RIYADH (BLOOMBERG) - On a day that Saudi Arabia jolted the oil market with an output cut it called a "gesture of goodwill", the kingdom's de facto ruler took centre stage in a mirrored concert hall, ready to resolve a different crisis. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had presided over the rift with Qatar for more than three years. But now that there are just two weeks before a new United States leader takes office, and President-elect Joe Biden had promised to treat Saudi Arabia as a "pariah", combined with threats from Iran and a weakening economy, the prince's calculation had been shifting: reconciliation looked better than conflict. So on Tuesday (Jan 5), as television cameras rolled in the north-western Saudi town of Al Ula, Prince Mohammed hugged Qatar's ruler and ended the split, casting himself as a peacemaker. Hours later, Saudi Arabia announced it would cut oil production by a million barrels a day to support prices for fellow producers - a directive that the energy minister said came straight from the crown prince and which sent the shares of US energy companies soaring. With those moves, Prince Mohammed underscored his public presence with a conciliatory
WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President-elect Joe Biden has chosen former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner David Kessler to help lead the US Covid-19 vaccine programme Operation Warp Speed, the New York Times reported on Friday (Jan 15), citing transition officials. The report comes after Dr Moncef Slaoui, the programme's chief adviser, resigned at the request of the incoming Biden team, in a plan that would see him stay in the role for a month to help with the transition. Dr Kessler, who led the FDA after being appointed by President George H.W. Bush to the top position in 1990 and served till 1997, will share top responsibilities for the initiative with General Gustave Perna, the NYT report said. The transition team did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Dr Kessler's move comes as the programme is at a critical juncture. US President Donald Trump's administration had aimed to give vaccine doses to 20 million Americans by the end of 2020, but fell far short of that target. Only 11.1 million coronavirus shots had been administered as of Thursday out of more than 30 million doses distributed to states, according to data
Donald Trump should eschew the example of the three most recent Democratic presidents in dealing with those who violently attacked the U.S. Capitol. The despicable actions Wednesday making the oldest republic resemble the latest banana republic deserve punishment and not a payback. After soiling his legacy by stoking a mob into a pointless protest that became destructive, dangerous, and deadly, President Trump needs to avoid becoming pals or granting pardons to the barbarians within the gates as Presidents Carter, Clinton, and Obama did. In 1978, Jimmy Carter commuted the sentence of Andres Figueroa Cordes, a Puerto Rican Communist who participated in a shoot-up of the well of the House of Representatives from the visitor’s gallery, on humanitarian grounds given the man’s terminal cancer diagnosis. The next year, Carter took the unpardonable step of pardoning Cordes’s three comrades in that 1954 action that wounded five congressmen. On the last day of his presidency, Bill Clinton granted a full pardon to Susan Rosenberg, 16 years into a 58-year sentence for possession of guns and over 700 pounds of explosives. A member of the Weather Underground and numerous of its succeeding splinter groups, Rosenberg allegedly participated in the 1983 bombing of the U.S.