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Cases rise in US, Biden calls on states to offer $100 vaccine incentive

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Biden

As COVID cases in the US rise – President Biden is calling for vaccine incentives

Biden has called for states to offer $100 to new vaccine recipients, in an effort to address flagging jab rates amid virus surges.

The US President also issued a strict new vaccine requirement for US federal workers – the nation’s largest employer with approximately two million people.

The order requires employees to show proof of vaccination or be subjected to mandatory testing and masking

According to official data, just under half of the US is fully vaccinated.

Speaking from the White House on Thursday, Mr Biden said that the new measures are a result of the highly contagious Delta variant’s spread, made worse by a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.

“People are dying and will die who don’t have to die,”

Biden said

However, the President added that the monetary incentive may seem unfair to already vaccinated Americans, but stated “we all benefit if we can get more people vaccinated”.

States would use money from the $1.9tn American Rescue Plan legislation to fund the incentives.

Mr. Biden said that the federal government will be “fully reimbursing” small or medium-sized businesses that provide workers paid time off to get vaccinated.

While government employees who refuse to get vaccinated will not be fired, this move by the White House aims to set an example for other employers nationwide.

President Biden also addressed theories, spreading mostly in conservative circles, that the jabs are unsafe.

He emphasised there “is nothing political” about the vaccines, which were developed and authorised under a Republican administration and further distributed under his.

Last month, a study showed that over 99% of coronavirus deaths have been among the unvaccinated.

Nearly 70% of adults have received at least one jab.

But vaccination rates are varied across the country. Southern and western regions, which are now experiencing Covid outbreaks, have much lower rates.

It comes as virus-related deaths climb to around 2,000 per week. New cases are now at their highest point in the last three months, with about 60,000 being recorded per day.

Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

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U.S. fighters shoot down Chinese spy balloon – now what?

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U.S. military fighter aircraft shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon as it floated off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, drawing to a close a dramatic saga that shone a spotlight on worsening Sino-U.S. relations.

“We successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it,” President Joe Biden said.

Biden said he had issued an order on Wednesday to take down the balloon, but the Pentagon had recommended waiting until it could be done over open water to safeguard civilians from debris crashing down to Earth from thousands of feet (meters) above commercial air traffic.

China has mounted “the largest intelligence operation in the history of the human race” against the US and Australia, a former top US intelligence official has warned, as the US military shot down a Chinese spy balloon as it neared the Atlantic coast above the Carolinas.

Multiple fighter and refueling aircraft were involved in the mission, but only one — an F-22 fighter jet from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia — took the shot at 2:39 p.m. (1939 GMT), using a single AIM-9X supersonic, heat-seeking, air-to-air missile, a senior U.S. military official said.

The balloon was shot down about six nautical miles off the U.S. coast, over relatively shallow water, potentially aiding efforts to recover key elements of the Chinese surveillance equipment among the debris in the coming days, officials said.

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Russia throws more troops at Ukraine front line

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says the situation on the front lines in the east of the country is getting tougher and Russia was throwing more and more troops into battle.

Russian forces are slowly gaining ground in the Donbas region, encircling the city of Bakhmut north of Donetsk and battling to take control of a nearby road which is a major supply route for Ukrainian forces. They are also trying to capture Vuhledar, southwest of Donetsk.

“I’ve often had to say the situation at the front is tough, and is getting tougher, and it’s that time again. … The invader is putting more and more of his forces into breaking down our defences,” Zelenskiy said in a video address.

“It is very difficult now in Bakhmut, Vuhledar, Lyman and other directions,” he continued.

Earlier in the day, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar wrote on Telegram that Russian efforts to break the defences in Bakhmut and Lyman had failed.

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Balloon diplomacy blows China off course

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China claims an “airship” that is flying over the United States is for civilian meteorological and other scientific purposes and voiced regret that it strayed into U.S. airspace.

U.S. officials said on Thursday that a Chinese spy balloon has been flying over the United States for a couple of days, in what would be a brazen act just days ahead of a planned trip to Beijing by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In a statement late on Friday, China’s foreign ministry also said that it would continue to maintain communications with the United States to properly handle the unexpected situation.

“The airship is from China and is civilian in nature, used for meteorological and other scientific research. Due to the influence of westerly winds and its limited control capability, the airship deviated from its intended course,” it said.

“China regrets that the airship strayed into the United States by mistake due to force majeure. China will continue to maintain communication with the U.S. side to properly handle this accident,” it said.

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