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Hollande shuts door for financing mosques ,French Muslims outline halal levy

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French President Francois Hollande closed the door on Wednesday against any possibility that France would finance mosques in its territories, based on French laws separating the state from religion.While Muslim organisation will create a foundation to financ ethe country’s mosques through levies on halal food.

In his last meeting with the French cabinet before the beginning of the government’s summer vacation, Hollande said that the law passed in December 1905 will remain untouchable, in reference to the code separating the church from the state, and which prevents financing religious activities in France.

Hollande has closed all doors against the idea, which was not ruled out by Prime Minster Manuel Valls when he said in an interview published by Liberation newspaper on Tuesday, that approaching the 1905 law will open a very dangerous debate, but highlighted the necessity of addressing all possible solutions, without ruling out financing mosques as an alternative for foreign funds.

Valls’s proposal to finance mosques in France was offered in the framework of the French government’s efforts to fight Islamic extremism following the recent terrorist attacks in France.

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Joe Biden declares his administration ‘ready to lead the world’

“We need to invest in our people, sharpen our innovative edge, and unite the economic might of democracies around the world to grow the middle class and reduce inequality.”

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Joe Biden

New York: Joe Biden, who is to assume the presidency in January, has announced a policy of reasserting US world leadership as he introduced his foreign policy and national security teams.

The officials he is designating for the key roles in his administration are “ready to lead the world, not retreat from it, ready to confront our adversaries, not reject our allies, and ready to stand up for our values,” he declared on Tuesday in Wilmington while outlining his foreign policy.

In talking to world leaders, he said, “I’ve been struck by how much they are looking forward to the United States reasserting its historic role as a global leader.”

Biden was a critic of Trump’s brand of “America First” that prioritised the nation’s needs and was against military interventions abroad like in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere that the Democrat had advocated or been a party to.

By strengthening ties with allies and working with them, Biden said that he will “truly keep America safe without engaging in needless military conflicts, and our adversaries in check and terrorists at bay.”

Those he has picked for his team “embody my core belief that America is strongest when it works with its allies,” he said.

In resetting the foreign policy, he said, “Let’s begin the work to heal and unite America and the world.”

The pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken said of his approach to foreign policy, “We must proceed with equal measures of humility and confidence. Humility because most of the world’s problems are not about us, even as they affect us. We cannot flip a switch to solve them.”

He added, “We need to partner with others. But also, confidence, because America at its best still has a greater ability than any country on earth to bring others together to meet the challenges of our time.”

Jack Sullivan, who will be the national security adviser, said, “We will be vigilant in the face of enduring threats, from nuclear weapons to terrorism.”

Without mentioning China by name, Biden spoke of the looming “competition for the future” and said the US would have to “do things like counter the predatory trade practices of our competitors and adversaries.”

But also, he said, “We need to invest in our people, sharpen our innovative edge, and unite the economic might of democracies around the world to grow the middle class and reduce inequality.”

Biden gave high priority to the environment and climate change as he introduced his high-powered envoy for the issue, John Kerry, a former senator, candidate for president and secretary of state.

“For the first time ever, the United States will have a full-time climate leader who will participate in ministerial-level meetings,” he said. “The world will know that one of my closest friends — John Kerry — is speaking for America on one of the most pressing threats of our time.”

He added, “I don’t for a minute underestimate the difficulties of meeting my bold commitments to fighting climate change. But at the same time, no one should underestimate for a minute my determination to do just that.”

Kerry’s remarks indicated the Biden administration will be pressuring other to do more to fight climate change.

He said, “No country alone can solve this challenge. Even the United States, for all our economic might, is responsible for only 15 per cent of global emissions. The world must come to this table to solve this problem.”

The US, however, has only 4.22 per cent of the world population.

He said that all the nations must increase their commitments to cutting greenhouse gases at the UN climate change conference next year in Glasgow “or we will all fail, together”.

Biden welcomed the decision by the Trump administration’s General Services Administration on Monday to provide his transition access to information for a “peaceful transition of power” to enable him “to control the pandemic, build back better, and protect the safety and security of the American people.”

Meanwhile, Trump made a rare appearance since the election for what was probably his shortest news conference to celebrate the stock market barometer, the Dow Jones Average, crashing through the 30,000 mark even though he had predicted that the market would crash if Biden won. He spoke about 60 seconds and left without answering the questions shouted at him.

Later, he conducted the annual faux ritual of the president “pardoning” a turkey from slaughter for the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal that features the bird as the main course.

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Saudi Arabia to make COVID-19 vaccine free for citizens and residents

As per Gulf News, Dr Asiri told Al Ekhbariya that Saudi Arabia will receive vaccines through COVAX facility as well as through companies outside of the consortium.

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Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry on Monday announced that it would make the coronavirus vaccine available for free to all citizens and residents.

“Those who have not tested positive for COVID-19 will be given priority in the vaccine campaign in the coming months,” said Dr Abdullah Asiri, the assistant undersecretary at the ministry.

He, however, added that those below 16 years of age will not be vaccinated unless research proves otherwise.

As per Gulf News, Dr Asiri told Al Ekhbariya that Saudi Arabia will receive vaccines through COVAX facility as well as through companies outside of the consortium.

“The Kingdom worked on two paths to obtain the vaccine, through the COVAX organisation, which the G20 had a role in creating and financing…Saudi Arabia will obtain a large number of vaccines through this facility, while the second track is directly contracting with the big companies to cover the gap that cannot be covered through COVAX,” Arab News mentioned Asiri as saying.

According to the World Health Organization, “the COVAX facility forms a key part of the COVAX pillar (COVAX) of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.”

The Saudi Health Ministry further expected that by the end of next year, the vaccines would cover 70 per cent of the Kingdom’s population.

“One of the most important goals set by the G20 during Saudi Arabia’s G20 presidency is to support all-inclusive and equitable access to vaccines, diagnostic and treatment tools,” said Dr Abdullah Asiri.

Dr Asiri added that a comprehensive plan for vaccine distribution will be ready “in the coming weeks”.

During the two-day G20 summit hosted virtually in Riyadh, Dr Abdullah Al Rabeeah, the supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, on Friday said that his country would be among the first ones to get hold of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr Al Rabeeah added that Saudi Arabia has spent over USD 200 million on COVID-19 vaccine and drug development.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz had in March also ordered free coronavirus treatment for all citizens.

Meanwhile, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday announced: “There is now real hope that vaccines, in combination with other tried and tested public health measures, will help to end the pandemic.”

His remarks came after drugmaker AstraZeneca announced that its COVID-19 vaccine was up to 90 per cent effective. With this, AstraZeneca has become the third major drug company after Pfizer and Moderna to have reported late-stage data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

“The significance of this scientific achievement cannot be overstated. No vaccines in history have been developed as rapidly as these. The scientific community has set a new standard for vaccine development,” added Tedros.

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Biden plans to nominate topmost economist Janet Yallen as Treasury Secretary: Reports

The reports of her potential nomination were seen as welcome news by the financial market in New York, which was reflected in surging stocks.

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economist Janet Yallen

Washington: US President-elect Joe Biden is planning to nominate former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yallen as his Treasury Secretary to lead his economic response to the raging coronavirus pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on the world’s biggest economy and led millions of Americans to lose their jobs.

A formal announcement on 74-year-old Yellen would be made soon, according to The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. The Treasury Secretary is fifth in the presidential line of succession.

If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen would be the first woman to hold the job.

Currently at the Brookings Institute think-tank, she was Federal Reserve Chair from 2014 to 2018 and was Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors from 1997 to 1999.

Ms Yellen, who was the first woman to lead the Fed, would become the first person to have headed the Treasury, the central bank and the White House Council of Economic Advisers, The Wall Street Journal said.

The Biden-Harris administration, however, did not comment on the potential announcements.

The President-elect looks forward to announcing some members of his economic team early next week who will work with him to build the economy back better, said Jen Psaki, an advisor to the transition.

Her nomination would be one of the early signs that shows Biden plans to lean on experienced Washington veterans to lead the government next year, The Washington Post reported.

The reports of her potential nomination were seen as welcome news by the financial market in New York, which was reflected in surging stocks.

Janet Yellen is an excellent choice. There’s a lot to be excited about, but here’s a big one: As a former Fed chair, she has great relationships across the globe. She can start repairing the damage in economic diplomacy from the past four years, said Michael R Strain, Director of Economic Policy Studies at American Enterprise think-tank.

Yellen is an excellent choice for Treasury Secretary. She was my boss when I was a Senior Economist for International at the Council of Economic Advisors in 1998-99. The most wise boss ever! said Nouriel Roubini, New York University economics professor.

According to The Wall Street Journal, she is viewed by Biden transition officials as a credible authority on the dangers of prematurely withdrawing government stimulus and as someone who could collaborate closely with the Fed and executive-branch agencies to engineer more support if Congress is reluctant to take additional action.

Janet Yellen is an excellent choice for Treasury Secretary. Having had the opportunity to work with then-Chair Yellen, I have no doubt she will be the steady hand we need to promote an economy that works for everyone, especially during these difficult times. Congratulations, said Gary Cohen, who served as Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council from January 2017 until April 2018.

According to Johns Hopkins data, there are 58,696,029 COVID-19 cases and 13,88,724 deaths across the world. The US has recorded more than 12 million cases and 255,000 deaths, the highest tolls registered anywhere in the world.

The US economy, the world’s biggest, lost millions of jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic which battered the global economy. Economists said that the US economy entered recession in late March, when nearly the whole country went into lockdowns.

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