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WHO tries to broker new pandemic deal, calls COVID response 'catastrophic failure'

WHO tries to broker new pandemic deal, calls COVID response 'catastrophic failure'

Governments may have to reserve drugs and vaccines for the World Health Organization to distribute in poorer countries to avoid a repeat of the “catastrophic failure” during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an early draft of a global pandemic agreement.One of the most concrete proposals in the draft accord reviewed by Reuters on Wednesday includes a measure to reserve 20% of any tests, vaccines or treatments developed for use in poorer countries.The draft also looks set to continue a long-running argument by calling for intellectual property rights to be waived during pandemics, which advocates say would allow for wider access to life-saving drugs and vaccines more quickly.WHO SEEKS TO EXPAND ROLE IN TACKLING NEXT GLOBAL HEALTH EMERGENCY, BUT FACES FUNDING ISSUESThe pharmaceutical industry is against the move.The draft also retains earlier provisions that could see pharmaceutical companies made to release details of any public contracts for vaccines and treatments during such global health emergencies.The agreement, which is commonly known as the pandemic treaty, has been drawn up by WHO member states and will now go through a lengthy negotiating process before being finalised.Talks on the draft treaty will begin on Feb. 27 and are set to continue to 2024. Member states have agreed that the treaty will be legally binding for those who sign up, but it is not yet clear how that will be enforced.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has drafted a new pandemic response plan following its self-reported “failure” to address COVID-19 properly.
(REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo)The draft was released to member states and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on Wednesday. It contains a number of measures to ensure the world’s response to the next pandemic is not only more robust, but more equitable.”It is a once-in-a-generation chance to make a paradigm shift in the protection and improvement of the health of the world’s people,” WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib said of the accord.The draft begins by saying it is being drawn up “in recognition of the catastrophic failure of the international community in showing solidarity and equity in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic”.However, there will be “heat and opposition” in the negotiations ahead, particularly around the intellectual property provisions, said James Love, director of the NGO Knowledge Ecology International.”The ‘accord’ should build on the private sector’s strengths for innovative R&D, quick manufacturing scaling up and distribution, which is built on a robust intellectual property system,” said Thomas Cueni, director general of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations.The draft also calls for a new WHO Global Pandemic Supply Chain and Logistics Network to ensure better and fairer distribution of counter-measures, as well as a global compensation scheme for vaccine injuries.OMICRON SUBVARIANT XBB.1.5 POSSIBLY MORE LIKELY TO INFECT THOSE WHO ARE VACCINATED, OFFICIALS SAYIt also proposes the WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System, which urges countries to share pathogens and genomic sequences “within hours”.Diagnostics, treatments and vaccines developed from the data should be shared fairly, including a provision that the WHO gets 20% of any production — 10% as donation and the rest at affordable prices — for use in developing countries, the document suggests.The plan aims to avoid countries sharing data on outbreaks not getting access to counter-measures developed using the data.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP”The provisions on transparency and equity are impressive,” Love said, “but I think negotiators need to do more work on how to create incentives for governments and others to both invest and share technologies”.

Taiwan Parliament speaker says country is a ‘beacon of democracy for Chinese-speaking peoples’

Taiwan Parliament speaker says country is a ‘beacon of democracy for Chinese-speaking peoples’

You Si-kun, the speaker of Taiwan’s Parliament, spoke at the International Religious Freedom Summit on Wednesday and voiced why it is important that free nations protect Taiwan.”If Taiwan falls into the sphere of influence of CCP (Chinese Communist Party), then the beacon of democracy will be destroyed. And China may invade the first island chain and will cause a threat to the entire world,” he said.
You Si-kun, the speaker of Taiwan’s Parliament, addresses the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, D.C.
(IRF Summit / Matt Rybczynski)Freedom House’s 2022 Freedom in the World report ranked Taiwan a perfect score of 4 concerning religious freedom.DOZENS OF CHINESE MILITARY PLANES, VESSELS DETECTED IN TAIWAN WATERS AND AIRSPACE
Chinese police push Uyghur women during a protest in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China. (Guang Niu / Getty Images / File)

Iran, Russia to integrate banking systems to bypass Western sanctions

Iran, Russia to integrate banking systems to bypass Western sanctions

Iran and Russia signed an agreement Sunday to integrate their banking systems to help them skirt Western sanctions. Mohen Karimi, the Central Bank of Iran’s deputy governor, signed a memorandum of understanding with his Russian counterpart in Tehran Sunday. 
FILE: An exchange shop displays rates for various currencies, in downtown Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018. 
(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)”From now on, the financial messengers of all Iranian banks and all Russian banks are linked to each other,” Karimi told Iran’s state-run Mehr news agency. He said the memorandum of understanding includes more than 100 banks in 13 additional countries but did not name them. TURKEY’S ERDOGAN TO SWEDEN: ‘DON’T EVEN BOTHER’ WITH NATO BID IF QURAN-BURNING IS ALLOWEDIt was not clear whether those links would allow for the transfer of funds, and services were not yet available to bank customers. Western countries banned key Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February 2022. The Belgium-based system daily moves billions of dollars around the world among more than 11,000 banks and financial institutions.
SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) logo displayed on a phone screen and coins are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on January 23, 2022.
(SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) logo displayed on a phone screen and coins are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on January 23, 2022.)Cutting banks off from the SWIFT system severely limits a country’s ability to acquire foreign capital and trade internationally and is among the toughest financial sanctions available.The Trump administration took similar action against Iranian banks as it reimposed crippling sanctions after withdrawing the U.S. from a nuclear agreement with world powers in 2018.RUSSIA WARNS ISRAEL AGAINST PROVIDING ARMS TO UKRAINE: ‘WILL LEAD TO AN ESCALATION OF THIS CRISIS’Iran and Russia have strengthened ties following Russia’s invasion, with Iran supplying attack drones that have dive-bombed infrastructure and other civilian targets across Ukraine. After initially denying that it had armed Russia, in November Iran acknowledged the drones transfer, saying it took place before the war began.Russia’s vast oil reserves and trade ties with China and India have thus far largely cushioned it from Western sanctions.Iran has struggled for years in the face of similar sanctions linked to its disputed nuclear program. Its currency fell to an all-time low late last year, further hobbling the economy, draining people’s life savings and adding fuel to nationwide anti-government protests.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPEfforts to revive the 2015 agreement, which lifted sanctions on Iran in return for strict limits and stepped-up surveillance of its nuclear activities, hit an impasse several months ago.The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Afghanistan intelligence official brags about ordering attacks that killed hundreds of civilians

Afghanistan intelligence official brags about ordering attacks that killed hundreds of civilians

Afghanistan’s deputy minister of intelligence bragged on national television about his role in a 2018 suicide bombing in Kabul that killed over 100 people. During an appearance on TOLONews Jan. 28, Taj Mir Jawad took credit for directing the attack, along with other attacks, including car and suicide bombings. The 2018 attack involved an ambulance full of explosives traveling to an intersection in Kabul, where it detonated and killed over 100 civilians, including women and children. Two U.S. intelligence officials, who wish to remain anonymous, told the Long War Journal Taj Mir Jawad went by the name of Jawad Sargar during his time as a Taliban commander who helped lead the Kabul Attack Network along with known jihadist Daud, or Dawood. AFGHANS FLEEING TALIBAN FORCED TO MAKE 11-COUNTRY TREK AMID SLOW US ASYLUM PROCESS: REPORTTajuden Soroush, a senior international correspondent for Iran International, posted a clip of the interview to Twitter. Suhail Shaheen, head of the Political Office in Doha, refuted Jawad’s claim, telling Fox News Digital that “killing of civilians has never been the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) policy. We refute this.” 3-MONTH-OLD AMONG 171 VICTIMS WHO DIED FROM FREEZING TEMPERATURES IN AFGHANISTAN”The IEA spokesman had denied having carried out the 2018 bombing,” stressed Shaheen, who previously served as spokesman for the Taliban during its insurgency. 
Afghan security officials inspect a blast site in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 27, 2018. At least 40 people were killed and 140 others injured after a suicide car bomb blast near Sadarat Square in central Kabul.
(Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)The Kabul Attack Network used personnel and resources from the Taliban, al Qaeda and a number of Islamic movements across Uzbekistan and Turkistan to carry out attacks around Afghanistan’s capital city. TALIBAN WARNS UNIVERSITIES NOT TO ALLOW AFGHAN WOMEN AND GIRLS TO TAKE ENTRY EXAMSBill Roggio of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and managing editor of The Long War Journal, wrote on Twitter that the group even found support from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran, which he claims directly funded the Taliban and al Qaeda. 
Police take security measures with casualties feared after a huge explosion and gunfire were reported outside Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry building in the capital Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 11, 2023.
(Bilal Guler/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)”The IRGC was financing some of the most spectacular attacks in the heart of Afghanistan against U.S., NATO and Afghan security forces, as well as civilians,” Roggio wrote. Jawad took his post as deputy intelligence minister shortly after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan following the hasty withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPAccording to The Long War Journal, he reports to Abdul Haq Wasiq, an ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee who served as the Taliban’s deputy director general of intelligence prior to the 9/11 attacks. Wasiq now serves as the director of intelligence for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. 

US forces intercept thousands of assault rifles, ammo, anti-tank missiles from Iran

US forces intercept thousands of assault rifles, ammo, anti-tank missiles from Iran

The U.S. has seized thousands of rifles and nearly two dozen anti-tank missiles originating from Iran and transported via shipping routes.U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) reported Tuesday that CENTCOM officials — in cooperation with international naval partners — successfully intercepted the transport of over 3,000 rifles from Iran to Yemen.
U.S. Central Command, in collaboration with international naval partners, seized over 3,000 rifles, 578,000 rounds of ammunition and 23 advanced anti-tank guided missiles originating in Iran.
(U.S. Central Command )Alongside the rifles, authorities recovered nearly 600,000 rounds of ammunition and 23 anti-tank guided missiles.The Jan. 15 interdiction took place in the Gulf of Oman, where CENTCOM and its naval partners seized the ship’s cargo.POMPEO SAYS BIDEN’S IRAN TALKS ‘SQUANDERED’ MIDDLE EAST STABILITY: ‘PUTTING US ALL AT RISK’The area in which the illegal weapons smuggling was discovered has been a historic route for trafficking.
The Jan. 15 interdiction took place in the Gulf of Oman, where CENTCOM and its naval partners seized the ship’s cargo.
(U.S. Central Command )UN WATCHDOG: ACCESS TO KEY IRANIAN DATA LACKING SINCE FEB 23A French warship halted a suspected smuggling vessel off the Yemeni coast Jan. 15, sending French special forces operators to board and search the ship. The soldiers found over 3,000 assault rifles, 500,000 rounds of ammunition and 20 anti-tank guided missiles, according to The Wall Street Journal. The U.S., French and British navies have coordinated an effort to block Iran’s smuggling operations in the region.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPIran has sought to supply Houthi rebels in Yemen with lethal aid for months, even as the Yemeni civil war remains under a ceasefire.Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.

Iranian-backed militia launches rockets at Turkish base in northern Iraq

Iranian-backed militia launches  rockets at Turkish base in northern Iraq

A cluster of rockets targeted a Turkish military base in northern Iraq on Wednesday, officials from northern Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdish region said. An Iranian-backed militia promptly claimed responsibility for the attack.A Turkish defense ministry official said there was no damage or injury at the base but did not provide further details. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.According to a statement from the Iraqi Kurdish region’s anti-terrorism department, at least eight rockets were fired at Turkey’s Zilkan military base in Iraq’s northern Nineveh province, with two hitting the base itself.IRAQI PRIME MINISTER DEFENDS US TROOP PRESENCE, SAYS IT’S NECESSARY FOR FIGHTING ISISTurkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar dismissed the incident, saying the base comes under attack “from time to time,” prompting retaliatory fire. He said the Turkish soldiers were “fighting there with increased resolve and determination.”Turkey has long been conducting military operations in northern Iraq, with both ground and air forces, to battle the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has been waging a decadeslong insurgency against Ankara.
A Turkish base in northern Iraq went under attack when eight rockets were launched Wednesday. 

Tanker containing liquefied natural gas breaks down after suffering a malfunction in Egypt’s Suez Canal

Tanker containing liquefied natural gas breaks down after suffering a malfunction in Egypt’s Suez Canal

A tanker transporting liquefied natural gas broke down in the Suez Canal on Wednesday but traffic in the global waterway was unaffected, a canal spokesperson said.The Bahamas-flagged Grace Emilia suffered a malfunction of its rudder and tugboats pulled it to the side of the canal to allow other vessels to pass, said George Safwat, a spokesperson for Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority.He told The Associated Press that the north-bound tanker stopped working in the southern part of the canal, where a two-lane waterway enables ships to transit.CHINESE MILITARY AIRCRAFT, VESSELS CROSS INTO TAIWANESE AIRSPACE IN LATEST THREAT OF FORCECanal services provider Leth Agencies reported the incident in a Twitter post, saying vessels “can pass in both directions.”Safwat, the spokesperson, said 68 vessels transited the canal on Wednesday. He said the canal tugs were towing the Grace Emilia to Little Bitter Lake to repair the malfunction.
A map shows the Suez Canal and the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.
(AP Photo)Built in 2021, the Grace Emilia is 975 feet long and 151 feet wide. Its cargo tank capacity is 174,000 cubic meters.According to VesselFinder, a vessel tracking service provider, the Grace Emilia sails between the port of Dabhol in India and Cove Point in Maryland.CHINESE VESSELS AND AIRCRAFT APPEAR IN TAIWANESE WATERS AND AIRSPACELast month, a cargo ship carrying corn went aground in the canal before it was refloated to allow the resumption of traffic.In March 2021, the Panama-flagged Ever Given, a colossal container ship, crashed into a bank on a single-lane stretch of the canal, blocking the waterway for six days.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPOpened in 1869, the Suez Canal provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo. About 10% of world trade flows through the canal, a pivotal source of foreign currency to Egypt.The Suez Canal Authority said 23,851 vessels passed through the waterway last year, compared to 20,649 vessels in 2021. The canal’s annual revenues reached $8 billion, the highest in its history.

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