WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is looking for ways to potentially accelerate delivery of Taiwan’s next generation of new-build F-16 fighter jets, U.S. officials said. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they have not yet come up with a solution on how to speed delivery of Block 70 F-16s, manufactured by Lockheed Martin and equipped with new capabilities. The aircraft are currently slated to be delivered by the end of 2026.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden’s public approval rating fell to the lowest level of his presidency this week as Americans appeared exhausted by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic toll, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll. The national poll, conducted Jan. 19-20, found that 43% of U.S. adults approved of Biden’s performance in office, while 52% disapproved and the rest were not sure. The prior week’s poll had put Biden at a 45% approval rating and 50% disapproval. After holding above 50% in his first months in office, Biden’s popularity began dropping in mid-August as COVID-19 deaths surged across the country and the U.S.-backed Afghan government collapsed.
MONROVIA (AFP) - A stampede at a church gathering in Liberia’s capital Monrovia killed 29 people overnight, the deputy information minister told state radio on Thursday. The incident occurred during an all-night Christian worship event at New Kru Town, a neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital, Jalawah Tonpo said. “The doctors said 29 persons died and some are on the critical list,” Tonpo said, calling into state radio from a nearby hospital. “This is a sad day for the country.” Exodus Morias, a resident who attended the event, told Reuters the stampede began after a group of armed men rushed the crowd in an attempt to stage a robbery.
UNITED NATIONS (ABC News) - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday the world is worse in many ways than it was five years ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and geopolitical tensions that have sparked conflicts everywhere — but unlike U.S. President Joe Biden he thinks Russia will not invade Ukraine. Guterres said in an interview with The Associated Press that the appeal for peace he issued on his first day in the UN’s top job on Jan. 1, 2017 and his priorities in his first term of trying to prevent conflicts and tackle global inequalities, the COVID-19 crisis and a warming planet haven’t changed. “The secretary-general of the UN has no power,” Guterres said. “We can have influence. I can persuade. I can mediate, but I have no power.”
ROME (Reuters) - The Italian coastguard rescued 305 migrants who were trying to reach Europe aboard an overloaded boat that ran into difficulty off the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, a statement said on Friday.
Two coastguard units reached the boat about 20 miles from the Italian coast. Those rescued included 17 women and 6 minors. The operation was particularly complex due to the small size of the vessel and worries it could capsize due to the excessive number of people on board, the coastguard statement said.