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Obama sets battle lines for Supreme Court nominee

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Washington, Feb xx : Vowing to name an “indisputably” qualified nominee to replace a conservative Supreme Court judge who died suddenly last Saturday, President Barack Obama has asserted there was no bar on making appointments in an election year.

“The Constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now,” he said at a news conference in California Tuesday, lashing out at Republicans who have threatened to block his choice for a replacement of Justice Antonin Scalia.

The so-called strict interpretation of the Constitution by which Republicans, including presidential contenders, want the choice of the ninth judge to be left to the next president is nowhere to be found, he said.

“I am amused when I hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the Constitution suddenly reading into it a whole series of provisions that are not there,” he said.

“I am going to present somebody who indisputably is qualified for the seat and any fair-minded person, even somebody who disagreed with my politics, would say would serve with honour and integrity on the court.”

He added: “Your job doesn’t stop until you are voted out or until your term expires.”

Asked if he was going to choose a “moderate nominee” as speculated to win his confirmation, Obama replied with a flat “No” to laughter.

“I don’t know where you found that,” he said. You shouldn’t assume anything about the qualifications of the nominee other than they’re going to be well-qualified.”

Amid the escalating Supreme Court nomination battle, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles Grassley, appeared to break ranks with the party.

“I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decisions” on hearings, he said. Still, Republicans have kept Obama from filling all but one of the vacancies on the 12 regional federal courts of appeal.

Later in the day Grassley said he’s “concerned about balance” on the court which with the death of Scalia is evenly split among four liberal and four conservative judges.

Analysts suggested that president could decide to find the candidate he believes has the most stellar legal qualifications and thus increase political pressure on Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for a vote.

But given that his pick is unlikely to even have confirmation hearings, Obama could chose to nominate a “sacrificial lamb” who would delight the Democratic Party’s liberal base voters and motivate a high turnout in November’s election, CNN said.

Among likely Obama picks, media outlets have mentioned two Indian-AmericansSrikanth Srinivasan and Kamala Harris.

Chandigarh-born Srikanth was confirmed in 2013 by a 97-0 Senate vote as a judge on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Harris, daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, is currently California’s attorney general and also running for the Senate this year.

However, Harris, 51, on Tuesday during a campaign event in San Jose said that while she is flattered to have her name mentioned, she has no interest focused as she is on her current job and her campaign.

If nominated, either would be the first Indian-American in line for the Supreme Court.

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Global Covid-19 cases top 31mn mark: Johns Hopkins

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Corona Death Body

The overall number of global coronavirus cases on Monday surpassed the 31 million mark, while the deaths have increased to more than 960,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

The total number of cases stood at 31,044,033 and the fatalities rose to 960,826, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 6,805,629 and 199,512, respectively, according to the CSSE.

India comes in the second place in terms of cases at 5,487,580, while the country’s death toll soared to 87,882.

The other top 15 countries with the maximum amount of cases are Brazil (4,544,629), Russia (1,105,048), Peru (768,895), Colombia (765,076), Mexico (697,663), South Africa (661,211), Spain (640,040), Argentina (631,365), France (467,614), Chile (446,274), Iran (422,140), the UK (396,744), Bangladesh (348,918), Saudi Arabia (329,754) and Iraq (319,035), the CSSE figures showed.

Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of fatalities at 136,895.

The countries with a death toll above 10,000 are Mexico (73,493), the UK (41,866), Italy (35,668), Peru (31,369), France (31,257), Spain (30,495), Iran (24,301), Colombia (23,665), Russia (19,420), South Africa (15,953), Argentina (13,053), Chile (12,286) and Ecuador (11,090).

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UK PM to address nation over ‘winter lockdown plans

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Boris Johnson

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to address the nation to brace citizens for “winter lockdown plans” in preparation for a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, media reports said.

The Prime Minister could make the TV address as early as Tuesday, said The Sun newspaper.

The Prime Minister could make the TV address as early as Tuesday, said The Sun newspaper.

He is looking at making pubs and restaurants close early and banning households from meeting up, it added.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Officer Patrick Vallance will reportedly make an address ahead of the Prime Minister, the Metro newspaper said in a report.

The scientists will outline the consequences of taking no action to curb the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, a government adviser, Professor Susan Michie, told The Telegraph on Sunday that every day of delay could have dire health outcomes.

“We need a stitch in time. We need to learn the lessons of the spring. Every day’s delay to a step change in measures to restrict transmission when it is increasing exponentially will be expensive in terms of health and lives in the short term and the economy in the long term,” she added.

Johnson has previously admitted that second national lockdown would be “nothing short of disastrous”‘ for the UK, the Metro newspaper reported.

The development comes as more than 10 million across the UK are placed in some form of local lockdown.As of Monday, the UK has reported a total of 396,744 coron mm mm u huhavirus cases, with 41,866 deaths.

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4 new Covid-19 cases reported in NZ

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Africa Coronavirus Case

Wellington, Sep 20 (IANS) New Zealand reported four new coronavirus cases on Sunday, taking the nationwide tally to 1,464, the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

Of the four new cases, two were community cases and two were at managed isolation facilities, Xinhua news agency reported citing the Ministry statement.

The current number of active cases in New Zealand has reduced to 71, including three patients in Auckland hospitals.

Laboratories across New Zealand have conducted 5,417 tests, increasing the total number till date to 910,853, according to the Ministry.

New Zealand is now at COVID-19 Alert Level 2 with additional restrictions on gatherings for its biggest city Auckland.

–IANS

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COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.