Tag Archives: Joe Biden

Taliban warns NATO … in Afghanistan.

Advertisements

Joe Biden’s administration has said it would review the deal, with the Pentagon accusing the Afghan insurgent group of not meeting their commitment to reduce violence.

The Taliban on Saturday warned NATO against seeking a “continuation of war”, as the alliance weighs a planned withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Defence ministers from the Washington-backed allies are to meet next week to discuss whether NATO’s 10,000-strong mission — mostly carrying out support roles — should stay or go, as Taliban violence rages.

“Our message to the upcoming NATO ministerial meeting is that the continuation of occupation and war is neither in your interest nor in the interest of your and our people,” the Taliban said in a statement.

“Anyone seeking extension of wars and occupation will be held liable for it just like the previous two decades.”

Advertisements

Former US president Donald Trump struck a deal with the Taliban last year under which the United States agreed foreign troops would leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in return for conditions including cutting ties with Al-Qaeda and opening peace talks with the Kabul government.

Joe Biden’s administration has said it would review the deal, with the Pentagon accusing the Afghan insurgent group of not meeting their commitment to reduce violence.

Advertisements

The Taliban in turn has accused the US of breaching the agreement and insisted it will continue its “fight and jihad” if foreign troops do not leave by May.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 07, 2019 NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a press conference with the German chancellor in Berlin. – US President Donald Trump will host NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Washington at a time of severe strain within the Atlantic alliance, the White House announced Saturday. (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

In his final days in office Trump unilaterally reduced US forces in Afghanistan to just 2,500 — the lowest since the start of the war in 2001.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has repeatedly insisted that NATO members must decide “together” on the future of their mission and he hopes Biden will coordinate more closely with allies.

Advertisements

“If we decide to leave we risk to jeopardise the peace process, we risk to lose the gains we have made in the fight against international terrorism over the last years,” the NATO chief said earlier this month.

“If we decide to stay we risk to continue to be in a difficult military operation in Afghanistan and we risk increased violence also against NATO troops.”

The Taliban on Saturday said it was “seriously committed” to the US deal, claiming it had “significantly decreased the level of operations”.

Insurgents have launched a string of offensives threatening at least two strategic provincial capitals in southern Afghanistan in recent months.

Advertisements

They have also been blamed by the US and the Afghan government for a wave of assassinations on journalists, politicians, judges and activists.

The warring sides launched peace talks in September year, but progress has been slow and overshadowed by the violence.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

House weighs Guantanamo prison shutdown.

Advertisements

The Biden administration has not made Guantanamo one of its top early priorities as it grapples with the pandemic and its economic fallout at home and other global challenges.

The Biden administration has launched a formal review of the future of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, reviving the Obama-era goal of closing the notorious facility, a White House official said on Friday.

Aides involved in internal discussions are considering an executive action to be signed by President Joe Biden in coming weeks or months, two people familiar with the matter told the Reuters news agency, signalling a new effort to remove what human rights advocates have called a stain on America’s global image.

Such an initiative, however, is unlikely to bring down the curtain anytime soon on the high-security prison located at the Guantanamo Naval Station, due largely to the steep political and legal obstacles that the new administration will face.

Set up to hold suspects following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the offshore jail came to symbolise the excesses of the US “war on terror” because of harsh interrogation methods that critics say amounted to torture.

Advertisements

“We are undertaking an NSC process to assess the current state of play that the Biden administration has inherited from the previous administration, in line with our broader goal of closing Guantanamo,” National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne told Reuters.

“The NSC will work closely with the departments of defence, state and justice to make progress toward closing the GTMO facility, and also in close consultation with Congress,” she added.

Advertisements

The immediate impact of a new approach could be to reinstate, in some form, the Guantanamo closure policy of Biden’s old boss, former President Barack Obama, which was reversed by Donald Trump as soon as he took office in 2017.

Trump kept the prison open during his four years in the White House – though he never loaded it up with “bad dudes,” as he once vowed. Now, 40 prisoners remain, most held for nearly two decades without being charged or tried.

The Biden administration has not made Guantanamo one of its top early priorities as it grapples with the pandemic and its economic fallout at home and other global challenges.

Advertisements

In contrast, Obama made the closing of Guantanamo one of his first executive orders in 2009 but failed to achieve that goal by the end of his second term.

The Biden administration has launched a formal review of the future of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, reviving the Obama-era goal of closing the controversial facility, a White House official said on Friday [File: Mike Theiler/Reuters]

Shutting the facility has been a longtime demand of progressive Democrats, whose support helped Biden win the White House in November.

The prison’s continued existence, critics say, is a reminder to the world of harsh detention practices that opened the United States to accusations of torture.

It is also a stark example of how racist-fuelled suspicion of Black and brown men is causing the disproportionate monitoring and suspicion of acts of terrorism.

Advertisements

More than a hundred human rights organisations signed a February 2 letter to Biden calling on him to close the prison and end the indefinite detention of suspects held there, saying it was long past time for “a meaningful reckoning with the full scope of damage that the post-9/11 approach has caused”.

“Guantanamo continues to cause escalating and profound damage to the men who still languish there, and the approach it exemplifies continues to fuel and justify bigotry, stereotyping and stigma,” according to the letter. “Guantanamo entrenches racial divisions and racism more broadly, and risks facilitating additional rights violations.”

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Biden begins destroying Trump’s asylum policy ‘remains in Mexico’

Advertisements

The program was part of Trump’s hardline plan to fight illegal immigration, one of the hallmarks of his administration and which included efforts to build a border wall and the policy which separated children from thousands of migrant families.

Asylum seekers forced to remain in Mexico while their cases are being resolved in the United States will begin to be admitted into the US as of next week, President Joe Biden’s administration announced Friday.

Biden instructed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) earlier this month to take action to end the controversial “Remain in Mexico” program put in place by his predecessor Donald Trump.

Advertisements

It saw tens of thousands of non-Mexican asylum seekers — mostly from Central America — sent back over the border pending the outcome of their asylum applications, creating a humanitarian crisis in the area, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Beginning on February 19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin phase one of a program to restore safe and orderly processing at the southwest border,” the agency announced in a statement.

Advertisements

It said there are approximately 25,000 active cases still. Candidates will be tested first for the coronavirus, a senior DHS official who asked not to be identified told reporters.

At least 70,000 people were returned to Mexico under the agreement from January 2019, when the program began to be implemented, through December 2020, according to the NGO American Immigration Council.

US authorities emphasized that they are working closely with the Mexican government and with international organizations and NGOs at the border.

Advertisements

DHS chief Alejandro Mayorkas, who is the first Latino and the first immigrant to head the department, stressed that Washington is committed to “rebuilding a safe, orderly and humane immigration system.”

“This latest action is another step in our commitment to reform immigration policies that do not align with our nation’s values,” Mayorkas said in a statement.

The program was part of Trump’s hardline plan to fight illegal immigration, one of the hallmarks of his administration and which included efforts to build a border wall and the policy which separated children from thousands of migrant families.

After Biden took office on January 20, his administration announced that it would reverse the most controversial measures and created a task force to reunite families that remain separated, a policy his administration has termed a “national shame.”

Advertisements

On the day Biden was inaugurated, the DHS announced the suspension of new registrations in the “Remain in Mexico” program and asked all those enrolled to stay where they are while waiting to be informed about their cases.

Washington said Friday that those waiting “should not approach the border until instructed to do so.”

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Angola approves same sex marriage upon US pressure.

Advertisements

The decriminalization of LGBTQ+ in Angola came a week after United States President Joe Biden began a global push for legislation of LGBTQ+ rights.

Angola has legalised same-sex marriage 133 years after the proscription of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community in the country.

Advertisements

The country’s parliamentarians who voted to overhaul Angola’s criminal statute books did not just remove the passage. They also banned discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The reform has been hailed by human rights activists who have been pushing for equal rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community in Angola and other African countries.

Advertisements

“The law decriminalising homosexuality adopted in Angola in 2019 took effect today,” LGBTQ+ rights advocate Jean-Luc Romero-Michel tweeted. “Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is now reprehensible and even punishable by prison.”

He said it was “a great step forward” in the fight against state-sponsored discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.

Proscription of the LGBTQ+ community was included in the country’s penal code in 1888 when the southwest African nation was still a Portuguese colony. The government said homosexuality was one of many “vices against nature”.

Advertisements

There was a provision in its law that could send same-sex couples to prison for at least 14 years.

The decriminalization of LGBTQ+ in Angola came a week after United States President Joe Biden began a global push for legislation of LGBTQ+ rights.

Biden in a statement on Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World directed American Embassy in Nigeria and other countries to push for the legalisation of homosexuality in their respective countries of residence.

The US president said the memorandum reaffirms and supplements the principles established in the Presidential Memorandum of December 6, 2011 (International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons).

Advertisements

“All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love,” Biden said.

“Through this memorandum, I am directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.”

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Impeachment trial: Prosecutors set to wrap up case against Trump.

Advertisements

The impeachment managers laid out their case over several hours arguing that the links are clear between Trump, his lies about election fraud, the violence, and the then president’s inaction as the riot unfolded.

Impeachment prosecutors are expected to wrap up their case against ex-president Donald Trump in the US Senate Thursday, backed by chilling footage that showed senior politicians fleeing for their lives during last month’s assault on Congress.

The Democratic impeachment managers will argue for a second day that the riot was deliberately incited by the former president, with an aim of reminding senators, and watching Americans, just how bad things got on January 6.

On Wednesday they walked senators — many of them clearly shaken — through hours of graphic presentations and video, some of which came from security cameras and police bodycams and was being aired for the first time.

The ensuing mayhem left five people dead, including one woman shot after she invaded the Capitol and one policeman killed by the crowd.

Advertisements

The episode occurred after Trump told a rally near the White House that his failure to win reelection was due to vote rigging, but Trump’s defense lawyers, who will present their arguments later this week, say Trump cannot be personally blamed for the riot and that the entire trial is unconstitutional because he has already left office.

Video played on the Senate floor Wednesday showed then vice president Mike Pence — who was in the Capitol to preside over certification of Joe Biden’s defeat of Trump — being hurried down back stairs to safety by security officers, along with his family.

Advertisements

Top Democratic senator Chuck Schumer is seen narrowly dodging a rampaging throng of pro-Trump rioters. And Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican who often opposed Trump and was turned into a hate figure by the president, is seen being steered away by an officer at the last moment as an angry crowd approaches.

US President Donald Trump arrives to board Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on October 14, 2020. – Trumps travels to Des Moines, Iowa, for a Make America Great” rally. (Photo by Alex Edelman / AFP)

In another segment, the mob can be seen smashing into the offices of Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives and another frequent target of Trump’s most violent rhetoric.

“Nancy, where are you Nancy?” protesters call out as they search, not knowing that eight of her staff were barricaded behind a door in the same corridor. Pelosi herself had already been urgently whisked away.

Advertisements

“We know from the rioters themselves that if they had found Speaker Pelosi, they would have killed her,” said impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett, a House delegate from the US Virgin Islands.

The impeachment managers laid out their case over several hours arguing that the links are clear between Trump, his lies about election fraud, the violence, and the then president’s inaction as the riot unfolded.

Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin said Trump “completely abdicated” his duty.

“Donald Trump surrendered his role as commander-in-chief and became the inciter-in-chief of a dangerous insurrection,” Raskin said.

Advertisements

Republicans loyal so far
Holed up in his luxury Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, Trump has been gone from power for three weeks.

But the trial has put the flamboyant and deeply polarizing Republican once more at the center of the national conversation — and underlined his still-powerful hold over the base of the Republican electorate.

Advertisements

Some Republican senators have expressed disgust with the pro-Trump riot, openly blasted Trump’s refusal to accept defeat to Biden, and acknowledged the compelling case made by the Democrats with the aid of extensive video — an unprecedented development on the Senate floor.

“The evidence that has been presented thus far is pretty damning,” Republican senator Lisa Murkowski said.

“Of course it’s powerful,” Senator Bill Cassidy, who with Murkowski was among six Republicans in supporting the trial’s constitutionality, said of the chilling footage. But “how that influences final decisions remains to be seen.”

Advertisements

It is highly unlikely that enough Republicans will join the Democrats to secure conviction in the impeachment trial.

This requires a two-thirds majority, meaning 17 Republicans would need to go along with the 50 Democrats.

Forced off Twitter and other social media platforms following his unprecedented attempt to foment a conspiracy theory about his election defeat, Trump has fewer outlets where he can vent.

But it is also believed that advisors are pressing him to keep back, fearing his reappearance could turn Republican senators against him.

Advertisements

According to US media reports, Trump was privately furious on the trial’s opening day Tuesday at what he saw as his own lawyers’ lackluster performance.

Unlike Trump’s first impeachment trial a year ago, which took three weeks, this one is expected to be over within days.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Joe Biden presses Xi Jinping over Hong Kong, Xinjiang.

Advertisements

..Biden immediately challenged his counterpart over China’s projection of power in the Indo-Pacific region, the crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong..

Joe Biden pressed Chinese leader Xi Jinping over human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang late Wednesday in their first call since the new US president took office on January 20, according to the White House.

Advertisements

Setting the stage for what could be a contentious relationship between the two superpowers, Biden offered Xi his “greetings and well wishes” for the Chinese people on the occasion of the Lunar New Year celebrations, the White House said in a statement.

But, establishing his own foundations for Washington-Beijing ties after four tumultuous years under predecessor Donald Trump, Biden immediately challenged his counterpart over China’s projection of power in the Indo-Pacific region, the crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and the oppressive treatment of millions of Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang region.

In the call Biden told Xi that his priorities were to protect the American people’s security, prosperity, health and way of life, and to preserve “a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the White House said in a statement on the call.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 25, 2015 US Vice President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping toast during a State Luncheon for China hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Department of State in Washington, DC. – US President Joe Biden expressed concerns to Chinese leader Xi Jinping about human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang late February 10, 2021, in their first call since Biden took office on January 20, according to the White House. (Photo by Paul J. RICHARDS / AFP)

Specifically, Biden “underscored his fundamental concerns about Beijing’s coercive and unfair economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan,” it said.

Advertisements

The two leaders also spoke about the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and weapons proliferation.

“Biden committed to pursuing practical, results-oriented engagements when it advances the interests of the American people and those of our allies,” the White House said.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Democrats open cases in Trump’s impeachment trial.

Advertisements

The Trump team will get the same amount of time as the impeachment managers — up to 16 hours divided over two days — to present their defense later.

Democrats present the case against Donald Trump in his Senate impeachment trial Wednesday, arguing that he directed an enraged crowd to storm Congress in the dying days of his presidency — even if Republicans look unlikely to convict.

Unlike Trump’s first impeachment trial a year ago, which took three weeks, this one is expected to last just days, with lawmakers on both sides keen to move on.

Advertisements

After a large majority of Republicans voted Tuesday that they consider putting a former president on trial to be unconstitutional, it would take a major surprise for Democrats to obtain the two-thirds majority in the Senate requires for conviction.

But even if Trump looks set for acquittal in the 50-50 Senate, as he was last year, Democrats are presenting a searing case against the populist real estate tycoon, who is holed up in his luxury Florida club.

Advertisements

Impeachment managers, the equivalent of prosecutors in a regular trial, are expected to take no more than two days to lay out their contention that Trump incited an insurrection when he tried to overturn his November election loss to Joe Biden with a sustained campaign of lies about voter fraud.

On Tuesday they gave a preview, playing a 13-minute compilation of video clips showing Trump stirring up a crowd of supporters on January 6 before a mob rampaged through the halls of Congress, seeking to stop certification of Biden’s victory.

“If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there is no such thing,” lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin said in a speech that riveted watching senators.

Advertisements

Raskin fought tears as he described going to Congress with his family on January 6, having just buried his 25-year-old son the day before, only to have to flee to safety when the angry pro-Trump crowd burst into the Capitol.

“There was a sound I will never forget: the sound of pounding on the door like a battering ram — the most haunting sound I ever heard,” Raskin said, choking up.

Trump lawyers drop ball
Trump is remaining largely and uncharacteristically silent in his Mar-a-Lago retreat. Forced off Twitter and other social media platforms in the wake of his unprecedented attempt to foment a conspiracy theory about his election defeat, Trump has fewer outlets where he can vent.

But it is also believed that advisors are pressing him to keep back, fearing his reappearance would only anger Republican senators.

Advertisements

According to US media reports, Trump was privately furious on Tuesday at his own lawyers’ performance.

One of the attorneys, Bruce Castor, delivered a rambling, often baffling speech of about 40 minutes that even Trump allies said made no sense.

Advertisements

The other lawyer, David Schoen, did not defend Trump’s behavior during the post-election period but angrily denounced Democrats and the impeachment process in the kind of high-energy style the former president famously appreciates.

A November 24, 2020 photo shows US President Donald Trump speaking at the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC. – Trump’s unprecedented attempt to defy the results of the US election were thrown into fresh disarray November 25, 2020 when he abruptly canceled a trip reportedly meant to showcase his grievances with an appearance at the epic Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

The impeachment trial threatens to “tear this country apart,” Schoen said.

The Trump team will get the same amount of time as the impeachment managers — up to 16 hours divided over two days — to present their defense later.

Advertisements

Despite leaving office in disgrace — the first president in history to be twice impeached — Trump is still hugely popular among Republican voters, who see him as a champion against Washington elites and a bulwark against rapidly deepening liberal social values.

Because of this, Trump retains considerable power over the party, explaining why so few Republican senators — despite often being openly angry at his behaviour — are willing to convict him.

On Tuesday, just six out of 50 Republican senators voted with the 50 Democrats to confirm that the trial was constitutional and could go ahead.

One of them, Bill Cassidy, said he had previously opposed the trial but changed his mind after hearing the opening presentations.

Advertisements

He called Trump’s lawyers “disorganized, random. They talked about many things, but they didn’t talk about the issue at hand.”

While the end result seems certain, some doubt remains because the wily Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly told members to vote with their conscience — not along party lines.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Joe Biden pushes to legalise Homosexuals rights in Nigeria..

Advertisements

One of the countries with a restriction against the legalisation Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons globally is Nigeria – with a law prohibiting their acts.

United States President Joe Biden has directed American Embassy in Nigeria and other countries to push for the legalisation of homosexuality in their respective countries of residence.

Biden gave the directive in a White House statement on Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World.

The United States president said the memorandum reaffirms and supplements the principles established in the Presidential Memorandum of December 6, 2011 (International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons).

Advertisements

“It shall be the policy of the United States to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics, and to lead by the power of our example in the cause of advancing the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world,” Biden said in the memorandum.

“Through this memorandum, I am directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons”

Advertisements

Biden said the memorandum calls for “Swift and Meaningful United States Responses to Human Rights Abuses of LGBTQI+ Persons Abroad.

“The Department of State shall lead a standing group, with appropriate interagency representation, to help ensure the Federal Government’s swift and meaningful response to serious incidents that threaten the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons abroad.”

Biden noted that “When foreign governments move to restrict the rights of LGBTQI+ persons or fail to enforce legal protections in place, thereby contributing to a climate of intolerance, agencies engaged abroad shall consider appropriate responses, including using the full range of diplomatic and assistance tools and, as appropriate, financial sanctions, visa restrictions, and other actions.”

Advertisements

One of the countries with a restriction against the legalisation Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons globally is Nigeria – with a law prohibiting their acts.

The Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA), signed into law in 2014 by former President Goodluck Jonathan, was enacted on the premise that the Nigerian culture is antithetical to homosexuality.

With the population of the country largely divided between Christians and Muslims, there was also a religious urgency to the prohibition. Persons of the LGBTQ+ community risk up to 20 years jail term in Nigeria.

However, Amnesty International said the prohibition by the government exposes persons of the LGBTQ+ in the country to harm and called for a reversal of the law. US President Biden shared the same sentiment in the memorandum.

Advertisements

“All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love,” Biden said.

He said the United States belongs at the forefront of this struggle — speaking out and standing strong for members of the LGBTQ+ and holds the values of treating people with dignity regardless of race, colour or sexuality.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Huawei CEO speaks on open policy hopes from Biden’s Gov’t.

Advertisements

Huawei also is building an alternative operating system after the US barred it from using Google’s Android.

The CEO and founder of Chinese telecom giant Huawei called Tuesday for a reset with the United States under President Joe Biden, after the firm was battered by sanctions imposed by Donald Trump’s administration.

In his first appearance before journalists in a year, Ren Zhengfei said his “confidence in Huawei’s ability to survive has grown” despite its travails across much of the western world where it is maligned as a potential security threat.

Advertisements

The comments come as the firm struggles under rules that have effectively banned US firms from selling it technology such as semiconductors and other critical components, citing national security concerns.

Insisting that Huawei remained strong and ready to buy from US companies, Ren called on the Biden White House for a “mutually beneficial” change of tack that could restore its access to the goods.

Continuing to do so, he warned, would hurt US suppliers.

Advertisements

“We hope the new US administration would have an open policy for the benefit of American firms and the economic development of the United States,” said Ren, 76.

“We still hope that we can buy large volumes of American materials, components and equipment so that we can all benefit from China’s growth.”

Ren was speaking during a visit to the city of Taiyuan in China’s northern coal belt to open a laboratory for technologies that automate coal production to boost safety in a notoriously dangerous industry.

Founded by Ren in 1987, Huawei largely flew under the global radar for decades as it became the world’s largest maker of telecoms equipment and a top mobile phone producer.

Advertisements

That changed under Trump, who targeted the firm as part of an intensifying China-US trade and technology standoff.

Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei speaks during a press briefing in Taiyuan, in China’s northern Shanxi province on February 9, 2021. (Photo by JESSICA YANG / AFP)

Trump from 2018 imposed escalating sanctions to cut off Huawei’s access to components and bar it from the US market, while he also successfully pressured allies to shun the firm’s gear in their telecoms systems.

Advertisements

The former president raised fears that China’s government could potentially use “back doors” in Huawei gear for espionage, which the company strenuously denies.

The US campaign is hurting Huawei. Once a top-three smartphone supplier along with Samsung and Apple, its shipments plummeted more than 40 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to industry tracker IDC, as the supply-chain disruptions curbed production.

It fell to number five in the world in smartphones in the quarter — behind Chinese rivals Xiaomi and Oppo.

Advertisements

Diversification
With China’s huge domestic market, Huawei will likely survive but not without major changes, said Nicole Peng, analyst with Canalys.

“They will not go away. I believe they will come back, but need to rethink the business model,” she said.

To this end, Huawei in November spun off budget smartphone line Honor to free that brand’s access to needed components.

But Ren insisted Tuesday it would hold on to its main premium phone brands.

Advertisements

“We have decided we absolutely will not sell off our consumer devices, our smartphone business,” he said.

Despite his apparent overture to the White House, Ren admitted it would be “extremely difficult” for Biden to lift the sanctions.

Advertisements

There is pressure in Washington to stay firm on China, and Biden’s commerce secretary nominee Gina Raimondo has pledged to “protect” America from potential Chinese threats, including Huawei.

Huawei is fast diversifying to encompass enterprise and cloud computing, Internet-Of-Things devices and networks, and other business segments related to the advent of 5G networks, an area of Huawei strength.

“We have more means to overcome the difficulties (we face),” Ren said.

Advertisements

Huawei also is building an alternative operating system after the US barred it from using Google’s Android.

But Ren appeared to shoot down recent reports that Huawei is seeking self-sufficiency in semiconductors — long an Achilles Heel for China — either by acquiring stakes in chip companies or setting up its own plant.

“Huawei won’t be investing in this ourselves,” he said.

Ren also has had to deal with the December 2018 arrest of his daughter, Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, on a US warrant during a Vancouver stopover.

Advertisements

Meng, 48, faces fraud and conspiracy charges in the United States over alleged Huawei violations of US sanctions against Iran, and separate charges of theft of trade secrets.

Her trial will begin in earnest in March, after two years of legal skirmishing. She could ultimately be extradited to the United States.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

America faces Donald Trump’s destructive legacy.

Advertisements

Biden is seeking to rapidly expand vaccine distribution and it is now clear he is preparing to move ahead with trying to pass his $1.9 trillion relief package

In a momentous week, America confronts a new reckoning with the negligent, destructive legacy of Donald Trump.

Advertisements

The ex-President faces an unprecedented second impeachment trial over a historic insurrection against Congress and an attempt to steal an election that profoundly wounded US democracy. His successor, President Joe Biden, is meanwhile intensifying his national rescue effort from the other crises that Trump left behind, as new viral strains cloud recent good news in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic and with millions of Americans hungry and jobless and out of school.

Nothing is normal about an extreme moment in America’s modern story with a political system assailed by extremism, truth under assault and a country desperate to emerge from a once in a 100-year plague.

One year and four days after then-President Trump was first acquitted by a Republican-led Senate of high crimes and misdemeanors, the now Democratic-steered chamber will sit in judgment again Tuesday, over his seditious summoning of a mob that stormed Congress, in a trial that could last up to several weeks.

The proceeding will restore the full glare of Trump’s compelling but malevolent influence over Washington three weeks after he left office in disgrace and will challenge Biden’s efforts to fully establish his own new presidency.

Advertisements

Trump has refused to personally step back into the spotlight by testifying in his own defense. But the never-before-seen spectacle of an ex-commander-in-chief being held accountable through impeachment for crimes against the Constitution — even if he’s ultimately acquitted as expected — will be an apt final chapter for a presidency that still threatens to tear the nation apart.

It also seems to mark the culmination of the failure of Trump’s Republican Party to answer for a leader whose bond with grassroots supporters granted him complete impunity and exposed a fatal flaw in the checks and balances of the US political system. A majority of GOP senators have signaled they will yet again punt on Trump’s offenses and take refuge in a questionable constitutional argument that a President impeached while in office cannot be tried as a private citizen.

Advertisements

Democrats are almost certain to be deprived of the two-thirds majority needed to convict in a presidential impeachment trial and to bar Trump from future federal office. But they plan to lay out a case so damning about the horror inside the Capitol on January 6 that they hope it will forever stain Trump politically and damage the Republicans who defend him.

But the former President’s hold on the GOP was underscored last week when it was left to majority House Democrats to strip conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee slots after a series of inflammatory past statements. “The party is his. It doesn’t belong to anybody else,” the Georgia congresswoman told reporters. The coming days will begin to test whether prolonging the personality cult around the demagogic Trump is a risky long-term bet among the wider, more moderate electorate.

With polls showing increasing public support for Trump’s conviction, the trial could also be an important moment in apportioning wider blame for the Trump presidency and shaping the national politics of the coming years.

Advertisements

Democrats can “still win in the court of public opinion. That’s why I think the trial remains an important part of our political landscape,” said David Gergen, an adviser to four presidents and a CNN political commentator.

“It’s a chance for Democrats to make the case once and for all that there was no fraud, that Joe Biden was legitimately elected and the people who tried to steal this election are the ones who assaulted the Capitol,” Gergen told CNN’s Ana Cabrera.

Biden criticizes Trump for Covid-19 effort

The sense that America is at a historic and disorientating pivot point is exacerbated by the hopes raised by a decline in new cases of Covid-19 but also fears that new viral variants will dilute the full potential of vaccines that hold the key to ending the disaster.

Biden is seeking to rapidly expand vaccine distribution and it is now clear he is preparing to move ahead with trying to pass his $1.9 trillion relief package without Republican votes, arguing millions of Americans are suffering.

Advertisements

In his Super Bowl interview on “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell,” the President stuck to his practice of frank talk about the state of the pandemic while offering optimism of better days to come if America stays united, wears masks and Congress does its part.

“One of the disappointments was — when we came to office, is the circumstance relating to how the administration was handling Covid was even more dire than we thought,” Biden said, again grappling with the legacy of Trump, who downplayed, denied and politicized a virus that has killed more than 463,000 Americans.

Advertisements

But the President also offered some, albeit distant, hope of a full house at next year’s big game.

“It’s my hope and expectation, if we’re able to put together and make up for all the lost time fighting Covid that’s occurred — that we’ll be able to watch the Super Bowl — with a full stadium,” Biden said.

As the administration heaped pressure on Congress, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday that given the scale of the economic crisis, the risks of not acting are worse than the risks of doing something. The US could return to full employment next year if the relief package is passed, Yellen told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” Some Senate Republicans have offered a smaller $600 billion plan to test Biden’s vow of restoring political unity. But the move underscored a deep disconnect in perception between Republicans and Democrats on the magnitude of the economic crisis.

Advertisements

“The economy has come roaring back, savings rates are at record highs … it is not an economy in collapse,” Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey told Tapper.

“Today, we have serious problems for workers in the restaurant, the hospitality, the travel and entertainment sectors. That’s really a handful of places.”

The US is, meanwhile, in a race against time to build sufficient immunity from vaccines before variants create new viral peaks. A new study shows that a mutation first discovered in the UK, which is more infectious and may be more lethal, is now rapidly spreading in the United States. In another potential blow to hopes of a swift end to the crisis, South African officials said Sunday that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offered only minimal protect against a new variant that originated there.

“It is a pretty big setback,” said Peter Hotez, dean of the National College of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College. While other vaccines may offer more protection against the South African variant, the increasing prevalence of the UK variant in the United States is worrisome, he told CNN “Newsroom.”

Advertisements

“Even though the number of new cases daily is cut in half, that is the eye of the hurricane and the big wall is going to hit us again, and that is the UK and the South African variant, maybe one or two others will become dominant.”

‘In the Soviet Union, you’d call it a show trial’

Advertisements

As the virus — and the havoc its wreaked on the economy — continues to pose a serious threat, it’s impeachment that will suck up all the oxygen in Washington this week.

Toomey, who’s not running for reelection in 2022, is a possible vote to convict Trump given his vigorous criticism of his actions on January 6 and attempt to steal an election Biden clearly won. But even he admitted it is unlikely Trump will be convicted.

“I’m going to listen to the arguments on both sides and make the decision that I think is right,” the Pennsylvania Republican said, adding that there was “no place in the Republican Party for people who believe in conspiracy theories like QAnon,” in an apparent allusion to Greene and some other Trump loyalists.

Advertisements

But Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy slammed Democrats for their swift impeachment of Trump, who is facing a single charge of inciting insurrection, before he left office last month. “There was no process,” Cassidy said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “If it happened in the Soviet Union, you would have called it a show trial.”

In the House, 10 Republicans joined Democrats last month in laying down the historic marker of impeaching Trump for a second time. California Rep. Adam Schiff, who was the lead Democratic House impeachment manager during Trump’s first trial last year, defended his colleagues against the “process argument” that the second impeachment of Trump was rushed.

“Every day he remained in office he was a danger to the country. We simply couldn’t sit still and wait for weeks or months while this man posed a danger to the country. So, we did act with alacrity,” Schiff said on “Meet the Press.”

Rep. Liz Cheney, who fought off a bid to strip her of her third-ranking Republican House leadership post last week but was censured by her state party in Wyoming over the weekend, doubled down on her bet that future power in the GOP will rest with those who broke with Trump.

Advertisements

“Somebody who has provoked an attack on the United States Capitol to prevent the counting of electoral votes, which resulted in five people dying, who refused to stand up immediately when he was asked and stop the violence, that is a person who does not have a role as a leader of our party going forward,” Cheney said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Her remarks underscored the fact that Trump’s trial and the continuing tumult in the Republican Party over his toxic legacy mean that the fight to preserve the traditions of US democracy are far from over even though he left office.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Not enemy, Joe Biden foresees ‘grave rivalry’ with China.

Advertisements

Trump had chosen open confrontation and verbal attacks, without serious tangible results for the enormous US trade deficit with China.

President Joe Biden anticipates the US rivalry with China will take the form of “extreme competition” rather than conflict between the two world powers.

Biden said in an excerpt of a CBS interview aired Sunday that he has not spoken with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping since he became US president.

Advertisements

“He’s very tough. He doesn’t have — and I don’t mean it as a criticism, just the reality — he doesn’t have a democratic, small D, bone in his body,” Biden said.

US President Joe Biden makes his way to his vehicle in the snow, after attending Mass at Saint Joseph on the Brandywine Church in Wilmington, Delaware on February 7, 2021. – President Joe Biden anticipates the US rivalry with China will take the form of “extreme competition” rather than conflict between the two world powers.<br />Biden said in a CBS interview aired Sunday that he has not spoken with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping since he became US president. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

“I’ve said to him all along, that we need not have a conflict. But there’s going to be extreme competition,” Biden said.

“I’m not going to do it the way (Donald) Trump did. We’re going to focus on international rules of the road.”

China is considered in Washington as the United States’ number one strategic adversary, and the primary challenge on the world stage.

Advertisements

Trump had chosen open confrontation and verbal attacks, without serious tangible results for the enormous US trade deficit with China.

Biden has systematically dismantled many of the more controversial measures of the Trump era, while at the same time signaling that the United States will closely look out for its own interests.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Biden Gov’t launches major push for LGBTIQ rights.

Advertisements

The tough rebukes fueled a backlash in parts of Africa, whose most populous nation Nigeria defiantly pushed through its own draconian law.

President Joe Biden has quickly launched a campaign to support LGBTIQ people abroad, putting their rights higher on the US foreign policy agenda than ever before.

Advertisements

Elevating a 2011 initiative launched by his former boss Barack Obama — and reversing a turnaround under Donald Trump — Biden is expanding the scope of US efforts on LGBTIQ rights while also adjusting based on lessons learned over the past decade.

In his first foreign policy speech, Biden announced Thursday he was ordering all US government agencies active abroad to promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people and to come up with plans within 180 days.

“All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love,” Biden said in the presidential memorandum.

Advertisements

Biden, who plans a dramatic rise in US admissions of refugees, promised greater attention to LGBTIQ asylum seekers, including by ensuring action on urgent cases even when vulnerable people first flee to countries that are less welcoming.

The memorandum said that the United States would also combat discriminatory laws overseas and work to build international coalitions against homophobia and transphobia.

A senior State Department official said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to name a special envoy on LGBTIQ issues.

“I think that when that envoy is appointed, that will help to elevate attention to these issues even further,” the official told AFP.

Advertisements

Speaking out
The Biden administration has already incorporated its message in public statements. State Department spokesman Ned Price criticized Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his interior minister verbally attacked gay people, and Biden mentioned LGBTIQ rights in a message to an African Union summit.

Considering the outsized US influence on the world, activists expected Biden to set an example. They pointed to the rapid impact both at home and abroad when Biden, then vice president, in 2012 became the highest-ranking US official to back marriage equality — which became the law across the United States three years later.

Advertisements

After the gradual evolution on LGBTIQ rights under Obama, “we have a radically different opportunity today,” said Jessica Stern, executive director of advocacy group OutRight Action International.

“To have President Biden issue this very holistic presidential memorandum so early in his administration is a clear indication that this is a political priority for him,” she said.

Stern voiced hope for greater funding for non-governmental groups, which a number of European nations fund more generously.

Advertisements

But she cautioned that the solution was not always vocal US support at the local level.

“One of the most effective and consistent ways of discrediting LGBTIQ people and our movement is to say that they are the result of colonial and Western imposition — they’re getting paid by foreign donors,” Stern said.

The State Department official said the United States would examine each country and decide case by case whether public diplomacy is the best approach.

“Our watch-word always is to work and listen to the activists on the ground working on these issues to get their best advice on how to move the ball,” the official said.

Advertisements

Backing local voices
The United States has plenty of case studies from the Obama years.

Obama slashed aid or trading privileges to Uganda and Gambia after the countries passed laws that authorized imprisonment for homosexuality.

Advertisements

The tough rebukes fueled a backlash in parts of Africa, whose most populous nation Nigeria defiantly pushed through its own draconian law.

But there has been steady progress, even in nations once seen as hotbeds of homophobia such as Jamaica. Gay sex is now legal in nearly two-thirds of all nations, and 28 countries allow same-sex marriage, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

Phillip Ayoub, an associate professor at Occidental College in California who has studied diplomacy and sexual minorities, said the key was to support local campaigners but to let them lead.

Advertisements

“There are activists on the ground who will say that it might not make sense to be fully visible right now because that can increase violence toward our communities,” he said.

“This kind of foreign policy cannot be top-down. It has to be done carefully with civil society in different countries and I think empowering them is one way where we can be productive.”

Trump reversed some LGBTIQ gains at home, particularly on transgender people.

Under Trump’s secretary of state Mike Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, the United States limited visas for foreign diplomats’ same-sex partners, stopped US embassies from flying rainbow flags and entered a joint declaration with countries including Uganda that promoted the “natural” definition of family.

Advertisements

Trump appointed an openly gay ambassador to Germany, Ric Grenell, who launched a campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality, although critics say the effort was aimed more at furthering other Trump goals such as pressuring Iran and discouraging immigration.

After Trump, Ayoub said, Biden’s approach “is a monumental change.”

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Don’t let Trump get intelligence briefings due to his erratic attitude – Biden orders.

Advertisements

President Trump stripped the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, which ignited a firestorm of criticism that the president was punishing high-profile critics.

President Joe Biden said that former President Donald Trump should not receive intelligence briefings even though they typically have been given to other former presidents.

Advertisements

Biden told NoRM‘s known Media in an interview that Trump was “unfit to be president” and his “erratic behavior” is why he should not have access to the nation’s classified information.

“I think not,” Biden said when asked if Trump should receive intelligence briefings. “Because of his erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection.”

“You’ve called him an existential threat. You’ve called him dangerous. You’ve called him reckless,” CBS News’ Norah O”Donnell said to Biden in a clip released Friday.

Advertisements

“Yeah, I have. And I believe it,” Biden responded.

Biden added, “I just think that there is no need for him to have the intelligence briefings. What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?”

File Photo: United States President, Joe Biden | Noble Reporters Media | Adigun Michael Olamide | NoRM News

In 2018, President Trump stripped the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, which ignited a firestorm of criticism that the president was punishing high-profile critics.

“The President was expressing his concern about former President Trump receiving access to sensitive intelligence, but he also has deep trust in his own intelligence team to make a determination about how to provide intelligence information if at any point former President Trump requests a briefing,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in an emailed statement.

Advertisements

Biden, a former Senator from Delaware, did not comment on how he would vote in Trump’s upcoming Senate impeachment trial for allegedly inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, but said he is focused on pushing his aid package through Congress, including a new round of stimulus checks and raising the minimum wage.

“Look, I ran like hell to defeat him because I thought he was unfit to be president. I’ve watched what everybody else watched, what happened when that crew invaded the United States Congress. But I’m not in the Senate now. I’ll let the Senate make that decision,” he said.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Storyline: White House revives weekly address to push Biden’s agenda.

Advertisements

Former President Franklin Roosevelt was the first to make the addresses famous with his fireside chats, and they were later used by former President Carter as well.

The White House has launched a weekly address from President Biden, reviving a presidential tradition that was paused under former President Trump that seeks to offer another tool to advance the administration’s agenda.

The first installment was released Saturday morning on social media, with the president using the opportunity to tout the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package he is trying get pushed through Congress.

“We’re putting together a plan that provides for emergency relief to people who are in desperate need now,” he said in the taped segment. “Everything from mortgage payments to unemployment insurance to rental subsidies to food security for children. It provides for small, medium-sized businesses to be able to open.”

Advertisements

Biden’s inaugural address featured a conversation between the president and a woman identified as Michele Voelkert, 47, who lives in Roseville, Calif., and lost her job at a start-up clothing company due to the pandemic.

She had written a letter to Biden to discuss her dismissal, which she said was the first time she’d ever been laid off.

Advertisements

“Working is part of who you are,” Biden says in a clip of the pair’s conversation distributed on social media. “The idea that we think we can keep businesses open and moving and thriving without dealing with this pandemic is just a nonstarter.”

“I admire your sense of responsibility and your desire to work,” he added.

Does Democrats’ vision for America align with that of their voters?
Biden later spoke with Voelkert’s daughter, telling her she should be “very, very proud of your mom.”

Advertisements

It is unclear what format the conversations will take moving forward, but not every installment is expected to be the same as the phone call between Biden and Voelkert.

“We expect it to take on a variety of forms,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Friday.

The project is another way for Biden, known for his use of retail politics, to maintain his communication with voters even while the coronavirus pandemic forces Americans to remain indoors and away from one another.

Such a program had been maintained in past presidencies. Trump initially continued the tradition of a weekly address, which started under former President Reagan, but stopped after about six months.

Advertisements

Former President Franklin Roosevelt was the first to make the addresses famous with his fireside chats, and they were later used by former President Carter as well.

The addresses became a more regular feature of the presidency starting with former President Clinton in the 1990s and were adopted by former Presidents George. W. Bush and Barrack Obama.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Biden-led US Gov’t backs Okonjo-Iweala as WTO DG.

Advertisements

Donald Trump had blocked Okonjo-Iweala’s chances of becoming director-general of the organisation

The United States of America under President Joe Biden has affirmed its support for Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) disclosed this in a statement made available by the U.S Mission in Nigeria on Saturday.

The Biden-Harris administration expressed its support for Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance following the withdrawal of Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee as a candidate for the same position.

Recall with NoRM that past U.S President Donald Trump had blocked Okonjo-Iweala’s chances of becoming director-general of the organisation.

Advertisements

“The U.S takes note of today’s decision by the Republic of Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee to withdraw her candidacy for Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

“The Biden-Harris administration is pleased to express its strong support for the candidacy of Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director-General of the WTO.

Advertisements

“Okonjo-Iweala brings a wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy from her 25 years with the World Bank and two terms as Nigerian finance minister.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 15, 2020 Nigerian former Foreign and Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala attends a press conference on July 15, 2020, in Geneva, following her hearing before World Trade Organization 164 member states’ representatives, as part of the application process to head the WTO as Director General. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

“She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience, managing a large international organisation with a diverse membership.

“The Biden-Harris administration also congratulates Minister Yoo Myung-hee on her strong campaign for this position.

Advertisements

“She is a trailblazer as the Republic of Korea’s first female trade minister and the first candidate from Korea to advance this far in the DG selection process.

“The U.S respects her decision to withdraw her candidacy from the director-general race to help facilitate a consensus decision at the WTO,” the statement read.

The statement noted that It was particularly important to underscore that two highly qualified women made it to the final round of consideration for the position of WTO D-G.

This, it added, was the first time that any woman had made it to this stage in the history of the institution.

Advertisements

The U.S expressed commitment to stand ready to engage in the next phase of the WTO process for reaching a consensus decision on the WTO D-G.

“The Biden administration looks forward to working with a new WTO Director-General to find paths forward to achieve necessary substantive and procedural reform of the WTO,” it said.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Biden’s son, Hunter to publish ‘drug addiction’ memoir.

Advertisements

President Biden has been unwavering in his support for Hunter and he and his wife, Jill, praised Hunter’s decision to publish the autobiography.

President Joe Biden’s son Hunter will detail his struggles with alcohol and drug addiction in a memoir scheduled for release in April, publisher Gallery Books announced on Thursday.

Hunter Biden, a frequent target of conservative ire in the United States, also writes about the death of his brother Beau in “Beautiful Things,” due out on April 6.

Advertisements

The memoir recalls “Hunter’s descent into substance abuse and his tortuous path to sobriety,” Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, said in a statement.

Biden, who turned 51 on Thursday, was discharged from the Navy Reserve in 2014 after a positive test for cocaine.

Advertisements

In July 2019, he recalled to The New Yorker magazine how three years earlier someone put a gun to his head in Los Angeles after he asked a homeless man where he could buy crack.

President Biden has been unwavering in his support for Hunter and he and his wife, Jill, praised Hunter’s decision to publish the autobiography.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 20, 2021, Hunter Biden (R) hands the Bible to incoming US First Lady Jill Biden (C) as Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th US President at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. – President Joe Biden’s son Hunter will detail his struggles with alcohol and drug addiction in a memoir scheduled for release in April, publisher Gallery Books announced on on February 4, 2021. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

“We admire our son Hunter’s strength and courage to talk openly about his addiction so that others might see themselves in his journey and find hope,” they said in a statement read out by White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Advertisements

Hunter became a regular focus of Donald Trump’s attacks ahead of the November 3 vote for his business dealings in Ukraine and China.

Hunter, now an artist based in Los Angeles, has admitted to displaying “poor judgment” in some of his business dealings, but denied any wrongdoing.

During the final presidential debate, when Trump mocked Hunter’s cocaine use, the former vice president simply said: “I’m proud of him. I’m proud of my son.”

Hunter and Beau survived a car crash that killed their mother and sister in December 1972, just weeks after their father was first elected a US senator from Delaware.

Advertisements

Beau died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46, less than two years after he was diagnosed.

“This is an astonishingly candid and brave book about loss, human frailty, wayward souls and hard-fought redemption,” author Dave Eggers wrote in a blurb for “Beautiful Things.”

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Joe Biden appoints Nigeria national, Titilayo Ebong as USTDA director.

Advertisements

Ebong grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. Her father, Ime James Ebong, was a Nigerian civil servant who served as permanent secretary.

United States President Joe Biden has appointed Nigerian-born Enoh Titilayo Ebong as the acting director of the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).

“The appointment meant a return to USTDA where from 2004 to 2019, Ms. Ebong had served in a variety of roles, most recently as the Agency’s General Counsel, and Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer,” USTDA said in a statement.

“As Acting Director, Ms. Ebong leads an agency that partners with the U.S. private sector to develop sustainable infrastructure and foster economic growth in emerging economies, while supporting U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services.”

Advertisements

Ebong had previously served as the head of strategic partnerships at the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream.

She is expected to lead the agency in partnering with the country’s private sector in order to develop sustainable infrastructure and foster economic growth in emerging economies.

Advertisements

“It is an honor to return to USTDA,” Ebong said.

“The opportunity to lead the Agency comes at a critical moment when the world is turning to the United States for leadership on clean energy and climate-smart infrastructure, as well as safe and secure ICT solutions.”

She also noted that the agency is one of the most effective, targeted and proven tools within the U.S. government.

Advertisements

“I’ve longed believed in USTDA’s mission and program, which are fully aligned with the President’s vision of strengthening the country’s economy and addressing climate as an essential component of American foreign policy and national security,” Ebong said.

Ebong grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. Her father, Ime James Ebong, was a Nigerian civil servant who served as permanent secretary.

She practiced law at the Boston office of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris and Popeo, P.C., representing public and private companies in public offerings, financing transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance issues before joining the agency in 2004.

Ebong earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School, a Master of Arts in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Master of Arts in History, with Honors, from The University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She is a member of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Bar.
ons.

Advertisements

She is not the first Nigerian- American to be appointed by the US president. Adewale Adeyemo was recently announced as deputy secretary of the treasury department.

Biden also appointed Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo into his cabinet as white house counsel, as well as Osaremen Okolo as a member of his COVID-19 response team.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Biden’s Gov’t ‘relax’ weapons sale to UAE.

Advertisements

The Trump administration also authorised $290m worth of small munition sales to Saudi Arabia at the end of December of last year.

The United States is reviewing weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorised by former President Donald Trump, a move that Secretary of State Antony Blinken said was “typical” of a new administration.

In his first press briefing on Wednesday, Blinken said the review aims “to make sure that what is being considered is something that advances our strategic objectives and advances our foreign policy”.

“That’s what we’re doing at this moment,” he told reporters.

Advertisements

The Wall Street Journal first reported on Wednesday that the Biden administration has imposed a temporary freeze on billions of dollars in weapons sales to the two countries, including the sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia and F-35 fighters to the UAE.

The move comes one week after Biden, who has promised to “reassess” Washington’s relationship with Riyadh, was inaugurated. Since taking office, he has signed a string of executive actions to review or reverse some of Trump’s key policies.

Advertisements

Trump oversaw a close-knit US relationship with both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, in line with his staunch support for Israel and “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.

In May 2019, the former US president declared a national emergency over tensions with Iran to sidestep objections from Congress about the sale of $8bn worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan.

The Trump administration notified Congress in November that it had approved the sale of more than $23bn in advanced weapons systems, including F-35 fighter jets and armed drones, to the UAE.

Advertisements

That announcement came shortly after the Emirati government agreed to normalise relations with Israel in a US-brokered deal.

“This is in recognition of our deepening relationship and the UAE’s need for advanced defense capabilities to deter and defend itself against heightened threats from Iran,” then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement at the time.

Rights groups denounced the sale, saying it could fuel regional conflict, notably in Libya and in Yemen, where the UAE and Saudi Arabia have waged a devastating war against the country’s Houthi rebels.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers also slammed the weapons transfer, saying it would “facilitate a dangerous arms race”.

Advertisements

Legislators put forward bipartisan joint resolutions seeking to stop the deal, but their efforts failed in the US Senate, where two procedural votes did not gain a majority in the chamber.

Trump had threatened to veto any congressional effort to halt the sales, as well.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Republican opposition to Trump ‘impeachment trial’ grows.

Advertisements

Some scholars argue that conducting an impeachment trial after a president has left office is unconstitutional, while others say it is permitted as long the proceedings begin before a president has left office.

The Senate impeachment trial of former United States President Donald Trump, who stands accused of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, continues to drive a wedge within the Republican Party.

Advertisements

Ten Republicans in the US House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump on January 13, a week after pro-Trump rioters breached the US Capitol as Congress met to certify President Joe Biden’s election victory.

Republicans who voted for impeachment included Representative Liz Cheney, the chairwoman of the Republican conference, who has since faced a push from within the party to remove her from her leadership post.

Meanwhile, several Senate Republicans have said they oppose moving forward with the trial in the chamber, which is set to begin on February 9, while at least one, Senator Mitt Romney, has said moving forward with the impeachment trial is “appropriate”.

The House is expected to officially send the article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday.

Advertisements

The inter-party conflict centres on the question of whether Trump committed impeachable offences in his campaign to overturn the election results and to egg on protesters shortly before the riot, as well as whether impeachment proceedings can continue after a US president has left office.

“The article of impeachment that was sent over by the House suggests impeachable conduct,” Romney told NoRM‘s known Media on Sunday. “It’s pretty clear that over the last year or so, there has been an effort to corrupt the election of the United States and it was not by President Biden, it was by President Trump.”

Advertisements

Romney added that there was a “preponderance of the legal opinion” that moving forward with the trial after Trump has left office is constitutional.

Republicans are unlikely to succeed in any early vote to dismiss the trial, given Democrats now control a slim majority in the 100-seat chamber, with 50 seats and Vice President Kamala Harris casting a tie-breaking vote.

Still, Democratic House impeachment managers, who will be arguing for impeachment during the Senate trial, will face an uphill battle; the Senate must secure a two-thirds majority to convict Trump.

Advertisements

That means 17 Republicans would need to break ranks and vote to convict. Such a conviction could also lead to Trump being barred from holding federal office in the future.

‘Stupid’
Romney’s statements stood in stark contrast to those of many of his Senate colleagues, who have increasingly begun to stake positions on the matter in recent days.

In an interview on NoRM‘s known Media on Sunday, Republican Senator Tom Cotton maintained that moving ahead with the trial after Trump has left office was unconstitutional.

“I think a lot of Americans are going to think it’s strange that the Senate is spending its time trying to convict and remove from office a man who left office a week ago,” Cotton said.

Advertisements

Republican Senator Marco Rubio, also on Fox News on Sunday, called the trial “stupid”.

“We already have a flaming fire in this country and it’s like taking a bunch of gasoline and pouring it on top of the fire,” he said.

Advertisements

Meanwhile, Republican Senator John Cornyn, in a tweet on Saturday, suggested that moving ahead with the impeachment trial of a president who has left office would set a precedent that could lead to “former Democratic Presidents” facing impeachment if Republicans regain control of Congress.

But the question of whether impeachment proceedings can begin wholesale after a president has left office is considered even less clear.

Cotton, Rubio and Cornyn join Republican Senators Mike Rounds, Lindsey Graham, John Barrasso, and Ron Johnson in publicly opposing the trial for Trump, who is expected to remain a political force in the coming years.

Advertisements

Republicans to watch
Still, several influential Senate Republicans have been less clear about their intentions.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has laid the blame for the Capitol riot at Trump’s feet, saying he “provoked” his supporters who were “fed lies” by the president and other powerful people.

McConnell has not said how he would vote on impeachment or taken a public stance on the constitutionality of the trial.

Other Republican senators will be closely watched in the weeks to come, including Lisa Murkowski, who called on Trump to resign after the riot and later said the House acted “appropriately” in impeaching him, and Susan Collins, who said Trump “bears responsibility” for the incident.

Advertisements

Neither has taken public positions on the constitutionality of the trial or said how they will vote.

Senator Ben Sasse and Pat Toomey have also said they would be open to impeaching the president, but have questioned whether a Senate trial would further divide the country.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Biden reverses Trump’s ‘transgender’ ban in US military.

Advertisements

The order bans involuntary separations, discharges and denials of re-enlistment on the basis of or relating to gender identity.

President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Monday reversing a Trump administration policy that barred transgender individuals from serving in the United States military.

“What I’m doing is enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform and essentially restoring the situation as it existed before with transgender personnel,” Biden said in remarks to reporters at the White House,

Former President Donald Trump first ordered the ban on transgender individuals serving in the US military in 2017. The order was challenged in federal courts as discriminatory, revised by Trump in 2018 and eventually allowed to take effect by the US Supreme Court in January 2019.

Incoming Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin supports lifting the ban. Biden met with Austin in the White House’s Oval Office on Monday prior to Austin’s ceremonial swearing-in.

Advertisements

“Our armed forces are at their best when they represent the talents or our entire population, regardless of gender identity,” Austin said in a tweet on Monday.

“I fully support (President Biden’s) direction today that all transgender individuals who wish to serve and can meet the appropriate standards shall be able to do so,” Austin said.

Advertisements

Trump’s order drew protests from gay rights advocates who slammed the order as “bigoted” and “irresponsible”. Nearly 60 percent of Americans at the time said transgender people should be allowed to serve in the US armed forces, a Reuters/Ipsos had found.

Biden’s order revokes Trump’s directives and instructs the secretary of defence and the secretary of homeland security to implement the new policy throughout all branches of the military service – the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.

Democrats in the US Congress applauded the action while some Republicans were quick to criticise.

Advertisements

“No Americans should be turned away from serving in defence of their country simply because they are transgender,” Representative Steny Hoyer, a leading House Democrat, said in a statement.

“Another ‘unifying’ move by the new administration?” Republican Senator John Cornyn questioned on Twitter.

A 2016 US Defense Department study showed that allowing transgender people to serve would have a minimal effect on military readiness and healthcare costs, the White House said in a statement announcing the new policy.

The study also concluded that open transgender service had no significant impact on operational effectiveness or unit cohesion in foreign militaries.

Advertisements

Putting the new directive into effect will take time as the service branches unwind policies put in place under the Trump administration. Biden’s order requires the secretaries of defence and homeland security to report back on progress within 60 days.

“President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity,” the White House said in a statement announcing the order.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

President Joe Biden signs order to end Muslim ban.

Advertisements

The Biden-Harris administration is expected to participate in a WHO executive board meeting that is continuing this week, Biden’s team said earlier on Wednesday.

United States President Joe Biden has signed a string of executive orders, memorandums and directives that will reverse some of his predecessor Donald Trump’s most divisive policies, including rescinding the so-called “Muslim ban”, rejoining the Paris climate accord, and ending the process to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Just hours after his inauguration at the US Capitol on Wednesday, Biden signed 15 executive actions that his team earlier said aimed to “reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration”.

Biden told reporters in the Oval Office that there was “no time to waste”.

Advertisements

“Some of the executive actions I’m going to be signing today are going to help change the course of the COVID crisis, we’re going to combat climate change in a way that we haven’t done so far and advance racial equity and support other underserved communities,” he said, as reported by the Reuters news agency.

Biden’s first big challenge as he enters the White House will be tackling the surging COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 400,000 people across the country to date.

Joe Biden in the midst of his first elected senators. (Noble Reporters Media, Olamide)

To that effect, Biden signed an order on Wednesday afternoon to institute a 100-day mask mandate across the US and appoint a COVID-19 coordinator to manage a national response to the pandemic.

He has also announced that the US would remain a member of the WHO, and that Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, would attend the ongoing WHO Executive Board meeting at the head of the US delegation.

Here is a look at some of Biden’s first executive actions as president:

Advertisements

Rescinding the ‘Muslim ban’
Biden rescinded the so-called “Muslim ban”, an executive order Trump signed in 2017 that banned travellers from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the US.

The ban was changed several times amid legal challenges and ultimately upheld by the US Supreme Court in 2018.

Advertisements

“The president put an end to the Muslim ban – a policy rooted in religious animus and xenophobia,” Biden’s White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a Wednesday evening briefing.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations welcomed the decision as “an important first step toward undoing the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies of the previous administration”.

“It is an important fulfilment of a campaign pledge to the Muslim community and its allies,” the group’s executive director, Nihad Awad, said in a statement.

Advertisements

Rejoining Paris agreement
The US will once again become a party to the Paris Agreement, Biden also announced.

The move to rejoin the international treaty on climate change is expected to take effect 30 days after it is deposited with the UN, Biden’s team said earlier on Wednesday.

Picture of Joe Biden ready to sign the Muslim ban end orders and other matters. (Noble Reporters Media, Olamide)

In November, the US became the first country in the world to withdraw from the treaty – a move that fuelled tensions between Washington and its allies in Europe and drew a widespread rebuke from environmental and human rights groups.

Launching mask mandate
Biden launched his “100 Days Masking Challenge”, ordering a mandatory mask mandate in all US federal buildings for the first 100 days of his administration to try and curb the spread of COVID-19.

Advertisements

The order asks Americans to do their “patriotic duty and mask up for 100 days” and also creates the position of COVID-19 response coordinator, who will report directly to the president and help coordinate a unified national response to the surging pandemic.

“This will strengthen our own efforts to get the pandemic under control by improving global health,” Psaki said during the briefing, adding that Dr Fauci, one of the top US infectious disease experts, would participate in a WHO meeting this week “as the US head of delegation”.

Advertisements

The Infectious Disease Society of America immediately welcomed the mandatory mask order.

“The president’s order comes at a critical point, when vaccines, as well as a plan to accelerate their roll out, offer new hope, but also when more easily transmitted variants of the virus present new challenges,” the group said.

Re-engaging with WHO
Biden is halting Trump’s planned withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Advertisements

The Trump administration in July of last year notified Congress and the United Nations that the US was formally withdrawing from the WHO. The decision would have gone into effect in July.

2021: President Joe Biden officially signs order seeking end of Muslim ban in the United States of America. (Noble Reporters Media, Olamide)

Trump justified the decision by saying the WHO “failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms” and accusing the group of helping China cover up the origins of the novel coronavirus.

Bob Goodfellow, the interim executive director of Amnesty International USA, welcomed Biden’s WHO decision as “a much-needed first step” in restoring Washington’s cooperation with the international community.

He also urged Biden to support the WHO’s COVAX programme, which aims to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are evenly distributed between countries.

Advertisements

“It is of the utmost importance that the Biden administration lead multilateral efforts to fight the pandemic and to support and fund global vaccine efforts,” Goodfellow said.

Halting border wall construction
Biden also rescinded the national emergency declaration that was used to justify some of Trump’s funding diversions to build the wall on the US-Mexico border.

Advertisements

The order, Biden’s team said earlier on Wednesday, will direct “an immediate pause” in construction to allow for a review of the funding and contracting methods used.

Building a “big” and “beautiful” wall between the US and Mexico to block undocumented immigrants from entering the country was one of Trump’s key 2016 election campaign promises.

Revoking Keystone pipeline approval
Biden also revoked the presidential permit granted to the multibillion-dollar Keystone XL pipeline, a contentious energy project that was slated to ship 830,000 barrels of oil per day between the Canadian province of Alberta and the US state of Nebraska.

Advertisements

Canada, which this week said it remained committed to the project, expressed its “disappointment” at the decision on Wednesday.

But Matthew Campbell,a staff lawyer at the Native American Rights Fund, which has represented Indigenous nations in legal challenges against Keystone XL, told NoRM‘s known Media Biden’s decision is “vindication” for Native communities opposed to the pipeline.

Fortifying DACA
In 2012, while serving as vice president to President Barack Obama, the US adopted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to provide temporary relief from deportation to “Dreamers”, young people who were brought to the US as children.

The Trump administration has tried to terminate the programme, through which 700,000 young people have applied for relief.

Advertisements

In a presidential memorandum signed on Wednesday, Biden directed the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the US attorney general, to make sure that DACA is preserved and fortified.

The memorandum also calls on Congress to enact legislation that would provide “permanent status and a pathway to citizenship” to the Dreamers.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

President Joe Biden cancel Trump’s ban on Nigeria, others.

Advertisements

Biden has made mask wearing in all federal buildings and during interstate travel mandatory.

Thew newly sworn-in president of the United States of America, Joe Biden, began his first day in office by reversing some actions of former President, Donald Trump.

Advertisements

In his first executive orders, Biden implemented new policies on the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration and climate change.

He cancelled the ban which restricted travel to America from mostly Muslim nations.

The countries are Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Chad, North Korea, Venezuela, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.

At the Oval Office’s Resolute Desk, Biden rolled out 15 orders and two other action items.

Advertisements

“It’s requiring, as I said all along, where I have authority, mandating masks be worn, social distancing be kept on federal property,” he told reporters.

He also signed orders for America to formally rejoin the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Paris climate agreement.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

US Inauguration: President Joe Biden’s first speech. [Details]

Advertisements

And here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground.

Today January 20, Joseph R. Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States of America.

Biden of the Democratic Party defeated the incumbent President Donald Trump in last November elections.

Advertisements

Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office shortly before noon, when Mr. Biden officially became president.

President Biden addressed the nation minutes after Vice President Kamala Harris was first sworn in, making history as the first woman and person of color to become second in line to the presidency.

FULL TEXT:

Chief Justice Roberts, Vice-President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Vice-President Pence. My distinguished guests, my fellow Americans.

Advertisements

This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve. Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested a new and America has risen to the challenge. Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause, a cause of democracy. The people – the will of the people – has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded.

We’ve learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile and, at this hour my friends, democracy has prevailed. So now on this hallowed ground where just a few days ago violence sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundations, we come together as one nation under God – indivisible – to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries.

As we look ahead in our uniquely American way, restless, bold, optimistic, and set our sights on a nation we know we can be and must be, I thank my predecessors of both parties. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. And I know the resilience of our Constitution and the strength, the strength of our nation, as does President Carter, who I spoke with last night who cannot be with us today, but who we salute for his lifetime of service.

I’ve just taken a sacred oath each of those patriots have taken. The oath first sworn by George Washington. But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us. On we the people who seek a more perfect union. This is a great nation, we are good people. And over the centuries through storm and strife in peace and in war we’ve come so far. But we still have far to go.

Advertisements

We’ll press forward with speed and urgency for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibility. Much to do, much to heal, much to restore, much to build and much to gain. Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now. A once in a century virus that silently stalks the country has taken as many lives in one year as in all of World War Two.

Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. A cry for racial justice, some 400 years in the making, moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer. A cry for survival comes from the planet itself, a cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear now. The rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism, that we must confront and we will defeat.

Advertisements

To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy – unity. Unity. In another January on New Year’s Day in 1863 Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. When he put pen to paper the president said, and I quote, ‘if my name ever goes down in history, it’ll be for this act, and my whole soul is in it’.

My whole soul is in it today, on this January day. My whole soul is in this. Bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause. Uniting to fight the foes we face – anger, resentment and hatred. Extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness, and hopelessness.

With unity we can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs, we can put people to work in good jobs, we can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus, we can rebuild work, we can rebuild the middle class and make work secure, we can secure racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world.

Advertisements

I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal, that we are all created equal, and the harsh ugly reality that racism, nativism and fear have torn us apart. The battle is perennial and victory is never secure.

Through civil war, the Great Depression, World War, 9/11, through struggle, sacrifice, and setback, our better angels have always prevailed. In each of our moments enough of us have come together to carry all of us forward and we can do that now. History, faith and reason show the way. The way of unity.

We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbours. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity there is no peace, only bitterness and fury, no progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge. And unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America.

If we do that, I guarantee we will not failed. We have never, ever, ever, ever failed in America when we’ve acted together. And so today at this time in this place, let’s start afresh, all of us. Let’s begin to listen to one another again, hear one another, see one another. Show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war and we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.

Advertisements

My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this. We have to be better than this and I believe America is so much better than this. Just look around. Here we stand in the shadow of the Capitol dome. As mentioned earlier, completed in the shadow of the Civil War. When the union itself was literally hanging in the balance. We endure, we prevail. Here we stand, looking out on the great Mall, where Dr King spoke of his dream.

Here we stand, where 108 years ago at another inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote. And today we mark the swearing in of the first woman elected to national office, Vice President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can change. Here we stand where heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion rest in eternal peace.

Advertisements

It did not happen, it will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever. To all those who supported our campaign, I’m humbled by the faith you placed in us. To all those who did not support us, let me say this. Hear us out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart.

If you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy. That’s America. The right to dissent peacefully. And the guardrail of our democracy is perhaps our nation’s greatest strength. If you hear me clearly, disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you. I will be a President for all Americans, all Americans. And I promise you I will fight for those who did not support me as for those who did.

Many centuries ago, St Augustine – the saint of my church – wrote that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love. Defined by the common objects of their love. What are the common objects we as Americans love, that define us as Americans? I think we know. Opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honour, and yes, the truth.

Advertisements

Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is truth and there are lies. Lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and a responsibility as citizens as Americans and especially as leaders. Leaders who are pledged to honour our Constitution to protect our nation. To defend the truth and defeat the lies.

Look, I understand that many of my fellow Americans view the future with fear and trepidation. I understand they worry about their jobs. I understand like their dad they lay in bed at night staring at the ceiling thinking: ‘Can I keep my healthcare? Can I pay my mortgage?’ Thinking about their families, about what comes next. I promise you, I get it. But the answer’s not to turn inward. To retreat into competing factions. Distrusting those who don’t look like you, or worship the way you do, who don’t get their news from the same source as you do.

We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts, if we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes, as my mom would say. Just for a moment, stand in their shoes.

Because here’s the thing about life. There’s no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days you need a hand. There are other days when we’re called to lend a hand. That’s how it has to be, that’s what we do for one another. And if we are that way our country will be stronger, more prosperous, more ready for the future. And we can still disagree.

Advertisements

My fellow Americans, in the work ahead of us we’re going to need each other. We need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter. We’re entering what may be the darkest and deadliest period of the virus. We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation, one nation. And I promise this, as the Bible says, ‘Weeping may endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning’. We will get through this together. Together.

Look folks, all my colleagues I serve with in the House and the Senate up here, we all understand the world is watching. Watching all of us today. So here’s my message to those beyond our borders. America has been tested and we’ve come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances, and engage with the world once again. Not to meet yesterday’s challenges but today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. And we’ll lead not merely by the example of our power but the power of our example.

Advertisements

Fellow Americans, moms, dads, sons, daughters, friends, neighbours and co-workers. We will honour them by becoming the people and the nation we can and should be. So I ask you let’s say a silent prayer for those who lost their lives, those left behind and for our country. Amen.

Folks, it’s a time of testing. We face an attack on our democracy, and on truth, a raging virus, a stinging inequity, systemic racism, a climate in crisis, America’s role in the world. Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with one of the greatest responsibilities we’ve had. Now we’re going to be tested. Are we going to step up?

It’s time for boldness for there is so much to do. And this is certain, I promise you. We will be judged, you and I, by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era. We will rise to the occasion. Will we master this rare and difficult hour? Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world to our children? I believe we must and I’m sure you do as well. I believe we will, and when we do, we’ll write the next great chapter in the history of the United States of America. The American story.

Advertisements

A story that might sound like a song that means a lot to me, it’s called American Anthem. And there’s one verse that stands out at least for me and it goes like this: ‘The work and prayers of century have brought us to this day, which shall be our legacy, what will our children say? Let me know in my heart when my days are through, America, America, I gave my best to you.’

Let us add our own work and prayers to the unfolding story of our great nation. If we do this, then when our days are through, our children and our children’s children will say of us: ‘They gave their best, they did their duty, they healed a broken land.’

My fellow Americans I close the day where I began, with a sacred oath. Before God and all of you, I give you my word. I will always level with you. I will defend the Constitution, I’ll defend our democracy. I’ll defend America and I will give all – all of you – keep everything I do in your service. Thinking not of power but of possibilities. Not of personal interest but of public good.

And together we will write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity not division, of light not darkness. A story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness. May this be the story that guides us. The story that inspires us. And the story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history, we met the moment. Democracy and hope, truth and justice, did not die on our watch but thrive.

Advertisements

That America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world. That is what we owe our forbearers, one another, and generations to follow.

So with purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasks of our time. Sustained by faith, driven by conviction and devoted to one another and the country we love with all our hearts. May God bless America and God protect our troops.

Thank you, America.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy