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8 distts with lowest Covid vaccination numbers in Maha get innovative to turn the tide



PUNE With over 100 million vaccines administered in Maharashtra, one of the leading states in the country, a few districts are still lagging when it comes to Covid vaccinations.

There are 22 districts in the state that have recorded numbers lower than the state average, as less than 77% of eligible beneficiaries have got the first dose, and less than 38% have been fully vaccinated.

Of these, the eight districts that are of concern are Hingoli, Amravati, Akola, Aurangabad, Yavatmal, Nanded, Beed and Nandurbar.

The administration in these district has now geared up to try innovative techniques, right from vaccination before banking services and religious calls, to lure beneficiaries to the vaccination centres, which they claim is working and will hopefully help them achieve the target of 100% of beneficiaries vaccinated with the first dose by the year end.

Earlier, through a video conference call, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had addressed some of these districts and set a target to ensure that 100% of beneficiaries are vaccinated with at least the first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine.

However, despite the steady flow of the vaccine the turnout at the vaccination centres did not look promising. One of the primary reasons is a waning fear of Covid-19 as the number of new cases in these districts has gone down to single digits and then there is vaccine hesitancy.

Ten days ago, Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla tweeted: “The vaccine industry has worked tirelessly to provide enough stocks for the nation. Today, there are over 200 million doses available with states. I urge all adults to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccine hesitancy is now the greatest threat in overcoming this pandemic”.

State immunisation officer Dr Sachin Desai verified the statement as he confirmed that the state machinery has over 10.80 million doses for use and so vaccine shortage is not an issue.

Various officials in these districts have also said that the reducing fear of the infection, vaccine hesitancy and also the failure of the administration to reach out to beneficiaries, especially in tribal belts, or to those who have a hesitancy was a problem which they believe they have now overcome.

The eight districts which are at the bottom have reported below 65% first doses and 30% second doses as of Sunday. Manisha Khatri, collector of Amravati district, which has seen 63% of the eligible beneficiaries vaccinated with the first dose and 28% fully vaccinated said, “For the last ten days we are seeing 10,000 vaccinations everyday which was earlier a few thousands. Over 110,000 beneficiaries were overdue for their second dose which has now gone down to 70,000. We are to set up vaccination centres outside major banks and government offices and will ask visitors to produce the vaccination certificate. Of course we cannot deny them any services as the vaccine is not mandatory.”

Jitendra Papalkar, collector of Hingoli, which has seen 63.60% of beneficiares who have got the first dose and 24.83% who have been fully vaccinated said, “To boost the vaccination, the administration went door to door. We also surveyed these villages wherein not a single dose was administered. We even deployed our volunteers and personnel at ration shops and asked people who came there for daily essentials to produce their vaccine certificate. If they did not we directed them to the nearest vaccination centre. In the past ten days the vaccination rate of the district has been going up daily by at least 1%. It is also important to note that the vaccination drive really began in the district only in August and so second dose beneficiaries are eligible now. Also we lost the monsoon months as the administration and the people were engaged in tackling the heavy floods. We hope to vaccinate everyone with at least one dose by this year end.”

Akola’s collector Nima Arora, where 63.16% of the beneficiaries have got the first dose and 28.58% are fully vaccinated, said, “The primary reason why the district lagged was because of the waning fear due to lowering positive cases. However, now we are using different media platforms like radios, local newspapers and with multiple waves in western countries being reported, people are coming forward to take the vaccine. We were are the 35th position in the state with regards to vaccine coverage, but in the past ten days we have jumped up five spots. We formed multiple teams led by Asha workers, Aanganwadi sevikas and teachers who were given 20-25 volunteers who would go door to door and explain to people the benefits of vaccination and clear any hesitancy.”

Arora said, “We did try to prioritise distribution at ration shops for those who are fully vaccinated, then those who have got first dose and then those who are not vaccinated; and also to delay salaries of government employees. So we approached the minority community leaders and religious centres and made them the face of IEC. There was some hesitancy among the SC and the Muslim community at first, but now we are seeing a response and we hope that by this month end we would have vaccinated atleast 70% of the eligible population with the first dose.”

The district collector of Aurangabad, Sunil Chahuan was also in news recently when he issued a circular that those with no vaccine certificate would not get petrol or diesel. He said, “The circular definitely worked as more people are getting the vaccine. Earlier 20,000 people were taking the vaccine which has now gone up to 40,000 daily. We kept our vaccination centres open 24×7 at bigger talukas and in rural pockets we ran the centres early morning or late evening. We appealed to the minority leaders to use their influence and request people to get vaccinated. I myself halted at the villages at night and spoke to village leaders regarding this issue. Our team is working in election mode and if required have stayed overnight at the villages to vaccinate people. I am also conducting a meeting with the doctors in the district and requesting them to ensure that every person who comes to the OPD has the vaccination certificate.”


Woman passenger from UK tests Covid positive at Hyderabad airport



Hyderabad: A 35-year-old international passenger who reached the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport here on Wednesday has tested positive for Covid-19 after undergoing an RT-PCR test at the airport itself. The woman passenger had traveled from the United Kingdom, which has been categorised as an ‘At Risk Country’. 

The passenger has been admitted to the Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS) and samples were collected and sent for genetic sequencing. Officials said she did not have any symptoms and that her health condition was being monitored closely. 

According to officials, the woman hails from Rangareddy district and was on a visit to UK from Hyderabad. Though her close relatives tested negative, their health condition is also being monitored. 

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Revealed: how Sidney Powell could be disbarred for lying in court for Trump | US elections 2020



Sidney Powell, the former lawyer for Donald Trump who filed lawsuits across America for the former president, hoping to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, has on several occasions represented to federal courts that people were co-counsel or plaintiffs in her cases without seeking their permission to do so, the Guardian has learned.

Some of these individuals say that they only found out that Powell had named them once the cases were already filed.

During this same period of time, Powell also named several other lawyers – with their permission in those instances – as co-counsel in her election-related cases, despite the fact that they played virtually no role whatsoever in bringing or litigating those cases.

Both Powell’s naming of other people as plaintiffs or co-counsel without their consent and representing that other attorneys were central to her cases when, in fact, their roles were nominal or nonexistent, constitute serious potential violations of the American Bar Association model rules for professional conduct, top legal ethicists told the Guardian.

Powell’s misrepresentations to the courts in those particular instances often aided fundraising for her nonprofit, Defending the Republic. Powell had told prospective donors that the attorneys were integral members of an “elite strike force” who had played outsized roles in her cases – when in fact they were barely involved if at all.

A couple poses for a photo in front of a Trump campaign bus at a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia, on 2 December 2020.
A couple poses for a photo in front of a Trump campaign bus at a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia, on 2 December 2020. Photograph: Nathan Posner/REX/Shutterstock

Powell did not respond to multiple requests for comment via phone, email, and over social media.

The State Bar of Texas is already investigating Powell for making other allegedly false and misleading statements to federal courts by propagating increasingly implausible conspiracy theories to federal courts that Joe Biden’s election as president of the United States was illegitimate.

The Texas bar held its first closed-door hearing regarding the allegations about Powell on 4 November. Investigations by state bar associations are ordinarily conducted behind closed doors and thus largely opaque to the public.

A federal grand jury has also been separately investigating Powell, Defending the Republic, as well as a political action committee that goes by the same name, for fundraising fraud, according to records reviewed by the Guardian.

Among those who have alleged that Powell falsely named them as co-counsel is attorney Linn Wood, who brought and litigated with Powell many of her lawsuits attempting to overturn the results of the election with her, including in the hotly contested state of Michigan.

The Michigan case was a futile attempt by Powell to erase Joe Biden’s victory in that state and name Trump as the winner. On 25 August, federal district court Judge Linda Parker, of Michigan, sanctioned Powell and nine other attorneys who worked with her for having engaged in “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process” in bringing the case in the first place. Powell’s claims of election fraud, Parker asserted, had no basis in law and were solely based on “speculation, conjecture, and unwarranted suspicion”.

Parker further concluded that the conduct of Powell, Wood, and the eight other attorneys who they worked with, warranted a “referral for investigation and possible suspension or disbarment to the appropriate disciplinary authority for each state … in which each attorney is admitted”.

Wood told the court in the Michigan case that Powell had wrongly named him as one of her co-counsel in the Michigan case. During a hearing in the case to determine whether to sanction Wood, his defense largely rested on his claim that he had not been involved in the case at all. Powell, Wood told the court, had put his name on the lawsuit without her even telling him.

A man holds a sign reading "The dead cannot vote" at a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Trump supporters attend a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia, where Sidney Powell spoke on efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Photograph: Nathan Posner/REX/Shutterstock

Wood said: “I do not specifically recall being asked about the Michigan complaint … In this case obviously my name was included. My experience or my skills apparently were never needed, so I didn’t have any involvement with it.”

Wood’s attorney, Paul Stablein, was also categorical in asserting that his client had nothing to do with the case, telling the Guardian in an interview: “He didn’t draft the complaint. He didn’t sign it. He did not authorize anyone to put his name on it.”

Powell has denied she would have ever named Wood as a co-counsel without Wood’s permission.

But other people have since come forward to say that Powell has said that they were named as plaintiffs or lawyers in her election-related cases without their permission.

In a Wisconsin voting case, a former Republican candidate for Congress, Derrick Van Orden, said he only learned after the fact that he had been named as a plaintiff in one of Powell’s cases.

“I learned through social media today that my name was included in a lawsuit without my permission,” Van Orden said in a statement he posted on Twitter, “To be clear, I am not involved in the lawsuit seeking to overturn the election in Wisconsin.”

Jason Shepherd, the Republican chairman of Georgia’s Cobb county, was similarly listed as a plaintiff in a Georgia election case without his approval.

In a 26 November 2020 statement, Shepherd said he had been talking to an associate of Powell’s prior to the case’s filing about the “Cobb GOP being a plaintiff” but said he first “needed more information to at least make sure the executive officers were in agreeing to us being a party in the suit”. The Cobb County Republican party later agreed to remain plaintiffs in the case instead of withdrawing.

Leslie Levin, a professor at the University of Connecticut Law School, said in an interview: “Misrepresentations to the court are very serious because lawyers are officers of the court. Bringing a lawsuit in someone’s name when they haven’t consented to being a party is a very serious misrepresentation and one for which a lawyer should expect to face serious discipline.”

Nora Freeman Engstrom, a law professor at Stanford University, says that Powell’s actions appear to violate Rule 3.3 of the ABA’s model rules of professional misconduct which hold that “a lawyer shall not knowingly … make a false statement of fact of law to a tribunal”.

Since election day last year, federal and state courts have dismissed more than 60 lawsuits alleging electoral fraud and irregularities by Powell, and other Trump allies.

Shortly after the election, Trump named Powell as a senior member of an “elite strike force” who would prove that Joe Biden only won the 2020 presidential race because the election was stolen from him. But Trump refused to pay her for her services. To remedy this, Powell set up a new nonprofit called Defending the Republic; its stated purpose is to “protect the integrity of elections in the United States”.

As a nonprofit, the group is allowed to raise unlimited amounts of “dark money” and donors are legally protected from the ordinary requirements to disclose their identities to the public. Powell warned supporters that for her to succeed, “millions of dollars must be raised”.

Echoing Trump’s rhetoric, Powell told prospective donors that Defending the Republic had a vast team of experienced litigators.

Sidney Powell speaks at a press conference on election results in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Sidney Powell speaks at a press conference on election results in Alpharetta, Georgia. Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

Among the attorneys who Powell said made up this “taskforce” were Emily Newman, who had served Trump as the White House liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services and as a senior official with the Department of Homeland Security. Newman had been a founding board member of Defending the Republic.

But facing sanctions in the Michigan case, some of the attorneys attempted to distance themselves from having played much of a meaningful role in her litigation.

Newman’s attorney told Parker, the judge, that Newman had “not played a role in the drafting of the complaint … My client was a contract lawyer working from home who spent maybe five hours on this matter. She really wasn’t involved … Her role was de minimis.”

To have standing to file her Michigan case, Powell was initially unable to find a local attorney to be co-counsel on her case but eventually attorney Gregory Rohl agreed to help out.

But when Rohl was sanctioned by Parker and referred to the Michigan attorney disciplinary board for further investigation, his defense was that he, too, was barely involved in the case. He claimed that he only received a copy of “the already prepared” 830-page initial complaint at the last minute, reviewed it for “well over an hour”, while then “making no additions, decisions or corrections” to the original.

As with Newman, Parker, found that Rohl violated ethics rules by making little, if any, effort to verify the facts of the claims in Powell’s filings.

In sanctioning Rohl, the judge wrote that “the court finds it exceedingly difficult to believe that Rohl read an 830-page complaint in just ‘well over an hour’ on the day he filed it. So, Rohl’s argument in and of itself reveals sanctionable conduct.”

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Govt to introduce important Bill, Covid situation likely to be discussed



The government on Thursday will table ‘The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill 2021’ in the Lok Sabha. A discussion on Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and its various related aspects is also likely to take place in the lower House.

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will move the ‘The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill’ in the Lok Sabha to amend the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research Act, 1998.

Under rule 193, a discussion on Covid-19 pandemic and various aspects related to it will likely take place. According to sources, the members may also raise their concern and ask for the government’s preparedness for the new Omicron variant. Under Rule 193, members can seek details about the new Covid variant. “Short duration discussion is likely to be held in the Lok Sabha on the Covid and its various aspects, including new Omicron variant,” sources said.

Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Prahlad Singh Patel, General V.K. Singh, Krishan Pal, Bhanu Pratap Verma, Rameshwar Teli and Kaushal Kishore will lay papers on the table. Reports and action reports of different standing committees will also be laid in the day.

The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Amendment) Bill 2021 (ART) by voice vote as the amendments moved by the DMK MP N.K. Prem Chandran, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy and Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut were negated. The ART Bill seeks to regulate fertility clinics. All such clinics will have to be registered under the National Registry of Banks and Clinics of India.

The opposition is likely to continue to raise its voices on price rise, unemployment and extended jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) in some states. The opposition parties are also demanding a law guaranteeing the minimum support price (MSP).

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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