Tag Archives: United States

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

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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#Newsworthy

US to ban Nigeria over anti-gay law.

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Mr Biden stressed that it shall be the policy of the US “to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics”.

The new US President Joe Biden has signlled his administration would slam Nigeria with financial sanctions and visa restrictions if the African country does not tolerate sexual minorities.

The threat was not only targeted at Africa’s largest economy. Other countries that ban gay relationships were to face similar blows.

NoRM‘s known Media reports that homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria, under the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, signed by then-President Goodluck Jonathan, in January 2014.

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But Mr Biden in a new memo last week directed all US embassies to promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons “everywhere”.

The 78-year-old US President said that 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.

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“Around the globe, including here at home [United States], brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) activists are fighting for equal protection under the law, freedom from violence, and recognition of their fundamental human rights,” he said.

“The United States belongs at the forefront of this struggle — speaking out and standing strong for our most dearly held values.”

Mr Biden stressed that it shall be the policy of the US “to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics”.

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“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”. (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex.)

The President stated 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”.

Finally, CBN gives reason for cryptocurrency shutdown
He also directed the following actions, consistent with applicable law:

“Agencies engaged abroad are directed to strengthen existing efforts to combat the criminalization by foreign governments of LGBTQI+ status or conduct and expand efforts to combat discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, and intolerance on the basis of LGBTQI+ status or conduct. The Department of State shall, on an annual basis and as part of the annual report submitted to the Congress pursuant to sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151n(d) and 2304(b)), report on human rights abuses experienced by LGBTQI+ persons globally. This reporting shall include anti-LGBTQI+ laws as well as violence and discrimination committed by both state and nonstate actors against LGBTQI+ persons.

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“In order to improve protection for LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers at all stages of displacement, the Departments of State and Homeland Security shall enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure that LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers have equal access to protection and assistance, particularly in countries of first asylum. In addition, the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security shall ensure appropriate training is in place so that relevant Federal Government personnel and key partners can effectively identify and respond to the particular needs of LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers, including by providing to them adequate assistance and ensuring that the Federal Government takes all appropriate steps, such as potential increased use of Embassy Priority-1 referrals, to identify and expedite resettlement of highly vulnerable persons with urgent protection needs.

“Agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development programs shall expand their ongoing efforts to ensure regular Federal Government engagement with governments, citizens, civil society, and the private sector to promote respect for the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons and combat discrimination. Agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development programs should consider the impact of programs funded by the Federal Government on human rights, including the rights of LGBTQI+ persons, when making funding decisions, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.”

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#Newsworthy

Anxiety, Depression befall US youngsters amid pandemic toll.

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Nineteen students have taken their own lives there since March, more than double the number for the same period the previous year.

Anxiety, depression, self-harm and even suicide: a growing number of children in the United States are struggling with their mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, doctors, teachers, parents and the government are all warning.

Millions of students have been attending school virtually since March last year, spending hours in front of computers, without playing games or chatting with friends in person and missing out on sports and face-to-face art or music classes.

“There’s a lot of loneliness for me and other teens,” said Sarah Frank, an 18-year-old from Florida, who has not left home since March because she lives with relatives considered high-risk if they contract Covid-19.

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“I have days I feel really sad, and a bit hopeless. It feels like a never-ending nightmare,” she told AFP.

Frank co-founded the State of Mind Project in July, a website with mental and physical health tips for teenagers.

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“I missed a lot of a high school experiences that I’ll never get back. I never went to a football game, I never got to go to prom,” she said.

Deanna Caputo is a psychologist and mother of two children who says she sees signs of depression in her 10-year-old son since his class in Arlington, Virginia became virtual in March.

“He’d wake up in the morning and go back to sleep until noon. He was moody. He started saying things like ‘I am not smart, I’m not good at anything,’” said Caputo.

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She says knows of other children even worse off.

“All I hear is about medication starting. They (parents) can’t find therapists,” because of high demand, said Caputo.

Caputo, who is a member of the Arlington Parents for Education association that is actively lobbying for schools to reopen in Arlington County, says schools are being held hostage by teachers’ unions.

A recent CDC report said that schools are safe if proper precautions are taken, such as wearing a mask and social distancing.

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But many teachers’ unions resist going back to classrooms. In Chicago, the mayor ordered elementary schools to reopen but unions refused, demanding vaccinations for all teachers and threatening a strike.

Teenage suicides have been on the rise in the United States for a decade.

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There is no data for 2020 yet but numbers from Clark County in Nevada, which includes Las Vegas, are causing alarm.

Nineteen students have taken their own lives there since March, more than double the number for the same period the previous year.

‘Very worrisome’
Although they cannot be directly linked to the pandemic, authorities were quick to announce that schools would reopen.

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“There’s almost no motivation into wanting to do online school,” said Brandon, a 13-year-old student in Arlington who has had remote-only classes for more than 300 days.

File Photo: Incite | Noble Reporters Media | Adigun Michael Olamide | NoRM News

Susan Duffy, a professor of paediatrics and emergency medicine at Brown University in Rhode Island, said that while coronavirus has been a “medical crisis” for adults it has been a “mental health crisis” for children.

The United States is the only industrialized country that does not have universal health care. In times of national health crisis, the economic fate of those who lack health care is grim at best.

Between March and October last year, hospital visits for mental health emergencies by children aged 12 to 17 increased by 31 percent compared to the same period in 2019, according to the government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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For children aged five to 11, visits increased by 24 percent, the CDC found.

Duffy said she and colleagues at other hospitals around the country are noticing a higher number of suicide attempts among youngsters.

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“We’re seeing more kids with intent to hurt themselves. It’s more associated with actually carrying out suicide attempts, which is very, very worrisome,” she told AFP.

School reopenings vary from district to district. Some 38 percent of schools are remote-learning only compared to 62 percent in September, according to the website Burbio which tracks school calendars.

“Kids have been removed from teachers and caring adults who are outside of their family who often pick up on subtle signs of crisis, and depression and anxiety,” said Duffy.

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The pandemic has killed almost 450,000 people in the United States, the country hit hardest by the outbreak.

Duffy notes that there’s fear of the virus, pain if a family member dies, and economic, food and housing insecurity generated by the pandemic all contributing to children’s trauma.

Stress generated by the pandemic, school closings, unemployment and isolation are increasing the risk of child abuse, the CDC warned.

“When parents lose hope they go into abuse behavior, drinking and physical abuse and emotional abuse,” said Caputo.

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Pediatrician Duffy said some children being bullied would have enjoyed learning via Zoom but that online learning doesn’t fix the underlying cause of their social anxiety.

“Anxiety and depression are still there — and then they’re manifesting themselves in different ways,” she said.

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#Newsworthy

America faces Donald Trump’s destructive legacy.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.”

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“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’

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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#Newsworthy

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

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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#Newsworthy

Saudi Arabia intercepts armed drone, says it’s from Yemen.

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The Saudi-led military coalition “intercepted and destroyed an armed drone,” said spokesman Turki al-Maliki in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Saudi Arabia intercepted an armed drone launched towards the kingdom by Yemen’s Huthis, state media said Sunday, a day after the US moved to delist the rebels as a terrorist group.

The Saudi-led military coalition “intercepted and destroyed an armed drone,” said spokesman Turki al-Maliki in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

“It was launched systematically and deliberately by the terrorist Huthi militia to target civilians and civilian objects in the south of the region.”

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The incident was not immediately claimed by the Iran-backed Huthis.

The US State Department on Friday said it had formally notified Congress of its intention to revoke a terrorist designation against the rebels, which had been announced at the end of the administration of former president Donald Trump.

The delisting move came a day after US President Joe Biden announced an end to US support for Saudi-led offensive operations in Yemen.

Humanitarian groups were deeply opposed to the designation, saying it jeopardised their operations in a country where the majority of people rely on aid, and that they have no choice but to deal with the Huthis, who control much of the north.

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Saudi Arabia, which entered the Yemen conflict in 2015 to bolster the internationally recognised government, has repeatedly been targeted with cross-border attacks.

Last month, it said it had intercepted and destroyed a “hostile air target” heading towards the capital Riyadh.

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#Newsworthy

Anger as US student in charge of vaccines distribution inject friends in Philadelphia.

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Several officials have called for an investigation into why city hall awarded the contract to someone so young.

The student CEO of a company tasked with distributing coronavirus vaccines in Philadelphia admitted Thursday that he had given some doses to friends, sparking anger in the US where the rollout of shots has been sluggish.

Philadelphia’s local government employed Philly Fighting Covid, a group founded by 22-year-old Andrei Doroshin last year, to distribute thousands of Covid-19 vaccines across the eastern US city.

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The group was a major player in Philadelphia’s coronavirus fight, first by participating in testing and then in early January by organizing the city’s first major vaccination center.

Philly Fighting Covid vaccinated nearly 7,000 people, mostly frontline health workers, who were given priority under the vaccination drive.

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But Doroshin admitted that he had taken doses home and injected four of his friends, despite not being a registered nurse.

He defended his actions by saying that the doses were about to expire and his group could not find anyone in high-risk groups who were eligible for a shot.

“I stand by that decision. I understand that I made that mistake. That is my mistake to carry for the rest of my life, but it is not the mistake of the organization,” he told NoRM‘s known Media.

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The city severed ties with the group after it became a for-profit organization.

Several officials have called for an investigation into why city hall awarded the contract to someone so young.

Most states are prioritizing vaccines for workers most exposed to the virus and people over 65.

The lifespan of the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna is very limited once the vials have been opened.

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There have been other reports of doses administered to non-priority people.

According to US media, health workers in Oregon administered six doses of the Moderna vaccine to motorists after they became trapped in a snowstorm, knowing the vials would likely expire before they got out.

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#Newsworthy

Khamenei says Iran won’t resume nuclear commitments until US succumb.

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The new administration of US President Joe Biden has expressed willingness to return to the deal, but insisted that Tehran first resume full compliance.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday the US must “completely lift” sanctions first, followed by verification by Tehran, before the Islamic republic returns to its nuclear deal commitments.

“If they want Iran to return to its commitments … America must completely lift sanctions, and not just in words or on paper,” Khamenei said in a televised speech to air force commanders.

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“They must be lifted in action, and then we will verify and see if they have been properly lifted, and then return,” he added.

The 2015 landmark deal has been hanging by a thread since US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from it in 2018 and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

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Tehran a year later suspended its compliance with most key nuclear commitments to the deal.

The new administration of US President Joe Biden has expressed willingness to return to the deal, but insisted that Tehran first resume full compliance.

On January 4, Iran announced it has stepped up its uranium enrichment process to 20 percent purity, far above the 3.67 percent level permitted by the deal, but far below the amount required for an atomic bomb.

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And it may restrict by February 21 nuclear inspections if US sanctions are not lifted or other key parties to the deal do not help Tehran bypass them, according to a law passed by the parliament in December.

According to Khamenei, Iran has “a right to set conditions for the continuation” of the deal as it has upheld its end, unlike the US and the three European members of the deal — Britain, France and Germany — who have “violated all their commitments”.

handout picture provided by the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on February 7, 2021, shows him delivering a speech in front of commanders of the air force,days ahead of the 42nd anniversary marking the victory of the Islamic revolution. Khamenei said today the US must “completely lift” sanctions first, followed by verification by Tehran, before the Islamic republic returns to its nuclear deal commitments. KHAMENEI.IR / AFP

“No one in the Islamic republic cares for the nonsense claimed by those not entitled to anything,” he said.

Khamenei insisted that the condition set by Tehran for the US is Iran’s “definite policy”.

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Iran “will not turn back from” it, he said.

On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif asked the European Union to coordinate a synchronised return of both Washington and Tehran into a nuclear deal, after a diplomatic standoff on who will act first.

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#Newsworthy

Biden Gov’t launches major push for LGBTIQ rights.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.”

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#Newsworthy

Insecurity: Find help from Israel, United States – CAN tells Buhari.

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Insecurity, banditry and kidnapping are threats to human race… We will continue to pray for government because there is lack of security everywhere, from Adamawa to Lagos, Sokoto to Enugu. The highways are not safe.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to seek help from Israel, United States and other countries to sustain the fight against insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and other crimes in the country.

Speaking at the inauguration of Belusochukwu Enwere as the new national chairman of its Youth Wing (YOWICAN), yesterday in Abuja, CAN President, Rev Dr. Samson Ayokunle noted that the association is seriously worried about the deteriorating security situation in the country, adding that the present administration seems to be overwhelmed by the problem.

Ayokunle, represented by the Assistant General Secretary of CAN, Apostle Biodun Sanyaolu, observed that government’s primary responsibility is to protect lives and property.

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He said: “It is very obvious that Nigeria needs assistance. I’m not President Muhammadu Buhari, but I’m sure that he will also be worried. He should be willing to seek help from anywhere, as insecurity has reached a worrying point, where nobody is safe. We need help. Let me use the opportunity to tell the President to reach out to Israel, United States and other countries that could be of help to Nigeria…

“We are seriously worried in CAN because we are affected by the security challenges in Nigeria. Insecurity, banditry and kidnapping are threats to human race… We will continue to pray for government because there is lack of security everywhere, from Adamawa to Lagos, Sokoto to Enugu. The highways are not safe.
Even when you’re in your house, you’re not safe…”

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#Newsworthy

There’s nothing wrong in viral Daniel Prude video – Fmr Police Chief says.

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On Friday, he said he was asked to “provide false information to support her narrative.”

Rochester’s former police chief said he did not initially see anything “egregious” in body camera video of officers restraining Daniel Prude, the Black man who died after being held down naked on a city street last winter.

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La’Ron Singletary, who was fired by the mayor after the video’s public release, answered questions Friday in a livestreamed, hourslong deposition about the city’s handling of the case. The city council’s fact-finding review is separate from an ongoing grand jury investigation into Prude’s death.

The video shows Prude handcuffed and naked with a spit hood over his head as an officer pushes his face against the ground, while another officer presses a knee to his back in the early morning of March 23. The officers held him down for about two minutes until he stopped breathing. He was taken off life support a week later.

Singletary said he spoke twice to Mayor Lovely Warren on March 23 and by then, he had watched some of the body camera footage from the scene, according to the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester.

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“It appeared that there was nothing egregious at that point in time,” Singletary said he told Warren. “I explained to the mayor that we were going to be doing an investigation. I told the mayor there were no strikes, there were no punches with regard to the video.”

File Photo: Black Man, Daniel Prude was brutalized by the United States Police Department late last year, 2020 | Noble Reporters Media | Adigun Michael Olamide | NoRM News

The county medical examiner listed the manner of death as homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint” and cited PCP as a contributing factor.

The Prude family held a news conference and released the video on Sept. 2, sparking nightly protests in Rochester.

Singletary claimed in legal papers filed in December that Warren urged him to omit facts and give false information to back her claim that it wasn’t until months later that she learned key details of the police encounter that led to Prude’s death.

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On Friday, he said he was asked to “provide false information to support her narrative.”

The city released a statement Friday saying Singletary “downplayed what occurred from the very beginning through today, and believes that neither he nor anyone in the Rochester Police Department, did anything wrong.”

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#Newsworthy

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

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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#Newsworthy

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

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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.”

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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.

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“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.”

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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.

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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.

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#Newsworthy

Former vice president, Mike Pence to launch video podcast with conservative group.

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The former Indiana governor has a long history in audio: he used his job as a conservative talk radio host in the 1990s to launch his career in Indiana politics.

Former vice-president Mike Pence will launch a “video podcast” with a conservative group known for bringing inflammatory anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim speakers to college campuses, as part of his effort to “share the good news of conservatism” with young Americans.

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Pence’s pivot to podcasting comes a month after he refused Donald Trump’s repeated public demands to reject the actual results of the 2020 presidential election and name Trump himself the winner, prompting a mob to storm the US capitol, some of them shouting: “Hang Mike Pence.”

AOC’s story of Capitol riot experience questioned by GOP lawmakers
Pence’s new role with a longstanding conservative advocacy group is an attempt “smooth his transition back into the upper ranks of the conservative movement”, Politico reported, noting Pence’s relationship with Trump had been “strained” in the wake of a failed insurrection that had included Trump supporters across the country calling for Pence’s execution as a traitor.

The former Indiana governor has a long history in audio: he used his job as a conservative talk radio host in the 1990s to launch his career in Indiana politics. While the Mike Pence Show, which included Pence railing against adultery and “talking about the global warming ‘myth’”, was not the most prominent or gripping of rightwing talk radio productions, Politico reported, the show did help Pence transform from a candidate who repeatedly lost elections, to a candidate who won them.

Pence’s new “good news” podcast will be produced with Young America’s Foundation (YAF), a group that works to develop young conservative leaders, which has focused its efforts in recent years on stoking a series of “free speech” controversies at American college campuses, including filing lawsuits against universities.

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YAF has reportedly been funded by the Republican megadonor Koch and DeVos families, and counts among its alumni Stephen Miller, a Trump White House aide whose white nationalist views and connections have been extensively documented. It has also worked with conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, whose history of racist and anti-Muslim comments attracted renewed criticism last month.

As well as developing a “video podcast”, which YAF called “one of today’s most popular mediums”, Pence will join the group’s campus lecture circuit, give speeches at the organization’s youth conferences, and write a monthly op-ed, the group said in a statement.

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#Newsworthy

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

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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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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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.

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#Newsworthy

House votes Extremist congresswoman be punished.

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Taylor Greene, a fierce supporter of former President Donald Trump, was stripped of her two committee assignments

A Democratic-led US House voted Thursday to discipline a congresswoman who embraced QAnon conspiracy theories, capping weeks of mounting turmoil over holding to account a lawmaker whose extremist rhetoric caused a rupture in Republican ranks.

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By a modestly bipartisan vote of 230 to 199, Georgia conservative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a fierce supporter of former President Donald Trump, was stripped of her two committee assignments, even hours after she took to the House floor to express regret for spreading misinformation.

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 04: U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene walks pass a fence that has been set up since the insurrection of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 while on her way to the Capitol Hill Club February 4, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The House is scheduled to vote later today on removing Greene from committee assignments over her remarks about QAnon and other conspiracy theories. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

Eleven Republicans defied their party to join all voting Democrats in disciplining Greene, but the action against one of their own by the opposing party triggered protests from Republicans including members of leadership who warned of potential political payback should they regain power.

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#Newsworthy

Just in: Lawmakers throw questions, dares, orders at Trump during impeachment trial.

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Raskin made the request after Trump’s lawyers filed a pre-trial brief denying the allegations that he encouraged the violent assault by his supporters on the US Congress, which left five people dead.

Democratic lawmakers leading the impeachment case against Donald Trump on Thursday requested the former president to testify in his trial for allegedly inciting insurrection in the attack on the US Capitol last month.

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“I write to invite you to provide testimony under oath, either before or during the Senate impeachment trial, concerning your conduct on January 6, 2021,” chief impeachment manager Jamie Raskin wrote in a letter to Trump, ahead of the February 9 opening of the trial.

Raskin made the request after Trump’s lawyers filed a pre-trial brief denying the allegations that he encouraged the violent assault by his supporters on the US Congress, which left five people dead.

“You have thus attempted to put critical facts at issue, notwithstanding the clear and overwhelming evidence of your constitutional offense,” Raskin said.

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Trump will go on trial in the Senate for the second time in a year beginning next week.

Raskin proposed that Trump provide testimony, and face cross-examination on it, between February 8 and February 11, “at a mutually convenient time and place.”

Raskin said Trump had little excuse to avoid testifying, saying he could no long claim that he was too busy overseeing the country, as was the White House position when he was still president.

“We therefore anticipate your availability to testify.”

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If Trump, who now lives in his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort, declines to testify, Raskin warned, the impeachment prosecutors could cite that as evidence supporting his guilt.

Raskin gave Trump until 5 pm Friday to respond to the letter.

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#Newsworthy

eQAfy report estimates WordPress’ share of US institution Website to 40.8%

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WordPress does much better in the category of 4-year private for-profit higher education institutions, capturing a staggering 75% of the market.

A new report from eQAfy, a company that collects and analyzes data about higher education websites, has benchmarked which content management systems US institutions are using.

The report is a snapshot of data from December 2020, sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics IPEDS database.

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After scanning a list of 4,000 active institutions, EQAfy’s headless browser was able to detect the CMS for 3,359 homepages (83.8%).

A market leading group of 12 content management systems made up 90% of the homepages eQAfy detected, including four open source solutions and eight proprietary solutions. WordPress captures 40.8% of the market, followed by Drupal at 19.1%, as measured across all institution types (public, private for profit, and private non-profit), levels (2-year and 4-year), and sizes.

WordPress’ estimated market share for public institutions came in at 27%, and is much higher in the private for-profit institutions category at 55%.

Looking at 2-year public higher education institutions by student population, WordPress falls to #3 at just 18.3%. Drupal leads the pack in that category with 29.2%, and proprietary CMS’s take up the rest of the market. WordPress does much better in the category of 4-year private for-profit higher education institutions, capturing a staggering 75% of the market.

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When examining CMS suppliers for institutions by size, WordPress is the overall market leader but does far better in the smallest institutional size categories, with waning dominance in the large to very large categories.

The report has more interesting data comparisons across different categories if you want to dig deeper. It’s important to note that eQAfy only collected the main websites for these institutions, which may not be representative of the CMS that powers the schools’ ancillary websites. They are often created using a combination of platforms. This report covers only which CMS the schools preferred to use for the face of their institutions.

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#Newsworthy

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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#Newsworthy

Abdulrasheed Maina’s son escape bail, fled – EFCC.

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Faisal’s father, Maina is also being prosecuted for separate charges of money laundering at the court.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said on Thursday Faisal Maina, son of Abdulrasheed Maina, former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), has fled to the United States.

EFCC’s prosecuting counsel Mohammed Abubakar made the disclosure at the Federal High Court in Abuja. Faisal Maina is being prosecuted on three counts of money laundering.

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Abubakar said EFCC got information that Faisal sneaked to the U.S through the Republic of Niger.

The trial judge, Okon Abang, had ordered Faisal’s surety, Sani Dan-Galadima, who is a member of the House of Representatives to forfeit a property used as a bail bond.

File Photo: Abdulrasheed Maina | Noble Reporters Media | Adigun Michael Olamide | NoRM News

Dan-Galadima, who represents Kaura-Namoda Federal Constituency of Zamfara, had entered into a N60 million bail bond on behalf of Faisal.

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Faisal’s father, Maina is also being prosecuted for separate charges of money laundering at the court.

He jumped bail last year but was rearrested in Niger Republic. A court is still hearing his bail application on medical grounds.

Opposing Maina’s bail application, the EFCC had told the court that the defendant has multiple citizenship and was trying to obtain a fresh passport to flee to the United States when he was arrested in Niger Republic.

EFCC is prosecuting Maina for alleged money laundering to the tune of N2billion.

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Maina is facing a 12-count money laundering charge levelled against him and a firm by the EFCC.

EFCC alleged that Maina, as Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, used the account of the firm for money laundering to the tune of about N2 billion, part of which he used to acquire landed properties in Abuja.

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#Newsworthy

‘Extremism in the ranks’ – Pentagon Chief opens discussion.

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The Pentagon pulled 12 National Guard troops from duty ahead of President Joe Biden’s inauguration as part of an extremism screening for the January 20 event.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin launched a discussion about extremism in the US military Wednesday, as the Pentagon reels from the revelation that several troops and veterans participated in the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Austin, who is the first Black person to serve as Pentagon chief, has given all units 60 days to hold a day of talks on extremism, his spokesperson John Kirby said.

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The aim is to teach troops about the dangers of extremism and misinformation, but also to hear their views, Kirby added.

Over the past decade, several successive US administrations have acted slowly, if at all, on FBI and Department of Homeland Security warnings of white supremacists joining the police and military.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin attends a congressional tribute to the late Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick who lies in honor in the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington, DC on February 3, 2021. – The US Capitol police officer who died after being injured in the January 6 attack by pro-Trump rioters will lie in honour at the building’s Rotunda, lawmakers said Friday, a mark of respect rarely bestowed. Brian Sicknick was reportedly struck in the head with a fire extinguisher while struggling with the rioters who swarmed through the halls of Congress (Photo by Erin Schaff / POOL / AFP)

The Pentagon has never published figures on how many extremists it has booted from service.

The storming of the Capitol building was a “wake-up call,” Kirby said, adding the Pentagon does not yet understand the scale of the problem that “we haven’t solved.”

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The Pentagon pulled 12 National Guard troops from duty ahead of President Joe Biden’s inauguration as part of an extremism screening for the January 20 event.

Biden on Tuesday paid a final tribute at the Capitol to Brian Sicknick, the policeman who died of injuries he suffered in an attack by former President Donald Trump’s supporters as they tried to overturn Biden’s election win.

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#Newsworthy

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

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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.”

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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.

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“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.

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“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.

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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.

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#Newsworthy

World’s richest, Jeff Bezos considers ‘stepping down’ as Amazon CEO.

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His replacement, Jassy has worked for Amazon since 1997 and currently serves as CEO of the company’s cloud business, Amazon Web Services.

The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos is set to step down as Amazon CEO and transition to the role of executive chair, later this year the company has announced.

According to the February 2 announcement, Bezos will be replaced by Andy Jassy.

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Bezos has been Amazon’s CEO since it was established in 1995 and grew the company from an online bookseller into a $1.7 trillion global retail and logistics Heavyweight.

His replacement, Jassy has worked for Amazon since 1997 and currently serves as CEO of the company’s cloud business, Amazon Web Services.

Bezos said in a letter to employees Tuesday that he is delighted to take the next step.

“Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming,” Bezos wrote.

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“When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else. As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions. I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring. I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have.”

The news came as part of Amazon’s fourth-quarter earnings report. The company’s stock has grown nearly 69% over the past year.

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#Newsworthy