9 great apes become first non-human primates vaccinated for Covid-19
Nine great apes at the San Diego Zoo - four orangutans and five bonobos - made veterinary history in recent weeks as the world's first non-human primates known to be vaccinated against Covid-19, zoo officials said on Thursday.
China says will deter Taiwan independence but seek peaceful ties
China will resolutely deter any separatist activity seeking Taiwan's independence but is committed to promoting the peaceful growth of relations across the Taiwan Strait and China's "reunification", Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday.
Pacific quake sets off tsunami, threat lifts in New Zealand
One of the strongest earthquakes to hit the South Pacific in modern history triggered tsunami warnings across the ocean and forced thousands of people in New Zealand to evacuate coastal areas Friday. Small tsunami waves were seen, but little damage was apparent hours later.
Daily U.S. COVID-19 cases below 40,000 for first time in months: monitor
International: The number is back down to the levels of before Thanksgiving and Christmas, when holiday travel and gatherings in defiance of safety warnings were blamed for spreading the virus further in the U.S.
Indian Americans are taking over the country: Joe Biden
Americas|India|: Washington: US President Joe Biden on Thursday congratulated the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) team responsible for the success of the Perseverance rover that landed on Mars earlier this month. He lauded the team at Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)/California Institute of Technology, including Dr Swati Mohan, the Indian-American aerospace engineer, who was one of the many people who spearheaded the development and the landing system for the rover. The India-Americans are "taking over the country", Biden said while speaking to Dr Swati Mohan in a video conference call. Dr Mohan thanked Biden for interacting with them, but the President said he was honored to interact with the team. "This is an incredible honor. Indian -- of descent -- Americans are taking over the country. You (Swati Mohan), my Vice President (Kamala Harris), my speechwriter (Vinay Reddy) I tell you what. But thank you. You guys are incredible," Biden told Dr Mohan. What you did, you restored a dose of confidence in the American people. They were beginning to wonder about us. They were beginning to wonder are we still the country we always believed we were. You guys did it Joe Biden Dr Mohan, who skillfully landed the spacecraft, works at the Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). She is one of the many Indian women scientists, engineers and missile developers, who are leaving a trail for future generations. Over the course of about 10 minutes, Biden poured on the kudos and cast the landing as an important bright spot that has come at a rough time for the nation. "What you did, you restored a dose of confidence in the American people. They were beginning to wonder about us. They were beginning to wonder are we still the country we always believed we were. You guys did it." "We can land a rover on Mars, we can beat a pandemic and with science, hope and vision, there's not a damn thing we can't do as a country," he added. During the interaction, the President also spoke with Michael Watkins, Jet Propulsion Laboratory director and lauded the NASA team for doing an "incredible job." "It's so much bigger than landing Perseverance on Mars," Biden told members of the NASA team. "It's about the American spirit. And you brought it back." NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover got its first high-definition look around its new home in Jezero Crater on February 21, after rotating its mast, or "head," 360 degrees, allowing the rover's Mastcam-Z instrument to capture its first panorama after touching down on the Red Planet on February 18. According to a release by NASA, it was the rover's second panorama ever, as the rover's Navigation Cameras, or Navcams, also located on the mast, captured a 360-degree view on February 20. Indian Americans in key position In less than 50 days of his presidency, Biden has appointed at least 55 Indian-Americans to key leadership positions in his administration ranging from his speech writer to the NASA, to almost every wing of the government. Biden, who was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on January 20, has created history by appointing at least 55 Indian-Americans to key positions in his administration. Nearly half of them are women and a sizable number of them are working in the White House. Some of the Indian-American women appointed by Biden in key positions include: Uzra Zeya: Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, State Department Mala Adiga: Policy Director to Dr Jill Biden Aisha Shah: Partnership Manager, White House Office of Digital Strategy Sameera Fazili: Deputy Director, US National Economic Council (NEC) Sumona Guha: Senior Director for South Asia at the National Security Council, White House Sabrina Singh: Deputy Press Secretary, Vice President White House. Shanthi Kalathil: Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights, National Security Council, White House Garima Verma: Digital Director of the Office of the First Lady Sonia Aggarwal: Senior Advisor for Climate Policy and Innovation; Office of Domestic Climate Policy, White House Neha Gupta: Associate Counsel, Office of White House Counsel Reema Shah: Deputy Associate Counsel, Office of White House Counsel. Tanya Das: been appointed as Chief of Staff, Office of Science, Department of Energy Shuchi Talati: Chief of Staff, Office of Fossil Energy, Department of Energy Mini Timmaraju: Senior adviser to the director, Office of Personnel Management Sohini Chatterjee: Senior Policy Advisor US Mission to the United Nations Aditi Gorur: Policy Advisor, US Mission to the United Nations Bhavya Lal: Acting Chief of Staff, NASA. Dimple Chaudhary: Deputy General Counsel for Nationwide Resource Protection Programs, Environmental Protection Agency Sharmistha Das: Deputy General Counsel, Department of Homeland Security Ruchi Jain: Deputy Solicitor for General Law, Department of Interior Meera Joshi: Acting Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Administration, Department of Transportation Aruna Kalyanam: Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax and Budget, Department of the Treasury [With inputs from ANI and PTI]
China sets growth target of 'above 6%' for 2021
Asia|: Beijing: China’s leaders set an economic growth target of “above 6 per cent” for 2021 on Friday, at the opening of the country’s annual legislative session. “A target of over 6 per cent will enable all of us to devote full energy to promoting reform, innovation, and high-quality development,” the Premier Li Keqiang will say, according to an advance copy of his speech. Officials avoided a specific target in 2020 for the first time in years, after the Covid-19 outbreak handed China its first economic contraction in decades. The freezing of the economy then raised some doubts about the Communist Party’s pledge of continued prosperity in return for unquestioned political power. Some analysts had believed that global uncertainty and distortions from the pandemic would lead China to holding off on a target for a second year. But with China containing the coronavirus domestically thanks to strict lockdowns and mass virus testing, the world’s second-largest economy is set for a strong comeback. “In setting this target, we have taken into account the recovery of economic activity,” Li said, according to the advance copy of his speech. The government usually sets economic growth targets that it regularly exceeds. Based on many analysts’ forecasts, China’s economy is expected to grow around 8 per cent to 9 per cent this year, said OCBC Bank’s head of Greater China research Tommy Xie. Apart from a growth target, China’s authorities are also looking to create over 11 million new urban jobs, and keep a surveyed urban unemployment rate of around 5.5 per cent, according to Li’s speech. China also set the budget deficit ratio at “around 3.2 per cent” — slightly lower than last year’s figure.
Ahead of Pope visit, survivor recalls Christian church massacre in Iraq
Six Al Qaeda-linked militants stormed and seized the church, killing dozens inside. At the time, the Oct. 31, 2010 attack was the bloodiest in a drumbeat of violence that Iraq’s Christians suffered during the brutal sectarian warfare following the 2003 U.S. invasion.