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Biden defends US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan by August 31, touts US of achieving objectives
Americas

Biden defends US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan by August 31, touts US of achieving objectives

 On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced that United States would be withdrawing all of its troops from Afghanistan by August 31. Pledging that he would not send another American generation to Afghanistan, Biden said, “Our military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on August 31.” The earlier deadline of troops withdrawal was set as September 11, but Pentagon has confirmed that more than 90% of withdrawal operation has already been completed.

Speaking after the announcement, Biden fiercely defended his decision of ending 20 years of American war in Afghanistan stressing that the country can no longer afford any more loss of human life and the mission that has slid off the initial course clearly. President Biden said in White House’s East Room in his remarks, “Let me ask those who want us to stay: How many more? How many thousands more American daughters and sons are you willing to risk? And how long would you have them stay?”

Before President Biden made the announcement on Thursday afternoon, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “We’re not going to have a ‘mission accomplished’ moment in this regard. It’s a 20-year war that has not been won militarily.”

President Biden said senior defense officials are in agreement that moving as swiftly as possible in the operation was the most effective way to protect US troops and ensure their safe return. He added that in the withdrawal no American service member had been lost. Last week US troops left their main airbase in Bagram, north of Kabul, in middle of night even without informing the Afghan military who had to overtake the critical airbase.

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Retired Maj Gen James “Spider” Marks says that he does not see any future of Afghanistan other than a civil war specially as Taliban are surging their control in vital regions of the country.

Biden noted that during the 20 year long war in Afghanistan, 2,448 American lives had been lost with another 20,722 wounded. He reiterated that any troop staying back in Afghanistan would mean more US casualties. “I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome,” the president said. “We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build,” he added. “And it’s the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country.”

President assured that US would continue to provide any humanitarian and civilian assistance in Afghanistan along with defending rights to children and women in the country.

Supporters of Peru’s competing presidential candidates take to roads amid election frenzy
Americas

Supporters of Peru’s competing presidential candidates take to roads amid election frenzy

Supporters of Peru’s competing presidential candidates – rightwinger Keiko Fujimori and socialist Pedro Castillo – have resorted to the streets after the closely contested 6 June election has taken a legal route.

A new judge, on Saturday, was sworn into the panel overseeing disputes as Lima’s streets filled up with protesting supporters.

Left-wing union leader Castillo has declared his victory after securing 50.12 per cent votes in the presidential run-off. These are about 44,000 votes more than right-wing Fujimori according to the full vote count.

Thousands of Castillo supporters walked on Saturday towards Plaza San Martín in the capital Lima. They carried giant banners of the socialist candidate, demanding for his win to be confirmed.

On the other hand, the daughter of ex-President Alberto Fujimori has claimed voter fraud. Her camp has asked the Jury of National Elections (JNE) to review thousands of ballots. Castillo’s Free Peru party has denied her allegations of fraud. Castillo’s supporters cite international observers who said that the elections were carried out without any serious irregularity. The US state department has also described the process as a “model of democracy”. These reports bring a sense of comfort to Castillo’s supporters.

The country’s electoral process dived into further uncertainty this week after one of the four magistrates of the jury reviewing the ballots quit after disagreeing with the other officials over requests to nullify votes.

The leftist, Fujimori, has been making claims of fraud but with little evidence.

It has been 20 days but the country still hasn’t been able to officially decide its president. The police are trying hard to keep the rival groups apart. On Saturday, the jury reformed to allow the process to restart. JNE President Jorge Salas said, “Electoral justice should not be paralysed or blocked, and cannot be halted in this phase of the process”.

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Fujimori’s return to jail deferred as Judge rules in her favour
Americas

Fujimori’s return to jail deferred as Judge rules in her favour

A request to place Keiko Fujimori in pre-trial detention was dismissed by a judge in Peru on Monday.

She faces corruption charges and has lately seen a narrow election defeat.

Fujimori has spent about 16 months in pre-trial detention. As of now, her trial would be deferred until the end of her term if she is named the winner of the recently held presidential elections.

She was released from detention in May last year in view of the coronavirus outbreak, on a condition that she will not leave the country or establishing communication with co-defendants or witnesses from the trial.

The right-wing candidate is lingering behind her rival Pedro Castillo, however, the official result is awaiting the review of contested ballots.

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A Peruvian judge has rejected a prosecutor’s request to let presidential election candidate Keiko Fujimori back to remand prison for allegedly not complying with her bail conditions for the charges of money laundering that she faces.

She is alleged to have received $1.2m from a Brazilian construction company named Odebrecht to fund her previous presidential campaigns in 2011 and 2016.

Fujimori is the eldest daughter of the imprisoned ex-president Alberto Fujimori.

Prosecutor José Domingo Pérez asked Judge Víctor Zúñiga that she, Fujimori, breached bail restrictions by establishing contact with a witness in the case.

The judge, however, found the claim was “without evidence” since she had not been given a prior warning. He then extended Fujimori’s bail.

Fujimori, for her part, said that the prosecutor’s request was “arbitrary, unjust, and disproportionate” as many of her supporters demonstrated outside.

The prosecutor who was seeking Fujimori’s return to jail for violating her parole conditions and said that he would appeal the judge’s ruling.

According to unofficial results, Fujimori has also failed to win her most recent presidential opponent, but only by a margin of around 44,000 votes.

Pedro Castillo claims victory in Peru’s presidential run
Americas

Pedro Castillo claims victory in Peru’s presidential run

Pedro Castillo, Peru’s left-wing candidate, declared his victory in the presidential election after a lengthy vote count resulted in a narrow lead tilting towards him.

His right-wing rival, Keiko Fujimori, pledged to fight the result and is yet to concede.

The counting finished with Castillo 44,058 votes ahead of Fujimori on Tuesday. Fujimori has made allegations of fraud and has tried to get some votes annulled but has little proof to substantiate. Castillo, on the other hand, announced his win on Twitter as he thanked his supporters.

“A new era has begun,” Castillo said. “Millions of Peruvians have held up in defence of their dignity and justice.”

The 51-year-old rural school teacher, Castillo, garnered 50.12% to Fujimori’s 49.87%, as per ONPE election body.

The JNE jury is to call the final winner.

Fujimori asked her supporters in Lima on Tuesday to keep fighting and “defend Peru’s democracy.” Some notable Fujimori supporters even called for fresh elections to be held.

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Castillo’s Free Peru Party has nudged down the allegations of fraud in the election. His running mate for vice president, Dina Boluarte, termed the call for a  new election as an attempt to “generate violence.”

Castillo vowed earlier in the day that he would not allow his rivals to deny the will of the people and annul the elections, which has seen advocates on both sides take to the roads in recent days.

Castillo told the press at the Lima headquarters that he would respect the decision of the electoral authorities and requested them to end the ambiguity by confirming the result quickly.

The sudden rise of the 51-year-old former teacher has knocked Peru’s political and business elite and is set to have a meaningful effect on the vital mining industry of the world’s second-largest copper producer. Castillo is planning sharp tax increases on the sector.

Biden administration’s global tax plan gets G7 backing
Americas

Biden administration’s global tax plan gets G7 backing

 On Saturday, the ongoing G7 summit in London backed Biden administration’s efforts to tweak international tax rules in order to discourage American companies from gaining huge earnings abroad. The London summit on Saturday was attended by finance ministers from seven nations of Group of 7 – Canada, US, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and the UK. The G7 backed global minimum tax of at least 15% on multinational companies. They also agreed on big companies paying tax in nations where they generate sales and not just where they are physically present.

The Saturday meeting was also attended by the US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. The agreement was announced on Twitter via video posted by UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak who said the G7 nations had “reached a historic agreement to reform the global tax system to make it fit for the global digital age and, crucially, to make sure that it’s fair so that the right companies pay the right tax in the right places.”

Yellen, who sought G7 approval on Biden administration’s efforts for the rewriting of global tax rules called the agreement a “significant, unprecedented commitment”.  Yellen wrote in a statement, “The G7 Finance Ministers have made a significant, unprecedented commitment today that provides tremendous momentum towards achieving a robust global minimum tax at a rate of at least 15%.”

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“That global minimum tax would end the race-to-the-bottom in corporate taxation, and ensure fairness for the middle class and working people in the U.S. and around the world,” Yellen said while adding that the tax would also level “the playing field for businesses and encouraging countries to compete on positive bases, such as educating and training our work forces and investing in research and development and infrastructure.”

The major global companies that would be impacted by this agreement include Google, Facebook and Twitter. Many countries have come up with changed tax laws targeting greater tax generation from these companies after much debate that these firms must pay more in taxes. Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs said, “We want the international tax reform process to succeed and recognize this could mean Facebook paying more tax, and in different places.” Google too supported the tax reforms globally. Amazon spokesperson said, “We believe an OECD-led process that creates a multilateral solution will help bring stability to the international tax system. The agreement by the G7 marks a welcome step forward in the effort to achieve this goal. We hope to see discussions continue to advance with the broader G20 and Inclusive Framework alliance.”

The agreement is a big win for Biden’s administration and a clear showcase of its ability to build consensus. It is especially crucial ahead of the G7 leaders summit next week in Cornwall.

US to significantly contribute help rebuild Gaza, to reopen embassy in Jerusalem
Americas

US to significantly contribute help rebuild Gaza, to reopen embassy in Jerusalem

During his first day of his first official visit to the Middle East region, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the United States would make “significant contributions” towards the rebuilding of Gaza that has witnessed destruction during the recent Israel and Palestinian conflict. The US Secretary of State further said that US embassy in Jerusalem would be reopened to manage diplomatic relations with Palestinians in a more positive and progressive way. The embassy had earlier been downgraded by former US President Donald Trump. 

Blinken made his first official trip to the region rounding up the ceasefire announced between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militants in Gaza Strip, finally putting an end to 11 days of bloodshed and violence in both sides. He announced that Biden administration would be asking Congress to pass $75 million in aid for Palestinians. This would include $5.5 million immediate aid to help rebuild Gaza.

The announcement was made after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. During the meeting with Abbas, Blinken talked about plans for a new envoy, details of the large aid that included 1.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines. “As I told the president, I’m here to underscore the commitment of the United States to rebuilding the relationship with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people, a relationship built on mutual respect and also a shared conviction that Palestinians and Israelis alike deserve equal measures of security, freedom, opportunity and dignity,” said Blinken. 

In a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the announcement, Blinken assured that Hamas would not be allowed to benefit from the aid.  

In a rare event from Biden administration, Blinken publicly criticized settlement activity in the strip while underlining US’s commitment to two-state solution. 

Date of reopening of the consulate general in Jerusalem hasn’t been announced. The consulate historically operates independently from US mission to Israel. Blinken said to the press, “We’re just beginning the process. I can’t give you a timeline on how long that will take. But I can tell you that it’s, I think, important to have that platform to be able to more effectively engage [with] not just the Palestinian Authority, but Palestinians from different walks of life, the NGO community, the business community, and others.” 

Addressing the violence during the conflict that led to casualties on both sides of Israel and Palestinians, Blinkin called the losses “profound”. He said, “Casualties are often reduced to numbers. But behind every number is a human being — a daughter, a son, a father, a mother, a grandparent, a best friend. And as the Talmud teaches, to lose a life is to lose the whole world, whether that life is Palestinian or Israeli.” 

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Blinken also expressed that US welcomes holding of the ceasefire but also said that it is not enough. He said violence during this round of conflict was an expression of deep-lying issues that need to be resolved. “I say this as a father, no child whether Israeli or Palestinian or American is a statistic. We know the human consequences when violence takes the upper hand and we are determined that that not be the case. The loss of any child is a universe of loss and in some ways incomprehensible except to those who suffered the loss,” he said.

Arizona Bans Abortion On Lines Of Treatable Deformity
Americas

Arizona Bans Abortion On Lines Of Treatable Deformity

The stigma around abortion continues to haunt the American states, as Arizonan Governor has now declared abortion illegal over genetic deformities. Signing a law recently, Mr. Doug Ducey has banned abortions performed strictly on the basis of genetic disorders detected in the fetus, such as Down syndrome or cystic fibrosis, unless the condition is considered lethal.

The Republic controlled legislature on party line votes went in favour of the ban against the Democratic minority. It has now been confirmed that those doctors that perform abortion on cases where minor genetic disorder can be treatable after birth, are in for felon time in jail.

This measure was passed smoothly as the Republican governor is an abortion opponent who has never vetoed a piece of anti-abortion legislation. Senate Bill 1457 moved through the Legislature in fits and starts, stalling twice before moving again amid intense pressure by abortion opponents on GOP lawmakers who opposed some of its provisions. It finally passed both chambers last week.

The bill recognizes the civil rights of unborn children too. It also bans mail delivery of abortion-inducing medication, allows the father or maternal grandparents of a fetus aborted because of a genetic issue to sue, and bans the spending of any state money toward organisations that provide abortion care.

Further, the bill requires fetal remains to be buried or cremated, and it forbids state universities from providing abortion care.

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Democrats have lamented the governor’s action, including Rep. Diego Espinoza of Tolleson as well as abortion advocates that believe it should be the right of a mother to decide whether she wants to keep an unhealthy baby, while she may not be financial fit to take care of one.

Earlier this month, a divided federal appeals court lifted the hold on a similar Ohio law that prohibits doctors from performing abortions based on a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

Judges of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals narrowly reversed two earlier decisions blocking enforcement of Ohio’s 2017 law. A majority of the appeals court said the law doesn’t impede a woman’s right to an abortion.

Bolsonaro says military to obey any given orders
Americas

Bolsonaro says military to obey any given orders

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro asserted on Friday that his orders given to the military would be met with compliance by the latter.

His statement has raised several eyebrows on the politicization of the armed forces whose job by the book is to stay neutral.

Bolsonaro, speaking during a TV interview, said if he ordered the military to take the streets to restore order, “the orders will be followed”. 

“I will not go into details of what I’m preparing for,” he said, adding that “if we were to have problems, we also have a plan of how to get into the field … our military could take to streets one day.”

Being a far-right former army captain, Bolsonaro has long been a vocal supporter of Brazil’s two-decade military dictatorship. Critics say that he will do little to ease those who stay anxious about his politicization of the military. 

His opponents are worried about his commitment to a peaceful transfer of power in case of a close result in next year’s presidential election.

Pressure has grown on Bolsonaro as Brazil’s coronavirus pandemic has gone out of control. He has faced immense criticism for his handling of the scenario, which has the second-highest coronavirus death toll in the world after the United States.

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Bolsonaro swapped all three commanders of the armed forces as part of a cabinet reshuffle last month.

He put his former chief of staff as head of the Defense Ministry, a step that was met with fright from senior military officers.

Bolsonaro has made unaccounted allegations, since his 2018 election victory, of voter fraud in Brazil. Critics say that his accusations could lay the foundation to challenge upcoming elections. 

A scenario of rough transfer of power can appear in Brazil just like it happened in the U.S. where Bolsonaro’s political idol, Donald Trump didn’t accept defeat and created a rumpus.

Mexico’s Andrés Obrador propels the controversial reforestation program
Americas

Mexico’s Andrés Obrador propels the controversial reforestation program

On Thursday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador pressed for the controversial tree-planting plan, attempting to get the United States on board to fund an enormous development of the reforestation program into Central America.

Lopez says the carbon from trees in the reforestation program will make a significant commitment to battling environmental change. However, at the same time, his government has zeroed in on building petroleum facilities and consuming more coal and fuel oil at power facilities. 

López’s Planting Life program proposes to plant 1 billion timber and fruit trees, to U.S. President Joe Biden at Thursday’s environmental change summit. 

He guarantees that the program will prevent the farmers from leaving their homes and relocating to the United States, however, he likewise suggested that the U.S. grant six-month work visas, and later citizenship, to those individuals who join the program. 

However, scientists question whether planting huge areas of commercial species that had local forests is a smart thought. The opinions are mixed in Mexico on whether the program is truly working, or whether it can counterbalance Mexico’s other strategy of empowering the utilization of petroleum derivatives. 

The program has effectively planted 700,000 trees in Mexico, where it pays 450,000 Mexican ranchers a payment of $225 each month to tend the saplings. 

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During the dry season, farmers in Kopoma can tend the saplings that they can get from army-run nurseries on 172.5 hectares of land. During the rainy season, he and other Maya farmers can likewise plant their traditional crops. 

According to AP News, it is unclear how good is López Obrador’s visa proposition, or his enthusiasms in the environmental change summit as he didn’t listen to most of the leaders who spoke at the climate summit, instead he carried out with his daily news conference.

A few critics have proposed that farmers with unprofitable natural forests have essentially chopped them down to plant new trees and meet all requirements for the month-to-month payment under the new proposed reforestation program.

Vanita Gupta Takes Third Important Position In American Justice Department
Americas

Vanita Gupta Takes Third Important Position In American Justice Department

It is raining Asian and African American nomination in the American Parliament and the newly appointed PM Joe Biden is the inspiration behind this. Even though the senate was divided on this, they have still elected an Asian American representative to chair the number three job in the Justice department.

Ms. Vanita Gupta is now the Associate Attorney General who had testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during her confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, on March 9, 2021.

She won by a margin of two votes in a count of 51-49, where only one Republican (Lisa Murkowski of Alaska) voted to confirm her, saying she felt Gupta was personally committed to combating injustice.

What won Ms. Gupta is her passion to serve for justice and not her impressive credentials. The right-wing groups and Senate Republicans seemed to have attacked Gupta by criticizing her on everything from prior statements she had made on social media to her stock holdings in a company. The company was accused of selling a key ingredient used to make heroin in Mexico.

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Gupta has faced a fraught confirmation process amid attacks as well. For Gupta, as associate attorney general at the Justice Department, she would be playing a crucial role in supervising the department’s civil rights work, including an investigation announced by Attorney General Merrick Garland recently into policing practices in Minneapolis following the murder of George Floyd. Gupta goes back to Obama administration days, and as Biden has been seen bringing in his army of officers from old associations, she has reasons to make it to his army. Gupta was known for her prowess to oversee high-profile investigations into systemic abuses by police departments in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri. She served as an acting assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration.

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