China Blocks Taiwan’s Jabs
May 27, 2021
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” — Martin Luther King, Jr
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” — Albert Einstein
Biden’s Diversity In Focus
President Biden is continuing to fulfill his campaign promise to add diversity to the face of his administration.
On Wednesday, White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre continued making history when she took the podium in the James S. Brady Briefing Room. She is only the second African-American woman to lead a formal White House press briefing, and the first in three decades. She was preceded in 1991 by Judy Smith, a deputy press secretary for President George H.W. Bush.
Jean-Pierre said that while she was honored to have the opportunity, and appreciated the historic nature of the moment, it was not about just one person but “what we do on behalf of the American people.” She continued: “Clearly the president believes that representation matters … and it’s another reason why I think we’re all so proud that this is the most diverse administration in history.”
Other historic events had occurred the day before. Tuesday was the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death, and members of his family met for an hour with Biden and Vice President Harris at the White House. In the private meeting, Biden renewed the promise to pass a police reform bill in Floyd’s name that he made to the family in April. He first announced his plan just hours after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering Floyd while he was restrained. The president had wanted the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to pass by May 25, but Congress reached a stalemate.
However, the Senate did take a positive step and confirm Kristen Clarke, Biden’s nominee to lead the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department. As Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, the 46-year-old Clarke becomes the first woman, and the first Black woman, to lead the division. The party line 51- 48 vote included just one Republican, Senator Susan Collins of Maine. In a brief ceremony Tuesday evening at the Justice Department, Vice President Kamala Harris administered the oath of office to Clarke, who placed her hand on the Bible held by her mother.
Clarke is the daughter of Jamaican immigrants. She was raised in a Brooklyn housing project, and went on to earn degrees from Harvard and Columbia Law School. She has spent her career fighting for civil and voting rights. Clarke headed up the Civil Rights Bureau at the New York State Attorney General’s Office and was a trial attorney in the Justice Department’s voting rights section.
Since January 2016, Clarke has worked as president and executive director for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. During her tenure, the organization filed more than 250 lawsuits on voting rights, education, hate crimes, and housing, among other areas. As a leading advocate for voting rights protections, Clarke’s expertise will make her a key player in the administration’s effort to push back on the multitude of state laws being passed to restrict access to the ballot box. (CBS News, NYT, Reuters, NBC News)
China Blocks Taiwan’s Jabs
- Late last December, Taiwan announced it had agreed to buy almost 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, including 10 million from U.K. drugmaker AstraZeneca. Then in February, Taiwan’s deal to buy 5 million doses of the vaccine developed by Germany’s BioNTech was put on hold. The island’s health minister cited potential pressure by China for the delay.
- So far, Taiwan has received a little more than 700,000 doses of the vaccines it had ordered, enough to vaccinate about 1% of its more than 23 million population. On Wednesday, with coronavirus cases surging, Taiwan directly accused China of blocking its deal with BioNTech in what looks to be a move by Beijing to send vaccines to the island via a Chinese pharmaceutical company instead.
- President Tsai Ing-wen explained why the island will only buy from the original manufacturers: “Only by negotiating with the original manufacturer can you obtain the original manufacturer’s direct guarantee and responsibility for quality and safety, so as to avoid legal and political risks.” (Reuters)
Arrests Made In Cable Car Disaster
- Italian police have arrested three people they say were responsible for the cable car disaster that killed 14 people in northern Italy on Sunday. Among the three is the owner of the firm that manages the aerial tramway near Lake Maggiore.
- Prosecutor Olimpia Bossi said the operators of the sightseeing funicular, which reopened in April after a wintertime COVID-19 closure, had used a jerry-rigged clamp placed on the emergency brake to deactivate it, in order to avoid having to shut down the attraction for the more extensive, “radical” repairs that were necessary.
- The temporary fix had been used several times for a persistent problem. But this time the lead cable broke, for as yet unknown reasons, and the intentional deactivation prevented the brake from doing its job. The lone survivor is a five-year-old boy who remains hospitalized; the child lost his parents, great-grandparents, and younger brother. (ABC News)
Additional World News
- Hillsborough trial ends after judge rules no case to answer for accused (ESPN)
- Sri Lanka evacuates crew from burning container ship (Reuters)
- Syrians vote in ‘non-event’ presidential election set to be won by Assad (CNN)
- Chinese state media is turning on Fauci amid Wuhan lab controversy (CNN)
- WhatsApp Sues India’s Government to Stop New Internet Rules (NYT, $)
- Seeking to Restore Palestinian Links, Blinken Risks New Frictions With Israel (NYT, $)
- There’s nothing like waking up and reading the Daily Pnut with a good cup of coffee. If you’re a coffee drinker, odds are there’s an entire world you’re missing out on. 50+ countries grow coffee, and each can taste wildly different and unique (if you’re drinking the good stuff). But you can only find coffee from a handful of countries on the shelves.
- Atlas Coffee Club is a coffee subscription on a mission to help you discover amazing coffees from around the world. From Papua New Guinea to Peru, you can enjoy rare, sustainably grown coffee, roasted to order and delivered to you. Each month a new country, each month a new discovery. Daily Pnut readers (hi, that’s you!) can take a world tour from home and get 50% off when you try the club today.
Boorish Behavior Altered Pandemic Response
- On March 12, 2020, as the pandemic was starting to spread, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was scheduled to convene the government’s emergency response committee — known as COBRA — in the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms, in order to discuss potential measures to try and contain the coronavirus. However, the meeting was completely derailed when national security people interrupted and said President Trump was demanding that the U.K. join with the U.S. in a bombing campaign in the Middle East.
- Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former chief advisor, told members of parliament on Wednesday that ministers and key aides had been forced to delay COVID-19 meetings on a key day in March after “national security people ” arrived on Downing Street and announced that “Trump wants us to join a bombing campaign in the Middle East tonight.” Cummings added: “So everything to do with COBRA that day on COVID was completely disrupted because you had these two parallel sets of meetings. You had the national-security people running in and out, talking about, are we going to bomb the Middle East? And we had the COVID meeting being delayed, trying to figure out, are we going to do household quarantine?”
- The U.K. declined to join the U.S., and three days later Johnson said people should practice social distancing. He was later criticized for failing to introduce stricter measures, including the cancelation of mass sports events and the closure of pubs and restaurants. (Insider, Guardian)
San Jose Shooting Leaves Eight Dead
- An employee of the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), a public transit operation in San Jose, California, went to work as usual early Wednesday morning at the VTA maintenance and dispatch rail yard. But that morning, he brought a gun and opened fire, killing at least eight coworkers and wounding others, one critically, before committing suicide.
- Around the same time as the shooting, a house in San Jose that is believed to be that of the shooter erupted in flames. Investigators are looking into the gunman’s motive. This mass shooting is the 232nd incident so far this year in the U.S. in which at least four people were shot. (CNN)
Additional USA News
- Florida’s Ayala jumps into race for Demings’ seat (Politico)
- Former Sen. John Warner of Virginia dies at 94 (NBC)
- Senate Republicans to propose counteroffer on infrastructure closer to $1 trillion (CBS)
- Texas lawmakers OK carrying handguns without a license, despite opposition from police and gun control groups (CBS)
- GOP data hub brings in new senior adviser (Politico)
Tasmanian Devil Spins Up Again
Crikey! The devils are back! Tasmanian devils, that is.
It’s a pretty big deal, really, since they disappeared from mainland Australia more than 3,000 years ago, according to the conservation group Aussie Ark. But lo and behold, seven baby Tasmanian devils, or “joeys,” have indeed been born at the 988-acre Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary in New South Wales.
The carnivorous marsupials didn’t stand much of a chance on the mainland after the arrival of dingos, an ancient breed of once-domesticated dogs thought to have been introduced to Australia by Asian seafarers some 3,500 to 4,000 years ago.
The island of Tasmania was dingo-free, so that’s where the devils survived. Unfortunately they’ve almost been wiped out there by a contagious form of cancer known as Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD), which has killed around 90% of the population since it was discovered in 1996.
Aussie Ark did a trial run and introduced 15 of the marsupials back into the wild on mainland Australia. Then last September, Aussie Ark introduced 11 more, bringing the total number of Tasmanian devils in the wild on the mainland to 26.
And now, just months after their release, the creatures have successfully reproduced. Conservationists have identified the tiny devilish offspring — which are about the size of shelled peanuts — inside their mothers’ pouches. They’ll hopefully be seen soon on Crikey! It’s the Irwins. (CNN, Animal Planet)
- Jeff Bezos to formally step down as Amazon CEO on July 5, Andy Jassy to take over (CNBC)
- Falcon 9 completes its 100th successful flight in a row [Updated] (Ars Technica)
- Scientists induced hallucinations in mice to learn more about human psychosis (Ars Technica)
- AI Could Soon Write Code Based on Ordinary Language (Wired)
- Archaeologists vs. Computer: New Study Fuels Sorting Competition (NYT, $)
- COVID: William Shakespeare, first man to get vaccinated, dies at 81 (USA Today)
' title="RECOMMENDED FOR YOU"]