Americas

Asian Americans are bleeding in US: Violence on surge against the community, note House legislators
Americas

Asian Americans are bleeding in US: Violence on surge against the community, note House legislators

It took three decades and wave of extreme violence against Asian-Americans in the US in form of Atlanta shooting to hold a hearing to examine discrimination against the Asians.

The hearing that had been scheduled for weeks now, finally took place at the Capitol Hill on Thursday after shootings in Atlanta led to killing of eight people, including six Asian women. The Asian American lawmakers warmed that this recent violence marks “crisis point” of violence and discrimination against the people of Asian ascent. The rise in violence and harassment of both verbal and physical nature reached a dramatic peak during Covid-19 pandemic. The hate crime incidents were fueled by former President Donald Trump’s constant labelling of the coronavirus as “China Virus”, “China plague” and “kung flu”.

On Thursday, Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, told a subcommittee of the House judiciary committee, “What we know is that this day was coming. The Asian American community has reached a crisis point that cannot be ignored.”

“Our community is bleeding. We are in pain. And for the last year, we’ve been screaming out for help,” said Grace Meng, a Democrat of New York.

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Meanwhile, Robert Aaron Long, 21 year old suspect of Atlanta shootings targeting spas, has been charged with eight murder counts. Charles Hampton, Atlanta police deputy chief said, “We are looking at everything to make sure that we discover and determine what the motive of our homicides were.” Hampton further revealed that Long was a sex addicted and was a frequent at two of the spas where four Asian women were killed.

In response, President Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris have canceled a political event that was scheduled for Friday in Atlanta. The event was a part of “Help Is Here” campaign to promote administration’s $1.9tn Covid relief package. Instead, the leaders would be meeting local leaders and Atlanta’s elected officials from Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, the White House relayed. Furthermore, to honor the victims of Atlanta spa shootings, Biden had ordered flags at White House and all federal buildings to be flown at half-staff on Thursday.

During the hearing, subcommittee noted that Covid-19 pandemic had recorded almost 3800 hate crimes against Asian Americans across US ranging from verbal harassment to physical assault. Subcommittee chairman Steve Cohen said, “All the pandemic did was exacerbate latent anti-Asian prejudices that have a long, long and ugly history in America.”  

US Trade Representative Katherine Tia Is A Critic Of China
Americas

US Trade Representative Katherine Tia Is A Critic Of China

The newly elect President Joe Biden has revolutionized his office representatives, but giving fair representation to everyone possible. There are just no minorities standing on the helm to complain at the moment.

After African America and indigenous representation, his candidate Katherine Tai received unanimous majority vote to ‘man’ the position of US trade representative. Tai has now become the first Asian American politician to hold this position since its inception 60 years ago.

She has been an unbiased critic of China and on several occasions was observed between 2007 and 2014 successfully arguing the U.S. case against China’s trade practices before the World Trade Organization. Her selection was based on a Senate vote but she faired there, with flying colours.

As a top trade official, she is going to the first of colour to represent America. The scars of ethnicity and racial discrimination have marred fair democracy for the longest in the West. With his leadership, Biden is trying to mend the scars, as much as possible. He is taking all the right steps, and the world is applauding his leadership strategy.

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Political analysts believe United States has no intentions of going soft on China while ensuring it maintains a decorum of peace and cordial dialogue, undoing the arm twisting brash treatment of trade partnerships under Trump’s leadership.

Tai will succeed Robert Lighthizer, who as Trump’s top trade negotiator imposed several tariffs on Chinese imports while negotiating the phase one trade deal the two nations struck in January 2020.

 While he stood before the Senate Finance Committee to testify in February 2021, she did not indicate that she intended to handle China through additional tariffs but had another strategy in mind like “legitimate tools in the trade toolbox.”

“There are also a lot of areas that are gray, where the rules are not clear, or where we don’t have rules yet,” Tai has been reported to have said last month. She also believes the U.S. should work with other countries to counter China.

US Intelligence report finds Russia worked with Trump allies to damage Biden’s chances in 2020 election
Americas

US Intelligence report finds Russia worked with Trump allies to damage Biden’s chances in 2020 election

US Intelligence reports have revealed a shocking finding that highlights Russian President Vladimir Putin to have most likely authorized attempts to influence 2020 Presidential Elections in US, in favor of his ally former US President Donald Trump. The report alleges that Moscow has potentially spread “misleading or unsubstantiated allegations” about the Democratic presidential candidate and the eventual winner Joe Biden.

But the intelligence report further confirmed that no ‘external forces or government’ had eventually altered or compromised the final results of presidential election.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released the 15 page report on Tuesday. The report transcribes ‘influence operations’ that were pushed both by Russia and Iran. Report outlines that individuals linked to Russia had spread claims of unsubstantiated nature about President Biden ahead of the election on November 3, 2020. A campaign maligned with false information too was used to undermine confidence on a broader spectrum about election process. Report further highlights that certain Russian intelligence connections pushed narratives against Biden to media outlets as well as Trump allies with sole intention to undermine Biden’s candidacy.

Report adds that Russian efforts were to boost Trump’s chances of winning the election. On the contrasting side, Iran is said to have launched “multi-pronged covert influence campaign” with aim to weaken Trump’s support. Reason for this was quite clear – Trump during his term had maximized pressure on Iran by imposing extreme sanctions and also escalating “war of words” with it.

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Report underlines with “high confidence” that China did not “deploy interference efforts” ahead of election, although it has been accused of using cyber-attack against Washington. US Intelligence report stated, “China sought stability in its relationship with the United States and did not view either election outcome as being advantageous enough for China to risk blowback if caught.”

Clearing out air around interference with election process and mail in ballot system during election, report mentions, “We have no indications that any foreign actor attempted to interfere… by altering any technical aspect of the voting process, including voter registration, ballot casting, vote tabulation, or reporting results.” The assessment by US Intelligence finds that while Russia attempted to denigrate Biden’s chances in election, China and Iran sought loss of Trump.

Biden faces tough resistance from Republicans amidst COVID19 vaccine push
Americas

Biden faces tough resistance from Republicans amidst COVID19 vaccine push

WASHINGTON: As President Biden urges to vaccinate the Americans, he is facing deep skepticism among the Republicans, a group that is challenging for him to persuade.

He is currently facing degrees of opposition to coronavirus vaccination including African-Americans and the Republican antivaccine activists, polling says that opinions in this regard are spread along partisan lines.

Nearly one-third of Republicans, in a CBS news poll, said that they would not want to be vaccinated — in comparison to 10 percent of Democrats — and nearly around 20 percent of Republicans said they were “very unsure”. All other polls have seen similar trends.

The Biden administration is currently readying television and online advertising and are on all-out efforts to promote the vaccination process, the challenge to the White House is very complicated mainly due to the perceptions of his predecessor President Donald J. Trump’s rigid stance on the issue. Even though Mr. Trump was vaccinated prior to his departure from office and urged the conservatives to not get inoculated last month, most of his supporters appear pretty reluctant to do so, and he has clearly not played a very decisive role in promoting vaccination.

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When ssked about this issue on Monday at his office, Mr. Biden played the challenge down by saying that Mr. Trump’s assistance in promoting vaccination was less important compared to getting trusted opinion leaders on board.

If the widespread opposition to vaccination was not overcome, it could lead the United States stay aback from the point where the spread of the coronavirus could be halted. It will directly set back the efforts to get the economy back on track and people won’t get back to a normal life anytime soon. The problem until now is access to the right supplies of the vaccine, administration officials are of the expectation that exceeding demands won’t be seen if this many Americans remain reluctant.

Furthermore, with respect to this decision, a National Hockey team’s skills camp was also called off and players were asked to go back to their homes after being tested.

Unaccompanied Minors Throng US-Mexico Border Again
Americas

Unaccompanied Minors Throng US-Mexico Border Again

As newly elected PM Joe Biden has started to work towards creating a more humanized method to address asylum seekers grievances, children have been thronging the US-Mexico border in large numbers.

There are confirmed reports stating that the number of unaccompanied minors and kids in the US custody are up by 25 percent with as many as 500 such kids being detained on the border on a daily basis.

The facilities at the border are already overcrowded. Some of them look like modified jails. There are more than 4000 children right now in such facilities. Overcrowding is a major concern. The levels have spiked. Rio Grande Valley is at 363% capacity and all the major Border patrol sectors are at well over 100% capacity.

RELATED NEWS: US explores fresh approach in order to develop its policy towards North Korea

The facilities were actually designed for holding adults for a certain number of hours only. But both purposes are not being met, with children spending more than 100 hours, much more than the legal prescribed limit.

Most children are being fed and given movies to keep them busy. Many are sleeping out of fatigue and change of environment. But there is a scare of them contracting Covid-19 as social distancing protocols are out of bounds.  Their bedding isn’t the best to keep them warm, something than cannot be helped, owning to the fact that this is supposed to be a make-shift temporary facility only.

So, it is not as much as Biden’s clemency that is being blame for this influx; but the blame still lies with Trump administration for having dismantled the humanitarian protections built into the country’s immigration system. Still, Amnesty International USA has condemned the use of facilities like the ones HHS currently relies on for handling the influx of children.

Agents of Border Patrol are being praised for their humane handling of minors and young kids thronging the border. The American dream is such a mirage that children and unaccompanied minors are risking their lives to get to the other side of the border, by hook or crook. Most come from parts of South and Central America, where economies are failing them. There is dearth of everything- food, education, clean drinking water, jobs and much more. Drug mafia and trafficking is a way of life. As per U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, unaccompanied minors may apply for asylum even if they are in immigration court proceedings, if they are under 18 years old, have no lawful immigration status in the United States; and have no parent or legal guardian in the United States available to provide care and physical custody.

Bolivia’s former President Jeanine Anez gets arrested over alleged coup charges
Americas

Bolivia’s former President Jeanine Anez gets arrested over alleged coup charges

On Saturday, Bolivia’s Bolivia’s former interim President Jeanine Anez got arrested as officials of the opposition charged her of helping in the coup and oust socialist leader Evo Morales in 2019. 

Supporters of Morales alleged Anez had a hand in the coup. She got arrested from Trinidad and was flown to the capital La Paz, where she had to appear in front of the prosecutor.

“This is an injustice and abuse,” she told journalists after the appearance. “There was no overthrow, but a lawful succession,” she added. 

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Anez, many ministers, and security officials are facing charges of conspiracy, sedition, and terrorism over an alleged coup on Bolivia’s 13-year long served government, as per the arrest warrant which she posted on social media.

Anez headed Bolivia for around half a year after when Evo Morales left office following election results, violence, and protests.

In letters to the European Union and the Organization of the American States, Anez pleaded for observer missions to probe her case and other ministers’ arrest.

On Saturday, Government Minister Eduardo del Castillo affirmed that the Public Prosecutor’s Office had confined Anez for association in a coup that happened in 2019.

According to Reuters, America’s Human Rights Watch director, Jose Miguel Vivanco stated that the arrest warrants contained no proof to state any kind of terrorism.

Jake Tapper acknowledges reports of Andrew Cuomo allegations; avoids them on CNN show: Report
Americas

Jake Tapper acknowledges reports of Andrew Cuomo allegations; avoids them on CNN show: Report

Jake Tapper has been retweeting reports of Andrew Cuomo allegations, but avoiding them on CNN show

Even as CNN anchor Jake Tapper has recognised allegations of sexual misconduct against Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, he has yet not spoken about the claims on his television news show “The Lead”. Cuomo, on Friday, insisted that he would not resign amid the ongoing investigation in allegations of sexual misconduct against him. As per media reports, at least seven women have accused the New York Governor of sexual misconduct. Cuomo, on the other hand, has been rejected the allegation on several occasions. 

“Women have a right to come forward and be heard, and I encourage that fully. But I also want to be clear: there is still a question of the truth. I did not do what has been alleged, period,” the 63-year-old Democrat said during a telephonic interview with reporters. 

Earlier this week, Tapper retweeted a report published by the Albany Times Union detailing the allegations made by a sixth accuser against Cuomo. The report was initiated shared on the social media app by Times Union editor Casey Seiler. However, Tapper did not opine about the sixth accuser on his show, along with his other CNN colleagues who also appear to be avoiding the story.

In an unprecedented move, Tapper also retweeted a report accounting the New York Governor’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct against him after it was posted by one of the Twitter users on the networking platform. While there has been no mention of sexual misconduct allegations against Cuomo on “The Lead”, Tapper interestingly aired a long report simply talking about the ongoing fiasco on his show on Thursday. 

Recently, New York magazine published an essay written by Cuomo’s seventh accuser Jessica Bakeman, a former reporter at Albany. In the first-person piece, she has said that she was inappropriately touched and sexually harassed by Cuomo multiple times since she began her reporting career in 2012.

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“He (Cuomo) uses touching and sexual innuendo to stoke fear in us. That is the textbook definition of sexual harassment,” Bakeman wrote in her essay. 

Significantly, the essay was retweeted by Tapper twice after it was posted by Washington Post reporter Seung Min Kim and New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman. However, on Friday’s show, Tapper’s report did not speak about the latest developments in the sexual misconduct allegations.

China’s court likely to conduct trial of two Canadian men charged with espionage
Americas

China’s court likely to conduct trial of two Canadian men charged with espionage

According to Global Times, China’s court is likely to conduct the first trial of the two Canadian men (Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig) kept in detention and were officially charged with espionage in June 2020.

On Thursday, an article in the state-run Global Times published that the two Michael’s would face court trials soon for the spying charges.

On 19 June 2020, while speaking to the media, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his discontent in China’s decision to officially lay espionage charges on both the Michaels. Ottawa has called the two Michael’s arrest an act of ‘hostage diplomacy’. 

Trudeau had also expressed that he believes the arrests were a counter retaliation for Huawei CFO’s detention. The Huawei chief Meng Wanzhou is at present fighting extradition to the United States and her court hearing is scheduled on 14 May, The Guardian detailed.

It has been over 820 days since Chinese authorities have detained Kovrig and Spavor without bail. They were taken in custody soon after Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was caught in Canada on a U.S. warrant. Since then, the relationship between the two nations has plunged to a new low.

Meng is accused of misleading HSBC Holdings Plc about the Chinese tech company Huawei’s dealings with Iran, which is facing U.S. sanctions. 

Beijing has consistently denied the allegations that the two Canadians’ detention has anything to do with Meng’s arrest in Canada, however, the two men will be facing trial soon as per Chinese law, the Global Times reported. 

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As per the Council on Foreign Relations, since December 10, 2018, the “two Michaels” were in detention for a long and were interrogated about their daily activities.They also had limited access to Canadian attorneys or legal counsel. Canada and the United States have consistently urged China to release Spavor and Kovrig.

The court hearing for the two Michael’s had been deferred because of the coronavirus pandemic flare-up and hoping it will take place soon. However, Canada’s Foreign Minister Marc Garneau stated that they are not aware of any details regarding the timeline for the two men’s trial in China, Reuters reported.

Brazil Spread Of Virus Could Be Detrimental To World Recovery: WHO
Americas

Brazil Spread Of Virus Could Be Detrimental To World Recovery: WHO

As the world is getting its benchmarks and timelines to meet Covid-19 vaccination targets, Brazil is still to have a vaccination strategy in place. As number of cases of infection increase, the country is still at a loss on how to tackle the surging numbers. 

Surprisingly the President of the country, Jair Bolsonaro has been advocating for unproven treatments, instead of securing the Covid-19 vaccine. Apparently, Bolsonaro’s arm twisting leadership is to be blamed for this. The governors of the various states have ‘reluctantly’ put together a document that outlines some kind of curb measures to control the surging infection numbers. Its proposed measures includes curfew, prohibition of crowded events and limits on the hours non-essential services can operate.

But the final document was not signed by all the governors, in fear of being frowned upon by the President itself. Also, the document online outlines general measures without any specific solid strategy in place. Hospitals are overflowing with patients and there is no space to look after more. 

Most doctors are now overworked and say that this is war like scenario and that the infrastructure is not adept to handle such an ongoing influx of patients. Bolsonaro has been working against the better judgment of the Supreme Court. His stance has been against isolation and lockdown, pushing for the Brazilian economy to remain afloat. In 2020, the Supreme Court had upheld cities’ and states’ jurisdiction to impose restrictions on activity. But Bolsonaro consistently condemned their moves. 

Strangely, measures were relaxed toward the end of 2020, as Covid-19 cases and deaths ebbed, municipal election campaigns kicked off and home-bound Brazilians grew fatigued by quarantine.

Brazil has also been one of the few countries to suffer under the onslaught of the new variant. The P1 variant is known to be three times as transmissible as the original strain. It first became dominant in the Amazonian city Manaus and in January forced the airlift of hundreds of patients to other states.

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Even the WHO has said that for the Brazilian country to survive the onslaught, restrictions and then proper health policy and vaccine administering is of paramount importance. But Bolsonaro refuses to budge from his carefree stance. On the flipside the Pfizer- BioNtech vaccine has neutralized the P1 strain. But the dissemination rate in Brazil is very slow, merely 4% of the population having been inoculated with the first dose.

The transmission rate of the new variant is much faster than the original one and has already travelled to 21 of the 26 states of Brazil. One of the reasons behind the slow pace of vaccination is that Brazil has struggled to procure enough doses. President Jair Bolsonaro’s scepticism about vaccines has not helped the cause either.

US House of Rep. all set to give a final vote to Biden’s $1.9tn Covid stimulus package
Americas

US House of Rep. all set to give a final vote to Biden’s $1.9tn Covid stimulus package

The U.S. Representatives are awaiting give a final vote on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, which is intended to provide a monetary boost to a large number of American families and companies. 

Senator Joe Manchin was the main holdout and in the middle of negotiations that achieved in curbing all of those initiatives. The Senate passed the historic bill on a partisan division 50-49 vote on Saturday. 

The House is awaited to give a final vote on the stimulus package early Wednesday, passing the legislation for Biden’s signature. This would provide him a major legislative success less than two months into his administration.

The House of Representatives vote on the bill, which incorporates checks for most Americans comes after the Senate cleared a revised version of the stimulus package on Saturday.

An important aspect of the bill is making it one of the greatest government advances in the years to help all families. Adding expanded tax credits over the course of the following year for family, child care, and people’s utility bills.

The stimulus includes $1,400 checks for adults in the nation and $3,000 or $3,600 for children as per their age. The unemployed will continue to receive $300 a week. State and city authorities will receive $350 billion to assist them to recover from the pandemic. Adding billions for coronavirus vaccinations, testing and medicines, state, schools, and weak enterprises from aviation, tourism, and entertainment business. 

Progressives endured difficulties, particularly the Senate’s expulsion of a steady minimum pay increased to $15 hourly by 2025. However, the steps carry so many Democratic demands that the last passage was not in question, regardless of the party’s tight House majority.

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Biden announced that the $1,400 checks will not have his signatures attached to them. Contrasted to covid relief approved in 2020, Biden states that the current legislation aims to provide loans more narrowly to small enterprises.

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