Another batch of Moderna vaccines delivered to Taiwan as Covid-19 inoculation program lags

The Taiwanese inoculation campaign has received another boost after a further 410,000 shots were delivered from Moderna, the third such delivery from the US drugmaker.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen announced that the Moderna doses had touched down on the island, claimed by China as an integral part of its territory. “These will go a long way to ensuring those most in need are protected, as we continue our nationwide vaccination drive,” she noted.  

The shipment was delivered by air to Taoyuan International Airport. The EVA Air cargo flight had left Amsterdam late Tuesday en route to Taiwan.

According to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), the shipment was immediately taken into cold storage for inspection by the nation’s medical authorities.Taiwan has ordered 5.05 million doses from Moderna and Wednesday’s delivery is the third to-date. Smaller deliveries had already been made on May 28 and June 18. 

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Despite slow progress with regards to vaccinations, Tsai’s government has been unwilling to accept the Chinese offer of assistance, although Chinese media has reported that many Taiwanese citizens have been vaccinated on the mainland.

The largest deliveries to date have both been donations. On June 4, Taiwan received 1.23 million AstraZeneca shots from Japan, with a further 2.5 million Moderna jabs delivered from the US on June 20. The country also plans to roll out a domestically developed vaccine. 

To-date, only around 8% of the Taiwanese population have received at least their first vaccine shot. However, a spike in infections which peaked in late May has subsided, with the daily average for recorded infections falling below 200.

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‘Child abuse’: Washington Post writer blasted for arguing children should be exposed to ‘kink’ & BDSM at Pride

The Washington Post has been criticized for publishing an article which argued that children should be exposed to leather and BDSM fetishes at LGBT Pride events.

In an article on Tuesday titled “Yes, kink belongs at Pride. And I want my kids to see it,” writer and former sex worker Lauren Rowello wrote about taking her children to a Pride parade five years ago. She said they became confused at the sight of a “bare-chested man in dark sunglasses,” suspenders, and a “leather thong” who was being “spanked playfully by a partner with a flog.”

Though many in the LGBT community have argued against children being exposed to such sexualized elements of Pride, Rowello claimed that the experience was a good thing.

“When my own children caught glimpses of kink culture, they got to see that the queer community encompasses so many more nontraditional ways of being, living, and loving,” she declared, arguing that parents “should hope” that their kids “encounter kink when they attend” Pride because “children who witness kink culture are reassured that alternative experiences of sexuality and expression are valid.”

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The article received heavy criticism on social media, with critics branding Rowello’s call for children to be exposed to adult behavior “child abuse,” “predatory,” and the “bottom of the barrel.”

“This is what she’ll say out loud. Imagine how far she’s really willing to go,” commented one woman on Twitter, while another user declared that the writer’s children “should be removed by child protective services.”

It is not the first time that a news outlet has published such an argument, with others – including GQ in 2019 – publishing similar defenses of “kink” at Pride.

In a May article for the Independent, however, writer Skylar Baker-Jordan argued that such displays in public should not be tolerated because they fail to obtain the consent from those around them.

“You may have no problem parading your sex life down North Halsted in Chicago or through Trafalgar Square in London, but others might not be so willing to participate in your fetish or to even see it,” Baker-Jordan explained, noting that “kink and BDSM are not sexual orientations, but rather sexual preferences” which should remain in a private setting.

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High Court throws out legal challenge to Northern Ireland Brexit Protocol

Northern Ireland’s High Court in Belfast has rejected a legal challenge to the Protocol governing trade in the country after Brexit, declaring that part of Britain’s withdrawal agreement with the EU to be legally sound.

The attempt for the Northern Ireland Protocol to be deemed unlawful was brought by the leaders of pro-British parties, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Ulster Unionist Party and the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV).

The DUP launched the legal challenge in February in response to issues with the supply chains of fresh food and other goods in Northern Ireland caused by strict border checks carried out under the Protocol.

On Wednesday Judge Adrian Colton found that Britain’s withdrawal agreement was in conflict with the Acts of Union 1800, but said the withdrawal agreement, including the Protocol, overrode that earlier legislation.

Former DUP leader Arlene Foster had argued that the Protocol was in breach of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which aimed to bring about peace in Northern Ireland.

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However, the judge rejected this assertion, as well as calls for a judicial review into claims that under the Protocol Northern Irish citizens are having their human rights breached by not being able to have a say on EU laws governing them.

Reuters said it had spoken to TUV leader Jim Allister, who said the parties plan to appeal against the ruling.

In an official statement, Allister said the Protocol was “dismantling” the Union and called on outgoing DUP leader Edwin Poots to “stop implementing the Protocol.”

The court’s decision comes as the UK and the EU are reportedly close to agreeing a truce in their so-called “sausage war” that came about over a looming ban on the sale of chilled meats from Britain in Northern Ireland.

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The dispute stemmed from Northern Ireland effectively being kept in the EU’s single market for goods, despite it withdrawing from the bloc along with the rest of the UK.

Generally, Brussels does not allow chilled meats to be imported from non-member states but had agreed with the UK on a six-month grace period lasting until the end of June so businesses in Northern Ireland could make alternative arrangements.

The UK has asked the EU to extend the grace period until the end of September, a request that will be approved later on Wednesday, according to the BBC.

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Pakistan Slams India's Junior Home Minister for Suspecting 'Role’ of Islamabad in Drone Attack

An investigation into the 27 June drone attack against an Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Jammu is being handled by the country’s federal counter-terrorism unit, the National Investigative Agency (NIA). Indian investigators have alleged that “prima facie”, the drone strike was carried out by the Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

‘Stay strong’: Russian figure skating queen Gulyakova dons an open suit jacket as she shows off snaps from glamorous fashion shoot

Russian figure skating starlet Anastasia Gulyakova has shown she can dazzle her fans on and off the ice in a smouldering new shoot, sharing two photos of herself draped over a chair in an open jacket and towering heels.

An 18-year-old credited by her many new admirers with possessing throwback qualities reminiscent of 20th century figure skating icons, the 18-year-old hit the spotlight in November, when she won a bronze medal on her Grand Prix debut at the 2020 Rostelecom Cup in Moscow.

Her rise was halted by her training mate – former world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva – falling ill with Covid-19 and subsequently finishing 12th in the free program at the Russian championship, ruling Gulyakova out of the national team for the Olympic season.

Now the teenager has shown her style extends beyond sport, showing off the results of a photo session with a studio in the Vladimir Oblast region.

She posed in a black suit with nothing under her jacket as she posed at a camera overhead in an ornate-looking armchair, donning red lipstick and styling her hair for the eye-catching portraits.

At the end of a period in her career when she has faced some of her sternest tests, Gulyakova told her thousands of social media followers: “Stay strong.”

This is far from the first time the fashion-loving youngster has taken part in a shoot.

In March, she posed with former Soviet champion and world and European medalist Alexei Mishin, wearing a flowing black dress as the veteran coach stood by her in a white suit, red bow tie and brown hat to mark his 80th birthday.

She enjoys wearing racey outfits more readily associated with bars and nightclubs on the ice, dancing to pop songs last season including ‘Lady Marmalade’, the collaboration between Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink which became famous for its burlesque-inspired video.

Last week, the skating sensation also flaunted her athletic figure on a sandy beach in Sestroretsk, St. Petersburg.

Gulyakova’s fans are used to receiving pearls of wisdom from the star alongside her selfies. “Happiness is always where a person sees it,” she told them last week, having captioned a shot in the sea: “Enjoy the moment – here and now.”

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Putin & Biden had productive meeting but any improvement in Russo-American relations will take ‘number of months,’ says Kremlin

Despite a successful meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart Joe Biden, relations between the two nations have not changed, and any progress will take many months, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

Speaking to TV channel Russia 24, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained that a rapid improvement of the bilateral relationship is not feasible.

“Russian-American relations probably can’t change in two weeks,” Peskov said. “You know, [it’s] like a neglected disease. You start taking medication, and the effect only comes after a few days.”

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The spokesman noted that it would take a “number of months” before any kind of improvements or “modest tendency towards constructivism” could be seen.

On June 16, Putin and Biden held their first meeting since the US president’s inauguration in January. The summit was held at Villa La Grange, a historic 18th-century villa near Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Before the start of discussions, Putin thanked his American counterpart for taking the initiative to arrange a meeting, underscoring that “Russian and US relations have a lot of accumulated issues.” Following the summit, both leaders were positive, noting that talks had been cordial.

After the encounter, the two leaders adopted a joint statement on strategic stability and agreed to continued consultations on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START III).

A day after the meeting, Putin complimented the US leader as “skilful” and “collected,” noting that he is thoroughly knowledgeable about all subject matters.

“The image of President Biden which the Russian and even American media paint has nothing to do with reality,” Putin explained. “Biden is a professional. You have to work with him very carefully so as not to miss anything. I can assure you, he doesn’t miss a thing.”

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