23 Nov 2020
PENNSYLVANIA JUDGE TOSSES OUT TRUMP ELECTION FRAUD CLAIMS
With a withering opinion, a federal judge on Saturday threw out President
Donald Trump's last remaining legal challenge seeking to invalidate
Pennsylvania's election results, all but ensuring the state will finalize
its vote tally as planned this week.
U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann described the case put forth by the
president's campaign as a tortured "Frankenstein's Monster" and the remedy
it sought - effectively disenfranchising nearly seven million voters in the
state - as "unhinged."
Judge Matthew Brann wrote in his ruling that Trump's team had presented
"strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations" in
their complaints about mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania.
"In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement
of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated
state," wrote Judge Brann.
"Our people, laws, and institutions demand more."
Still, campaign lawyers tried to spin the ruling into a victory.
"Today's decision ... helps us in our strategy to get expeditiously to the
U.S. Supreme Court," Trump legal advisers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis said
in a jointly issued statement. They said they intended to seek an expedited
hearing before the Philadelphia-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat whose office had
defended state elections administrators in the case, simply tweeted: "When
can I say I told you so?"
"Suit dismissed," he added. "Laws matter."
The ruling also prompted Sen. Pat Toomey to acknowledge President-elect Joe
Biden's victory, two weeks after it had been called by all major news
outlets. In a statement, the senator described Brann, an Obama-appointee and
former chairman of the Bradford County Republican Committee, as "a fair and
unbiased jurist" and "a longtime conservative Republican."
"With today's decision . President Trump has exhausted all plausible legal
options to challenge the result of the presidential race in Pennsylvania,"
his statement read. "These developments, together with the outcomes in the
rest of the nation, confirm that Joe Biden won the 2020 election and will
become the 46th President of the United States."
"To ensure that he is remembered for these outstanding accomplishments, and
to help unify our country, President Trump should accept the outcome of the
election and facilitate the presidential transition process," he concluded.
Toomey is the latest of several Republican senators who have made remarks
critical of Trump's legal strategies and his claim that he won the election.
Besides, a prominent ally of Donald Trump has urged him to drop his efforts
to overturn his loss to Joe Biden in the US presidential election.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called the president's legal team
a "national embarrassment".
States have until December 8 to resolve election disputes, and electors will
meet on December 14 to formally vote for the next president.
PAKISTAN, NEPAL SUPPORT WTO PROPOSAL CO-SPONSORED BY INDIA-SOUTH AFRICA
The Indian approach to lowering COVID-19 vaccine prices has found support
from Pakistan, as well as all other neighbours, but China has sought time to
study it further.
A meeting of a WTO panel on Friday witnessed Pakistan, Kenya, Mozambique and
Eswatini joining the India-South Africa proposal for suspending patents and
other intellectual property (IP) restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines, drugs
and diagnostics for the duration of the pandemic, until global herd immunity
China has welcomed the proposal but India's global security partners such as
the US and the EU, as well as their pharmaceutical corporations, have not
shown any willingness to take a different approach during the pandemic to
ensure broad access to needed products.
India is engaged in a consensus-building exercise in the run-up to a
decision towards the middle of next month. Faced with opposition from the
US, the EU and Brazil, the proposal was put off when it was first tabled at
the WTO, with support from the WHO, on October 2.
The Indian and South African leadership to the proposal has led to wide
backing that is approximately close to three-fourths of the WTO membership.
It has also found support from Medicines Sans Frontiers that urged all
governments to "support this lifesaving move by India and South Africa to
make sure human lives are prioritised and countries can tackle this pandemic
by scaling up every COVID-19 medical tool that exists". "Nobody can afford
to let corporations that have been supported by billions in publicly-funded
research money to simply pursue their bottom-line interests without regard
to global COVID needs. This pandemic will not be over until it's over for
everyone,'' it said.
CASH-STRAPPED PAKISTAN SECURES $800 MILLION IN DEBT RELIEF FROM G20 NATIONS:
Cash-strapped Pakistan has secured $800 million worth of debt freeze deals
from 14 members of the G20 while it was still awaiting ratification by the
remaining six countries of the grouping, including Saudi Arabia and Japan,
according to a media report on Sunday.
Pakistan owes $25.4 billion to the Group of 20 rich nations as of August
this year. On April 15, the G-20 nations announced a freeze on debt
repayments from 76 countries, including Pakistan, during May to December
2020 period, subject to the condition that each country would make a formal
Pakistan along with 76 other poor African countries had qualified for the
G-20 debt relief initiative, announced in April this year for May-December
2020 period, to combat the adverse impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the past seven months, 14 countries ratified their agreements with
Pakistan, which has provided fiscal space of $800 million to Islamabad for
the time being, The Express Tribune reported, quoting government sources as
In addition to these 14 nations, two other countries had also approached to
extend debt relief to Pakistan.
According to official documents, Pakistan has not yet finalised the debt
rescheduling modalities with Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab
Emirates and the United Kingdom.
UNICEF SAYS TO SHIP 2 BILLION COVID VACCINES TO POOR NATIONS IN 2021
Nearly 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be shipped and flown to
developing countries next year in a "mammoth operation", the U.N. children's
agency UNICEF said on Monday, as world leaders vowed to ensure the fair
distribution of vaccines.
UNICEF said it was working with over 350 airlines and freight companies to
deliver vaccines and 1 billion syringes to poor countries such as Burundi,
Afghanistan and Yemen as part of COVAX, a global Covid-19 vaccine allocation
plan with the World Health Organization (WHO).
"This invaluable collaboration will go a long way to ensure that enough
transport capacity is in place for this historic and mammoth operation,"
said Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF's Supply Division, in a statement.
COVAX - co-led by GAVI vaccine group, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic
Preparedness Innovations - aims to discourage governments from hoarding
Covid-19 vaccines and to focus on first vaccinating the most at risk in
At a G20 summit this weekend, leaders of the biggest 20 world economies
pledged to ensure the equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and
tests so that poorer countries are not left out.
Even before the pandemic hit, access to vaccines was unequal with around 20
million babies not receiving vaccines that could save them from serious
diseases, death, disability and ill health, according to the WHO.
BIDEN CHOOSES ANTONY BLINKEN, DEFENDER OF GLOBAL ALLIANCES, AS SECRETARY OF
Antony J Blinken, a defender of global alliances and one of President-elect
Joe Biden's closest foreign policy advisers, is expected to be nominated for
secretary of state, a job in which he will attempt to coalesce skeptical
international partners into a new competition with China, according to
people close to the process.
Blinken, 58, a former deputy secretary of state under President Barack Obama
and a guitar aficionado, began his career at the State Department during the
Clinton administration. His extensive foreign policy credentials are
expected to help calm US diplomats and global leaders alike after four years
of the Trump administration's ricocheting strategies and nationalist
He has been at Biden's side for nearly 20 years, including as his top aide
on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and later as Biden's national
security adviser when he was vice president. In that role, Blinken helped
develop the US response to political upheaval and ensuing instability across
the Middle East, with mixed results in Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Libya.
But chief among his new priorities will be to reestablish the United States
as a trusted ally that is ready to rejoin global agreements and institutions
- including the Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear deal and the World
Health Organization - that were jettisoned by President Donald Trump.
"Simply put, the big problems that we face as a country and as a planet,
whether it's climate change, whether it's a pandemic, whether it's the
spread of bad weapons - to state the obvious, none of these have unilateral
solutions," Blinken said this past summer. "Even a country as powerful as
the United States can't handle them alone."
POMPEO TOUTS IRAN POLICY IN GULF AHEAD OF BIDEN PRESIDENCY
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday defended his tour of Gulf Arab
states and the Trump administration's continued efforts to squeeze Iran,
even as a new US administration led by Joe Biden prepares to enter the White
House in January.
Although Pompeo has not taken questions from US-based reporters traveling
with him over the past 10 days, he sat down with the Saudi-owned broadcaster
Al-Arabiya in Dubai for brief televised remarks Sunday.
"Our policies don't change. Our duty doesn't change. My responsibilities
don't change," he said. "I still have an obligation - every hour, every
minute - to defend the American people and to keep them foremost in our
efforts, and we'll do that. We'll do that to the very last minute."
In what was likely his final tour of the Persian Gulf as secretary of state,
he touted the Trump administration's Mideast strategy that focused on Iran
as "the central threat inside the region" and for a maximum pressure
campaign that hampered Iran's ability to support militias in Iraq, Lebanon
"It'll be our policy until our time is complete," he said, stopping short of
saying when he'd cease work as the top U.S. diplomat.
The Trump administration is attempting to ramp up pressure on Iran before
Biden takes office as president. Biden has said he wants to return to
rapprochement with Iran. Analysts say Biden is expected to be more willing
to engage the Iranians in order to avoid major escalation, although he's
likely to press Tehran on its missile program and not just its nuclear
Trump is viewed favorably by Gulf heavyweights Saudi Arabia and the United
Arab Emirates for pulling the U.S out of a nuclear accord with Iran and
reimposing sweeping sanctions that have drained Iran of vital oil revenue.
Pompeo is scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia late Sunday to meet Crown
Prince Mohammed bin Salman before heading back to Washington.
ERDOGAN SAYS TURKEY'S PLACE IS IN EUROPE BEFORE EU SUMMIT
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkey saw itself
as a part of Europe but he called on the European Union to "keep your
promises" on issues such as the country's membership bid and refugees.
He spoke before an EU summit due to be held next month.
In recent weeks, the EU members have raised the prospect of sanctions
against Turkey over its gas exploration missions in the eastern
"We always see ourselves as part of Europe," Erdogan said in a virtual
speech to ruling party members and added: "We chose to favour Europe as long
as they don't force us to look elsewhere."
He added: "Keep your promises to our country, from full membership to the
issue of refugees. Let's establish a closer and more efficient cooperation
Turkey applied for membership in the bloc in 1987 and four years ago signed
a deal with the EU to manage the flow of migrants to Europe.
However, claims of democratic backsliding have seen its application
effectively suspended while both sides have accused the other of not
properly implementing the refugee agreement.
European heads are due to meet in Brussels on December 10 and 11 and have
voiced concerns over Turkish activity in parts of the Mediterranean that
Ankara unilaterally claims as its economic zone.
Tensions have also been stoked by Erdogan's insults against French President
Emmanuel Macron and Turkey's foreign policy in northern Cyprus and
In a bid to patch up relations, Erdogan dispatched his spokesman, Ibrahim
Kalin, who often takes a role in foreign affairs, to Brussels on Friday.
Over the last two weeks, Erdogan has talked about plans for judicial and
democratic reforms to accompany a change in economic policy, a sign that
some have suggested is a bid to win over Europe and the incoming
administration of President-elect Joe Biden in the US.
AT LEAST 13 DIE IN TWO MASSACRES IN COLOMBIA: OFFICIALS
At least 13 people died in two massacres in different parts of Colombia,
authorities there said Sunday.
The killings took place in Antioquia department in the northwest and Cauca
in the southwest, areas hit hard by violence this year.
Since January, Colombia has suffered dozens of massacres -- defined as
attacks in which at least three people die -- making 2020 the worst year
since the signing in 2016 of a peace agreement with the former guerrillas of
the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
In the Antioquia town of Betania, five coffee growers and three other people
were killed in an overnight attack at a farm, the authorities said.
Some "10 heavily armed men... entered a dormitory at the Gabriela farm" and
"fired indiscriminately," Betania mayor Carlos Villada told AFP.
The killings were believed to be linked to drug trafficking.
Meantime, in the small town of Argelia in Cauca department, at least five
people died and two were wounded in attacks by the same man in a pool hall,
a bar and a discotheque.
Other recent attacks have also targeted nightspots.
PAK. MINISTER DELETES TWEET AFTER TAKING JIBE AT MACRON
A Pakistani Minister on Sunday withdrew comments she made earlier that
President Emmanuel Macron was treating Muslims like Nazis had treated Jews
in Second World War.
France's Foreign Minister had demanded Pakistan authorities withdraw the
comments posted on Twitter by Pakistan's Federal Minister for Human Rights
She posted the remarks following a clash between Pakistan and France over
the publication of images of the Prophet Mohammad by a French magazine.
The images have sparked anger and protests in the Muslim world, especially
"Macron is doing to Muslims what the Nazis did to the Jews - Muslim children
will get ID numbers (other children won't) just as Jews were forced to wear
the yellow star on their clothing for identification," Ms. Mazari had said
in a tweet linking to an online article.
The article was, however, amended earlier on Sunday to reflect the fact that
the idea, if implemented, would be applied to all children in France and not
just to Muslim children.
In a follow-up tweet on Sunday, Ms. Mazari initially doubled down on her
claims following a condemnation by France's Foreign Ministry late on
Saturday, which described them as "blatant lies, imbued with an ideology of
hatred and violence."
Later on Sunday, however, Ms. Mazari tweeted: "The article I had cited has
been corrected by the relevant publication, I have also deleted my tweet on
the same." She said she had been alerted to the correction by the French
Ambassador to Pakistan.