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US women’s team ‘past the protesting phase’ of anthem debate
23 February 2021, 5:00 AM

The United States (US) women’s national team said their decision to resume standing as a group for the national anthem rather then kneel in protest of racial inequality and police brutality is not the end of the squad’s fight for justice.

The entire US team, clad in their warmup jackets with the words “Black Lives Matter” on the front, stood for the national anthem ahead of their SheBelieves Cup game on Sunday after some had knelt in the tournament opener last Thursday.

US defender Crystal Dunn said no vote was taken to stop the kneeling gesture but rather it was a collective decision by a team ready to move past the protesting phase.

“I think those that were collectively kneeling felt like we were kneeling to bring about attention to police brutality and systemic racism,” said Dunn.

“We decided that moving forward we no longer feel the need to kneel because we are doing the work behind the scenes. We are combating systemic racism.

Bitcoin drops after climbing all-time high
23 February 2021, 4:00 AM

Bitcoin fell on Monday after surging to its latest record high a day earlier as a sell-off in global equities curbed risk appetite, with some investors also citing concerns about the rapid rise in the price of the virtual currency.

The most popular cryptocurrency fell to $47,400, a one-week low. At one point, it lost nearly 17% of its value, or about $160 billion of its total market capitalization.

Bitcoin recouped some of the losses later in the trading session and was last down around 5.5% at $54 322, on track for its worst day since January 27. Its market cap was just under $1 trillion on Monday.

“Fairly standard after a rise this large to see a pullback. The usual dislocation of markets was seen,” said Charles Hayter, chief executive officer of crypto data provider CryptoCompare in London.

Traders also pointed to the unwinding of highly leveraged long positions in the cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin, which rallied on Sunday to a peak of $58,354, was still up more than 80% this year. Since hitting a low in March below $4000, bitcoin has surged nearly 1,200%.

Tesla Inc boss Elon Musk, whose tweets on bitcoin have added fuel to the cryptocurrency’s rally, said on Saturday the price of bitcoin and rival cryptocurrency ethereum seemed high.


Canada’s parliament passes motion saying China’s treatment of Uighurs is genocide
23 February 2021, 3:00 AM

Canada’s parliament passed a non-binding motion on Monday saying China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region constitutes genocide, putting pressure on Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to follow suit.

Canada’s House of Commons voted 266-0 for the motion brought by the opposition Conservative Party. Trudeau and his Cabinet abstained from the vote, although Liberal backbenchers widely backed it.

The motion was also amended just before the vote to call on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing if the treatment continues.

Trudeau’s Conservative rivals have been pressuring him to get tougher on China. After Canada arrested Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in 2018 on a US warrant, China detained two Canadians on spying charges, igniting lingering diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills, and which others have called concentration camps. Beijing denies accusations of abuses in Xinjiang.

Citing testimony, documents and media reports of human rights abuses against Uighurs, Conservative lawmaker Michael Chong said: “We can no longer ignore this. We must call it for what it is — a genocide.”

Trudeau has been reluctant to use the word genocide, suggesting that seeking broad consensus among Western allies on Chinese human rights issues would be the best approach.

“Moving forward multilaterally will be the best way to demonstrate the solidarity of Western democracies, that are extremely concerned and dismayed by reports of what’s going on in Xinjiang,” Trudeau said on Friday after speaking to fellow G7 leaders.

Trudeau and US President Joe Biden will hold a virtual bilateral meeting on Tuesday afternoon, and relations with China are likely to be discussed, a government source said.


Tunisian power struggle risks street escalation
23 February 2021, 1:00 AM

A standoff over a cabinet reshuffle in Tunisia has accelerated a power struggle between the President, Prime Minister and parliament speaker that threatens to spill over into street protests by rival blocs and bring down the government.

The dispute has been building since a 2019 election delivered a fragmented parliament and a political outsider as president, creating a constant state of political turmoil in the only country to emerge with an intact democracy from the “Arab Spring” revolts a decade ago.

It has come to a head as Tunisia attempts to navigate the economic havoc wrought by COVID-19, while facing the biggest protests for years and public debt levels that have spooked capital markets needed to finance the state budget.

If the government falls, appointing a new one could take weeks, further delaying fiscal reforms needed to win financing.

“Today the revolution faces its most severe crisis and the solution is dialogue leading to change in the constitution, the political system, the electoral system,” said Zouhair Maghzaoui, head of the Chaab political party, which has backed President Kais Saied in his dispute with Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi.

Saied has vowed not to swear in four ministers nominated in a reshuffle by Mechichi, saying each has a possible conflict of interest.

Mechichi, who took office last summer, is backed by Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi, head of the moderate Islamist Ennahda, the only major political party to have weathered Tunisia’s first decade of democracy.

The 2011 revolution jettisoned autocracy, but many Tunisians have been disillusioned by a bad economy. Meanwhile, a power sharing system established in a 2014 constitution has led to constant squabbling between presidents, prime ministers and parliamentary leaders.

Both parliament and the president are required to approve a prime minister, who has most executive powers while the president oversees defence and foreign affairs.

A constitutional court, envisaged to resolve disputes between rival branches of the state, has not been formed yet because none of those in power can agree on judges they trust to be impartial.

SA should work around vaccine development for future pandemics: US expert  
23 February 2021, 12:00 AM

The Chief Medical Advisor to United States (US) President Joe Biden says developing countries like South Africa should work to shore up their capacity around vaccine development for future pandemics.

South Africa is continuing to roll out the 80 000 Johnson and Johnson vaccines that arrived in the country.

Frontline healthcare workers are being prioritised for the first batches of the vaccine.

Dr Anthony Fauci was responding about the greater role developed countries like the US could play in supporting countries currently suffering from a vaccine deficit in their mitigation efforts against COVID-19.

In this video below, South Africa’s coronavirus fatalities rise to 49 053:

“The best way to have sustainable capability of being able to respond to outbreaks, not only the outbreak of COVID-19 but also the inevitable outbreaks that will also occur in the future. This is to build capacity within country that is sustainable capacity so one of the things that developed nations need to pay attention to is that in addition, in the immediate sense, which you do not have the time right now to have something built in a week or two, but to think for the future as well.

As in the intermediate time to have countries like South Africa and other southern African countries to have the capability to make their own vaccine so that they would be independent of having to rely on the donation of vaccines from other countries. And I think it goes for not only for South Africa but for so many other countries that have given the resources and the capabilities, would really be quite capable of making vaccine to take care of their own population.”

The Department of Health confirmed on Sunday that one-third of the 80 000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine received last week has been allocated to healthcare workers in the private sector.

The department also called on healthcare workers to be patient as it tries to overcome short-term challenges such as long waiting times.




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