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Trump administration moves to formally withdraw US from WHO

BY BRETT SAMUELS

The White House has officially moved to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO), a senior administration official confirmed Tuesday, breaking ties with a global public health body in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. has submitted its withdrawal notification to the United Nations secretary-general, the official said. Withdrawal requires a year’s notice, so it will not go into effect until July 6, 2021, raising the possibility the decision could be reversed.

Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted that the administration informed Congress of the withdrawal plans.

“To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests — it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” the senator tweeted.

Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the @WHO in the midst of a pandemic.

To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone.

— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) July 7, 2020

The formal notification of withdrawal concludes months of threats from the Trump administration to pull the United States out of the WHO, which is affiliated with the United Nations. President Trump has repeatedly assailed the organization for alleged bias toward China and its slow response to the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.

But public health experts and Democrats have raised alarms that the decision may be short-sighted and could undercut the global response to the pandemic, which has infected 11.6 million people worldwide. The U.S. has the highest number of reported cases in the world at nearly 3 million.

They have also argued that some of the WHO’s initial missteps can be attributed to China’s lack of transparency in the early stages of the outbreak.

The president first froze funding for the WHO in April while his administration conducted a review of its relationship with the entity. Weeks later, he wrote to the WHO demanding reforms but did not specify what those reforms would be.

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July 07, 2020 – 02:08 PM EDT

Trump administration moves to formally withdraw US from WHO

BY BRETT SAMUELS85,221TWEETSHAREMORESorry, the video player failed to load.(Error Code: 101102)

The White House has officially moved to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO), a senior administration official confirmed Tuesday, breaking ties with a global public health body in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. has submitted its withdrawal notification to the United Nations secretary-general, the official said. Withdrawal requires a year’s notice, so it will not go into effect until July 6, 2021, raising the possibility the decision could be reversed.

Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted that the administration informed Congress of the withdrawal plans.

“To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests — it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” the senator tweeted.

Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the @WHO in the midst of a pandemic.

To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone.

— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) July 7, 2020

The formal notification of withdrawal concludes months of threats from the Trump administration to pull the United States out of the WHO, which is affiliated with the United Nations. President Trump has repeatedly assailed the organization for alleged bias toward China and its slow response to the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.

But public health experts and Democrats have raised alarms that the decision may be short-sighted and could undercut the global response to the pandemic, which has infected 11.6 million people worldwide. The U.S. has the highest number of reported cases in the world at nearly 3 million.

They have also argued that some of the WHO’s initial missteps can be attributed to China’s lack of transparency in the early stages of the outbreak.

The president first froze funding for the WHO in April while his administration conducted a review of its relationship with the entity. Weeks later, he wrote to the WHO demanding reforms but did not specify what those reforms would be.

Trump announced at the end of May the U.S. was “terminating” ties with the WHO.

The move was cheered by conservatives who had accused the WHO of harboring pro-China bias and argued the global body was not a productive use of funds.

Critics of the WHO have pointed to its initial assertion that the coronavirus could not be spread via human-to-human transmission, and Trump has harped on the organization’s opposition to travel bans after he imposed one on China.

Trump and his allies have also lashed out at the WHO for failing to stop early warning signs of the outbreak.

China first alerted the WHO to the presence of a cluster of atypical pneumonia in the city of Wuhan on Dec. 31 after the WHO picked up reports through its epidemic intelligence system. But there is evidence to indicate the virus was circulating in Wuhan as early as mid-November.

The United States contributes upwards of $400 million annually to the WHO — making it the group’s largest contributor — and public health experts have warned that a suspension of funds would severely damage the organization.

The timing of the administration’s decision has drawn intense scrutiny and is likely to spur questions about U.S. involvement in global efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

“This decision is irresponsible, reckless, and utterly incomprehensible. Withdrawing from the @WHO in the midst of the greatest public health crisis of our lifetime is a self-destructive move. More Americans will be hurt by this careless choice,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) tweeted.

This report was updated at 3:12 p.m.

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Mississippi to remove state flag, the last to display the Confederate battle emblem

BY KATE SMITH

UPDATED ON: JUNE 28, 2020 / 7:50 PM / CBS NEWS

The Mississippi state legislature voted on Sunday to replace its state flag, the last in the nation to display the Confederate battle emblem. The removal of the flag marks the latest Confederate symbol to topple in the weeks following George Floyd’s death as activists have called for a reexamination of the racism that exists in all corners of society.

The bill passed by a vote of 91-23 in the House and 37-14 in the Senate.  

The bill now goes to the desk of Governor Tate Reeves, who on Saturday morning said he would sign the legislation into law, reversing resistance to a legislature-led change to the flag. Mississippians will vote on a replacement flag in the November election. According to the legislation, the current flag design cannot be an option.

“I would guess a lot of you don’t even see that flag in the corner right there,” said Mississippi state Representative Ed Blackmon, who is black, during public comment on Saturday. “There are some of us who notice it every time we walk in here, and it’s not a good feeling.”

Mississippi Flag
The state flag of Mississippi flies at the Governor’s Mansion in Jackson, Mississippi, on Friday, April 26, 2019.ROGELIO V. SOLIS / AP

Up until earlier this month, the majority of Mississippians favored keeping the flag, which prominently features the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. In 2001, voters decided two to one in a ballot measure to keep the flag as is, many arguing it was a nod to their ancestors who fought for Mississippi in the Civil War. 

But a recent wave of influential business, religious and sports leaders condemning the flag — including the Southeastern Conference and the National Collegiate Athletic Association —  prompted a change of heart. By Thursday, polling showed 55% of Mississippians wanted a change, according to the state’s chamber of commerce.

Many symbols of the Confederacy have vanished in the wake of Floyd’s death. Earlier this month, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced his intention to remove a towering statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Richmond’s historic Monument Avenue. Military leaders have said they were open to renaming forts named after Confederate generals, a proposal that’s been rejected by President Trump. NASCAR announced it would prohibit the display of the Confederate flag during races and other events, writing in a statement that the flag’s presence “runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment.”

But nowhere is the Confederate flag more on display than in Mississippi, the last remaining state to include the design on its official state flag. As other Southern states have retired designs that included the symbol, Mississippi has been the lone holdout, even as institutions across the state have voluntarily pulled it down. 

Following the attack on black parishioners by a white supremacist in a South Carolina church, all of Mississippi’s public universities and many cities have stopped flying the ensign. But the flag still flies in front of many public buildings, including the state capitol building and the Governor’s mansion.

Mississippians had previously been resistant to changing the flag, citing the state’s history. But activists argued the flag has been co-opted, and now is used as a symbol of white supremacy, the Jim Crow South and racism and violence that black Americans still face.

“My ancestors were beaten and traumatized, and it was under that flag,” said Jarrius Adams, 22, a political activist that advocated for the change. “There are a lot of moments when I’m not proud to be from Mississippi, but this is definitely a moment that I’m extremely proud to be from Mississippi.”

First published on June 28, 2020 / 6:59 PM

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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