Debating in the shadow of the death of conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a downsized and more combative Republican presidential field battled in South Carolina over foreign policy, abortion, truthfulness, campaign tactics and blame for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The ninth debate featured just six candidates, including an even louder than usual Donald Trump, who blamed former President George W. Bush for the 9/11 attack, a not-so-indirect hit at the candidacy of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida joined the fray, saying the president most to blame for the terrorist attack was former President Bill Clinton — husband of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton — because he missed a chance to kill Osama bin Laden in the 1990s.
Coming just a week before the South Carolina primary, the debate featured some of the most intense personal attacks between the candidates, with Rubio accusing Texas Senator Ted Cruz of lying and carrying out dirty tricks on the campaign trail. Ohio Governor John Kasich said the bitter sniping risked throwing the election to the Democrats.
“I think we’re fixing to lose the election to Hillary Clinton if we don’t stop
this,” he warned.
Cruz said Trump was a longtime backer of legal abortion, including partial-birth abortion, as well as European-style socialized health care.
“You are the single biggest liar,” Trump said to Cruz. “You probably are worse than Jeb Bush.”
Trump added: “Nasty guy. Now, I know why he doesn’t have one endorsement from any of his colleagues.”
Cruz fired back, saying Trump didn’t address the substance of Cruz’s criticisms over abortion and health care.
The stakes of the election were highlighted just hours before the debate with news of the death of the conservative justice, making appointments to the high court no longer a theoretical issue in the 2016 campaign.
Even before taking the stage, Rubio and Cruz said the next president, rather than Democratic incumbent Barack Obama, should name Scalia’s successor.
Obama said Saturday he plans to fulfill his constitutional duty and nominate a replacement for Scalia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said he will block a vote this year.
Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul, said he fully expects Obama to nominate someone and called on the Senate to stop it. “I think he’s going to do it whether I’m OK with it or not. I think it’s up to Mitch McConnell and everybody to stop it. It’s called delay, delay, delay,” Trump said.
Cruz said Scalia’s passing “underscores the stakes of this election,” adding that the nation is “one justice away from a Supreme Court that will strike down every restriction on abortion adopted by the states.”
Kasich said it was unfortunate how quickly the death of Scalia turned political, and said Obama could nominate someone who could be approved unanimously.
“It’s not even two minutes after the death of Justice Scalia. I just wish we hadn’t run so fast into politics,” Kasich said. “The country is so divided right now and we’re going to see another partisan fight take place.”
Debate moderator John Dickerson of CBS News opened the debate with a moment of silence for Scalia.
During a discussion about how the U.S. should deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump was booed repeatedly after saying that Bush was “wrong” in his statements about the billionaire’s views.
“That’s Jeb’s special interests and lobbyists talking,” a more combative Trump said after the boos. “I only tell the truth, lobbyists.”
Bush countered that Trump gets his foreign-policy views “from the shows,” a reference to Sunday morning news programming. The back-and-forth got nastier from there.
“It’s blood-sport for him,” Bush said. “While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe.”
Trump shot back, “The World Trade Center came down during his reign. Remember that.”
Bush went on to say, “My mother is the strongest woman I know.”
Trump replied: “She should be running.”
Kasich and Bush tussled over Medicaid expansion, which was a key part of Obama’s health care plan. Kasich, who pushed through an expansion in his home state despite objections from Republican legislative members, said his changes saved prison costs by helping the drug addicted and mentally ill.
“We’ve gone from an $8 billion hole, to a $2 billion surplus,” Kasich said.
Bush interrupted, saying Kasich is “creating further debt on the backs of our children and grandchildren” by expanding Obamacare in Ohio. “We should be fighting Obamacare, repealing Obamacare, replacing it with something totally different,” he said.
After leaving New Hampshire with a decisive victory — his first — Trump enjoys an even more comfortable lead in early polling in South Carolina, a state where politics is known as blood sport.
The establishment candidates — Rubio, Bush and Kasich — are determined to make a stand in South Carolina in order to convince donors and supporters that they have a legitimate shot at winning the nomination, and stopping Trump or Cruz.
Republican leaders in the state have said they expect the debate to be closely watched by those trying to make their voting decisions before the Feb. 20 balloting.
Since 1980, the winner of the state’s Republican primary has gone on to become the nominee every time, with one exception. That was in 2012, when a pair of strong debate performances just ahead of the primary lifted Newt Gingrich to a first-place finish over eventual nominee Mitt Romney.
Before the debate shifted from Scalia, Rubio and Cruz both erred when explaining why Obama shouldn’t get to name a successor to Scalia.
“It’s been over 80 years since a lame duck president has appointed a Supreme Court justice,” Rubio said.
Cruz said: “We have 80 years of precedent of not confirming Supreme Court justices in an election year.”
In fact, the Senate confirmed Anthony Kennedy, a nominee of President Ronald Reagan, on Feb 3, 1988, during an election year.
When Dickerson followed up to note that Kennedy was confirmed in 1988, Cruz incorrectly said, “Kennedy was confirmed in ’87.”
Sponsored by CBS and the Republican National Committee, the session also included retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Dickerson was joined by CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett and Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel.
John McCormick—With assistance from James Nash, Kevin Cirilli, Michael C. Bender, and Sahil Kapur.
NAFDAC Grants Conditional Emergency Use Authorisation For Jansen COVID-19 Vaccine
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, on Tuesday granted conditional Emergency Use Authorisation for Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in Nigerians above 18 years of age.
In a press statement made available to the media, the Director-General of the Agency, Prof Christianah Mojisola Adeyeye said after a thorough evaluation, the NAFDAC Vaccine Committee concluded that the data on the vaccine were robust and met criteria for efficacy, safety and quality.
”The data also show that the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks thereby supporting the manufacturer’s recommended use. Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is the third vaccine recommended in Nigeria for preventing COVID-19.”
On vaccine efficacy, Adeyeye noted that the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is administered as a single dose and results from a clinical trial involving people in the United States, South Africa and Latin American countries found that Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine was effective at preventing COVID-19 in people from 18 years of age.
She added: ”The Phase III clinical trial involved over 44,000 people. Half received a single dose of the vaccine and half were given a placebo (a dummy injection). People did not know if they had been given Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine or placebo.
”The trial found a 67 percent reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases after two weeks in people who received Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine”.
On side effects, she said the most commonly reported side effects with the vaccine were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. Most of these side effects were mild to moderate in severity and lasted 1-2 days.
Speaking on vaccine safety, she said in line with the NAFDAC’s Pharmacovigilance and safety monitoring plan for COVID-19 vaccines, Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine would be closely monitored and subject to several activities that apply specifically to COVID-19 vaccines.
”Manufacturers are required to provide monthly safety reports in addition to the regular updates generated by NAFDAC activities. Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine works by preparing the body to defend itself against COVID-19.”
She further explained that unopened vaccine vials can be stored and/or transported frozen at -25°C to – 15°C for up to 24 months and three months when stored at 2 to 8°C.
She also stated that the Ministry of Health and National Primary Health Care Development Agency will announce when the vaccine becomes available for use in Nigeria.
NLC Alleged That El-Rufai Reverted Minimum Wage to N18,000
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday alleged that the Kaduna State government plans to infiltrate its protest with thugs.
It said it was misled in praising the Nasir El-Rufai administration for being the first to pay the new N30,000 minimum wage.
NLC, in a statement by its Kaduna State Council Chairman, Ayuba Suleiman, said the state had since reverted to the old wage of N18, 000 for council workers. It said 20,000 civil servants have been receiving half salary of less than N18, 000.
The workers union said the state owed its members several allowances. It condemned threats to arrest NLC President Ayuba Wabba.
“We are calling the attention of the general public to the planned mobilisation of thugs by the state government to discredit our peaceful protest. We urge the people of Kaduna State to be vigilant and stand against this plan.
“We implore the general public to remain calm and peaceful throughout the five-day warning strike.
“We are assuring the Kaduna State workers and the general public of our commitment to maintaining peaceful strike action in their interest,” Suleiman said.
FACAN Seeks Partnership With Lagos on Ranching
The Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN) is seeking partnership with the Lagos State government on the operation of ranches as part of a road map with investment plans that seek to improve animal productivity and production, as well as increase the value addition of key livestock value chains.
Its President, Dr Victor Iyama told the media that the association is examining various aspects of agricultural development such as investment, demand, consumption, gender and social inclusion and is ready to partner with Lagos in driving out livestock-sector investment interventions, to help the state meet its targets by improving productivity and total production in the key livestock value chains of sheep and cow
According to him, the absence of a roadmap to develop the livestock sector had hindered the successful implementation of previous investment plans for the sector.
He said the creation of the master plan would guide livestock-sector investment interventions in improving feed and water resources, health services, industry and factory and promote private sector investment and business environment.
Urging the Lagos government to pursue the establishment of ranches for hire, Iyama reiterated that investors were convinced the efforts would foster public-private partnerships for livestock development.
According to him, private operators will be ready to rent ranches for meat cattle, indicating that the state remains one of the safest places for increasing industries for meat production and milk processing.
Recently, the Lagos State Butchers Association has requested the provision of about 50 hectares of land from the Lagos State Government for ranching and rearing herds of cattle in the state.
Meantime, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Absiola Olusanya, said well over 1.8 million herds of cattle and over 1.4 million herds of sheep and goats, were being consumed in Lagos yearly.
Olusanya called on the private sector to partner with it to establish feedlots in the state for cattle rearing and fattening in furtherance of its reforms and sanitization of the red meat value chain, stressing that partnership becomes necessary as it would ensure better production and supply of cattle for consumption in the state.
According to her, the feedlots when operational would help revive and resuscitate cows that might have travelled from far cities such as Sokoto, Jalingo, Bauchi and Jigawa among others where they may have come to Lagos before slaughtering them.
Olusanya added that the feedlot system would also help in fattening the cows before taking them to the slaughter slabs which would improve the quality of beef as well as help butchers and meat sellers to make more profit. “We have been having discussions around the transformation agenda centred on abattoirs, transportation and markets but there is a revised plan to have a more holistic approach to the red meat value chain.
“We are not just focusing on abattoirs alone which are a processing angle, we are starting right from the animal identification and traceability systems, meaning right from the source or point of origination of the cattle.
“That is why we want to establish feedlots in the state so that we can have cattle fattening centres. Having feedlot centres means that the cattle can rest, they can be fattening.”
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