Tag Archives: U.S.

American X-gender passport

Brussels 28.10.2021 The U.S. State Department announced Wednesday, October 27, it had issued its first passport with an “X” gender designation to add to male or female for those who do not identify as either one.

The State Department expects to be able to offer the option more broadly next year on passports and birth certificates of U.S. citizens born abroad.

In June, the State Department announced it was working on adding a third gender option for the nonbinary, intersex and gender-nonconforming individuals but noted it would take time as it required extensive technological upgrades to existing computer systems.

While a first passport has been issued, the passport application and system update will still need to be approved by the Office of Management and Budget which approves all government forms prior to their issuance. The State Department hopes by early next year to have the option widely available.

Russia expels 5 Polish diplomats

Brussels 16.04.2021 Russia will expel five Polish diplomats in response to Warsaw’s actions, the Russian Foreign Ministry (MFA) said in a statement published on Friday, April 16.(Image above: Moscow city).

“By the way, we noted how quick Warsaw was to chime in with the U.S. administration, demanding that three Russian diplomats leave Poland. In turn, five Polish diplomats will be expelled from Russia,” the ministry said.

On April 15, Poland declared three Russian diplomats personae non gratae.

Poland expelled on Thursday three Russian diplomats accused of “hostile actions,” the Polish Foreign Ministry said. The move comes after the US expelled 10 Russian diplomats earlier on Thursday and imposed sanctions against dozens of companies and people.

Washington says the measures are retaliation for alleged Kremlin interference in last year’s presidential election and a massive cyber attack on federal agencies known as SolarWinds.

ICC: Borrell welcomes U.S.repeal order

Brussels 03.03.2021 “On 2 April, the US administration announced the repeal of the executive order imposing sanctions on the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and another member of the Court’s staff. This important step underlines the US’s commitment to the international rules-based system” the statement of the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell reads.

“The ICC plays an important role in delivering justice to the victims of some of the world’s most horrific crimes. Protecting the impartiality and judicial independence of the ICC is paramount to its effectiveness and proper functioning.

“The European Union is unwavering in its support for the universality of the Rome Statute and for the ICC. We will stand together with all partners to defend the Court against attempts aimed at obstructing the course of justice and undermining the international system of criminal justice and we will continue to support the ongoing review process to enhance the Rome Statute system and make the Court stronger and more effective”.

EU-USA: Blinken visits Brussels

Brussels 24.03.2021 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell and the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
have issued a joint press-release: EU-U.S. joint readout
“Joint press release on the meeting between High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

On 24 March, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, and the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Antony J. Blinken met in Brussels to discuss ways to strengthen the EU-U.S. relationship and coordinate responses to priority foreign policy, security, and economic issues. They also committed to cooperate in the face of global challenges, including addressing the global climate crisis, bringing an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, facilitating a sustainable economic recovery, and defending democratic values and fundamental freedoms including within multilateral structures.

During the meeting, the two sides decided to re-launch the bilateral dialogue on China, as a forum to discuss the full range of related challenges and opportunities. They acknowledged a shared understanding that relations with China are multifaceted, comprising elements of cooperation, competition, and systemic rivalry. They also decided to continue meetings under the framework of the dialogue at senior official and expert levels on topics such as reciprocity, including economic issues; resilience; human rights; security; multilateralism; and areas for constructive engagement with China, such as climate change.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken confirmed that credible multi-party democracy, the protection of human rights and adherence to international law support the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific. Both aim to cooperate to promote secure, sustainable, free and open maritime supply routes and supply chains and look forward to deepening cooperation with like-minded partners where interests and approaches intersect.

The two principals also discussed EU-U.S. partnership on climate action and working cooperatively to raise global ambition to put the world on a path to net-zero emissions by 2050.

The two sides plan to work together in multilateral fora, such as through the WHO and COVAX initiative to jointly address the global challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including facilitating global distribution of safe and effective vaccines, addressing humanitarian impacts, and building future pandemic preparedness, including through advancing global health security.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken acknowledged that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) remained a key achievement of multilateral diplomacy despite existing difficulties. They shared concerns about Iran’s continued departure from its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA and underlined their full support for the work of the IAEA to independently monitor Iran’s nuclear commitments. Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the U.S. readiness to reengage in meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA by the United States and Iran. The High Representative welcomed the prospect of a U.S. return to the JCPOA. Both sides expressed support for the ongoing diplomatic efforts, and the contacts of the High Representative as JCPOA Coordinator with all relevant partners, to ensure full implementation of the JCPOA nuclear and sanctions lifting commitments. The United States expressed readiness to engage in result-oriented discussions to that end.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken noted their determination to further address, in a coordinated manner, Russia’s challenging behaviour, including its ongoing aggression against Ukraine and Georgia; hybrid threats, such as disinformation; interference in electoral processes; malicious cyber activities; and military posturing. Both sides also decided to coordinate their response to the shrinking space in Russia for independent political voices, civil society and media freedom and the dwindling respect for human rights and the rule of law. At the same time, both sides declared that they are ready to engage with Russia on issues of common interest and to encourage Russia to abandon confrontational approaches.

They also decided to continue close cooperation to encourage comprehensive reforms in the EU Eastern neighbourhood, including South Caucasus countries.

The two principals underscored that the EU and the United States share a strong interest in a stable and prosperous Western Balkans region. They reaffirmed their commitment to work together to support reconciliation and improve governance, build resilience and push forward key reforms for EU integration across the region. EU-U.S. cooperation on the ground is vital for progress, including on the EU-facilitated dialogue on normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken affirmed the EU and the United States have a strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and will work hand in hand for sustainable de-escalation. Both the United States and the EU are interested in the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey, underpinned by rule of law and respect for fundamental rights.

The two principals shared their concern about the continuing humanitarian tragedy and human rights violations and abuses in Tigray. They discussed a variety of measures to support unhindered humanitarian access, investigations of human rights violations and abuses, a cessation of hostilities, and the immediate withdrawal of Eritrea from Ethiopian territory.

On the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations, they called on all parties to show flexibility and move promptly to resume productive negotiations in the coming weeks. They expressed concern over increased tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia and encourage both countries to resolve their difference through peaceful means. They also discussed the situation in Somalia, where they expected a political consensus to deliver an election without delay.

The European Union and United States intend to intensify their cooperation on Afghanistan, together with key partners, to advance the peace process and to ensure the long-term stability and prosperity of the country. The European Union and its Member States are the largest civilian assistance donors to Afghanistan, contributing to the common goal of stability in the region.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken expressed support for continued NATO-EU cooperation. They agreed that NATO and the EU need new ways of working together and a new level of ambition because the multiple and evolving security challenges that NATO Allies and EU Member States face make robust NATO-EU cooperation essential to our shared security. The two principals recalled that capabilities developed through the defence initiatives of the EU and NATO should remain coherent, complementary and interoperable. They also noted that EU defence initiatives should enhance the European contribution to Transatlantic security and can offer concrete opportunities for cooperation between the EU and the United States. With this in mind, the principals supported the fullest possible involvement of the United States in EU defence initiatives and enhanced dialogue on these issues”.

COVID19: Commission opts for U.S.Remdesivir

The Commission has signed a joint procurement framework contract with the pharmaceutical company Gilead for the supply of up to 500,000 treatment courses of Veklury, the brand name for Remdesivir, and the opportunity to increase supply beyond the 500,000 treatment courses. There are 36 signatories of the Joint Procurement Agreement participating in this joint procurement, including all EU countries, the EEA countries of Norway and Iceland, the UK, as well as six candidate countries and potential candidates.

All participating countries can now place their orders to procure Veklury directly. Veklury is at this stage the only medicine with a conditional marketing authorisation in the EU for the treatment of COVID-19 patients needing oxygen supply. Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “Today we secure access to Remdesivir for the treatment of up to 500,000 patients in need. We are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to ensure that safe and efficient therapeutics are available against COVID-19. Through our EU Joint Procurements, we are empowering countries across Europe to join forces and get access to vital equipment and medicines. We are always stronger together, and this is European solidarity in action against COVID-19.”
The decision of the Commission was takes in spite of absence of any evidence that Remdesivir has desired effect in curing COVID-19.

“During outbreak of emerging disease, the most important aim is to discover an effective drug to save life. Consequently, a lot of effort are generally made by the industry to promote clinical trials with new drugs. Here we review evidence of the 8 most recent reports including 3 randomized controlled trials on the clinical efficacy of remdesivir in treating COVID-19 patient. We conclude that it is far too premature to identify remdesivir as a curative or life-saving intervention” reads article, signed by three scientists, including the Prof.Didier Raoult, Director of the Institute of infectious deceases IHU Méditerranée in Marseille, France.

In some of the EU countries, like France, Remdesivir (Veklury ®, Gilead) has since July 15, 2020 a temporary authorization for cohort use (ATUc). This is not an easy prescription molecule and any initiation must first be the subject of a collegial opinion. Its use is restricted to healthcare facilities for oxygen-seeking patients under monitoring of renal and hepatic functions. The evolution of the condition of the first five patients hospitalized in intensive care at Bichat hospital (Paris) and treated with this broad-spectrum antiviral, in particular the toxicity observed, underlines the complexity of use of this antiviral in fragile individuals, reads an artile in the Journal Of Infectious Diseases.

Remdesivir is a drug invented by the American laboratory Gilead for the treatment of several infectious diseases. It is active against Ebola virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), Junin virus (responsible for Argentinian hemorrhagic fever), Middle East respiratory syndrome virus (MERS-CoV, which belongs to the family of coronavirus) or the Marburg virus. It was in 2009 that Gilead began the research that led to remdesivir, with programs on hepatitis C and respiratory syncytial virus. It is an antiviral drug analogous to adenosine. It is available as a lyophilisate intended for intravenous administration.

EU €63M Remdesivir contract with U.S.Gilead

#COVID19 European Commission has signed a contract with the pharmaceutical company Gilead on July 28 to secure treatment doses of Veklury, the brand name for Remdesivir. The medicine Remdesivir, sold under the brand name Veklury, is a broad-spectrum antiviral medication developed by the California biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences Inc. It is administered via injection into a vein.

As from early August onwards, and in order to meet immediate needs, batches of Veklury will be made available to Member States and the UK, with the coordination and support of the Commission. The Commission’s Emergency Support Instrument will finance the contract, worth a total of €63 million, the European Commission announced the day after.

«This will ensure the treatment of approximately 30,000 patients presenting severe COVID-19 symptoms. This will help to cover the current needs over the next few months, while ensuring a fair distribution at EU level, based on an allocation key, taking into account the advice from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The Commission is now also preparing a joint procurement for further supplies of the medicine, expected to cover additional needs and supplies as from October onwards» the Commission spokesperson announced.

A contract has been signed yesterday, less than a month after the authorisation of Remdesivir, which will allow the delivery of treatments from early August for thousands of patients” Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said. “The Commission is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to secure access to safe and efficient treatments, and is supporting the development of vaccines against coronavirus. Yesterday’s agreement is another important step forward in our fight to overcome this disease” she added.

«Remdesivir is not a cure. Worse, it causes kidney failure: out of the first 5 patients treated with this drug at Bichat @APHSP hospital [39 hospials + 6 univeristy groups in France], 2 were put on dialysis. When will we have the results of Discovery? What is the WHO waiting for to react? » wrote on his Twitter micro blog Professor Didier Raoult, the Director of IHU Mediterranean Infection, Marseille, France, – the unique Institute based on University hosptial, devoted to infectious and tropical deseases, and also the microbiological research in the field.

Borrell: U.S. sanctions contrary to international law

“I am deeply concerned at the growing use of sanctions, or the threat of sanctions, by the United States against European companies and interests. We have witnessed this developing trend in the cases of Iran, Cuba, the International Criminal Court and most recently the Nordstream 2 and Turkstream projects” reads the statement of the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell.

“As a matter of principle the European Union opposes the use of sanctions by third countries on European companies carrying out legitimate business. Moreover, it considers the extraterritorial application of sanctions to be contrary to international law. European policies should be determined here in Europe not by third countries.

“Where common foreign and security policy goals are shared, there is great value in the coordination of targeted sanctions with partners. We have seen many positive examples of this and will continue to coordinate where we can. Where policy differences exist, the European Union is always open to dialogue. But this cannot take place against the threat of sanctions.

Russian defense reporter accused of espionage

The arrest of former journalist has caused major outcry among independent media outlets in Russia. Ivan Safronov, accused of spying for the Czech Republic and the United States, was arrested on July 7 by Russia’s security service, the FSB, which has accused him of state treason, the charges foreseing prison sententse from 12 up to 20 years.

Until two months ago, Safronov was a reporter covering Russia’s defense and space industries for a leading state newspaper, Vedomosti, having spent a decade covering the same subject for Kommersant newspaper. Since May, he has been a communications adviser for the head of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos.

Safronov’s lawyer told reporters on July 7 the FSB accuses him of passing secret information to Czech intelligence about Russian arms supplies to Africa and military activities in the Middle East. A Moscow court ordered his arrest for two months in pretrial detention in the city’s Lefortovo jail.

Former colleagues and journalists from other publications protested against his arrest outside FSB headquarters in Moscow on July 7, and more than two dozen were detained by police. Three of Russia’s top news outlets, including his two former papers, published protests prominently on their sites, saying the arrest was intended to discourage the objective reporting in Russia.

Kommersant, where Safronov worked for a decade, wrote that the accusations seemed “absurd” and called him a “patriot.” Another leading outlet, RBC, wrote that his arrest was “a signal” to Russian media and society to avoid casting light on shady activities of powerfl groups of people.

Treason cases are classified, meaning Safronov’s trial will be held behind closed doors as even the charges brought against him are likely to remain obscure.

Ivan Pavlov, the lawyer, who defends Safronov at Court, told reporters the FSB alleges his client was recruited in 2012 by Czech intelligence and in 2017 allegedly was given the task of passing along intelligence about the arms deliveries and military operations. That information allegedly was shared with the United States, added Pavlov, who told reporters materials for the case filled seven volumes, suggesting the FSB had been building a case against Safronov for quite some time.

The Czech Foreign ministry on July 8 declined to comment.

Safronov, 30, is known as for breaking stories on Russia’s defense sector and had worked in the Kremlin media pool, which travels with President Putin. Last year, he repeatedly was interrogated by the FSB over an article he wrote about the sale of Russian warplanes to Egypt.

U.S. calls China to ban wildlife markets

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the United States has called on China to permanently close its wildlife wet markets, citing links between those markets and zoonotic diseases. All together around 200 diseases, listed by World Health Organisation (WHO) incluing COVID-19, Ebola, Zika, plague, rabies, and many others.

https://twitter.com/reuters/status/1253258612299923458?s=21

The new coronavirus is believed to have emerged in a market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. It has spread around the world killing over 180,000 people and infecting over 2.6 million.

https://twitter.com/mothershipsg/status/1253153087608385538?s=21

“Given the strong link between illegal wildlife sold in wet markets and zoonotic diseases, the United States has called on the People’s Republic of China to permanently close its wildlife wet markets and all markets that sell illegal wildlife,” Pompeo said in a statement late on April 22.

Chinese wet markets trade in various animals, including wild or exotic, those have been linked to outbreaks of zoonotic diseases. 

One of many such places has been Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, believed to have played a fatal role in the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, although investigations into whether the virus originated from non-market sources are ongoing as of April 2020. 

Wet markets were banned from holding wildlife in China in 2003, after the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak which was directly tied to those dangerous practices of selling and consuming wildlife. Such regulations were lifted before being put into place again in 2020, with other countries proposing similar bans. The visitors of the markets buy wildlife not only for food, but also for the other types of consumption as manufacturing traditional medicines, which are integral part of modern Chinese culture.