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Biden Taps Veteran US Diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield as UN Ambassador 

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has named veteran diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield to join his forthcoming Cabinet as his pick for U.N. ambassador, his transition team announced Monday. The post requires Senate confirmation.Thomas-Greenfield has worked in both Democratic and Republican administrations during her 35-year State Department career. An Africa specialist, she served as U.S. ambassador to Liberia, and held posts in Kenya, The Gambia and Nigeria. Under President Barack Obama, she served as the assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs (2013-2017), developing and managing Washington’s policy toward sub-Saharan Africa. She has also worked in Geneva at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield was a senior manager at the State Department, where she served as director general of the Foreign Service and director of Human Resources from 2012 to 2013, handling matters related to the State Department’s 70,000 employees. She took to Twitter on Tuesday saying she was “blessed for this opportunity.” “I’ve had the privilege to build relationships with leaders around the world for the past thirty-five years. As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, I’ll work to restore America’s standing in the world and renew relationships with our allies,” the longtime diplomat tweeted. I’ve had the privilege to build relationships with leaders around the world for the past thirty-five years. As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, I’ll work to restore America’s standing in the world and renew relationships with our allies. Blessed for this opportunity.— Linda Thomas-Greenfield (@LindaT_G) November 23, 2020Earlier, Thomas-Greenfield tweeted her mother taught her to lead with kindness and compassion and she would bring that ethos to her mission at the United Nations if she is confirmed.  
 My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place. I’ve carried that lesson with me throughout my career in Foreign Service – and, if confirmed, will do the same as Ambassador to the United Nations.— Linda Thomas-Greenfield (@LindaT_G) November 23, 2020Former colleagues also responded to her selection alongside long-time Biden foreign policy aide Anthony Blinken as the president-elect’s choice for secretary of state.  
 The choices for the two jobs I know best are outstanding. @ABlinken understands how @joebiden sees the world and will lead @StateDept with vision and respect.@LindaT_G is a valued colleague and veteran diplomat who will restore US leadership and cooperation at the @UN— Madeleine Albright (@madeleine) November 23, 2020I have worked with @ABlinken and w/ Linda Thomas-Greenfield since the Clinton years. What a perfect team – intellect, humanity, decency, care for others, patriots, wisdom. With brilliant Jake Sullivan NSA, US back better.— Wendy R. Sherman (@wendyrsherman) November 23, 2020  
Former U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman told VOA that the choice of the “highly respected” Thomas-Greenfield is “brilliant” and would be a big morale booster for career foreign service officers. Feltman, who was also the United Nation’s political chief from 2012 to 2018, said he saw Thomas-Greenfield in action many times. “I saw Linda work the room at African Union summits, and she is amazingly effective and efficient at pushing her agenda with 54 African leaders,” he said. “She leavened her diplomatic approach with real human empathy and warmth. I think she will be perfect for restoring U.S. leadership at the U.N. and sort of rebooting the U.N. and our multilateral alliances for meeting today’s challenges.”  President-elect Biden is elevating the post of U.N. ambassador to Cabinet level. In recent Democrat administrations the position has been part of the Cabinet. President Donald Trump chose to make his first U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, a Cabinet member, but did not elevate his current envoy, Kelly Craft.   Early life  Born in 1952 in the southern state of Louisiana, Thomas-Greenfield, who is African-American, was one of eight siblings. She said her father left school in the third grade to help support his family.  “He couldn’t read or write, but he was the smartest man I knew,” she said of him in a TED talk last year.   Thomas-Greenfield said her mother also had limited education, but a big heart. In addition to raising her own children, she took in eight siblings who lost their mother so they would not be separated.  “I didn’t have successful, educated role models in my life, but what I did have – I had the hopes and dreams of my mother, who taught me at a very early age that I could face any challenge or adversity put in my path by being compassionate and being kind,” Thomas-Greenfield said.   The former assistant secretary of state grew up during the civil rights era and graduated from a segregated high school. She then went on to Louisiana State University, which had to be forced to accept Black students by a court order.   Thomas-Greenfield said she faced harassment there and noted that David Duke, the former leader of the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan, was an LSU student at the same time she was, and had already started to preach hatred.   In 2012, LSU asked her back to speak at graduation.   “I thanked the university for giving me the experiences that made me into the successful person that I had become,” she said. “Adversity is a source of strength.”  Life-changing experience  In April 1994, Thomas-Greenfield arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, as ethnic Hutu extremists began their 100-day genocide against minority Tutsis.  She very nearly became a causality of the atrocities, confronted by a “glaze-eyed man” who was ready to kill her. She remained calm and spoke to the man and survived. But of the genocide, she said, “It changed my life forever.”  FILE – United States Secretary of State John Kerry, center, reacts as Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari shakes hands with Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Linda Thomas-Greenfield at the presidential villa in Abuja, Aug. 23, 2016.Thomas-Greenfield’s deep knowledge of Africa will serve her well at the United Nations, where more than half the peace and security operations the Security Council authorizes are based on the continent.   She has a traditional diplomatic style, said Ambassador Ronald Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, of which Thomas-Greenfield is a member.  “She puts a lot of attention on listening, on understanding where the other person is coming from, and therefore ensuring that she can prepare the best way of persuading them to do what she wants,” Neumann told VOA. He added that she will also be ready to build alliances.   Thomas-Greenfield will need to employ her diplomatic style in coping with challenges to U.S. influence at the United Nations, where the Trump administration has cut funding, withdrawn from agencies and international accords, and pursued an “America first” policy.   “The United States is going to have to compete for influence far more assertively than we are accustomed to doing at the U.N.,” Feltman said. “China has become far more assertive at the U.N. than it was, say at the beginning of Obama administration. You have a lot of middle powers that are not willing to defer to the great powers – they have their own interests in their own region.”   There will also be a long list of other issues awaiting her attention if she is confirmed: COVID-19, climate change, Iran’s nuclear program, the changing Middle East, and the growing refugee and migrant crisis.   
 

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A Look at Biden’s Cabinet Picks

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has begun naming members of his new Cabinet, as well as other top-level administration officials. Biden has pledged to choose a Cabinet that reflects the diversity of the American population. His selections will be scrutinized by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and must win confirmation in a narrowly controlled Senate, whose majority party will be determined by two Georgia Senate runoffs in January. Here are Biden’s selections so far.Antony BlinkenSecretary of StateBlinken was deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School, Blinken, 58, has long served in foreign policy positions during Democratic administrations, including as a member of the National Security Council during the Clinton administration and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration. He was also staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel, and later was then-Vice President Biden’s national security adviser.FILE – In this July 25, 2013, file photo Alejandro Mayorkas testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on his nomination.Alejandro MayorkasSecretary of Homeland SecurityMayorkas is a former deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and will be the first Latino and immigrant nominated to head the agency. Born in Havana, Cuba, Mayorkas, 60, came to the United States as a political refugee with his family when he was a child. Following a career as a lawyer, he joined the Obama administration in 2009 as director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, where he implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, granting protection to immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.FILE – In this Jan. 9, 2014, file photo Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield, right, testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.Linda Thomas-GreenfieldUnited Nations AmbassadorThomas-Greenfield is a 35-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service who has served on four continents. She was Obama’s top diplomat on Africa from 2013 to 2017, leading U.S. policy in sub-Saharan Africa during the West African Ebola outbreak. After leaving the State Department, Thomas-Greenfield took a senior leadership position at former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s global strategy company. Biden plans to elevate the position of U.N. ambassador to Cabinet level.FILE – In this Jan. 9, 2020, file photo former Secretary of State John Kerry smiles while speaking at a campaign stop to support Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden in Fort Dodge, Iowa.John KerrySpecial Envoy for ClimateKerry is a prominent and longtime figure in the Democratic Party — a former secretary of state in the Obama administration; a former senator from Massachusetts for more than 25 years; and the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004. The special envoy for climate is not a Cabinet position, but Kerry will sit on the National Security Council, the first time the NSC will include an official dedicated to climate change. Kerry tweeted after the announcement of his selection, “America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is.”In this photo taken on Jan. 13, 2020 Avril Haines, former deputy national security advisor and former deputy director of the CIA, testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington.Avril HainesDirector of National IntelligenceHaines is a former deputy director of the CIA and a former deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration. She will be the first woman nominated to lead the U.S. intelligence community. Haines, 51, is a lawyer and has previously worked with Biden while serving on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations as deputy chief counsel when Biden was the committee’s chairman. After leaving the Obama administration in 2017, she held several posts at Columbia University.Former State Department Director of Policy Planning Jake Sullivan speaks during a hearing on Iran before the House Foreign Affairs Committee at Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 11, 2017.Jake SullivanNational Security AdviserSullivan was Biden’s national security adviser during the Obama administration. He was also deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. At age 43, Sullivan will be one of the youngest people to serve in that role in decades, according to the Biden transition team. 

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Президент Європейської ради запросив Байдена до Брюсселя

Президент Європейської ради Шарль Мішель 23 листопада провів телефонну розмову з обраним президентом США Джо Байденом та висловив сподівання на «відбудову» з новою адміністрацією міцного трансатлантичного альянсу. Таке повідомлення оприлюднене на сайті Європейської ради.

 

«Президент Європейської Ради Шарль Мішель… привітав потужні зобов’язання обраного президента Байдена перед союзниками США та його підтримку європейському співробітництву», – ідеться в повідомленні.

Шарль Мішель запросив обраного президента США на спеціальну зустріч членів Європейської ради в Брюсселі у 2021 році для обговорення спільних пріоритетів.

У відносинах між США і Євросоюзом упродовж кількох років виникло чимало проблем. Зараз сподівання на повноцінне відновлення партнерства із Вашингтоном Брюссель пов’язує, серед іншого, зі змінами в американській адміністрації.

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У Росії проти Google порушили адміністративну справу

Компанію Google звинуватили в тому, що вона не видаляє з пошукової видачі сайти з інформацією, забороненою в Росії

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НБУ послабив гривню до 28,37 за долар

Національний банк України встановив на 24 листопада курс 28 гривень 37 копійок за долар, це на одну копійку більше за офіційний курс на сьогодні.

За даними Finance.ua, торги на міжбанківському валютному ринку завершилися на рівні 28 гривень 35–37 копійок за долар, максимальні котирування сягали 28 гривень 38–39,5 копійки за одиницю американської валюти.

Українська валюта раніше в листопаді відіграла проти долара близько 50 копійок (перед тим, 2 листопада, долар зріс проти гривні до рекордного за 33 місяці рівня – 28,6 гривні за одиницю американської валюти). Фахівці це пояснювали настанням в Україні квартального податкового періоду, коли частина експортерів змушена продавати валюту для сплати до бюджету. Цей податковий період завершився 19 листопада.

 

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Vaccine Breakthrough Raises Hopes of Rapid Global Rollout

A coronavirus vaccine developed by Britain’s University of Oxford and the pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca has shown successful results in early trials. If it is approved by regulators, the vaccine appears suitable for a fast rollout around the globe. Early analysis of trials involving 20,000 volunteers in Britain and Brazil show the vaccine is at least 62% effective after two doses. In volunteers given a different dosing regimen — a half dose, followed by a full dose — that figure rose to 90%. The average efficacy of the two dosing methods is 70%. None of those given the vaccine developed severe COVID-19 illness. Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said the recent successful trials of three different vaccines by Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, represent a scientific breakthrough. “It really feels like a great moment that we’ve got now multiple vaccines. If we can get them rolled out as soon as possible, we’re going to have a big impact,” Pollard said. Differences from other vaccinesAstraZeneca plans to begin supplying hundreds of millions of doses by the end of the year, subject to regulatory approval. Several properties of the vaccine make it suitable for global rollout, according to Peter Drobac, a global health expert at the University of Oxford, who did not work on the development of the AstraZeneca vaccine. “The first is cost,” Drobac said. “So, this vaccine has been priced at about one-fifth to one-tenth of the cost reportedly being sought by Pfizer and Moderna, some of the other leading vaccine candidates.” AstraZeneca has pledged it will not make a profit on the vaccine during the pandemic.  Secondly, “in 10 countries, it’s already being manufactured, including a very large manufacturing partner in India. So, we hope to see very large numbers of doses become available very quickly. And then thirdly, this vaccine only required kind of fridge-temperature storage,” Drobac told VOA. By contrast, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires storage at minus 70 degrees Celsius. Many health systems in developing nations lack refrigeration facilities to store medicines at such ultra-cold temperatures. COVAXSo far, 188 countries have signed up to an initiative called COVAX, where richer countries invest in the development of several vaccines and the infrastructure required for rolling them out across the globe.  “The goal in a perfect world would be that each of the countries that signs up for COVAX would receive enough vaccine for 20% of their populations by the end of 2021,” Drobac said. “Now, that’s an aspiration of course, not a guarantee. But that would allow every country to at least begin to cover the most vulnerable, front-line workers, etc.” The human rights organization Amnesty International praised Oxford University. “However, much more needs to be done to ensure that everyone, everywhere can benefit from these life-saving products, and without further action, vaccine supply for lower-income countries will remain perilously low,” Amnesty said in a statement Monday.  It is possible the leading vaccine candidates will be given emergency approval by regulators in the coming weeks, raising hopes that the world is on the brink of a major breakthrough in the fight against the pandemic.
In the meantime, doctors say it is vital that people follow measures to suppress the transmission of the virus.
 

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British PM Lays Out Post-Lockdown Restrictions   

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled an updated plan for handling Britain’s COVID-19 infection after the country’s partial national lockdown is lifted December 2.In video message to Parliament Monday, Johnson said the lockdown will be lifted next Wednesday as promised. He said although Britain will return to the regional system that was in place prior to the lockdown, he has received scientific advice indicating the tiers need to be tougher to adequately reduce the infection rate.In the new tier 1, people will be required to work from home if they can. In tier 2, pubs will only be able to serve drinks with a “substantial meal.” And in tier 3, indoor entertainment and hotels will close, and restaurants and pubs will only be allowed to open for take-out.As before, Johnson said the tiers will be determined based on the rate of COVID-19 infections in each area, with the toughest measures implemented where the disease is most prevalent. The government will announce which areas will be under which tier later this week.A woman walks through the Burlington Arcade adorned with Christmas decorations, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, in London, Nov. 23, 2020.Johnson said more regions will fall, at least temporarily, into higher levels than before. But, he said, with tougher restrictions and more rapid coronavirus testing, it should be possible for areas to move to lower levels of restrictions fairly quickly.The prime minister said people should not expect a normal Christmas holiday this year, saying, “This virus is obviously not going to grant a Christmas truce, it doesn’t know it’s Christmas.” He did say his government was working to develop “a special time-limited Christmas dispensation” plan that would allow families to come together, while minimizing the risk.Britain has recorded 18,662 new cases and 398 deaths in the last 24 hours. Of these, 16,668 are in England, 844 in Scotland, 808 in Wales and 342 in Northern Ireland. There are now more than 1.5 million cases recorded in total, and deaths have crossed 55,000.
 

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Speedboat Taking Migrants to Greece Partially Sinks; 1 Dead

A speedboat that appeared to have been smuggling migrants to the Greek island of Rhodes from nearby Turkey partially sank before reaching land, leaving one person dead, Greece’s coast guard said on Monday.
The coast guard said it received information about the speedboat near the northwestern coast of Rhodes on Monday morning. Thirteen people who had been on board were found safe on the nearby shore, while the body of one man was recovered.
The survivors told authorities that a total of 14 people had been on board the speedboat. However, coast guard patrol boats were searching the area in case of others who might have been on board.
Greece remains one of the most popular routes into the European Union for people fleeing conflict and poverty in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.