Joe Biden elected US president: US media

Joe Biden elected US president: US media
Joe Biden (L) and Senator from California and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris greet supporters outside the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 07 November 2020

Joe Biden elected US president: US media

Joe Biden elected US president: US media
  • CNN, NBC News and CBS News called the race in his favor, after projecting he had won the decisive state of Pennsylvania
  • Biden spent eight years as vice president to Barack Obama

WASHINGTON DC: Democrat Joe Biden has won the White House, US media said Saturday, defeating Donald Trump and ending a presidency that convulsed American politics, shocked the world and left the US more divided than at any time in decades.

CNN, NBC News and CBS News called the race in Biden's favor just before 11:30 am (1630 GMT) as an insurmountable lead in Pennsylvania took the 77-year-old over the top in the state-by-state count that decides the presidency.

Trump had no immediate reaction to the announcement, but as Biden's lead grew during vote counts since Tuesday's election, the Republican president lashed out with unsubstantiated claims of fraud and claimed, falsely, that he had won.

Earlier Saturday, as he headed to his golf course in Virginia, he repeated this, tweeting: "I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!"

However, the result now condemns 74-year-old Trump to becoming the first one-term president since George H. W. Bush at the start of the 1990s.

Biden, who got the votes of a record more than 74 million people, was hunkered down with his running mate Kamala Harris, in his home town of Wilmington, Delaware.

He pledged to be a "president for all Americans," after US networks projected he has defeated Republican incumbent Donald Trump in their bitterly contested election.

"The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a President for all Americans - whether you voted for me or not," the 77-year-old former vice president said in a tweet.

"With the campaign over, it's time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation," he said in a separate statement. "It's time for America to unite. And to heal."

*****

Donald Trump's statement on the result:

“We all know why Joe Biden is rushing to falsely pose as the winner, and why his media allies are trying so hard to help him: they don’t want the truth to be exposed. The simple fact is this election is far from over. Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor. In Pennsylvania, for example, our legal observers were not permitted meaningful access to watch the counting process. Legal votes decide who is president, not the news media.

“Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated. The American People are entitled to an honest election: that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots. This is the only way to ensure the public has full confidence in our election. It remains shocking that the Biden campaign refuses to agree with this basic principle and wants ballots counted even if they are fraudulent, manufactured, or cast by ineligible or deceased voters. Only a party engaged in wrongdoing would unlawfully keep observers out of the count room – and then fight in court to block their access.

“So what is Biden hiding? I will not rest until the American People have the honest vote count they deserve and that Democracy demands.”

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The Secret Service has already begun intensifying its protective bubble around the president-elect, who will be inaugurated on January 20.

A centrist who promises to bring calm to Washington after four turbulent years under Trump, Biden is the oldest man to win the presidency - a position he twice sought unsuccessfully during his long political career, before being elected vice president to Barack Obama in 2008.

Harris, a senator and former California attorney general, will make history as the first Black woman to enter the White House in either of the two top jobs. At 56, she is seen as a leading contender to succeed Biden and try to become the first female US president.

The Vice President-elect said she and President-elect Joe Biden have a lot of work to do on Saturday.

Harris made the comments in a tweet shortly after Biden clinched the presidency by winning Pennsylvania.

She said, “This election is about so much more than Joe Biden or me. It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it. We have a lot of work ahead of us."

Biden is expected to address the nation after 8 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday (1 a.m. Sunday GMT and 4 p.m. in Saudi Arabia) from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, according to a campaign aide. 

Overall turnout on Tuesday broke records with some 160 million people pouring out across the United States after a deeply polarizing campaign complicated by the resurgent COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden secured his win by recapturing the Midwestern states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin -- traditional Democratic territory that Trump had flipped in 2016 with his powerful appeal to white, working class voters.

With Pennsylvania in the bag, Biden has now accumulated 273 out of 538 Electoral College votes, clearing the bar of 270, thereby making it impossible for Trump to get a second term even if he were to win the remaining undeclared states.

Biden was also ahead in Arizona, Nevada and in a near dead heat in Georgia -- a southern state that has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1992 and is now headed for a recount.

Results from congressional races indicate that Biden will face a divided legislature, with his Democrats holding a majority in the House and Republicans clinging to control of the Senate -- although that could still shift.

The division in Washington will likely complicate immediately Biden's ability to govern, starting with disputes in Congress over a delayed economic stimulus package for Americans hammered by the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.


Japan provides $6.3m in medical aid to Iran

Japan provides $6.3m in medical aid to Iran
Updated 28 October 2021

Japan provides $6.3m in medical aid to Iran

Japan provides $6.3m in medical aid to Iran
  • The aid comes after Human Rights Watch claimed Iranian mismanagement has harmed the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

TOKYO: Japan provided Iran with grant aid of ¥695 million (about $6.3 million) to strengthen health and medical capabilities to fight coronavirus in the country, the foreign ministry in Tokyo said.

The aid comes after Human Rights Watch claimed Iranian mismanagement has harmed the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The HRW also called on Tehran to honestly and clearly communicate with the public about the situation. 

Iran’s official government statistics showed that the country experienced its fifth wave in August, with with at least 655 daily COVID-19 deaths.

Hirotaka Matsuo, Japan’s Charge d’Affaires and interim in Tehran exchanged the letter of agreement on this aid with the World Health Organization representative Dr. Husain Syed Jaffar.

The aid, in cooperation with the International Health Organization, will help in providing six MRIs to hospitals in five Iranian locations and obtaining equipment needed to diagnose COVID-19 complications.

This story was originally published in Japanese on Arab News Japan


Japan condemns Israeli settlement plans

Japan condemns Israeli settlement plans
Updated 28 October 2021

Japan condemns Israeli settlement plans

Japan condemns Israeli settlement plans
  • Japan underscored the necessity of confidence-building between Israel and Palestine and the efforts toward easing tensions and stabilizing the region

TOKYO: Japan on Thursday condemned Israel’s plans to build about 1,300 settlement housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“Israel’s settlement activities violate international law and undermine the viability of a ‘two-state solution.’ The Government of Japan deeply deplores the continued settlement activities by the government of Israel despite repeated calls for freezing such activities from Japan and the international community,” said an official statement by the foreign ministry in Tokyo.

In the statement, Japan underscored the necessity of confidence-building between Israel and Palestine and the efforts toward easing tensions and stabilizing the region. “Japan strongly urges the government of Israel to rescind the tenders mentioned above and approval of the construction plans, and to freeze its settlement activities.”

This story was originally published in Japanese on Arab News Japan


India tests ballistic missile with 5,000-km range

India tests ballistic missile with 5,000-km range
Updated 28 October 2021

India tests ballistic missile with 5,000-km range

India tests ballistic missile with 5,000-km range
  • The Agni-5 missile blasted off from Abdul Kalam Island off India’s east coast late Wednesday and splashed into the Bay of Bengal

NEW DELHI: India has tested a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead up to 5,000 kilometers, the defense ministry said, in what media called a “stern signal” to China as the two remain locked in a border spat.
The Agni-5 missile blasted off from Abdul Kalam Island off India’s east coast late Wednesday and splashed into the Bay of Bengal.
“The successful test ... is in line with India’s stated policy to have ‘credible minimum deterrence’ that underpins the commitment to ‘No First Use’ [of nuclear weapons],” a defense ministry statement said.
The 17-meter-tall missile has been tested several times before, but not at night, and local media said that the timing was aimed at sending a signal to Beijing.
Tensions with China have been running high since 20 Indian soldiers died in clashes on their disputed Himalayas border in June 2020.
The nuclear-armed neighbors have since reinforced the frontier with tens of thousands of extra troops.
India has deepened defense cooperation with Western countries in recent years, including in the Quad alliance with the United States, Japan and Australia.
New Delhi is also a major buyer of Russian military hardware, and ordered Moscow’s S-400 missile defense system despite the threat of US sanctions over the $5.4 billion deal.
The Financial Times reported this month that China had tested a hypersonic missile that circled the Earth at low orbit before descending toward, but missing, its target.
Beijing denied the report, insisting it was a routine test of a reusable space vehicle.
Hypersonics are the new frontier in missile technology, because they fly lower and are harder to detect than ballistic missiles, can reach targets more quickly, and are maneuverable.
The United States, Russia, China and North Korea have all tested hypersonic missiles and several others are developing the technology — including reportedly India.
According to the Times of India, New Delhi is working on enabling the Agni-5 to carry several nuclear warheads at once so they can split up and hit different targets.


Taiwan must prepare to defend itself – defense minister

Taiwan must prepare to defend itself – defense minister
Updated 28 October 2021

Taiwan must prepare to defend itself – defense minister

Taiwan must prepare to defend itself – defense minister
  • Tensions between Taiwan and China have risen to their highest level in decades
  • China claims Taiwan as part of its national territory although the island has been self-ruled

TAIPEI: Taiwan’s defense minister said Thursday that Taiwan must be prepared to defend itself and could not entirely depend on other countries to help if China were to launch an attack against the island, even as Taiwan’s president said she had faith the US would defend it.
“The country must rely on itself, and if any friends or other groups can help us, then it’s like I said before, we’re happy to have it, but we can not completely depend on it,” the minister, Chiu Kuo-cheng, told reporters after being questioned in the legislature as part of a session on national defense.
Tensions between Taiwan and China have risen to their highest level in decades, with China sending record-breaking numbers of fighter jets toward international airspace close to the island, stepping up a campaign of military harassment. Taiwan’s defense ministry has said that China would have “comprehensive” capabilities to invade the island by 2025.
China claims Taiwan as part of its national territory although the island has been self-ruled since it split from the communist-ruled mainland in 1949 after a long civil war.
Chiu has called the rising tensions between China and Taiwan the most “severe” he has seen in 40 years.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said in an interview with CNN that aired Thursday that she had faith the US would defend Taiwan if China made a move against the island.
“I do have faith given the long term relationship we have with the US and also the support of the people of the US as well as Congress,” Tsai said.


Singapore probes unusual surge in COVID-19 cases after record

Singapore probes unusual surge in COVID-19 cases after record
Updated 28 October 2021

Singapore probes unusual surge in COVID-19 cases after record

Singapore probes unusual surge in COVID-19 cases after record
  • Last week, Singapore extended some social curbs for about a month, to rein in the spread of COVID-19

SINGAPORE: Singapore is looking into an “unusual surge” of 5,324 new infections of COVID-19, the city-state’s health ministry said, its highest such figure since the beginning of the pandemic, as beds in intensive care units fill up.
Ten new deaths on Wednesday carried the toll to 349, after 3,277 infections the previous day, while the ICU utilization rate is nearing 80 percent, despite a population that is 84 percent fully vaccinated, with 14 percent receiving booster doses.
“The infection numbers are unusually high today, mostly due to many COVID-positive cases detected by the testing laboratories within a few hours in the afternoon,” the health ministry said in a statement.
“The Ministry of Health is looking into this unusual surge in cases within a relatively short window, and closely monitoring the trends for the next few days,” it added in Wednesday’s statement.
While nearly 98.7 percent of the past month’s 90,203 cases had no symptoms, or only mild ones, about 0.2 percent of those had died, and 0.1 percent each were being monitored closely in intensive care units (ICU) or were critically ill and intubated there.
About 72 ICU beds were vacant by Wednesday, at an overall ICU use rate of 79.8 percent, with 142 coronavirus sufferers accounting for about half of occupied beds.
The ministry said it was adding more ICU beds. The Asian city-state, which has set aside 200 ICU beds to be used by COVID-19 patients, can add 100 more at short notice.
Last week, it extended some social curbs for about a month, to rein in the spread of COVID-19 and ease pressure on health care facilities.
Authorities reinstated curbs limiting social interactions and dining out to two people, so as to slow infections.