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Biden puts an end to USA’s longest war: How will this resolve steer foreign policy under Biden
Americas

Biden puts an end to USA’s longest war: How will this resolve steer foreign policy under Biden

President Joe Biden has taken a precarious decision of putting an end to America’s longest war, something none of his predecessor dared to step into. After almost 20 years of war in Afghanistan, Biden administration has announced withdrawal of US troops from the country by September 11. It also signals Biden’s affirmation of foreign policy shift over overseas resources. The White House said on Tuesday that all of remaining 2500 troops in Afghanistan would commence withdrawal before May 1, with all of them returned before September 1 that will mark 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks which had triggered the US led invasion to Afghanistan and the subsequent war that took away thousands of lives.

The agenda is clear – the objectives set at onset of 2001 war have been met by the US. And now is the time to focus on challenges positioning in 2021. The current challenges that need to be tackled by the new government under President Joe Biden include ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, competition with China and broad terrorism threats across nations and new arenas including cyberattacks. White House official underlined, “Doing that requires us to close the book on a 20-year conflict in Afghanistan and move forward with clear eyes and an effective strategy to protect and defend America’s national security interests.”

But as bright as it may appear, the decision comes with its own set of risks. Experts of one school of thought wonder if the decision of upending troops from Afghanistan after 20 years would cost in country’s stability. Experts say that this decision can bring US back to table in a more assertive position globally and bring it closer to some allies with realigned relations, like India and Pakistan. Withdrawing troops from Afghanistan would also bring US to more credible position to speak and assert in ongoing issues in Ukraine and South China Sea.

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Laurel Miller of the International Crisis Group remarked, “There’s a cost for the United States in continuing to be participating in a war that doesn’t have a clear strategic purpose or plausible end to it. The US is looking at those kinds of costs and risks in comparison to other priorities that it has around the world and is seeing that the cost of staying in Afghanistan, the troop deployments, the money, the attention that it requires pulls away from other things that the administration thinks are more important for us.”

Some analysts also believe that pulling out troops would not end the conflict in Afghanistan, but might precipitate into a rippled effect in form of escalated domestic and international politics, bringing the catastrophic country to cliff with more risks. There is always a big chance of Afghani government being taken over by Taliban, leading to harboring of Al Qaeda – and of this happens Biden administration would be at centre of all blames and questions. The Taliban and Afghanistan government peace deal will most likely be not carried out in absence of US troops on ground. The catastrophe that it will instill in country is beyond imagination, with women and children being at the maximum receiving end.

Human rights abuses of women and children will escalate, experts fear. Annie Pforzheimer, a retired US career diplomat who was deputy chief of mission in Kabul in 2017-2018 and acting deputy assistant secretary of state for Afghanistan until March 2019, believes that the decision of troops withdrawal will make the peace process in the country a tough and tricky job. “I believe this announcement negatively impacts the human rights of women, minorities and young people by making the Taliban less likely to negotiate with the government and those who support the constitution, and more likely to attempt a forceful takeover once international troops have departed,” she noted.

Eliot Cohen, dean of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies said, “Nobody’s going to leave Afghanistan alone, so you can expect the Pakistanis and the Russians, the Chinese, the central Asians and the Iranians to continue to play there. This is not the end of the Afghan wars. This is the end of the overt American phase of the Afghan war.”

The decision will steer America’s foreign policy but also change dynamics in Afghanistan. How it is going to steer over time will greatly impact multi-faceted arenas globally.

Biden proposed a summit with Putin and discussed ongoing tension with Ukraine
Americas

Biden proposed a summit with Putin and discussed ongoing tension with Ukraine

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested a summit in coming months to discuss US-Russia relations and ongoing tensions with Ukraine.

It’s the second time that the two presidents have spoken over phone since US president Biden took office in January. Biden urged Putin to “de-escalate tensions near the Ukrainian borders as concerns over Moscow’s military buildup” along Ukraine’s border is growing.

However, as per the White House, over the phone call, President Biden additionally told Putin that the United States would “act firmly in defense for the national interest in regards to Russia’s election interference or cyber attack. Biden offered to hold a summit in a third nation “in the coming months” to examine the full scope of U.S. – Russia problems, the White House added. 

The Biden-Putin relations have been rough in the initial time of the new US administration. Biden is thinking of action against Russia for reports of Russian bounties on U.S. troopers in Afghanistan, the SolarWinds hacking, Russian interference in the 2020 US elections, and the imprisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. 

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There is a developing worry in the West about a surge of truce violation in eastern Ukraine, where Russia-baсked separatists and Ukrainian authorities have been secured a contention since Moscow’s 2014 edition of Ukraine’s the Crimean Peninsula. Biden’s phone call with Putin came as the top U.S. ambassador and the head of NATO denounced the collecting of thousands of Russian soldiers. 

Ukraine has stated that Russia has 41,000 soldiers at its line of control with eastern Ukraine and 42,000 in Crimea. Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Defense Minister stated on Tuesday that the military buildup of the previous three weeks was practice drills in light of what he characterized as risks from NATO. The moves in western Russia would keep going for two additional weeks, he added. 

In an official statement, the Kremlin said, “during talks on Ukraine’s internal political tensions,” Putin told Biden ways to deal with a political solution based on the 2015 peace deal facilitated by Germany and France and marked in Minsk, Belarus.

Biden to unveil a plan to address gun violence
Americas

Biden to unveil a plan to address gun violence

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden is expected to bring forth a series of executive actions to address the prevalent issue of gun violence across the country. 

Weeks after several back-to-back mass shooting incidents that left 18 people dead, there have been several discussions to bring the issue of gun legislation to the surface.

This is yet another challenge for an administration that is currently tackling multiple crises.

Mr. Biden is expected to announce the nomination of David Chipman, a gun control advocate, to head the Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol, Firearms, and Explosives. The bureau lacks a permanent director since the year 2015.

Mr. Biden has been under severe pressure to address gun violence and has made clear that moving legislation through a blockade wall of Republican opposition isn’t currently feasible. 

Officials, on Wednesday, reiterated that the proposals planned to unveil with Merrick B. Garland, the attorney general, are only a start and the president would soon call on Congress to take an action.

On Thursday, three initiatives to fight gun violence will be announced by the Justice Department.

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One initiative can be to help stop the proliferation of ghost guns. This is a kit that allows a gun to be assembled from pieces. Officials at the White House have not yet announced to classify ghost guns as firearms. Previously, only one department was trying to stop all criminals from buying kits, containing all the components and directions to assemble one.

A second initiative is to make clear that when a device, which is marketed as a stabilizing brace turns a pistol into a short-barrel rifle, the weapon is subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act. 

Finally, the Justice Department is also thinking to publish a model “red flag” legislation for the states. The measure will allow police officers and their family members to file a petition in the court to temporarily remove firearms from people who can present a danger to themselves or others.

Murder George Floyd, the police chief admits: “The agent violated the rules”
Americas

Murder George Floyd, the police chief admits: “The agent violated the rules”

Arradondo testifies at the trial against Chauvin: “His behavior is not foreseen by our policies and goes against our values”. Police Officer Derek Chauvin violated departmental policy by placing his knee on George Floyd’s neck and holding him to the ground after Floyd stopped resisting and was in danger. This was stated by the chief of police of Minneapolis, Madeira Arradondo, who testified today in the trial for the death of the African American which took place last May 25.

In his deposition, the police chief said that continuing to keep his knee on Floyd’s neck once he was handcuffed and lying on his stomach was “in no way” part of the department’s policy or training, ” and certainly not part of our ethics or our values ​​”. Arradondo, the African American in command of the Minneapolis police, fired Chauvin and the other three officers the day after Floyd’s death last May, and in June called the case “murder.”

During the long interrogation, the agent Arradondo has clarified that the trial is not the police but Chauvin, who “violated a whole series of rules” that fix the action of the agents. The police chief explained that his men are being trained to ease the use of force when the arrested is neutralized, but that Chauvin “absolutely did not”. “When we talk about the sacredness of life – he added – we talk about the principles and values ​​we have, and that action goes against what we have been taught”.

The judge presiding over the trial announced at the opening of the hearing that the sessions will continue without the projection visible to the public of video and audio. Peter Cahill said he will explain the reason for his decision at another time.

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The Minneapolis administration unanimously approved the allocation of $ 27 million in early March, announcing the agreement reached with the victim’s family. Of that money, half a million will be used to finance the memorial which arose spontaneously at the intersection of 38th street and Chicago Avenue, now transformed into a “free city area” by the community living in the neighborhood where, on the corner in front of a tobacconist, Floyd was barbarously killed in front of dozens of astonished people.

Many picked up on cell phones the end of George Floyd and his last words. That “I can’t breathe”, which later became one of the most effective slogans of the Black Lives Matter movement. Those images, which quickly went viral, sparked harsh protests in the city last summer, eventually setting the whole of America on fire. Lake Street, the long avenue of Minneapolis, the heart of the demonstrations in June, still bears the signs of devastation.

US federal court verdict relieves Facebook, but sparks debate over need for updating tech laws
Americas

US federal court verdict relieves Facebook, but sparks debate over need for updating tech laws

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday passed a judgment in favour of Facebook, steering clear the social media giant of accusations that it broke anti-robocall law. The company was dragged to court by Noah Duguid, from Montana, in 2015 complaining that the Facebook sent him automatic text messages without his consent. The lawsuit charged the company of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which forbids organizations from using an automatic telephone dialing system.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who gave the verdict, said that text messages which were sent by the company did not contravene with TCPA. Adding to the ruling, Sotomayor wrote, “Duguid’s quarrel is with Congress, which did not define an autodialer as malleably as he would have liked.” She stressed that as per the law, the accused could be marked guilty if it was using “random or sequential number generator” but in case of Facebook, the company’s system did not use that technology.

“As the court recognized, the law’s provisions were never intended to prohibit companies from sending targeted security notifications and the court’s decision will allow companies to continue working to keep the accounts of their users safe,” the social media company said in a statement.

The judgement triggered a debate where many raised the need for updation of technology laws with respect to evolving modern times. “By narrowing the scope of the TCPA, the court is allowing companies the ability to assault the public with a non-stop wave of unwanted calls and texts, around the clock,” Democratic Senator Edward Markey and Democratic Representative Anna Eshoo said in a joint statement.

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Duguid’s lawyer, Sergei Lemberg said that the ruling provided an easy pass to anyone who used technology similar to that of Facebook’s. Lemberg said, “This is a disappointing ruling for anyone who owns a cellphone or values their privacy.”

Besides Facebook, another entity which got relieved from the judgment was the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions. The Union said the apex court’s decision “to narrowly interpret autodialers is a win for the credit union industry.” The association in its statement said, “We have long fought for this clarity to ensure credit unions can contact their members with important, time-sensitive financial information without fear of violating the TCPA and facing frivolous lawsuits.”

Trump is living his dream: Launches his website to ‘re-tell’ his version of history
Americas

Trump is living his dream: Launches his website to ‘re-tell’ his version of history

Donald Trump and social media cannot be kept apart for long. Some might say its his way of satisfying his ego, while some might argue that the man needs some channel to ‘express’ his views. Nevertheless, former United Sates President Donald Trump has launched his website, months after his official account was blocked by Twitter in an aftermath of Capitol Hill riots in January, for inciting violence.

The website, 45office.com is labelled as a platform for his supporters to stay in touch and also where former President can continue his campaign of “America First”. Interestingly, the website lays down very few instances of history around Trump’s period in office, basically “selective re-telling” of history.

The website’s homepage boasts that “the office of Donald J Trump is committed to preserving the magnificent legacy of the Trump administration, while at the same time advancing the America first agenda”.

The website is centered around a roughly 900 word description of Trump’s presidency, describing his achievements as the 45th President of United States of America as “the most extraordinary political movement in history”. The description revolves around Trump’s greatness and achievements, entailing how he de-throned the political dynasties in Washington DC and “overcame virtually every entrenched power structure”.

Syncing in with Trump camp’s constant ‘de-bunked’ claims of building world’s greatest economy, the website says, “President Trump ushered in a period of unprecedented economic growth, job creation, soaring wages, and booming incomes.”

Un-surprisingly, the website fails to mention the horrid suffering of America’s economy last year during Covid-19 pandemic during Trump’s presidency. It also fails to acknowledge the massive, beyond comprehension toll on human lives as a result of failure to address the coronavirus pandemic by Trump administration. On the contrary, it calls government’s handling of pandemic a success, saying, “When the coronavirus plague arrived from China, afflicting every nation around the globe, President Trump acted early and decisively.”

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Also, site doesn’t mention Donald Trump being the only US president to have undergone impeachment trials in Congress twice. No mention of Capitol Hill riots either.

Website promises that “through civic engagement and public activism, the office of Donald J Trump will strive to inform, educate, and inspire Americans from all walks of life as we seek to build a truly great American future”.

Donald Trump has hinted of his contesting the 2024 Presidential Elections. It is a high possibility as despite of huge backlash and impeachment trials, Trump enjoys significant support in GOP. It is said that Trump has already started backing Republican candidates who can unseat the Republicans who he feels were disloyal to him.

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.

The return of Donald Trump, “I could run and win again”
Americas

The return of Donald Trump, “I could run and win again”

“Hi CPAC. Did you miss me?”. So, Donald Trump greeted the crowd at the Orlando Conservative Political Action Conference. The former president has chosen the annual meeting of American conservatives for his first public appearance since his farewell to the White House. In a speech that lasted an hour and a half, alternating jokes and invectives, Trump again proclaimed that he had won the 2020 election.

He attacked Joe Biden; he is angry with the Republicans who voted for his impeachment in Washington and with the transgender people who embody the anti-American “cancel culture”. He ruled out, Trump, that he wanted to found a new party, but he also hinted at the possibility of taking the field in 2024. “You know, I might even decide to beat the Democrats for the third time,” he said, to the enthusiasm of those present that they punctuated a single sentence. “We love you!”.

Orlando’s 90 minutes have once and for all ruled out the possibility of Donald Trump disappearing from American public life. The 45th president is here to stay and, in any case, his themes, his obsessions, the harsh and exasperated tone of his conservatism have now made their way into the Republican party. Many of the speeches at the three-day CPAC in Orlando raised accusations of electoral fraud and the lament for the “lost heart of America”. It is above all on immigration that he beats: “I had made the southern border safe. I had put an end to human trafficking”. The illegal immigrants were being captured and sent home.

Biden, on the other hand, has already triggered a new humanitarian crisis …” He goes on more or less like this for over an hour. Repeating the old story of electoral fraud on several occasions along with other flagships of his election campaign: “the Chinese virus”, of course. But also, how Biden is in the hands of the extreme left that wants to promote socialism on the Venezuelan model. And, again, “we are committed to defending unborn children.”

If it is still too early to say with certainty that Trump will be the Republican candidate in 2024 – and if much of the Republican leadership breathes a sigh of relief at the news that there will be no independent Trumpian movement in the future – the tone and the words spoken by Orlando’s podium unmark Trump from the past and make him a cumbersome protagonist for years to come. The people of Orlando live in an alternate reality where Trump has won the 2020 election and there is a usurper in the White House.

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The Republican party is now increasingly Trump’s party: and he reaffirms it by making one by one the names of the Republicans who did not support him, starting with Mitt Romney and ending with Liz Cheney. “Let’s get rid of them in the next elections. Dems are diabolical but they have the advantage of being united. We must be too.”

While Joe Biden and Congress are busy approving the $ 1900 billion economic stimulus bill in the capital, Trump also took the opportunity to severely chastise the new administration. “We knew Biden was going to be a bad president but none of us would ever imagine how bad this administration would be, and how far left it would fall.” Citing “a horrific new migration crisis on our southern borders” and Biden’s inability to reopen schools, Trump explained that “in just one short month we went from America First to America Last”. In front of an enthusiastically applauding audience, Trump showed that the foreigner theme is still the one that garners the most support in the conservative world. “Biden’s radical migration policies are not just illegal. They are also immoral, heartless, and are a betrayal of the founding values ​​of our nation.” 

White House: Biden disappointed in Senate’s ruling on including $15 Wage in Covid Relief Bill
Americas

White House: Biden disappointed in Senate’s ruling on including $15 Wage in Covid Relief Bill

On Thursday, the decision in the Senate hit hard the Democrats’ expectations of bringing a rise in the minimum pay to $15 Wage and adding it to the Covid-19 relief package. It is most likely dooming the proposal which is due for a vote in Congress. 

On Thursday, the White House stated that President Biden is disappointed in Senate’s ruling on the $15 minimum wages rise in the Covid-19 bill, however, added that the President respects the Senate’s decision.

The parliamentarian ruled that the plan was not compliant with the rules administering the budget process that Congress is applying to pass the bill with a small majority.

Biden and his team wanted to double the minimum wage to $15 each hour by 2025. They wanted to include this in the Covid-19 relief bill to help tackle the socio-economic crisis brought by the pandemic, which has killed more than 500,000 Americans and tossed millions unemployed.

In the United States, about 10 million of the 22 million workers that lost jobs during the coronavirus pandemic outbreak still remain unemployed. The rate of unemployment is declined to 6.3% at the beginning of 2021, with several economic analysts stating the figure could continue to surge for months.

The Democrats are endeavoring to propel the COVID-19 bill under a special budget provision that would enable them to pass it in the Senate utilizing a basic lion’s share, so they won’t require the support of the Republicans. 

“We are profoundly disappointed in this ruling,” stated Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader. “We won’t surrender the battle to raise the minimum wages to $15 and help a large number of Americans struggling amid the pandemic. The American public deserves to have this provision, and we are focused on making it a reality, he added.”

US senator Bernie Sanders stated he firmly disagrees with the decision and recommended another approach to raise wages via the budget process.

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However, Senator Lindsey Graham welcomed the senate ruling and tweeted, “exceptionally satisfied with the Senate Parliamentarian’s decision that the rise in the minimum wage is an improper policy change in reconciliation.”

On Wednesday, the White House chief of staff Ron Klain stated on MSNBC that VP and president of the Senate Harris would not make an effort to overturn the ruling if the Senate parliamentarian chose the minimum wage was not able to be a part of the Coronavirus Relief Package.

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