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President Biden counters China, Russia at summits in Europe

Geneva: President Biden went to Europe for a week to convince the allies that America was back, and for good; gather them in common cause against the rising threat of China; and establish some red lines for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, whom he called his “worthy adversary.”

At G7 he made inroads on China on which in Europe here has been reluctance to think of China as a threat — economically, technologically and militarily.

In Geneva, Biden expressed cautious optimism about finding ways to reach a polite accommodation with  Putin. But it is far from clear that any of the modest initiatives the two men described on Wednesday, after a stiff, three-hour summit meeting on the edge of Lake Geneva, will fundamentally change a bad dynamic, rcometns New York Times

Biden, one of his senior aides said after the meeting was over, “is perpetually optimistic” that Mr. Putin may, despite a long history of efforts to undermine the Western alliance, see advantage in changing course.

This was Biden’s first foreign tour as President. He began over the weekend in England, on the rocky shores of Cornwall, the venue for G7, talking about friendship, alliances, consultation, comity and multilateralism. At every stop he opened with the same three words: “America is back.”

In Brussels, at NATO’s 31st summit on Monday, he  said it was up to Democratic nations to prove to the world that autocracies cannot deliver for their people. He said NATO members must root out corruption, guard against hatred and “phony populism,” and invest in strengthening institutions “that underpin and safeguard our cherished democratic values.”

Photo courtesy Yahoo News
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e-paper-stories India Latest News

Addressing G-7, PM Modi calls for open vaccine chains

New Delhi: Calling for “global unity, leadership and solidarity”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi last Saturday emphasized the “special responsibility of democratic and transparent societies to prevent future pandemics”.

Addressing the G-7 outreach session via video conference, Modi also expressed India’s commitment to support collective endeavors to improve global health governance.

This is an oblique reference to the lack of transparency displayed by China in dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak and WHO’s poor leadership as the crisis engulfed the world.

Modi said there should be “one earth, one health” approach, which, sources said, was supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Sources said India’s emphasis on keeping “open supply chains for vaccine raw materials and components to help enhance vaccine production received widespread support”.

This came days after French President Emanuel Macron supported India’s demand for lifting restrictions on export of raw materials needed to manufacture vaccines.

The session, titled ‘Building Back Stronger – Health’, focused on global recovery from the pandemic and strengthening resilience against future pandemics.

Modi sought the G-7’s support for a proposal moved by “India and South Africa at the WTO for a TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) waiver on Covid-related technologies”. Sources said Australian PM Scott Morrison and others came out strongly in support of this.

The Prime Minister highlighted India’s “whole of society” approach to fight the pandemic, synergizing the efforts of all levels of government, industry and civil society.

He also explained India’s successful use of open source digital tools for contact tracing and vaccine management, and conveyed the country’s willingness to share its experience and expertise with other developing countries.

Modi expressed appreciation for the support extended by the G-7 and other guest countries during the recent wave of Covid infections in India.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had invited Modi to attend the outreach component of the G-7 Summit, along with Australia, South Korea and South Africa.

Addressing another G7 session on ‘open societies and open economies’ on Sunday, Modi  said India is a natural ally for the G7 countries in defending the shared values from a host of threats stemming from authoritarianism, terrorism and violent extremism, disinformation and economic coercion. In that session, the prime minister highlighted India’s civilizational commitment to democracy, freedom of thought and liberty, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

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Business e-paper-stories International Latest News

CEO Satya Nadella steps in as Microsoft Chairman too

San Francisco: Microsoft board has elected CEO Satya Nadella as Chairman of the tech giant, a first in two decades when Microsoft’s chairman will also be its CEO.

Bill Gates was the only other Chairman and CEO of Microsoft who stepped down as CEO in 2000. He stepped down as chairman in 2014 and the board then elected John Thompson as independent chairman. Thomson now takes over as lead independent director,

In his role as Chairman, Nadella will lead the work to set the agenda for the board, leveraging his deep understanding of the business to elevate the right strategic opportunities and identify key risks and mitigation approaches for the board’s review, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

In addition to these role changes, the board declared a quarterly dividend of $0.56 per share.

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e-paper-stories Latest News New York

Many events planned in US to celebrate International Yoga Day

New York: Last summer when the pandemic was still raging in America, the International Day of Yoga (June 21) events had to go virtual. This year amid the reopening of the country, many events in-person and virtual have been planned to celebrate the day established by the UN in 2014 at the behest of Prime Minister Modi.

In the tristate area, FIA and the Consulate General of India are organizing a one-hour yoga and meditation program on Sunday, Juen 20 at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ.

In Washington, the Embassy of India in partnership with Friends of Yoga is organizing a virtual celebration on 20 June at 10:00 AM.  Keeping in mind the prevailing situation, the theme of the IDY 2021 has been set as “Be with Yoga Be at Home”. The live demonstration of Yoga Protocol will be broadcast through Embassy’s social media channels.

Tirlok Malik, Emmy-nominated filmmaker,  is hosting a Happy Life Yoga event on June 19th, virtually on Zoom and social media.

In Houston, the  Consulate General of India in partnership with a number of organizations is marking the occasion with outdoor events on June 20 and June 21.

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e-paper-stories India Latest News

India reopens big cities as Covid numbers plunge

New Delhi: After weeks-long lockdowns, major Indian cities have reopened for business, with long queues for buses in the financial hub of Mumbai while traffic returned to the roads of New Delhi after a devastating second wave of coronavirus that killed thousands.

The graph of new infections has been going down steadily. India reported 67,208 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours Thursday, data from the health ministry showed. The country’s total case load now stands at 29.70 million, while total fatalities are at 381,903, the data showed.

“We have to save ourselves from infection but also bring the economy back on track,” Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Twitter.

He ordered half the capital’s shops to open on odd- and even-numbered days of the month respectively, in a bid to limit crowds, but allowed offices and the Delhi metro rail network to run at 50 percent of capacity.

But some curbs were retained, such as the ban on dining in restaurants and the use of theatres and gyms in a city still slowly recovering from a surge in the months of April and May that overwhelmed hospitals. These ran short of beds and medical oxygen, and people died in hospital parking lots and homes, while crematoriums and morgues struggled to cope with an incessant flow of corpses.

Maharashtra allowed businesses to run until late afternoon, staffed with half their employees, and opened gyms, salons and spas, though cinemas and malls are to stay shut. India’s richest state eased restrictions based on infection rates and hospital bed occupancy.

 

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Dr Murthy & Dr Parikh emphasize vaccination to end Covid

By Parveen Chopra

Editor, The South Asian Times

New York: In support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s We Can Do This public education campaign to increase confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines and encourage vaccination, TDW+Co, in partnership with the US Department of Health, hosted a virtual press briefing for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) media on June 10.

In the first half of the event, Dr Vivek H. Murthy, Surgeon General, spoke. The second half consisted of separate breakout sessions in different languages for different ethnicities. Questions from the South Asian media were responded to in English by Dr Purvi Parikh, allergist and immunologist, who is a vaccine researcher at NYU Langone Health.

While acknowledging that we all have been impacted in some ways by the pandemic, Dr Murthy emphasized that vaccination is halfway to life becoming normal again. He said that we all have to provide correct information about vaccines, lift the voices of those in each community saying that these are safe and trusted, to instill confidence in people and remove vaccine hesitancy. He pointed out that there are more ways and more easy ways to get vaccinated now in America. Sharing the fact that he worries about his wife who is Chinese and their children, Dr Murthy also spoke against hate of AAPI communities.

The very first question Dr Purvi Parikh took was from The South Asian Times:  What actions are being taken to eliminate Covid? She replied, “The biggest action is vaccines. We have seen how quickly they work, the infection rates have dropped significantly where the numbers of vaccinated are high. We are also researching how these vaccines can be adapted for new variants that may emerge. Third, we are studying all the therapeutics to treat if you do get sick.”

She said there are no long term adverse effects because these types of vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) are not ‘live’ vaccines, meaning there is no actual Covid infection in them. The majority of side effects like fever or body ache happen within the first few days of the shot, which shows that your immunity response is kicking up.

When asked how the South Asian, especially Asian Indian community has responded to the call to get vaccinated, she said the good news is that they overwhelmingly want to get vaccinated and they do get vaccinated. They should, she said, because South Asians are at a higher risk of getting severe Covid and death from the disease as they have higher rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

In the first session, Lt Adelaida M. Rosario, Office of the Surgeon General, and Tim D. Wang, Founder and Principal, TDW+Co, also spoke.

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AIA gives $50,000 for Covid relief in India

Harish Thakkar, President of Association of Indians in America (AIA–NY) presenting a check of  $50,000 to Mark Solazzo, Exec Vice President and COO of Northwell Health, towards India Covid-19 Fund as Dr Shashi Shah (left), Northwell urologist, looks on. Northwell has been contributing immensely in cash and equipment for Covid relief in India. The June 8 event at Mint in Garden City was attended among others by Consul General Randhir Jaiswal and Air India Regional Manager Sunil Dhaware.

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Biden brings focus back on Democracy & Diplomacy

London: With the world confronting the immediate crisis of a pandemic and the long-term challenge of climate change, President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain met on Thursday.

Their meeting, as per a joint statement, focused on democracy, human rights and multilateralism; defense and security; science and technology; trade and prosperity; climate and nature; health; and the shared commitment to Northern Ireland.

The two leaders laid out their “global vision” in an updated version of the Atlantic Charter of 1941, the agreement authorized by Roosevelt and Churchill that established a set of post-war objectives for the two countries’ relationship.

President Biden is on his first visit abroad to attend the G7 summit in England, meet NATO and EU leaders in Brussels, and have a fraught one-on-one meeting with the Russian President Putin in Geneva.

Giving words to the message of this trip, Biden told US troops at an air base in eastern England on Wednesday, “We’re going to make it clear that the United States is back and democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges.”

President Biden embraced allies that his predecessor, Donald J. Trump disparaged, saying nations must join forces on the pandemic, global warming, free trade and the challenges of China and Russia.

Under pressure to address the global coronavirus vaccine shortage, Biden announced on Thursday that the US will buy half a billion doses of vaccine and donate them for use by about 100 low- and middle-income countries, including India, over the next year.

“This is about our responsibility, our humanitarian obligation, to save as many lives as we can,” Mr. Biden said in a speech.

VP Harris’ stern message on migration

Vice President Kamala Harris with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. (Photo courtesy NYT)

Also traveling abroad, Vice President Kamala Harris met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Tuesday, capping her first foreign trip with a discussion on economic cooperation, as well as joint efforts to combat human trafficking and manage migration to their shared border.

According to a statement from her spokeswoman, the Biden administration would issue loans for affordable housing, efforts to grow cacao and coffee and infrastructure project development.

The U.S. will also invest $130 million over three years to support labor protections for Mexican workers and will also provide forensic training to Mexican officials seeking to find tens of thousands of missing people.

“The two leaders also agreed to increase cooperation to further secure our borders and ensure orderly immigration,” Ms. Sanders said.

Ms. Harris and Mr. López Obrador signed an agreement in Mexico’s national palace reiterating their governments’ commitment to deter migration north by addressing its root causes: poverty, persecution and corruption in Central America.

The meeting concludes a high-stakes visit for Ms. Harris to Mexico and Guatemala, where she was on Monday. She has been tapped by President Biden to be the administration’s emissary for one of its more complex and politically volatile issues: improving conditions in Central America and deterring migration to the U.S.-Mexico border.

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PM Modi to participate in G-7 virtually on June 12-13

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the Outreach Sessions of the G7 Summit on June 12-13 in virtual format. He will be doing so at the invitation of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.

The UK currently holds the G7 Presidency and has invited India, along with Australia, Republic of Korea and South Africa, as Guest Countries for the summit which will be held in hybrid mode.

The theme for the Summit is ‘Build Back Better’ and the UK has outlined four priority areas for its Presidency. These are leading the global recovery from coronavirus while strengthening resilience against future pandemics; promoting future prosperity by championing free and fair trade; tackling climate change and preserving the planet’s biodiversity; and championing shared values and open societies.

The leaders are expected to exchange views on the way forward on global recovery from the pandemic with a focus on health and climate change.

This is the second time PM Modi will be participating in a G7 meeting. India had been invited by the G7 French Presidency in 2019 to the Biarritz Summit as a “Goodwill Partner” and he participated in the sessions on ‘Climate, Biodiversity and Oceans’ and ‘Digital Transformation’.

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