The Philippines launched a vaccination campaign Monday to contain one of Southeast Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks but faces supply problems and public resistance, which it hopes to ease by inoculating top officials.
Cabinet officials, along with health workers and military and police personnel, were among the first to be vaccinated in six hospitals in Metropolitan Manila, after President Rodrigo Duterte and other top officials received 600,000 doses on Sunday of COVID-19 vaccine donated by China.
At the state-run Philippine General Hospital in Manila, the hospital director, Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, was inoculated first by a nurse in a televised event and was followed by Cabinet and Department of Health officials.
“Let’s get vaccinated, let’s save lives every day. We need to move on,” Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said in a speech at the hospital, adding he would get vaccinated in about a week after health workers have been immunized.
The Philippines was among the last Southeast Asian countries to receive its first batch of vaccine due to delivery delays although it has reported more than 576,000 infections, including 12,318 deaths, the second-highest totals in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Lockdowns and quarantine restrictions have set back Manila’s economy in one of the worst recessions in the region and sparked unemployment and hunger.
“Our economy is really down, as in down so the earlier these vaccinations gain speed, the better,” Duterte told a televised news conference late Sunday after witnessing the delivery of the Chinese-donated vaccine at an air base in the capital.
Duterte said he was considering to further ease quarantine restrictions in the capital and elsewhere once the vaccination campaign gains momentum. With just 600,000 doses available for about 300,000 people to get two doses each, Monday’s immunizations were billed as symbolic.
Aside from China’s donated vaccine from Sinovac Biotech Ltd., the government has separately ordered 25 million doses from the China-based company but no fixed date has been set for the deliveries. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the delivery of an initial 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine that was initially scheduled for Monday would be delayed by a week due to supply problems.
China’s donation is a tiny fraction of at least 148 million doses the government has been negotiating to secure from Western and Asian companies to vaccinate about 70 million Filipinos for free in a massive campaign funded by foreign and domestic loans. The bulk of the shipments are expected to arrive later this year amid the global scramble for COVID-19 vaccine.
Duterte’s administration has come under criticism for lagging behind most other Southeast Asian countries in securing the vaccines, but the president has said wealthy Western countries have cornered massive doses for their citizens, leaving poorer nations scrambling for the rest.
Aside from supply problems, there have been concerns over the vaccine’s safety, largely due to a dengue vaccine scare that prompted the Duterte administration to stop a massive immunization drive in 2017. There have also been concerns even among health workers over the Sinovac vaccine because of its lower efficacy rate compared to others developed in the West and Russia.
Carlito Galvez Jr, who leads government efforts to secure the vaccines, said Duterte saw some surveys showing low public confidence in the Sinovac vaccine and ordered him and other top officials to be inoculated with it.
At the Philippine General Hospital, where he got inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine, Galvez said Filipinos could not return to normal life and the economy would not be able to recover if people refuse to get immunized and prefer Western vaccines, which would come later in the year.
“We should not wait for the so-called best vaccine. There is no best vaccine because the best vaccines are those which are effective and efficient and come early,” Galvez said in a speech at the hospital.
With homebound nominees appearing by remote video and hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on different sides of the country, a very socially distanced 78th Golden Globe Awards trudged on in the midst of the pandemic and a storm of criticism.
Netflix, which came in with a commanding 42 nominations, won the top TV awards. “The Crown,” as expected, took best drama series, along with acting wins for Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles) and Emma Corrin (Princess Diana). “Schitt’s Creek,” which had gone unnominated in the top category every previous season at the Globes, won best comedy series for its final season. Catherine O’Hara also took best actress in a comedy series.
They were among many of the evening’s awards to go to streaming services, which — facing scant traditional studio competition — dominated the Globes like never before. Apple TV+ scored its first major award with Jason Sudeikis winning best actor in a comedy series for the streamer’s “Ted Lasso.”
Fey took the stage at New York’s Rainbow Room while Poehler remained at the Globes’ usual home at the Beverly Hilton. In their opening remarks, they managed their typically well-timed back-and-forth despite being almost 3,000 miles from each other.
“I always knew my career would end with me wandering around the Rainbow Room pretending to talk to Amy,” said Fey. “I just thought it would be later.”
They appeared before masked attendees but no stars. Instead, the sparse tables — where Hollywood royalty are usually crammed together and plied with alcohol during the show — were occupied by “smoking-hot first responders and essential workers,” as Fey said.
In a production nightmare but one that’s become familiar during the pandemic, the night’s first winner accepted his award while muted. Only after presenter Laura Dern apologized for the technical difficulties did Daniel Kaluuya, who won best supporting actor for his performance as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” get his speech in. When he finally came through, he waged his finger at the camera and said, “You’re doing me dirty!”
Pandemic improvising was only part of the damage control for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the Globes. After The Los Angeles Times revealed that there are no Black members in the 87-person voting body of the HFPA, the press association — which Ricky Gervais last year called “very, very racist” in his opening monologue — came under mounting pressure to overhaul itself and better reflect the industry it holds sway in.
This year, none of the most acclaimed Black-led films — “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “One Night in Miami,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Da 5 Bloods” — were nominated for the Globes’ best picture award. With the HFPA potentially fighting for its Hollywood life, Sunday’s Globes were part apology tour. Fey and Poehler started in quickly on the issue.
“Look, a lot of flashy garbage got nominated but that happens,” said Poehler. “That’s like their thing. But a number of Black actors and Black-led projects were overlooked.”
Within the first half hour of the NBC telecast, members of the press association also appeared on stage to pledge change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.”
The show, postponed two months from its usual early-January perch, promised little of the glamour that makes the Globes one of the frothiest and glitziest events of the year. Due to the pandemic, there was no parade of stars down the red carpet outside the Beverly Hilton.
When attendees would normally be streaming down the red carpet on Sunday evening, many stars were instead posing virtually. Regina King, resplendent in a dazzling dress, stood before her yawning dog. Carey Mulligan, nominated for “Promising Young Woman,” said from a London hotel room that she was wearing heels for the first time in more than a year.
The circumstances led to some award-show anomalies. Mark Ruffalo, appearing remotely, won best actor in a limited series for “I Know This Much Is True” with his kids celebrating behind him and his wife, Sunrise Coigney, sitting alongside.
Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the tender Korean-American family drama “Minari” (a movie the HFPA was criticized for ruling ineligible for its top award because of its non-English dialogue), accepted the award for best foreign language film while his young daughter embraced him. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung.
“‘Minari’ is about a family. It’s a family trying to learn a language of its own. It goes deeper than any American language and any foreign language. It’s a language of the heart. I’m trying to learn it myself and to pass it on,” said Chung.
John Boyega, supporting actor winner for his performance in Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe” anthology, raised his leg to show he was wearing track pants below his more elegant white jacket. Bob Odenkirk, while appearing on five screens with fellow TV actor nominees before an ad break, took the moment to meet a legend, virtually. “Mr. Pacino, very good to meet you ... on the screen,” he said.
Some speeches were pre-taped. The previously recorded speeches by Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the wining “Soul” score went without hiccup even though presenter Tracy Morgan first announced “Sal” as the winner.
Other awards included Pixar’s “Soul” for best animated film; Rosumund Pike took best actress in a comedy or musical film for “I Care a Lot”; and Aaron Sorkin (“Trial of the Chicago 7″) for best screenplay. The film, a favorite to win best drama film at the Globes, was sold to Netflix by Paramount Pictures last summer due to the pandemic. “Netflix saved our lives,” said Sorkin.
As showtime neared, the backlash over the HFPA threatened to overwhelm the Globes. Yet the Globes have persisted because of their popularity (the show ranks as the third most-watched award show, after the Oscars and Grammys), their profitability (NBC paid $60 million for broadcast rights in 2018) and because they serve as important marketing material for contending films and Oscar hopefuls. That may be especially true this year when the pandemic has upset the normal rhythms of buzz in a virtual awards season lacking the usual frenzy.
The Globes are happening on the original date of the Academy Awards, which are instead to be held April 25.
Taking the stage for the first time since leaving office, former President Donald Trump on Sunday called for GOP unity, even as he exacerbated intraparty divisions by attacking fellow Republicans and promoting lies about the election in a speech that made clear he intends to remain a dominant political force.
Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he has been hailed as a returning hero, Trump blasted his successor, President Joe Biden, and tried to lay out a vision for the future of the GOP that revolves firmly around him, despite his loss in November.
“Do you miss me yet?” Trump said after taking the stage to his old rally soundtrack and cheers from the supportive crowd.
Trump, in his speech, tried to downplay the civil war gripping the party over the extent to which Republicans should embrace him, even as he unfurled an enemies list, calling out by name the 10 House Republicans and seven GOP senators who voted to impeach or convict him for inciting the U.S. Capitol riot. He ended by singling out Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, who has faced tremendous backlash in Wyoming for saying Trump should no longer play a role in the party or headline the event.
While he insisted the division was merely a spat “between a handful of Washington, D.C., establishment political hacks and everybody else, all over the country,” Trump had a message for the incumbents who had dared to cross him: “Get rid of ’em all.”
The conference, held this year in Orlando instead of the Washington suburbs to evade COVID-19 restrictions, served as a tribute to Trump and Trumpism, complete with a golden statue in his likeness on display. Speakers, including many potential 2024 hopefuls, argued that the party must embrace the former president and his followers, even after the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
They also repeated in panel after panel his unfounded claims that he lost reelection only because of mass voter fraud, even though such claims have been rejected by judges, Republican state officials and Trump’s own administration.
Trump, too, continued to repeat what Democrats have dubbed the “big lie,” calling the election “rigged” and insisting that he won in November, even though he lost by more than 7 million votes.
“As you know, they just lost the White House,” he said of Biden, rewriting history.
It is highly unusual for past American presidents to publicly criticize their successors in the months after leaving office. Ex-presidents typically step out of the spotlight for at least a while; Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation after he departed, while George W. Bush said he believed Obama “deserves my silence” and took up painting.
He delivered a sharp rebuke of what he framed as the new administration’s first month of failures, especially Biden’s approach to immigration and the border.
“Joe Biden has had the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history,” Trump said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki had brushed off the expected criticism last week. “We’ll see what he says, but our focus is certainly not on what President Trump is saying at CPAC,” she told reporters.
Aside from criticizing Biden, Trump used the speech to crown himself the future of the Republican Party, even as many leaders argue they must move in a new, less divisive direction after Republicans lost not just the White House, but both chambers of Congress.
Though Trump has flirted with the the idea of creating a third party, he pledged Sunday to remain part of “our beloved” GOP.
“I’m going to continue to fight right by your side. We’re not starting new parties,” he said. “We have the Republican Party. It’s going to be strong and united like never before.” Yet Trump spent much of the speech lashing out at those he has deemed insufficiently loyal and dubbed “RINOs” — Republican in name only — for failing to stand with him.
“We cannot have leaders who show more passion for condemning their fellow Americans than they have ever shown for standing up to Democrats, the media and the radicals who want to turn America into a socialist country,” Trump said.
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Trump did not use his speech to announce plans to run again, but he repeatedly teased the prospect as he predicted a Republican would win back the White House in 2024.
“And I wonder who that will be,” he offered. “Who, who, who will that be? I wonder.”
It remains unclear, however, how much appetite there would be for another Trump term, even in the room of staunch supporters.
The conference’s annual unscientific straw poll of just over 1,000 attendees found that 97% approved of the job Trump did as president. But they were much more ambiguous when asked whether he should run again, with only 68% saying he should.
If the 2024 primary were held today and Trump were in the race, just 55% said they would vote for him, followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 21%. Without Trump in the field, DeSantis garnered 43% support, followed by 8% for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and 7% each for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
While he no longer has his social media megaphone after being barred from Twitter and Facebook, Trump had been inching back into public life even before the speech. He called into conservative news outlets after talk radio star Rush Limbaugh’s death and has issued statements, including one blasting Mitch McConnell after the Senate Republican leader excoriated Trump for inciting the Capitol riot. McConnell has since said he would “absolutely” support Trump if he were the GOP nominee in 2024.
At his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump has also been quietly meeting with aides and senior party leaders as he builds his post-presidential political operation. While he has already backed several pro-Trump candidates, including one challenging an impeachment supporter, aides have been working this past week to develop benchmarks for those seeking his endorsement to make sure the candidates are serious and have set up full-fledged political and fundraising organizations before he gets involved.
They are also planning a new super PAC that could raise unlimited amounts of money, though one aide cautioned they were still deciding whether to create a new entity or repurpose an existing America First super PAC.
Trump hinted at the effort Sunday, voicing his commitment to helping elect Republicans and calling on attendees to join him.
“I stand before you today to declare that the incredible journey we begun together ... is far from being over,” he said.
Security forces in Myanmar opened fire and made mass arrests Sunday as they sought to break up protests against the military’s seizure of power, and a U.N. human rights official said it had “credible information” that at least 18 people were killed and 30 were wounded.
That would be the highest single-day death toll among protesters who are demanding that the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi be restored to power after being ousted by a Feb. 1 coup. About 1,000 people are believed to have been detained Sunday.
“Deaths reportedly occurred as a result of live ammunition fired into crowds in Yangon, Dawei, Mandalay, Myeik, Bago and Pokokku,” the U.N. Human Rights Office said in a statement referring to several cities, adding that the forces also used tear gas, flash-bang grenades and stun grenades.
An Associated Press journalist was taken into police custody on Saturday morning while providing news coverage of the protests. The journalist, Thein Zaw, remains in police custody.
The AP called for his immediate release.
“Independent journalists must be allowed to freely and safely report the news without fear of retribution. AP decries in the strongest terms the arbitrary detention of Thein Zaw,” said Ian Phillips, AP vice president for international news. The Foreign Correspondents Club of Myanmar also condemned the arrest.
The Democratic Voice of Burma reported that as of 5 p.m. in Myanmar, there had been 19 confirmed deaths in nine cities, with another 10 deaths unconfirmed. The independent media company broadcasts on satellite and digital terrestrial television, as well as online.
DVB counted five deaths in Yangon and two in Mandalay, the largest and second-largest cities.
It registered five deaths in Dawei, a much smaller city in southeastern Myanmar that has seen tens of thousands of protesters nearly every day since the coup. Witnesses said Sunday’s march was also large and people were determined not to be driven off the streets.
Confirming the deaths of protesters has been difficult amid the chaos and general lack of news from official sources, especially in areas outside Yangon, Mandalay and the capital of Naypyitaw. But in many cases, photos and video circulated showed circumstances of the killings and gruesome photos of bodies.
The independent Assistance Association of Political Prisoners reported it was aware that about 1,000 people were detained Sunday, of whom they were able to identify 270. That brought to 1,132 the total number of people the group has confirmed being arrested, charged or sentenced since the coup.
Gunfire was reported almost as soon the protests began Sunday morning in Yangon, as police also fired tear gas and water cannons while trying to clear the streets. Photos of shell casings from live ammunition used in assault rifles were posted on social media.
Initial reports on social media identified one young man believed to have been killed. His body was shown in photos and videos lying on a sidewalk until other protesters carried him away.
In Dawei, local media reported at least three people were killed during a protest march, supported by photos and video. Photos on social media showed one wounded man in the care of medical personnel.
Before Sunday, there had been eight confirmed reports of killings linked to the army’s takeover, according to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the crackdown, calling the use of lethal force against peaceful protesters and arbitrary arrests “unacceptable,” and expressed serious concern at the increase in deaths and serious injuries, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
“The secretary-general urges the international community to come together and send a clear signal to the military that it must respect the will of the people of Myanmar as expressed through the election and stop the repression,” Dujarric said.
U.S. officials including Secretary of State Antony Blinken also condemned the violence. White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan issued a statement saying the U.S. is “alarmed” by the violence and stands in solidarity with Myanmar people “who continue to bravely voice their aspirations for democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights.”
Washington has imposed sanctions on Myanmar because of the coup, and Sullivan said it would “impose further costs on those responsible,” promising details “in the coming days.”
The Feb. 1 coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy after five decades of military rule. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party would have been installed for a second five-year term in office, but the army blocked Parliament from convening and detained her and President Win Myint, as well as other top members of Suu Kyi’s government.
On Sunday morning, medical students marched in Yangon near the Hledan Center intersection, which has become the gathering point for protesters who then fan out to other parts of the city.
Videos and photos showed protesters running as police charged at them, and residents setting up makeshift roadblocks to slow their advance. Some protesters managed to throw tear gas canisters back at police. Nearby, residents were pleading with police to release those they picked up from the street and shoved into police trucks to be taken away. Dozens or more were believed to be detained.
“The world is watching the actions of the Myanmar military junta, and will hold them accountable,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for New York-based Human Rights Watch. “Live ammunition should not be used to control or disperse protests and lethal force can only be used to protect life or prevent serious injury.”
Security forces began employing rougher tactics on Saturday, taking preemptive actions to break up protests and making scores, if not hundreds, of arrests. Greater numbers of soldiers also joined police. Many of those detained were taken to Insein Prison in Yangon’s northern outskirts, historically notorious for holding political prisoners.
According to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, as of Saturday, 854 people had been arrested, charged or sentenced at one point in relation to the coup, and 771 were being detained or sought for arrest. The group said that while it had documented 75 new arrests, it understood that hundreds of other people were also picked up Saturday in Yangon and elsewhere.
Dubai Startup Hub, an initiative of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in cooperation with Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec), the largest tech co-working space in the Middle East wholly owned by Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA), have released the Dubai Startup Report 2021, an informative guide on Dubai’s startup ecosystem for international startups and investors that are keen on exploring business opportunities in the emirate.
The report brings together the hands-on experience of Dubai Startup Hub and Dtec serving a community of more than 10,000 founders and investors, and the public policy and legal perspective on incentives and schemes available in the Emirate.
Featured in the report are several business-friendly measures introduced in recent years to support business activity, boost foreign investment and attract promising companies and investors from around the world such as several stimulus packages, the golden card permanent residency system for expat investors, a 5-year visa for entrepreneurs, a virtual working programme and a decision to grant UAE citizenship to select foreigners.
The report highlights various programmes, resources and value-added services available in Dubai that are designed to support the growth of startups and connect them to new business opportunities. Dubai Startup Hub, an initiative of Dubai Chamber, along with Dtec are among the most active startup ecosystem players in the emirate.
Among other topics of interest covered in the report are ease of doing business, economic competitiveness, government initiatives supporting startup growth, venture capital activity, free zones and the services they offer, access to finance, investment incentives and availability of skilled talent, in addition to useful tips on setting up a company in Dubai.
In addition, the report features exclusive interviews with a variety of entrepreneurship ecosystem stakeholders, including Hans Christensen, Vice President, at Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec); Natalia Sycheva, Senior Manager of Entrepreneurship and Special Projects at Dubai Chamber; Hasan Haider, Managing Partner, MENA at 500 Startups; Kushal Shah, Co-founder of Dubai Angel Investors; and Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi, President & CEO of Higher College of Technology.
Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chamber, described the report as a valuable and reliable resource for startups and investors in other markets as it provides a wealth of practical information about Dubai’s dynamic and fast-growing startup ecosystem.
"The launch of the Dubai Startup Report comes as a time when startups are driving Dubai’s digital transformation, fostering innovation and playing a crucial role in building the emirate’s post-Covid-19 economy. The informative guide supports Dubai Chamber’s comprehensive entrepreneurship strategy and ongoing efforts to promote Dubai as a preferred market for high-potential startups from around the world," said Buamim.
He added that Dubai Chamber supports the growth of startups in Dubai through its entrepreneurship initiative Dubai Startup Hub by providing startup members access to resources, tools, knowledge and market opportunities that can help them thrive and grow.
For his part, Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni, Vice Chairman and CEO of DSOA, noted that Dubai’s competitiveness attracts innovative thinkers, positioning it as a preferred destination for entrepreneurs in diverse industries, especially those in technology and fourth industrial revolution applications. These sectors have recently surged, given the measures in response to COVID-19.
Al Zarooni said: "Start-ups are a pillar of a flexible economic system that is agile enough to quickly adapt to new developments and achieve sustainable growth. The facilities that Dubai offers to this dynamic segment, through a supportive ecosystem and an incubator for innovation, helps them grow and achieve strategic business objectives. The Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus at Dubai Silicon Oasis, which is home to hundreds of technology start-ups, is an exemplary model of the unique ecosystem that Dubai and the wider UAE offers."
He added that the Dubai Startup Report 2021 presents a holistic view of Dubai’s attractiveness as a launch pad for entrepreneurs from across the globe.
by Dubai Chamber in 2016, Dubai Startup Hub is the first initiative of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa region. The initiative aims to provide clarity and guidance for entrepreneurs throughout their journey, while it also leverages public-private sector partnerships to promote innovation and develop Dubai’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus is the largest tech hub and coworking space in the MENA region and a base of operations for more than 820 startups from 72 countries.