While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Nov 25

US President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on Nov 24, 2020. PHOTO: NYTIMES

Biden says US 'ready to lead' again on global stage

President-elect Joe Biden said on Tuesday the United States will be "ready to lead" again on the global stage after he succeeds President Donald Trump in January, pledging to work together with Washington's allies abroad.

Introducing his new foreign policy and national security team, the Democratic former vice president signalled that he intends to steer the United States away from the unilateralist "America First" agenda pursued by Trump.

The Republican incumbent has unsettled many US allies, especially in Europe, with an antagonistic approach toward the Nato alliance and trade relations, abandonment of international agreements and warm relationships with authoritarian leaders.

"While this team has unmatched experience and accomplishments, they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet these challenges with old thinking and unchanged habits," said Biden, due to take office on Jan 20.


US plans to release 6.4 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in first nationwide distribution

US officials said on Tuesday they plan to release 6.4 million Covid-19 vaccine doses nationwide in an initial distribution after the first one is cleared by regulators for emergency use.

Officials from the government's Operation Warp Speed programme told reporters that states and other jurisdictions had been informed on Friday of their estimated vaccine allocations in the first shipments so they can begin planning for how to best distribute it to their high-risk populations.

The officials had previously said they anticipate 40 million doses will be distributed by year end, a number they reiterated on Tuesday.


UK to relax coronavirus curbs over Christmas

Coronavirus restrictions will be eased across the UK over Christmas to allow up to three households to celebrate the festive season together, officials said Tuesday.

The arrangement will be in force from December 23 to 27, according to a joint statement by the administrations of all four UK nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

"People want to be with their loved-ones and those close to them for what is the most important holiday of the year," senior minister Michael Gove said on Tuesday.


Macron says worst of Covid-19 second wave over in France, lockdown to ease

France will start easing its Covid-19 lockdown this weekend so that by Christmas, shops, theatres and cinemas will reopen and people will be able to spend the holiday with the rest of their family, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.

In a televised address to the nation, Macron said the worst of the second wave of the epidemic in France was over, but that restaurants, cafes and bars would have to stay shut until Jan 20 to avoid triggering a third wave.

"We must do everything to avoid a third wave, do everything to avoid a third lockdown," Macron said.


Beyonce leads 2021 Grammy nominations with 9 nods

Beyonce led nominations for the 2021 Grammy Awards on Tuesday (Nov 24) with nine nods, followed by Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift and rapper Roddy Ricch, who got six apiece.

Swift and British singer Dua Lipa will compete for the top prize - album of the year - along with R&B singer Post Malone, British band Coldplay, female band Haim, avant-garde British artist Jacob Collier, American soul band Black Pumas and American alternative R&B singer Jhene Aiko.

The biggest shutout was Canadian singer The Weeknd, who had been widely expected to rack up several nominations for his critically acclaimed, commercially successful album After Hours.


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