Heartbreaking situation in India: Kamala Harris
US vice-president Kamala Harris said on Friday the situation in India, which is battling a devastating second wave of Covid-19 cases, is “nothing short of heartbreaking” and America is “determined to help India in its hour of need”.
Harris spoke on the crisis in India for the first time after the Biden administration pledged assistance worth $100 million to help the country fight the second wave of the pandemic.
Planeloads of supplies have already reached India including refillable oxygen cylinders, N95 masks, and remdesivir. The US has also announced support for India and South Africa’s proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to temporarily waive intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines to ensure easy access to them around the world.
“As many of you know, generations of my family come from India. My mother (Shyamala Gopalan) was born and raised in India, and I have family members who live in India today,” Harris said in a recorded video message played at a US state department virtual event on American support and the role of the Indian diaspora.
Harris said, “The welfare of India is critically important to the United States. The surge of Covid-19 infections and deaths in India is nothing short of heartbreaking.”
She gave a timeline of how the US came to announce the assistance, starting with a phone call between US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 26, a Monday. “By Friday, April 30, military members from the US and civilians were delivering relief on the ground,” she said.
World leaders mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin's tough-man image at a G7 lunch in Germany on Sunday, joking about whether they should strip down to shirtsleeves -- or even less. "Jackets on? Jackets off? Do we take our coats off?" The leaders -- from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and the European Union -- pondered the dilemma. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson interjected: "We've got to show them our pecs."
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Politicians representing a parliamentary majority on Saturday voiced support for a bill enshrining abortion rights in France's constitution, after the US Supreme Court revoked the nationwide legal protection for American people to terminate pregnancies. The landmark ruling by the conservative-majority court on Friday overturned almost five decades of constitutional protections for abortion in the United States, allowing individual states to regulate the procedure. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said the government would support the bill “wholeheartedly”.
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Russia edged closer to default on Sunday amid little sign that investors holding its international bonds had received payment, heralding what would be the nation's first default in decades. It's largely a symbolic development for now, given that Russia is already an economic, financial and political outcast across most of the world. For Russia, it will mark its first foreign default since the Bolshevik repudiation of Czarist-era debts in 1918.