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Pandemic sharpens ‘battle for the soul’ of United Nations between US and China

While Trump has made China one of his punching bags as he bids for re-election on Nov. 3, the diplomatic hostilities have spilled over in public meetings of the 193-member General Assembly and the 15-member Security Council.

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Xi Jinpin and UN Chief

Geneva: Long-simmering tensions between the United States and China have hit boiling point at the United Nations over the coronavirus pandemic, spotlighting Beijing’s bid for greater multilateral influence in a challenge to Washington’s traditional leadership.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has accelerated his U.N. power play as President Donald Trump’s disregard for international cooperation led to the United States quitting global deals on climate and Iran and leaving the U.N. Human Rights Council and the World Health Organization, diplomats say.

“There’s definitely, in my mind, a battle for the soul of the U.N. going on,” said a senior European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that Trump’s “America First” policy has been “damaging because the Chinese have a sort of smooth assertion that they are the true multilateralists.” While Trump has made China one of his punching bags as he bids for re-election on Nov. 3, the diplomatic hostilities have spilled over in public meetings of the 193-member General Assembly and the 15-member Security Council.

Xi had been expected to make a rare visit to New York next week for the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders, which could have provided an opportunity for a meeting in person with Trump. But he will now send a video statement because of the pandemic.

Trump blames China for a lack of transparency about the novel coronavirus, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last year. China has rejected his accusations.

‘DANGEROUS DIRECTION’

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres here told Reuters on Monday: “We are moving in a very dangerous direction.”

He said there was a risk of a rupture between the world’s two biggest economic powers that could essentially result in two global economies, which would “have dramatic impacts, especially for developing countries that will be in the middle.” Guterres warned that “a rupture can then lead … to forms of military confrontation that would be very undesirable.”

The U.S. and Chinese missions did not respond to repeated requests for interviews.

The tension between the United Nations’ two biggest financial contributors is front of mind for many diplomats at the world body.

“It’s something now that you think about almost every other day – how these two superpowers will look at a certain issue … how U.S., China relations evolve in the coming period and how that spills over,” said a senior Gulf diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

It took months for the Security Council to adopt a resolution on the coronavirus as the United States opposed any mention of the WHO and on Friday Washington and its ally Israel were the only two countries to vote ‘no’ on a General Assembly pandemic resolution that was adopted with overwhelming support.

A more assertive China has been putting forward more candidates for senior U.N. positions and pushing for language associated with Xi’s Communist Party ideology to be included in U.N. resolutions, diplomats said.

‘GAME DOES NOT STOP’

Some diplomats admit Western countries have been slow to respond, but are now pushing back.

In a declaration to mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations – agreed by the General Assembly in July and to be adopted by world leaders on Monday – the United States, Britain, Japan, India, Canada and Australia objected to the phrase “our vision for a common future” because they said it was Xi rhetoric, diplomats said. The language was removed.

The United States announced in January that it had assigned a top State Department official with countering “malign influences” of China and others at the United Nations. U. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft said last week that a priority was to get more Americans or people from like-minded countries working in the U.N. system.

Former U.N. political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman, who stepped down in 2018, said Washington now needs to compete for influence “rather than assume automatic U.N. deference.”

“The U.N. can be characterized as ‘home turf’ for the United States, but walking off the field will facilitate China moving in to fill the vacuum,” Feltman wrote for the Brookings Institution. “The game does not stop when we stomp off the field.”

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Coronaviurs: Total recoveries of COVID-19 cross 70 lakh in country

Currently, India’s Case Fatality Rate is 1.51 per cent, which is one of the lowest globally.

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Coronavirus India

The Health Ministry today said more than 70 lakh people have recovered from COVID-19 infection in the country. In the last 24 hours, more than 67 thousand have recovered.

The Ministry said, ten States and Union Territories are contributing 81 per cent of the high number of daily Recoveries. The country’s COVID-19 recovery rate has now reached 89.78 per cent. The actual caseload currently comprises only 8.71 per cent of the total positive cases.

Presently, the total number of active cases in the country is over six lakh 80 thousand. In the last 24 hours, 53 thousand 370 new cases have been reported taking the total number of positive cases in the country to over 78 lakh. In the same period, 650 deaths were reported taking the toll to one lakh 17 thousand 956.

Currently, India’s Case Fatality Rate is 1.51 per cent, which is one of the lowest globally.

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Telangana employees donate one day’s salary for flood relief

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Tungabhadra river floods

Hyderabad: Telangana government employees have decided to donate their one day’s salary to support the relief measures launched by the state government for the victims of recent heavy rains and floods.

Leaders of employees’ unions on Friday submitted a consent letter to Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao in this regard on Friday. The employees, through their one day salary, will be donating Rs 33 crore.

Telangana’s gazetted officers, non-gazetted officers, class IV employees and drivers will be donating one day salary.

The Asian Institute of Gastroenterology has also donated Rs 50 lakh for flood relief measures. Hospital MD, Dr Nageshwar Reddy said that the financial assistance is extended to support measures taken by the government for the relief and rehabilitation of the people in affected areas.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister directed the officials concerned to complete the relief and rehabilitation measures in flood-hit areas of Hyderabad on a war footing. He reviewed the relief and rehabilitation measures taking place in the city.

KCR, as Rao is popularly known, said that due to the heavy rains and floods, water entered into the houses and damaged everything including the essential commodities.

“People were not in a position to even cook their meal. Hence we have decided to extend Rs 10,000 each family as an immediate financial assistance to them. This programme should be done actively. If the poor get this assistance before the festival it will be good for them. Ensure that every day one lakh people get this assistance,” he told the officials

Southern Power Distribution Company Ltd (SPDCL) CMD Raghuma Reddy informed the Chief Minister that due to heavy rains and floods, 33/11 KV Sub Stations were damaged at 15 places but all of them have been repaired and restored.

“At 1,080 places, 11 KV feeders were damaged and we have also restored them. 1,215 transformers were damaged in Greater Hyderabad. We have repaired and restored 1,207. The remaining eight transformers could not be repaired as they were submerged in water,” he said.

The officials said due to floods in Musi River, 1,145 transformers of the farm sector in the rural areas were damaged and 386 of them were repaired. Of this, 586 transformers were submerged in Musi water in Nalgonda, Bhongir, and Suryapet.

The heavy rains and floods also damaged 1,299 electric poles in Greater Hyderabad and all of them were repaired. Due to Musi floods, 5,335 poles were damaged in the rural areas and of this, 3,249 poles were repaired.

Since it is dangerous to restore power supply to the areas submerged in water, the Chief Minister instructed the officials to restore power to the places after draining out the water.

Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar, Principal Secretary (MAUD) Arvind Kumar, GHMC Commissioner Lokesh Kumar, MAUD Commissioner Satyanarayana Reddy, Water Works ED Satyanarayana and other officials participated in the meeting.

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Covid cases shatter record in US, Trump and Fauci haven’t met for ‘months’

In recent days, Trump has called Fauci and his ilk “idiots” and claimed that Americans are tired of “Covid, Covid, Covid” all the time.

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Fauci over Trump

New York, Oct 24 : US president Donald Trump and his top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci have not met in “several months” and White House virus task force meetings have been reduced to once a week, according to new revelations into the inner workings of a disastrous coronavirus response in the world’s wealthiest country.

The US recorded 71,671 new cases Thursday, with several states setting records across the Midwest and West. This is the single highest daily tally since the pandemic began. Texas leads with maximum new cases. The seven-day rolling average for new daily Covid-19 cases in the US was 44,647 two weeks ago.

The virus has killed more than 223,000 people in the US and sickened more than 8 million.

Less than 24 hours after the final presidential debate on October 22, US President Donald Trump was back at the White House holding a mini superspreader event while the country’s top infectious diseases expert is urging the government to see the logic of a “golden mean” that factors common sense public health guidelines to reopen the economy. Trump had 30 people huddled around him in the Oval Office on Friday and only one woman in that group was wearing a mask.

“Every time I talk about these things, people get concerned about shutting down. We’re not talking about shutting down, but we’re talking about doubling down on some of the fundamental public health measures that we need to adhere to – the universal wearing of masks,” Fauci said during a television interview on Friday.

During the same interview, Fauci revealed that Trump hasn’t attended a coronavirus task force meeting for months.

Days ahead of the US 2020 election, the coronavirus pandemic continues to haunt incumbent Donald Trump both in debates and his poll numbers. He trails Biden in both national and battleground polling.

In recent days, Trump has called Fauci and his ilk “idiots” and claimed that Americans are tired of “Covid, Covid, Covid” all the time.

Trump has mocked Biden for wearing masks and for adhering to public health guidance. “We can’t live like that,” Trump has said often, and continues to hold superspreader rallies and aggressively push the idea of herd immunity.

Fauci has pinned America’s failure to contain the virus on the lack of a uniform guidance from the top, without mentioning Trump. “I’ve always felt that uniformity of response and consistency of response is always a good thing. People know where they stand, know what they need to do and it was certain fundamental things that have not been adhered to consistently,” he said on Friday.

In the US, at least 5 vaccine candidates are in Phase 3 trials. The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech is among several leading candidates in final testing. Two studies which started trials on July 27 are fully enrolled and ready to start collecting data.

Fauci said we’ll likely know about vaccine efficacy and safety latest by early December and that vaccine doses will be made and ready to go by the end of the year for frontline workers and the most vulnerable. The vaccine will be available widely only by the summer of 2021, according to US public health officials.

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