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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Wins Second Term In Election Landslide

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has on Saturday won a landslide victory in the country’s general election.

The prime minister leveraging on her success battling COVID-19 gained an unprecedented outright majority and the chance to implement her reform agenda.

So far, Ardern’s centre-left Labour Party has won 49% of the vote and she is projected to win a rare outright parliamentary majority with a forecast to take around 64 seats in the 120-member parliament.

The opposition centre-right National Party has admitted defeat in the poll as Judith Collins told cheering supporters in Auckland “congratulations on your result because it is, I believe, an outstanding result for the Labour Party. He said it has been a tough campaign.”

Ardern in a victory speech in front of hundreds of cheering supporters in Auckland said her party had gotten more support from New Zealanders that at any time in at least 50 years.

She said “this has not been an ordinary election, and it’s not an ordinary time,” adding that “It’s been full of uncertainty and anxiety, and we set out to be an antidote to that.”

Ardern had campaigned on her government’s success in eliminating community transmission of the virus, which has caused just 25 deaths in a population of five million.

The pandemic is just one of a string of crises that showed Ardern’s leadership qualities during a torrid first term.

Health News

General: COVID-19 Vaccines Will Be Ready For Delivery 24 Hours After FDA Authorization

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Four-Star general Gustave Perna who is leading the U.S. government’s operation warp speed, the crash program to develop, produce, and distribute enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to inoculate 300 million Americans, says he is confident vaccines will be “on the streets 24 hours after being authorized by the food and drug administration.

The operation is stockpiling anticipated vaccines made by six different drug makers.

While the first two vaccines to be distributed will likely be from Pfizer and Moderna, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Affairs, Alex Azar, described the news from Astra zeneca’s clinical trials as “very promising” and noted that the company’s vaccine is already being produced in the country so it too can be ready for distribution once authorized by the FDA.

Azar confirmed the drugmaker is already producing mass quantities of the vaccine in the U.S.

Last week, Pfizer applied for authorization from the FDA and a hearing date was set for mid-December.

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Formal Transition Of U.S. Power To Biden Begins After Lengthy Delay

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US president-elect Joe Biden has been informally introducing his cabinet choices as formal transition begins.

Many of the choices, already announced, are Biden’s colleagues from his years in the Obama administration.

Former secretary of state, John Kerry, will be climate envoy, while foreign policy veteran Antony Blinken is nominated for secretary of state.

Avril Haines has been nominated for the post of director of national intelligence.  If confirmed, she will be the first female to hold that position.  Alejandro Mayorkas is named as homeland security boss.  If confirmed, she would be the first Latino in that job.

President-elect Biden has highlighted the need to rebuild alliances, as well as tackling coronavirus and climate change.

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Jamal Khashoggi Killing: Turkey’s Trial Of Saudi Suspects Resumes

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The trial has resumed in turkey of the men accused in the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul two years ago.

Twenty Saudi officials, who are not in turkey, are being tried in absentia.

Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, was said to have been suffocated to death, and then dismembered allegedly by a team of Saudi agents inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

The defendants include two former aides to the prince, who have both denied any involvement.

Egyptian political dissident Ayman Noor, a close friend of Khashoggi, told the court the journalist felt threatened by people close to crown prince Mohammed.

The trial has now been adjourned until march.

Saudi arabia, which rejected turkey’s extradition request, convicted eight persons last year over the murder.  Five of them were sentenced to death for directly participating in the killing, while three got prison sentences for covering up the crime.

The 59-year-old journalist, who went into self-imposed exile in the us in 2017, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in October 2018 to obtain papers he needed to marry his fiancee.

The Saudi government said the journalist was killed in a “rogue operation” by a team of agents.

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