protests amount to interference in the country’s internal affairs.

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Biden Transition to US Power Formally Starts

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s transition to power in Washington has formally started after a government agency declared him the apparent winner of the 2020 presidential election, even as President Donald Trump continues his long-shot attempt to upend Biden’s victory at the polls.Biden’s team of advisers immediately started reaching out Monday night to Trump officials throughout the government to learn about possible national security threats the country faces, and other immediate issues Biden will face when he is inaugurated January 20.Pentagon officials said Biden transition team members contacted the Defense Department soon after Emily Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration, determined that Biden is the “apparent” election winner and that the transition can begin. Murphy’s action allows Biden to tap public funds for the transition, to receive security briefings and his transition officials to gain access to federal agencies.What Resources Does the Biden Transition Get? Federal law provides for certain activities to ensure a smooth transition of power It was not immediately clear when Biden would receive his first classified national security briefing as president-elect. Biden has discussed security issues with his team of intelligence and military advisers but has yet to be handed the President’s Daily Brief, the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment of worldwide threats.Of immediate concern for Biden is the fight to control the surging number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. Biden officials want information on the Trump administration’s timetable to approve three vaccines against the virus in the next few weeks and plans for widespread inoculations of Americans starting before the end of the year and extending well into 2021.Health officials say approval of the vaccines by the Food and Drug Administration could prove to be more uneventful than the difficult task of distributing the vaccines throughout the country and scheduling millions of people to get the shots. Polls show about four in 10 Americans are wary about getting vaccinated or have already decided against it, potentially making it more difficult to control the pandemic.Other Biden transition teams are contacting officials at numerous agencies throughout the government to verse themselves on pending policy issues as well as to learn the extent to which the Trump administration removed staff members over the last four years to get rid of what the president deemed to be an entrenched “Deep State” at odds with his view of a limited government.Meanwhile, at his transition base in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, Biden introduced some of the top appointees he named Monday, including Antony Blinken as secretary of State, Avril Haines as director of national intelligence and Alejandro Mayorkas as Homeland Security chief.Trump reluctantly eased the path for the orderly Biden transition to power to start by acquiescing in Murphy’s declaration that Biden was the apparent winner of the contentious, months-long campaign.Trump said the transition was “in the best interest of our country.”But the president vowed to continue his fight against the election outcome, saying, “Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good … fight, and I believe we will prevail!”Trump offered no concession to Biden and has not called him with congratulations, even as numerous world leaders have offered good wishes to the prospective 46th U.S. president.Trump’s defeat makes him the fifth U.S. president in the country’s 244-year history to lose re-election after a single four-year term in the White House.Trump has lost more than 30 legal challenges alleging vote and vote-counting irregularities in key battleground states but did not acknowledge defeat in allowing the Biden transition to power to move forward. Trump is continuing several lawsuits or appeals of cases he has lost to try to overturn Biden’s victory. 
On Tuesday morning, Trump said on Twitter, “Remember, the GSA has been terrific, and Emily Murphy has done a great job, but the GSA does not determine who the next President of the United States will be.” 

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US Makes Rare Maritime Challenge Near Peter The Great Bay

The U.S. Navy says one of its warships conducted a freedom of navigation operation Tuesday in the Sea of Japan, making a rare challenge to a controversial maritime claim by Russia.Russia’s defense ministry said that in response to the operation, one of its military ships “stopped” the USS John S. McCain destroyer by threatening it with a warning that it would be rammed out of the disputed waters in the vicinity of Peter the Great Bay.“The Russian Federation’s statement about this mission is false. USS John S. McCain was not ‘expelled’ from any nation’s territory,” the Navy said Tuesday, adding that the operation was “in accordance with international law” in international waters. The area has been in dispute since 1984, when the Soviet Union declared it part of its waters. Russia has maintained that claim.“The operation reflects our commitment to uphold freedom of navigation and lawful uses of the sea as a principle, and the United States will never bow in intimidation or be coerced into accepting illegitimate maritime claims, such as those made by the Russian Federation,” the Navy added in its statement.FILE – The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain sails in formation during exercise Foal Eagle 2013 in waters west of the Korean peninsula in this March 21, 2013 handout photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.The last U.S. military challenge to Russia’s maritime claims near Peter the Great Bay was in December 2018, according to the Navy. Prior to that, the last U.S. freedom of navigation operation in the area took place in 1987.The U.S. frequently conducts freedom of navigation operations in the western Pacific region to dispute excessive maritime claims by several countries, especially China, and to promote free passage through international waters.

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Biden, Like Trump, Embraces Presidential Executive Orders

U.S. presidents often change government policy through presidential actions, issuing executive orders, proclamations or memoranda, bypassing Congress and the legislative process. Mike O’Sullivan reports, President Donald Trump has relied heavily on the tactic, and President-elect Joe Biden has promised to do the same.

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NYC’s First African American Mayor, David Dinkins, Has Died

David Dinkins, who broke barriers as New York City’s first African American mayor, but was doomed to a single term by a soaring murder rate, stubborn unemployment and his mishandling of a riot in Brooklyn, has died. He was 93.  
Dinkins died Monday, the New York City Police Department confirmed. The department said officers were called to the former mayor’s home in the evening. Initial indications were that he died of natural causes.
Dinkins’ death came just weeks after the death of his wife, Joyce, who passed away in October at the age of 89.
Dinkins, a calm and courtly figure with a penchant for tennis and formal wear, was a dramatic shift from both his predecessor, Ed Koch, and his successor, Rudolph Giuliani — two combative and often abrasive politicians in a city with a world-class reputation for impatience and rudeness.
In his inaugural address, he spoke lovingly of New York as a “gorgeous mosaic of race and religious faith, of national origin and sexual orientation, of individuals whose families arrived yesterday and generations ago, coming through Ellis Island or Kennedy Airport or on buses bound for the Port Authority.”
But the city he inherited had an ugly side, too.
AIDS, guns and crack cocaine killed thousands of people each year. Unemployment soared. Homelessness was rampant. The city faced a $1.5 billion budget deficit.  
Dinkins’ low-key, considered approach quickly came to be perceived as a flaw. Critics said he was too soft and too slow.
“Dave, Do Something!” screamed one New York Post headline in 1990, Dinkins’ first year in office.
Dinkins did a lot at City Hall. He raised taxes to hire thousands of police officers. He spent billions of dollars revitalizing neglected housing. His administration got the Walt Disney Corp. to invest in the cleanup of then-seedy Times Square.
In recent years, he’s gotten more credit for those accomplishments, credit that Mayor Bill de Blasio said he should have always had. De Blasio, who worked in Dinkins’ administration, named Manhattan’s Municipal Building after the former mayor in October 2015.
“The example Mayor David Dinkins set for all of us shines brighter than the most powerful lighthouse imaginable,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James, who herself shattered barriers as the state’s first Black woman elected to statewide office.
“I was honored to have him hold the bible at my inaugurations because I, and others, stand on his shoulders,” she said.
Results from his accomplishments, however, didn’t come fast enough to earn Dinkins a second term.
After beating Giuliani by only 47,000 votes out of 1.75 million cast in 1989, Dinkins lost a rematch by roughly the same margin in 1993.
Giuliani, now President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer,  tweeted his condolences to Dinkins’ family. “He gave a great deal of his life in service to our great City,” the former mayor said. “That service is respected and honored by all.”
Political historians often trace the defeat to Dinkins’ handling of the Crown Heights riot in Brooklyn in 1991.
The violence began after a Black 7-year-old boy was accidentally killed by a car in the motorcade of an Orthodox Jewish religious leader. During the three days of anti-Jewish rioting by young Black men that followed, a rabbinical student was fatally stabbed. Nearly 190 people were hurt.
A state report issued in 1993, an election year, cleared Dinkins of the persistently repeated charge that he intentionally held back police in the first days of the violence, but criticized him for not stepping up as a leader.
In a 2013 memoir, Dinkins accused the police department of letting the disturbance get out of hand, and also took a share of the blame, on the grounds that “the buck stopped with me.” But he bitterly blamed his election defeat on prejudice: “I think it was just racism, pure and simple.”
Born in Trenton, New Jersey, on July 10, 1927, Dinkins moved with his mother to Harlem when his parents divorced, but returned to his hometown to attend high school. There, he learned an early lesson in discrimination: Blacks were not allowed to use the school swimming pool.
During a hitch in the Marine Corps as a young man, a Southern bus driver barred him from boarding a segregated bus because the section for Blacks was filled.
“And I was in my country’s uniform!” Dinkins recounted years later.
While attending Howard University, the historically black university in Washington, D.C., Dinkins said he gained admission to segregated movie theaters by wearing a turban and faking a foreign accent.
Back in New York with a degree in mathematics, Dinkins married his college sweetheart, Joyce Burrows, in 1953. His father-in-law, a power in local Democratic politics, channeled Dinkins into a Harlem political club. Dinkins paid his dues as a Democratic functionary while earning a law degree from Brooklyn Law School, and then went into private practice.
He got elected to the state Assembly in 1965, became the first Black president of the city’s Board of Elections in 1972 and went on to serve as Manhattan borough president.
Dinkins’ election as mayor in 1989 came after two racially charged cases that took place under Koch: the rape of a white jogger in Central Park and the bias murder of a Black teenager in Bensonhurst.
Dinkins defeated Koch, 50 percent to 42 percent, in the Democratic primary. But in a city where party registration was 5-to-1 Democratic, Dinkins barely scraped by the Republican Giuliani in the general election, capturing only 30 percent of the white vote.
His administration had one early high note: Newly freed Nelson Mandela made New York City his first stop in the U.S. in 1990. Dinkins had been a longtime, outspoken critic of apartheid in South Africa.
In that same year, though, Dinkins was criticized for his handling of a Black-led boycott of Korean-operated grocery stores in Brooklyn. Critics contended Dinkins waited too long to intervene. He ultimately ended up crossing the boycott line to shop at the stores — but only after Koch did.
During Dinkins’ tenure, the city’s finances were in rough shape because of a recession that cost New York 357,000 private-sector jobs in his first three years in office.
Meanwhile, the city’s murder toll soared to an all-time high, with a record 2,245 homicides during his first year as mayor. There were 8,340 New Yorkers killed during the Dinkins administration — the bloodiest four-year stretch since the New York Police Department began keeping statistics in 1963.
In the last years of his administration, record-high homicides began a decline that continued for decades. In the first year of the Giuliani administration, murders fell from 1,946 to 1,561.
One of Dinkins’ last acts in 1993 was to sign an agreement with the United States Tennis Association that gave the organization a 99-year lease on city land in Queens in return for building a tennis complex. That deal guaranteed that the U.S. Open would remain in New York City for decades.
After leaving office, Dinkins was a professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
He had a pacemaker inserted in August 2008, and underwent an emergency appendectomy in October 2007. He also was hospitalized in March 1992 for a bacterial infection that stemmed from an abscess on the wall of his large intestine. He was treated with antibiotics and recovered in a week.
Dinkins is survived by his son, David Jr., daughter, Donna and two grandchildren.

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Visitors to Britain Could Shorten Quarantine With Negative Test

Britain announced Tuesday that travelers from abroad could face a shorter isolation period with a negative COVID-19 test days after their arrival.Current rules require 14 days of quarantine.  Starting December 15, travelers will have the option to pay for a test after five days, and if the test comes back negative, they will be free to end their self-isolation.In Germany, officials in 16 states are looking toward next months Christmas holiday and ways to make it safer for families to gather.The states have agreed among themselves on a proposal to tighten restrictions in the weeks ahead of the holiday in order to hold down the spread of the coronavirus, and then relax the rules to allow small gatherings.Officials are due to discuss the plan with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday.Here’s How the Three COVID-19 Vaccines Compare Main differences seem to be in cost, storage and number of early doses available, but information is limited Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte expressed his own concerns about Christmas, saying Tuesday people should not plan to go on ski trips.Conte said it would not be possible “to allow holidays on the snow.  We cannot afford it.”Italy was one of the hardest-hit nations in the early stages of the pandemic and on Monday became the sixth country in the world to surpass 50,000 deaths.Spain, another early hotspot, has seen a sharp decline in tourism like in many areas.  It’s national statistics office reported Tuesday the number of hotel nights booked in October was down 83% from the same time last year.There are concerns in the United States this week as the country celebrates its Thanksgiving holiday.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged people not to travel and hold large family gatherings amid a surge in COVID-19 infections across the country.More than 59 million people around the world have been infected with the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics.      The United States continues to lead the world in infections with more than 12.4 million cases, followed by India with more than 9.1 million infections and Brazil with 6 million.     The virus has killed about 1.4 million people.  More than 257,000 of those deaths were in the United States.

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Biden Chooses Antony Blinken for Secretary of State

President-elect Joe Biden has announced several of his top cabinet picks, naming his long-time close adviser and former deputy secretary of state Antony Blinken as his choice to be the next secretary of state. VOA’s Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine has more on Blinken, who is known as a staunch supporter of international alliances, human rights and refugees.Produced by: Barry Unger

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Australian Airline Says It Will Require COVID-19 Vaccine to Fly

The Australian airline company Qantas says it will require international travelers in the future to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to fly, as another pharmaceutical company announces progress in creating a potential vaccine to fight the coronavirus.In an interview with Australia’s Nine Network on Monday, Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said the company thinks such proof will be a necessity for international visitors in the future, adding, “whether you need that domestically, we’ll have to see what happens.”He said of requiring proof of vaccination, “I think that’s going to be a common thing, talking to my colleagues in other airlines around the globe.”FILE – Laboratory technicians work at the mAbxience biopharmaceutical company on an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and the laboratory AstraZeneca in Garin, Argentina, Aug. 14, 2020.His remarks point to how some industries and companies might want to use proof of COVID-19 vaccinations in their business models going forward, potentially setting up legal challenges from those who oppose such measures.The comments come as AstraZeneca said early Monday that clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine in Britain and Brazil have shown it is “highly effective in preventing COVID-19” without “hospitalizations or severe cases of the disease” in any of the trial’s volunteers.The England-based pharmaceutical company says the vaccine was 70% effective overall, but there were differences between two dosing regimens. One was 90% effective. The other was 62%.”More data will continue to accumulate, and additional analysis will be conducted, refining the efficacy reading and establishing the duration of protection,” AstraZeneca said in a statement Monday.”These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives,” Professor Andrew Pollard, chief investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial at Oxford, said in a statement.FILE – A volunteer receives an injection from a medical worker during the country’s first human clinical trial for a potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus, at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa, June 24, 2020.AstraZeneca said it “will seek an Emergency Use Listing from the World Health Organization for an accelerated pathway to vaccine availability in low-income countries. In parallel, the full analysis of the interim results is being submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.”Drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna have also announced initial results from late-stage trials showing their vaccines were nearly 95% effective.  Vaccination plansCountries have begun laying out plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, with Germany and the United States preparing to vaccinate some populations as early as next month.German Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters Sunday that there “is reason to be optimistic” that a vaccine would be approved in Europe before the end of the year, and that after approval, vaccinations could begin “right away.”The United States has set preliminary plans to begin vaccinating some groups as early as December 12, two days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to review the Pfizer vaccine.Health care workers in the United States, who have been hard-hit by COVID-19, would be among the first to receive a vaccine.WATCH: Vaccines Raise Hopes of Rapid Global RolloutSorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
Licensed vocational nurse Caren Williams, left, collects a nasal swab sample from a traveler at a COVID-19 testing site at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Nov. 23, 2020.California Governor Gavin Newsom and his family are in quarantine after three of his children were exposed to a Highway Patrol officer who tested positive for COVID-19.The Associated Press reports that China has imposed new lockdowns on three cities, Shanghai, Tianjin and Manzhouli, where a handful of COVID-19 cases have reemerged.More than 59 million people around the world have been infected with the coronavirus, the Johns Hopkins Resource Center reported Monday.The United States continues to lead the world in infections with more than 12 million cases, followed by India with more than 9 million infections and Brazil with 6 million.The virus has claimed nearly 1.4 million lives. More than a quarter million of those deaths were in the U.S. 
 

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Lockerbie Bomber Appeal Set to Begin at Scotland’s High Court

Scotland’s High Court will begin hearing an appeal Tuesday of the conviction of a Libyan man found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie aircraft bombing, the deadliest militant attack in British history. Pam Am Flight 103 was blown up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988 en route from London to New York, an attack that killed 270 people, mostly Americans on their way home for Christmas. In 2001, Libyan intelligence officer Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was jailed for life after being found guilty of the murder of 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 residents of Lockerbie who were killed in the attack. He is the only person to be convicted in the bombing.Megrahi, who denied involvement, died in Libya in 2012 after being released three years earlier by Scotland’s government on compassionate grounds following a diagnosis of terminal cancer.  FILE – Libyan Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing but released from his Scottish prison on compassionate grounds, is seen below a portrait of Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi, Sept. 9, 2009.In March, an independent Scottish review body ruled his family could launch an appeal after concluding there might have been a miscarriage of justice. “Overturning of the verdict for the Megrahi family and many of the families of British victims also supporting the appeal, would vindicate their belief that the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom stand accused of having lived a monumental lie for 31 years,” the family’s lawyer Aamer Anwar said in a statement. Five judges will hear the appeal, including the head of Scotland’s judiciary, Lord Justice General Colin Sutherland. Megrahi first appealed in 2002 but this was refused by Scotland’s High Court. A second appeal was abandoned in 2009 just before his return to Libya. In 2003, then-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi accepted his country’s responsibility for the bombing and paid compensation to the victims’ families but did not admit personally ordering the attack. However, Megrahi’s family and some relatives of the Scottish victims have always doubted his guilt.  
 

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Biden Taps Veteran US Diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield as UN Ambassador 

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has named veteran diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield to join his forthcoming Cabinet as his pick for U.N. ambassador, his transition team announced Monday. The post requires Senate confirmation.Thomas-Greenfield has worked in both Democratic and Republican administrations during her 35-year State Department career. An Africa specialist, she served as U.S. ambassador to Liberia, and held posts in Kenya, The Gambia and Nigeria. Under President Barack Obama, she served as the assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs (2013-2017), developing and managing Washington’s policy toward sub-Saharan Africa. She has also worked in Geneva at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield was a senior manager at the State Department, where she served as director general of the Foreign Service and director of Human Resources from 2012 to 2013, handling matters related to the State Department’s 70,000 employees. She took to Twitter on Tuesday saying she was “blessed for this opportunity.” “I’ve had the privilege to build relationships with leaders around the world for the past thirty-five years. As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, I’ll work to restore America’s standing in the world and renew relationships with our allies,” the longtime diplomat tweeted. I’ve had the privilege to build relationships with leaders around the world for the past thirty-five years. As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, I’ll work to restore America’s standing in the world and renew relationships with our allies. Blessed for this opportunity.— Linda Thomas-Greenfield (@LindaT_G) November 23, 2020Earlier, Thomas-Greenfield tweeted her mother taught her to lead with kindness and compassion and she would bring that ethos to her mission at the United Nations if she is confirmed.  
 My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place. I’ve carried that lesson with me throughout my career in Foreign Service – and, if confirmed, will do the same as Ambassador to the United Nations.— Linda Thomas-Greenfield (@LindaT_G) November 23, 2020Former colleagues also responded to her selection alongside long-time Biden foreign policy aide Anthony Blinken as the president-elect’s choice for secretary of state.  
 The choices for the two jobs I know best are outstanding. @ABlinken understands how @joebiden sees the world and will lead @StateDept with vision and respect.@LindaT_G is a valued colleague and veteran diplomat who will restore US leadership and cooperation at the @UN— Madeleine Albright (@madeleine) November 23, 2020I have worked with @ABlinken and w/ Linda Thomas-Greenfield since the Clinton years. What a perfect team – intellect, humanity, decency, care for others, patriots, wisdom. With brilliant Jake Sullivan NSA, US back better.— Wendy R. Sherman (@wendyrsherman) November 23, 2020  
Former U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman told VOA that the choice of the “highly respected” Thomas-Greenfield is “brilliant” and would be a big morale booster for career foreign service officers. Feltman, who was also the United Nation’s political chief from 2012 to 2018, said he saw Thomas-Greenfield in action many times. “I saw Linda work the room at African Union summits, and she is amazingly effective and efficient at pushing her agenda with 54 African leaders,” he said. “She leavened her diplomatic approach with real human empathy and warmth. I think she will be perfect for restoring U.S. leadership at the U.N. and sort of rebooting the U.N. and our multilateral alliances for meeting today’s challenges.”  President-elect Biden is elevating the post of U.N. ambassador to Cabinet level. In recent Democrat administrations the position has been part of the Cabinet. President Donald Trump chose to make his first U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, a Cabinet member, but did not elevate his current envoy, Kelly Craft.   Early life  Born in 1952 in the southern state of Louisiana, Thomas-Greenfield, who is African-American, was one of eight siblings. She said her father left school in the third grade to help support his family.  “He couldn’t read or write, but he was the smartest man I knew,” she said of him in a TED talk last year.   Thomas-Greenfield said her mother also had limited education, but a big heart. In addition to raising her own children, she took in eight siblings who lost their mother so they would not be separated.  “I didn’t have successful, educated role models in my life, but what I did have – I had the hopes and dreams of my mother, who taught me at a very early age that I could face any challenge or adversity put in my path by being compassionate and being kind,” Thomas-Greenfield said.   The former assistant secretary of state grew up during the civil rights era and graduated from a segregated high school. She then went on to Louisiana State University, which had to be forced to accept Black students by a court order.   Thomas-Greenfield said she faced harassment there and noted that David Duke, the former leader of the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan, was an LSU student at the same time she was, and had already started to preach hatred.   In 2012, LSU asked her back to speak at graduation.   “I thanked the university for giving me the experiences that made me into the successful person that I had become,” she said. “Adversity is a source of strength.”  Life-changing experience  In April 1994, Thomas-Greenfield arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, as ethnic Hutu extremists began their 100-day genocide against minority Tutsis.  She very nearly became a causality of the atrocities, confronted by a “glaze-eyed man” who was ready to kill her. She remained calm and spoke to the man and survived. But of the genocide, she said, “It changed my life forever.”  FILE – United States Secretary of State John Kerry, center, reacts as Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari shakes hands with Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Linda Thomas-Greenfield at the presidential villa in Abuja, Aug. 23, 2016.Thomas-Greenfield’s deep knowledge of Africa will serve her well at the United Nations, where more than half the peace and security operations the Security Council authorizes are based on the continent.   She has a traditional diplomatic style, said Ambassador Ronald Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, of which Thomas-Greenfield is a member.  “She puts a lot of attention on listening, on understanding where the other person is coming from, and therefore ensuring that she can prepare the best way of persuading them to do what she wants,” Neumann told VOA. He added that she will also be ready to build alliances.   Thomas-Greenfield will need to employ her diplomatic style in coping with challenges to U.S. influence at the United Nations, where the Trump administration has cut funding, withdrawn from agencies and international accords, and pursued an “America first” policy.   “The United States is going to have to compete for influence far more assertively than we are accustomed to doing at the U.N.,” Feltman said. “China has become far more assertive at the U.N. than it was, say at the beginning of Obama administration. You have a lot of middle powers that are not willing to defer to the great powers – they have their own interests in their own region.”   There will also be a long list of other issues awaiting her attention if she is confirmed: COVID-19, climate change, Iran’s nuclear program, the changing Middle East, and the growing refugee and migrant crisis.   
 

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Vaccine Breakthrough Raises Hopes of Rapid Global Rollout

A coronavirus vaccine developed by Britain’s University of Oxford and the pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca has shown successful results in early trials. If it is approved by regulators, the vaccine appears suitable for a fast rollout around the globe. Early analysis of trials involving 20,000 volunteers in Britain and Brazil show the vaccine is at least 62% effective after two doses. In volunteers given a different dosing regimen — a half dose, followed by a full dose — that figure rose to 90%. The average efficacy of the two dosing methods is 70%. None of those given the vaccine developed severe COVID-19 illness. Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said the recent successful trials of three different vaccines by Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, represent a scientific breakthrough. “It really feels like a great moment that we’ve got now multiple vaccines. If we can get them rolled out as soon as possible, we’re going to have a big impact,” Pollard said. Differences from other vaccinesAstraZeneca plans to begin supplying hundreds of millions of doses by the end of the year, subject to regulatory approval. Several properties of the vaccine make it suitable for global rollout, according to Peter Drobac, a global health expert at the University of Oxford, who did not work on the development of the AstraZeneca vaccine. “The first is cost,” Drobac said. “So, this vaccine has been priced at about one-fifth to one-tenth of the cost reportedly being sought by Pfizer and Moderna, some of the other leading vaccine candidates.” AstraZeneca has pledged it will not make a profit on the vaccine during the pandemic.  Secondly, “in 10 countries, it’s already being manufactured, including a very large manufacturing partner in India. So, we hope to see very large numbers of doses become available very quickly. And then thirdly, this vaccine only required kind of fridge-temperature storage,” Drobac told VOA. By contrast, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires storage at minus 70 degrees Celsius. Many health systems in developing nations lack refrigeration facilities to store medicines at such ultra-cold temperatures. COVAXSo far, 188 countries have signed up to an initiative called COVAX, where richer countries invest in the development of several vaccines and the infrastructure required for rolling them out across the globe.  “The goal in a perfect world would be that each of the countries that signs up for COVAX would receive enough vaccine for 20% of their populations by the end of 2021,” Drobac said. “Now, that’s an aspiration of course, not a guarantee. But that would allow every country to at least begin to cover the most vulnerable, front-line workers, etc.” The human rights organization Amnesty International praised Oxford University. “However, much more needs to be done to ensure that everyone, everywhere can benefit from these life-saving products, and without further action, vaccine supply for lower-income countries will remain perilously low,” Amnesty said in a statement Monday.  It is possible the leading vaccine candidates will be given emergency approval by regulators in the coming weeks, raising hopes that the world is on the brink of a major breakthrough in the fight against the pandemic.
In the meantime, doctors say it is vital that people follow measures to suppress the transmission of the virus.
 

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British PM Lays Out Post-Lockdown Restrictions   

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled an updated plan for handling Britain’s COVID-19 infection after the country’s partial national lockdown is lifted December 2.In video message to Parliament Monday, Johnson said the lockdown will be lifted next Wednesday as promised. He said although Britain will return to the regional system that was in place prior to the lockdown, he has received scientific advice indicating the tiers need to be tougher to adequately reduce the infection rate.In the new tier 1, people will be required to work from home if they can. In tier 2, pubs will only be able to serve drinks with a “substantial meal.” And in tier 3, indoor entertainment and hotels will close, and restaurants and pubs will only be allowed to open for take-out.As before, Johnson said the tiers will be determined based on the rate of COVID-19 infections in each area, with the toughest measures implemented where the disease is most prevalent. The government will announce which areas will be under which tier later this week.A woman walks through the Burlington Arcade adorned with Christmas decorations, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, in London, Nov. 23, 2020.Johnson said more regions will fall, at least temporarily, into higher levels than before. But, he said, with tougher restrictions and more rapid coronavirus testing, it should be possible for areas to move to lower levels of restrictions fairly quickly.The prime minister said people should not expect a normal Christmas holiday this year, saying, “This virus is obviously not going to grant a Christmas truce, it doesn’t know it’s Christmas.” He did say his government was working to develop “a special time-limited Christmas dispensation” plan that would allow families to come together, while minimizing the risk.Britain has recorded 18,662 new cases and 398 deaths in the last 24 hours. Of these, 16,668 are in England, 844 in Scotland, 808 in Wales and 342 in Northern Ireland. There are now more than 1.5 million cases recorded in total, and deaths have crossed 55,000.
 

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Michigan Certifies Biden Win Despite Trump’s GOP Overtures

Michigan election officials on Monday certified Democrat Joe Biden’s 154,000-vote victory in the state amid President Donald Trump’s attempts to subvert the results of the election.The Board of State Canvassers, which has two Republicans and two Democrats, confirmed the results on a 3-0 vote with one abstention. Allies of Trump and losing GOP Senate candidate John James had urged the panel to delay voting for two weeks to audit votes in heavily Democratic Wayne County, home to Detroit.The move is another setback in Trump’s efforts to use unconventional means to undermine the results of the November 3 election and comes even after he made direct overtures to Republican officials in the state by inviting them to the White House last week.Under Michigan law, Biden claims all 16 electoral votes. Biden won by 2.8 percentage points — a larger margin than in other states where Trump is contesting the results, like Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.Demonstrators in a car caravan demand the Board of State Canvassers to certify the results of the election in Lansing, Michigan, Nov. 23, 2020.Some Trump allies had expressed hope that state lawmakers could intervene in selecting Republican electors in states that do not certify. That long-shot bid is no longer possible in Michigan.Trump’s efforts to stave off formal recognition of his defeat faced increasingly stiff resistance from the courts and fellow Republicans with just three weeks to go until the Electoral College meets to certify Biden’s victory. Time and again, Trump’s challenges and baseless allegations of widespread conspiracy and fraud have been met with rejection as states move forward with confirming their results.Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers, which has two Republicans and two Democrats, certified the results despite calls by Trump and allies to the GOP members to block the vote to allow for an audit of ballots in heavily Democratic Wayne County, home to Detroit, where Trump has claimed without evidence that he was the victim of fraud.”The board’s duty today is very clear,” said Aaron Van Langevelde, the Republican vice chair. “We have a duty to certify this election based on these returns. That is very clear. We are limited to these returns. I’m not going to argue that we’re not.”Mary Ellen Gurewitz, an attorney for the state Democratic Party, told the canvassers that attacks on the election results “are part of a racist campaign, directed by soon-to-be former President Trump, to disparage the cities in this country with large Black populations, including Detroit, Philadelphia and Milwaukee.””It sometimes feels like officials are attempting to tear up my ballot right in front of me by stalling and recounting until they find a way to change the results,” said Wendy Gronbeck, a resident of Douglas. “I’ve been a voter for over 50 years, and I’ve never had to think about whether canvassers will certify an election.”Biden crushed the president by more than 330,000 votes in Wayne County, where two local GOP canvassers who certified the results unsuccessfully tried to reverse course last week after being called by Trump. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, has said an audit must wait until after statewide certification because only then would officials have legal access to documentation needed to conduct such a review.Michigan’s elections bureau has recommended that the November 3 results be certified.Norm Eisen, a constitutional law expert and former counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, said there was no legal basis to do anything other than certify the election.”That is the clear mandate of state law,” he said. Eisen dismissed various claims for why a delay might be necessary, including the need for an audit or time to investigate so-called “out of balance” precincts.”The reasons that they have advanced for doing anything other than (certify) is totally spurious. They carry no legal or factual weight whatsoever under the law,” Eisen added.Trump has tried to defy the results of the election through the courts but has found no luck there. Some Trump allies have expressed hope that state lawmakers could intervene in selecting Republican electors in states that do not certify, as the president and his attorneys have pushed baseless allegations of fraud that have been repeatedly rejected in courtrooms across the country. Trump met with top Michigan GOP legislators at the White House on Friday and tweeted over the weekend: “We will show massive and unprecedented fraud!”Had the board delayed a vote or opposed certification, a lawsuit was expected. Legal experts have said the canvassers’ role is limited and courts would order them to confirm the results. Under state law, it has the narrow responsibilities of reviewing vote numbers from Michigan’s 83 counties and certifying them. It does not have the power to audit returns or investigate complaints of irregularities.In Pennsylvania, a conservative Republican judge shot down the Trump campaign’s biggest legal effort in Pennsylvania with a scathing ruling that questioned why he was supposed to disenfranchise 7 million voters with no evidence to back their claims and an inept legal argument at best.But the lawyers still hope to block the state’s certification, quickly appealing to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which ordered lawyers to file a brief Monday but did not agree to hear oral arguments.The campaign, in its filings, asked for urgent consideration so they could challenge the state election results before they are certified next month. If not, they will seek to decertify them, the filings said.And they insisted that they did not want to invalidate all of the 6.8 million ballots cast in the state — as Brann concluded based on their arguments in court last week. Instead, they said, they are taking aim only at seven Democratic-leaning counties where they take issue with how mail-in ballots were handled.Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes. The other litigation has failed to change a single vote.In Wisconsin, a recount in the state’s two largest liberal counties moved into its fourth day at a slow pace, with election officials in Milwaukee County complaining that Trump observers were hanging up the process with frequent challenges. Trump’s hope of reversing Biden’s victory there depends on disqualifying thousands of absentee ballots — including the in-person absentee ballot cast by one of Trump’s own campaign attorneys in Dane County.

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White House Turkey Pardon Set for Tuesday

For now, Corn and Cob are living in luxury in Washington’s Willard Intercontinental Hotel, but on Tuesday, at a Rose Garden event, only one of the turkeys will receive a presidential pardon ahead of Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday.The broad-breasted white turkeys, which are bred and fed for size, were raised by Ron Kardel, National Turkey Federation chairman and a sixth-generation turkey, corn and soybean farmer from Walcott, Iowa.According to the White House website, Corn, whose favorite snack is sweet corn, was hatched on July 20, 2020 and weighs just over 19 kilograms. Cob, whose favorite food is soybeans, was hatched on the same day and weighs just over 18.5 kilos.As has been the case since 1947, the two were introduced to the public Nov. 23 in a hotel event.The White House is running an online poll for people to choose which bird to pardon.Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 8 MB480p | 11 MB540p | 16 MB720p | 31 MB1080p | 60 MBOriginal | 175 MB Embed” />Copy Download AudioThe tradition of turkey farmers giving presidents the birds as gifts for Thanksgiving dates to the 1870s, but according to the White House site, so many turkeys were being sent that in 1923, then-President Calvin Coolidge discouraged farmers from sending them.However, the tradition was already established, and by the 1940s, farmers were once again sending turkeys to the president.The first official turkey pardoning was done in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush.While you might think the unpardoned turkey will end up as the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving Day feast, all the turkeys since 2016 have gone to Virginia Tech’s “Gobblers Rest” exhibit in the school’s Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences. Before that, the turkeys had been sent to other locations for exhibit, not eating.“Virginia Tech has a long tradition of supporting the turkey industry through research and outreach, so it’s fitting that the Presidential Turkeys becoming part of the Hokie Nation is a new tradition,” said Rami Dalloul, a professor in the school’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a world-renowned poultry immunologist, in a 2019 news release. The school says he was the lead member of a consortium that sequenced the turkey genome.
 

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White House Turkey Pardon Set for Tuesday

For now, Corn and Cob are living in luxury in Washington’s Willard Intercontinental Hotel, but on Tuesday, at a Rose Garden event, only one of the turkeys will receive a presidential pardon ahead of Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday.The broad-breasted white turkeys, which are bred and fed for size, were raised by Ron Kardel, National Turkey Federation chairman and a sixth-generation turkey, corn and soybean farmer from Walcott, Iowa.According to the White House website, Corn, whose favorite snack is sweet corn, was hatched on July 20, 2020 and weighs just over 19 kilograms. Cob, whose favorite food is soybeans, was hatched on the same day and weighs just over 18.5 kilos.As has been the case since 1947, the two were introduced to the public Nov. 23 in a hotel event.The White House is running an online poll for people to choose which bird to pardon.Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 8 MB480p | 11 MB540p | 16 MB720p | 31 MB1080p | 60 MBOriginal | 175 MB Embed” />Copy Download AudioThe tradition of turkey farmers giving presidents the birds as gifts for Thanksgiving dates to the 1870s, but according to the White House site, so many turkeys were being sent that in 1923, then-President Calvin Coolidge discouraged farmers from sending them.However, the tradition was already established, and by the 1940s, farmers were once again sending turkeys to the president.The first official turkey pardoning was done in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush.While you might think the unpardoned turkey will end up as the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving Day feast, all the turkeys since 2016 have gone to Virginia Tech’s “Gobblers Rest” exhibit in the school’s Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences. Before that, the turkeys had been sent to other locations for exhibit, not eating.“Virginia Tech has a long tradition of supporting the turkey industry through research and outreach, so it’s fitting that the Presidential Turkeys becoming part of the Hokie Nation is a new tradition,” said Rami Dalloul, a professor in the school’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a world-renowned poultry immunologist, in a 2019 news release. The school says he was the lead member of a consortium that sequenced the turkey genome.
 

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