#AceNewsReport – Sept.05: The order, coming little more than a week before the 20th anniversary of the attacks, is a significant moment in a years-long tussle between the government and the families over what classified information about the run-up to the attacks could be made public……
Mr Biden said he was making good on a campaign commitment by ordering the declassification review and pledged that his administration “will continue to engage respectfully with members of this community”.
“The significant events in question occurred two decades ago or longer, and they concern a tragic moment that continues to resonate in American history and in the lives of so many Americans,” the executive order states.
“It is therefore critical to ensure that the United States government maximises transparency, relying on classification only when narrowly tailored and necessary.”
The order directs the Justice Department and other executive branch agencies to begin a declassification review, and requires that declassified documents be released over the next six months.
Brett Eagleson, whose father Bruce was among the World Trade Center victims and who is an advocate for other victims’ relatives, commended the action as a “critical first step”.
He said the families would be closely watching the process to make sure that the Justice Department follows through and acts “in good faith”.
“The first test will be on 9/11, and the world will be watching. We look forward to thanking President Biden in person next week as he joins us at Ground Zero to honour those who died or were injured 20 years ago,” Eagleson said.
Victims’ families want FBI to locate key evidence
The practical impact of the executive order and any new documents it might yield was not immediately clear.
A long-running lawsuit in federal court in New York aims to hold the Saudi government accountable and alleges that Saudi officials provided significant support to some of the hijackers before the attacks.
The lawsuit took a major step forward this year with the questioning under oath of former Saudi officials, and family members have long regarded the disclosure of declassified documents as an important step in making their case.
The Saudi government has denied any connection to the attacks.
Fifteen of the hijackers were Saudi, as was Osama bin Laden, whose Al Qaeda network was behind the attacks.
Particular scrutiny has centred on the support offered to the first two hijackers to arrive in the US, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, including from a Saudi national with ties to the Saudi government who helped the men find and lease an apartment in San Diego and who had earlier attracted FBI scrutiny.
Though many documents examining potential Saudi ties have been released, US officials have long regarded other records as too sensitive for disclosure.
Victims’ families and survivors this week urged the US Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the FBI’s apparent inability to locate key pieces of evidence they’ve been seeking.
The Justice Department revealed last month that the FBI had recently completed an investigation examining certain 9/11 hijackers and potential co-conspirators, and that it was working toward providing more information.
Under the terms of the executive order, the FBI must complete by September 11 its declassification review of documents from that probe, which it has referred to as the “Subfile Investigation”.
Additional documents, including phone and bank records and investigative findings, are to be reviewed with an eye for disclosure over the course of the next six months.
US told its allies to wrap up rescue missions by Friday, Belgium minister says
Russia sends planes to evacuate more than 500 people
German and US top envoys hold talks
This story was last updated at 09:55 UTC
Germany may soon end evacuations
German media reported on Wednesday that German evacuation flights from Kabul airport could end as early as Friday.
A correspondent for the German public broadcaster ARD said that the rescue flights between Kabul and Tashkent may even come to an end on Wednesday.
However, Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly said, according to Reuters, that: “As long as it is responsible, we will evacuate people. But that can only be done together with the USA.”
German military flights have evacuated over 4,600 German citizens and at-risk locals so far, according to the German defense ministry. The Bundeswehr will need time to evacuate its own personnel from the airport before the 6,000 US troops finish their own withdrawal on August 31.
Belgium: US told allies to end evacuations on Friday
Belgium’s Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder told local newspapers L’Echo and De Tijd that the US has made it clear to its coalition partners who are still evacuating people from Kabul that they should wrap up their “noncombatant evacuation operations” by Friday, August 27.
The US has insisted on pulling out its 6,000 troops from Kabul airport by August 31. The military forces will require several days to complete the evacuation of military personnel and equipment meaning that rescue operations will have to end before that.
Afghanistan withdrawal leaves hard questions for NATO
UK to maintain operations up to the last minute
The UK’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC on Wednesday that although he could not give a “precise timeline” for the UK to leave Kabul airport, it was “clear that the troops will be withdrawn by the end of the month.”
He said that the operation would need to wind down to evacuate military personnel working at the airport, but that the UK would “make the maximum use of the time left.”
The comment comes a day after the UK failed to convince US President Joe Biden to extend the evacuation deadline.
Raab also said that British forces have managed to airlift 9,000 British citizens and locals since the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15.
Mexico and Uganda welcome Afghan refugees
Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard welcomed six Afghan refugees as they landed at Mexico City airport on Tuesday. “Welcome to your home,” Ebrard told them.
Five of the arrivals were women who had won a robotics competition. They fled Afghanistan earlier in the month and passed through six countries before arriving in Mexico.
A flight carrying 51 Afghans also landed in Uganda on Wednesday morning. Kampala agreed to accept “at-risk” Afghan nationals temporarily while they wait to be transferred to the US or other destinations.
The US embassy in Kampala thanked the east African country for its “generosity and hospitality toward these communities.”
Russia sends planes to evacuate more than 500 people
Four Russian military aircraft have been sent to Kabul to evacuate more than 500 people, the Interfax news agency reported on Wednesday.
They were sent on there on the orders of President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defense Minister Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
The report said the mission was to evacuate Russian nationals, but also citizens of Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.
Germany’s Maas speaks to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted late on Tuesday that he had held talks with his US counterpart, Antony Blinken.
Berlin’s top diplomat said they discussed the “ongoing evacuation” and “further departure options for Afghans” who want to flee their homeland.
The Social Democrat politician said the pair also focused on how to deal with the Taliban, the hardline Islamist group that now rules Afghanistan.
Paralympians leave Afghanistan
Two Paralympians from Afghanistan have left the country, according to the International Paralympic Committee said Wednesday.
Afghanistan’s team for the event was made up of female para-taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi and male track athlete Hossain Rasouli.
The IPC said the pair were receiving counseling, but could not confirm if they would be able to travel to Japan.
#AceDailyNews reports on the Remarks by President Biden on Evacuations in Afghanistan following G7 Virutal Meeting on Tuesday …..
1:49 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. I’ve just met with the Vice President, Secretary Blinken, Secretary Austin, National Security Advisor Sullivan, and other members the national security leadership team in the Situation Room to discuss our ongoing efforts to evacuate American citizens, third-country civilians, Afghan allies, and vulnerable Afghans. And I want to provide the American people with a brief update and the — on the situation in Afghanistan.
August 20, 2021
Since I spoke to you on Monday, we’ve made significant progress. We have secured the airport, enabling flights to resume. Not just military flights, but civilian charters and other — from other countries and the NGOs taking out civilians and vulnerable Afghan — vulnerable Afghans.
And now we have almost 6,000 troops on the ground, including the 82nd Airborne providing runway security, the Army 10th Mountain Division standing guard around the airport, and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit assisting the civilian departure.
This is one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history. And the only country in the world capable of projecting this much power on the far side of the world with this degree of precision is the United States of America.
We’ve already evacuated more than 18,000 people since July and approximately 13,000 since our military airlift began on August the 14th. Thousands more have been evacuated on private charter flights facilitated by the U.S. government.
These numbers include American citizens and permanent residents, as well as their families. It includes SIV applicants and their families — those Afghans who have worked alongside us, served alongside of us, gone into combat with us, and provided invaluable assistance to us, such as translators and interpreters.
The United States stands by its commitment that we’ve made to these people, and it includes other vulnerable Afghans, such as women leaders and journalists.
In fact, working in close coordination with the management of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, we have successfully evacuated all 204 of their employees in Afghanistan on U.S. military aircraft earlier this week.
We have established the flow of flights, and we’ve increased the number of people we are moving out of the country.
We paused flights in Kabul a few hours this morning to make sure we could process the arriving evacuees at the transit points, but our commander in Kabul has already given the order for outbound flights to resume.
Even with the pause, we moved out 5,700 evacuees yesterday, and we’re working on a variety — to verify that number of the Americans that are still in the country as we work on this because we’re not — don’t have the exact number of people who are — Americans who are there. And those who may have come home to the United States, we’re not — we want to get a strong number as to exactly how many people are there, how many American citizens, and where they are.
Just yesterday, among the many Americans we evacuated, there were 169 Americans who, over the — we got over the wall into the airport using military assets.
We’re also facilitating flights for our Allies and our partners, and working in close operational coordination with NATO on this evacuation.
For example, we provided overwatch for the French convoy bringing hundreds of their people from the French embassy to the airport.
These operations are going — are going to continue over the coming days before we complete our drawdown.
We’re going to do everything — everything that we can to provide safe evacuation for our Afghan allies, partners, and Afghans who might be targeted if — because of their association with the United States.
But let me be clear, any American who wants to come home, we will get you home.
But make no mistake: This evacuation mission is dangerous. It involves risks to our armed forces, and it is being conducted under difficult circumstances.
I cannot promise what the final outcome will be or what it will be — that it will be without risk of loss. But as Commander-in-Chief, I can assure you that I will mobilize every resource necessary.
And as an American, I offer my gratitude to the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who are carrying out this mission. They’re incredible.
As we continue to work the logistics of evacuation, we’re in constant contact with the Taliban, working to ensure civilians have safe passage to the airport. We’re particularly focused in our engagements on making sure every American who wants to leave can get to the airport. Where we have been — seen challenges with Americans — for Americans, we have thus far been able to resolve them.
We’ve been able — we’ve made — look, we’ve made clear to the Taliban that any attack — any attack on our forces or disruption of our operations at the airport will be met with a swift and forceful response.
We’re also keeping a close watch on any potential terrorist threat at or around the airport, including from the ISIS affiliates in Afghanistan who were released from prison when the prisons were emptied. And because they are, by the way — to make everybody understand — that the ISIS in Afghanistan are the — have been the sworn enemy of the Taliban.
I’ve said all along: We’re going to retain a laser-focus on our counterterrorism mission, working in close coordination with our allies and our partners and all those who have an interest in ensuring stability in the region.
Secretary Blinken, who is with me today, met this morning with our NATO Allies in consultation about the way forward so that Afghanistan cannot be used as a — in the future as a terrorist base of attack — to attack the United States or our Allies.
For 20 years, Afghanistan has been a joint effort with our NATO Allies. We went in together and we’re leaving together, and now we’re working together to bring our people and our Afghan partners to safety.
In the past few days, I’ve also spoken directly with the British Prime Minster, Mr. Johnson; Chancellor Merkel of Germany; and President Macron of France.
We all agreed that we should convene and we will convene the G7 meeting next week — a group of the world’s leading democracies — so that together we can coordinate our mutual approach, our united approach on Afghanistan and moving forward.
We are united with our closest partners to execute the mission at hand.
We’ve also discussed the need to work with the international community to provide humanitarian assistance, such as food, aid, and medical care for refugees who have crossed into neighboring countries to escape the Taliban; and to bring international pressure on the Taliban with respect to the treatment of Afghan peo- — the Afghan people overall, but including Afghan, particularly, women and girls.
The past week has been heartbreaking. We’ve seen gut-wrenching images of panicked people acting out of sheer desperation. You know, it’s completely understandable. They’re frightened. They’re sad — uncertain what happens next.
I don’t think anyone — I don’t think any one of us can see those pictures and not feel that pain on a human level.
Now we have a mission — a mission to complete in Afghanistan. It’s an incredibly difficult and dangerous operation for our military.
We have almost 6,000 of America’s finest fighting men and women in Ka- — at the Kabul Airport.
And we’re putting their lives on the line — they’re doing it — in a dangerous place to save other Americans, our Afghan allies, and citizens of our al- — our allies who went in with us.
You know, I — I talk — I talk to our commanders on the ground there every single day, as I just did a few hours — an hour or so ago. And I made it clear to them that we’ll get them whatever they need to do the job. They’re performing to the highest standard under extraordinarily difficult and dynamic circumstances.
Our NATO Allies are strongly standing with us — their troops keeping sentry alongside ours in Kabul.
As is the case whenever I deploy our troops into harm’s way, I take that responsibility seriously. I carry that burden every day, just as I did when I was Vice President and my son was deployed to Iraq for a year.
There’ll be plenty of time to criticize and second-guess when this operation is over. But now — now I’m focused on getting this job done.
I would ask every American to join me in praying for the women and men risking their lives on the ground in the service of our nation.
As events evolve over the coming days, my team and I will continue to share the information and update the American people on exactly where things are.
We’ll use every resource necessary to carry out the mission at hand and bring to safety American citizens and our Afghan allies. This is our focus now.
And when this is finished, we will complete our military withdrawal and finally bring to an end 20 years of American military action in Afghanistan.
Thank you, and may God bless you, our troops, our diplomats, and all those serving in harm’s way.
And now I’ll take questions. AP, Zeke Miller.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You vowed that your election would usher in an era where the world could count on America to live up to its promises. You promised to leave Afghanistan, but you also promised not to — to help — to bring out those who helped America in its war effort. We’ve seen these heart-wrenching images at the Kabul airport of people trying to get there, to say nothing of the people who can’t get to that airport.
You made the commitment to get American troops out, to get the American citizens out. Will you make the same commitment to those who assisted in the American war effort over the last 20 years? Number one.
And then, number two: What’s your message to America’s partners around the world who have criticized not the withdrawal, but the conduct of that withdrawal, and made — made them question America’s credibility on the world stage?
THE PRESIDENT: I have seen no question of our credibility from our allies around the world. I have spoken with our NATO Allies. We’ve spoken with NATO Allies — the Secretary of State. Our National Security Advisor has been in contact with his counterparts throughout the world with our Allies, as has the General — or, excuse me, I keep calling him a General, but my Secretary of Defense.
The fact of the matter is I have not seen that. Matter of fact, the exact opposite I’ve got — the exact opposite thing is we’re acting with dispatch, we’re acting — committing to what we said we would do.
Look, let’s put this thing in perspective here. What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with al Qaeda gone? We went to Afghanistan for the express purpose of getting rid of al Qaeda in Afghanistan, as well as — as well as getting Osama bin Laden. And we did.
Imagine — just imagine if that attack — if bin Laden had decided, with al Qaeda, to launch an attack from Yemen. Would we ever have gone to Afghanistan? Would there ever be any reason we’d be in Afghanistan — controlled by the Taliban? What is the national interest of United States in that circumstance? We went and did the mission. You’ve known my position for a long, long time. It’s time to end this war.
The estimates of the cost of this war over the last 20 years ranged from a minimum of $1 trillion to a think tank at one of the universities saying $2 trillion. That’s somewhere between $150 million a day and $300 million a day.
The threat from terrorism has metastasized. There’s a greater danger from ISIS and — and al Qaeda and all these affiliates in other countries, by far, than there is from Afghanistan.
And we’re going to retain an over-the-horizon capability that if they were to come back — to be able to take them out, surgically move.
So, this is — this is where we should be. This is about America leading the world, and all our allies have agreed with that.
And, by the way, before I made this decision, I was at the G7, as well as — met with our NATO partners, and I told them all. Every one of them knew and agreed with the decision I made to an end — end — jointly end our involvement in Afghanistan.
The first part of your question was — I can’t remember now.
Q It is: Are — would you commit to the same commitment — would you make the same commitment to bring out Afghans who assisted in the war effort?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Yes. We’re making the same commitment. There’s no one more important than bringing American citizens out. I acknowledge that. But they’re equally important, almost — is all those who — those “SIVs,” we call them, who, in fact, helped us. They were translators. They went into battle with us. They were part of the operation. As well as — we’re also trying to get out as many NGOs — non-governmental organizations — women’s organizations, et cetera. We’re doing all we can.
In the meantime, Secretary Blinken and I am going to be working with our Allies to see to it that we can bring international pressure on the Taliban to be — they’re looking to gain some legitimacy. They’re going to have to figure out how they’re going to maintain that country.
And there’s going to be harsh conditions we’re — strong condition we’re going to apply. And it will depend on whether they get help — based on whether or not how and well they treat women and girls, how they treat their citizens.
So, this is just beginning on that score.
Q And are you willing to stay passed the 31st to make that happen — to bring all the Americans out, to bring those SIVs out?
THE PRESIDENT: I think we can get it done by then, but we’re going to make that judgment as we go.
Now, Justin Sink of Bloomberg.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You just said that you would keep a laser-focus on counterterrorism efforts and that you don’t see as great of a threat of terrorism from Afghanistan as other parts of the world. But if you and your administration so badly misassessed how quickly the Taliban would sweep through Afghanistan and we no longer have an embassy there from which to run intelligence operations, how can you at all be confident of your assessment of the risk of terrorism and the ability of the U.S. to conduct over-the-horizon missions to keep it in check? Can you tell Americans that they’re safe and will remain safe from terror attacks in Afghanistan?
THE PRESIDENT: I think you’re comparing apples and oranges. One question was whether or not the Afghan forces we trained up would stay and fight in their own civil war they had going on.
No one — I shouldn’t say “no one” — the consensus was that it was highly unlikely that in 11 days they’d collapse and fall, and the leader of Afghanistan would flee the country.
That’s a very different question than whether or not there is the ability to observe whether or not large groups of terrorists began to accumulate in a particular area in Afghanistan to plot against the United States of America. That’s why we retained an over-the-horizon capability to go in and do something about that if that occurs — if that occurs.
But in the meantime, we know what’s happening around the world. We know what’s happening in terms of what’s going on in other countries, where there is the significant rise of terrorist organizations in the Middle East, in East Africa, and other places.
And so, the bottom line is: We have to do — we’re dealing with those terrorist threats from other parts of the world in failed states without permanent military — without permanent military presence there. We have to do the same in Afghanistan.
Q And, sir, just on that initial assessment: We’ve learned, over the last 24 hours, that there was a dissent cable from the State Department —
THE PRESIDENT: Sure.
Q — saying that the Taliban would come faster through Afghanistan. Can you say why, after that cable was issued, the U.S. didn’t do more to get Americans out?
THE PRESIDENT: We’ve got all kind of cables, all kinds of advice. If you notice, it ranged from this group saying that — they didn’t say it’d fall when it would fall — when it did fall — but saying that it would fall; to others saying it wouldn’t happen for a long time and they’d be able to sustain themselves through the end of the year.
I made the decision. The buck stops with me. I took the consensus opinion. The consensus opinion was that, in fact, it would not occur, if it occurred, until later in the year. So, it was my decision.
Now, my — I got — my next is Stephanie Ramos, ABC.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Two questions for you. The military has secured the airport, as you mentioned, but will you sign off on sending U.S. troops into Kabul to evacuate Americans who haven’t been able to get to the airport safely?
THE PRESIDENT: We have no indication that they haven’t been able to get — in Kabul — through the airport. We’ve made an agreement with the — with the Taliban. Thus far, they’ve allowed them to go through. It’s in their interest for them to go through. So, we know of no circumstance where American citizens are — carrying an American passport — are trying to get through to the airport. But we will do whatever needs to be done to see to it they get to the airport.
Q And one more, Mr. President. Last month, my colleague Martha Raddatz interviewed Abdul, an interpreter who was on the frontlines with U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Overnight, we received a photo of Taliban militants coming to the door of his home, literally hunting him down. Thankfully, he was able to escape, but he is obviously still in mortal danger. What would be your message to Abdul, his wife, and his three young daughters?
THE PRESIDENT: We want you to be able to get to the airport. Contact us. We’ll see whatever we can do to get you there. We’ve got to get you out. We are committed to deal with you, your wife, and your child — to get all three of you out of Afghanistan. That’s the commitment.
Q Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Meredith Lee of PBS NewsHour.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You mentioned just now using every resource available for evacuations. Why haven’t you ordered the military to expand the security perimeter around the Kabul airport? Do you have any plans to do so, given that it will likely require more U.S. troops? And are you considering rescue operations to recover Americans and Afghan allies stuck behind Taliban checkpoints?
THE PRESIDENT: The last answer is yes — to the last question. We’re considering every op- — every opportunity and every means by which we can get folks to the airport. That’s number one.
Number two, the reason why we have not gone out and started — and set up a perimeter way outside the airport in Kabul is that it’s likely to draw an awful lot of unintended consequences in terms of people who, in fact, are not part of the Taliban.
We’ve been in constant contact with the Taliban leadership on the ground in — in Kabul, as well as the Taliban leadership at Daho [Doha], and we’ve been coordinating what we are doing.
That’s why we were able — for example, how we got all of our embassy personnel out, how we got everyone out of the embassy safely that was at distance. That’s how we helped get the French out and — out of their embassy.
So, the question remains — there will be judgments made on the ground by the military commanders at the moment, and that — I cannot second-guess each of those judgments to be made.
But the idea of — again, let me — let me get back to the fundamental point I made at the outset. When the decision was made by me that — and it was made some time ago, when I ran for President saying I wanted to get us out of Afghanistan — one of the things that is a reality is people now say to me and to others — and so- — many of you say it on air — that: Why did we have to move? Because no Americans are being attacked. Why did we withdraw those — why did we agree to withdraw 2,500 troops? No Americans were being attacked.
As I said before, the reason they weren’t being attacked was part of an agreement that Trump had made a year earlier. “We will leave by May 1st,” he said, “as long as there’s no attack on Americans in that year, period.” Number one.
Number two, the Taliban was taking large swaths of the countryside, north and south — none of the major areas, none of the major points of the capitals of each of these provinces, but they were all over the — all over the country.
And the idea that if I had said on May the 2nd or 3rd, “We are not leaving; we are staying” — does anybody truly believe that I would not have had to put in significantly more American forces — send your sons, your daughters — like my son was sent to Iraq — to maybe die? And for what? For what?
So the only rational thing to do, in my view, was to set up and pre-position American forces for the purpose of evacuation, and the aircraft — to pre-position those ahead of time so that we would be able to begin the process of evacuation of American citizens, SIVs, and others who helped us.
The last point I’ll make is this: Look, if we had decided 15 years ago to leave Afghanistan, it would have been really difficult. If we decided five years ago — if we start — if we continued the war for another decade and tried to leave, there’s no way in which you’d be able to leave Afghanistan without there being some of what you’re seeing now.
But what we’ve done so far is we’ve been able to get a large number of Americans out, all our personnel at the embassy out, and so on.
And, thank God, so far — knock on wood — we’re in a different position.
Scott Detrow. Scott. NPR.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I just want to follow up on something you said a moment ago. You said that there’s no circumstances where American citizens cannot get to the airport. That doesn’t really square with the images we’re seeing around the airport and with the reporting on the ground from our colleagues who are describing chaos and violence. Are you saying unequivocally that any American who wants to get to the airport is getting there and getting past the security barrier and to the planes where they want to go?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I thought the question was: How can they get through to the airport outside the airport? And the answer is: To the best of our knowledge, the Taliban checkpoints — they are letting through people showing American passports.
Now, that’s a different question when they get into the rush and crowd of all the folks just outside the wall near the airport. That’s why we had to, I guess, ye- — was it yesterday or the day before? — we went over the wall and brought in — how many?
MR. SULLIVAN: One hundred and sixty-nine.
THE PRESIDENT: One hundred and sixty-nine Americans. So, it is a process to try to figure out how we — how we deal with the mad rush of non-Americans — those who didn’t help, those who are not on a priority list — just any Afghan — any Afghan to be able to get out of the country.
And so my guess is that, no matter what, under what circumstances we — anyone — there’s not a whole lot of Afghanis — there’s a whole lot of Afghanis that just as soon come to America, whether there were any involvement with the United States in the past at all, rather than stay under Taliban rule or any — any rule.
So, what I was saying is that we have an agreement that they will let pass through the checkpoints that they — the Taliban — control. They’ve let Americans through.
Q But given this — given the negotiations with the Taliban, the scenes that we’re seeing, can you just fully explain why the plan wasn’t to go ahead with these evacuations of both Americans and allies before the drawdowns began, before Bagram was closed, looking back several months? Because whether it was now or several months from now, there seems to be a broad consensus that the Taliban would make these gains and these would be needed at some point.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, yeah, at some point. But the point was that although we were in contact with the Taliban and Doha for this whole period of time, that “some point” wasn’t expected to be the total demise of the Afghan National Force, which was 300 [thousand] persons.
Let’s assume the Afghan National Force had continued to fight and ha- — and they were surrounding Kabul. It’d be a very different story. Very different story.
But the con- — overwhelming consensus was that they — this was not — they were not going to collapse. The Afghan forces, they were not going to leave. They were not going to just abandon and then put down their arms and take off. So, that’s what’s happened.
#AceHealthReport – Aug.08: Even people who have recovered from #COVID19 are being urged to get vaccinated, especially as the extra-contagious Delta variant surges, with a new study showing survivors who ignore the advice are more than twice as likely to get reinfected…..
The CDC recommends full vaccination, meaning both doses of two-dose vaccines for everyone: Cases & DataCases in US Last 30 DaysTotal Cases in US35,665,877Total Vaccines Administered350,627,188Deaths in US Last 30 DaysTotal Deaths in US614,291COVID DATA TRACKER
A report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adds to growing laboratory evidence that people who have had one bout of COVID-19 get a dramatic boost in virus-fighting immune cells — and a bonus of broader protection against new mutants — when they’re vaccinated.
“If you have had COVID-19 before, please still get vaccinated,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
“Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others around you, especially as the more contagious Delta variant spreads around the country.”
According to a new Gallup survey, one of the main reasons Americans cite for not planning to get vaccinated is the belief that they’re protected since they already had COVID-19.
From the beginning, health authorities have urged survivors to get the broader protection vaccination promises.
Scientists say infection does generally leave survivors protected against a serious reinfection, at least with a similar version of the virus, but blood tests have signalled that protection drops against worrisome variants.
The CDC study offers some real-world evidence.
Researchers studied Kentucky residents with a lab-confirmed coronavirus infection in 2020, the vast majority of them between October and December.
They compared 246 people who got reinfected in May or June of this year with 492 similar survivors who stayed healthy.
The survivors who never got vaccinated had a significantly higher risk of reinfection than those who were fully vaccinated, even though most had their first bout of COVID-19 just six to nine months ago.
A different variant of the coronavirus caused most illnesses in 2020, while the newer Alpha version was predominant in Kentucky in May and June, said study lead author Alyson Cavanaugh, a CDC disease detective working with that state’s health department.
That suggests natural immunity from earlier infection isn’t as strong as the boost those people can get from vaccination while the virus evolves, she said.
Scientists highlight ‘hybrid immunity’
There’s little information yet on reinfections with the newer delta variant.
But US health officials point to early data from Britain that the reinfection risk appears greater with delta than with the once-common Alpha variant, once people are six months past their prior infection.
“There’s no doubt” that vaccinating a COVID-19 survivor enhances both the amount and breadth of immunity “so that you cover not only the original (virus) but the variants,” Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, said at a recent White House briefing.
But in a separate study published Friday in JAMA Network Open, Rush University researchers reported just one vaccine dose gave the previously infected people a dramatic boost in virus-fighting immune cells, more than those who had never been infected got from two shots.
Other recent studies published in Science and Nature show the combination of a prior infection and vaccination also broadens the strength of people’s immunity against a changing virus.
It’s what virologist Shane Crotty of California’s La Jolla Institute for Immunology calls “hybrid immunity”.
Vaccinated survivors “can make antibodies that can recognise all kinds of variants, even if you were never exposed to the variant,” Dr Crotty said.
One warning for anyone thinking of skipping vaccination if they had a prior infection: the amount of natural immunity can vary from person to person, possibly depending on how sick they were to begin with.
The Rush University study found four of 29 previously infected people had no detectable antibodies before they were vaccinated and the vaccines worked for them just like they work for people who never had COVID-19.
Why do many of the previously infected have such a robust response to vaccination? It has to do with how the immune system develops multiple layers of protection.
After either vaccination or infection, the body develops antibodies that can fend off the coronavirus the next time it tries to invade. Those naturally wane over time.
If an infection sneaks past them, T cells help prevent serious illness by killing virus-infected cells — and memory B cells jump into action to make lots of new antibodies.
Those memory B cells don’t just make copies of the original antibodies.
In immune system boot camps called germinal centres, they also mutate antibody-producing genes to test out a range of those virus fighters, explained University of Pennsylvania immunologist John Wherry.
The result is essentially a library of antibody recipes that the body can choose from after future exposures — and that process is stronger when vaccination triggers the immune system’s original memory of fighting the actual virus.
With the Delta variant’s super infectiousness, getting vaccinated despite a prior infection “is more important now than it was before to be sure,” Dr Crotty said.
“The breadth of your antibodies and potency against variants is going to be far better than what you have right now.”
Johns Hopkins Doctor says #COVID19 vaccines ‘should not be required for all Americans’ as Unvaccinated people “pose no public health threat to those already immune.”
A professor at Johns Hopkins University is arguing that the one-size-fits-all approach to universal vaccination being pushed in the U.S. is misguided and based on bad science.
Marty Makary, a professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins, said in U.S. News and World Reports that “the notion that we have to vaccinate every living, walking American – and eventually every newborn – in order to control the pandemic is based on the false assumption that the risk of dying from COVID-19 is equally distributed in the population.”
“It’s not,” he continued. “We have always known that it’s very hard for the virus to hurt someone who is young and healthy. And that’s still the case. While vaccine requirements for health care workers make sense, we would never extend those requirements outside of health care for, say, the flu shot.”
Makary further pointed out that at least some individuals have already acquired natural immunity to COVID.
“Requiring the vaccine in people who are already immune with natural immunity has no scientific support,” he argued. “While vaccinating those people may be beneficial – and it’s a reasonable hypothesis that vaccination may bolster the longevity of their immunity – to argue dogmatically that they must get vaccinated has zero clinical outcome data to back it.”
“The goal of our pandemic response should be to reduce death, illness and disability,” he said, “but instead what you’re seeing is a movement that has morphed from being pro-vaccine to vaccine fanaticism at all costs.”
But senior military officers and officials in the Philippines have been pressing internally to retain the VFA, and Mr Duterte subsequently suspended the process of termination no fewer than three times as negotiations over the agreement dragged on.
Analysts said Mr Duterte hesitated to sever military links with the US, in part because of rising tensions between China and the Philippines over contested waters in the South China Sea.
The military in the Philippines remains anxious about China’s rapidly growing naval strength and sees the VFA — which provides rules for the rotation of thousands of US troops in the country for war exercises — as a bulwark against Chinese military aggression in the South China Sea.
The dispute over the VFA also took on powerful symbolism as strategic competition between the US and China intensifies in the region.
Earlier in the year, Mr Duterte declared that the US must “pay” more in order to preserve the agreement and demanded the Biden administration provide more vaccines to the Philippines.
Last month, the Biden administration delivered more than 3 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the country.
Hunter Marston from the ANU’s Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs said the declaration that the VFA would be restored “caps a dramatic year and a half for the US-Philippines alliance”.
“Duterte’s threat to scrap VFA would have rendered the alliance all but symbolic and significantly hampered Washington’s military presence in the region as it struggles to roll back China’s expansion in the South China Sea,” he said.
“The restoration of the VFA does not preclude future policy reversals from the unpredictable Duterte, but for the time being at least, this was a very good week for the bilateral alliance.”
#AceNewsReport – July.19: Tracy Stone-Manning, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), helped edit a radical environmental newsletter that advocated for violent action and sought to further the mission of the extremist group Earth First!, whose members committed acts of ecoterrorism in the 1980s and 1990s…
#AceDailyNews says Biden Nominee Edited Radical Ecoterrorist Newsletter: Stone-Manning testified that she “helped edit” a local Earth First! newsletter called the Wild Rockies Review while she was a graduate student at the University of Montana in Missoula 30 years ago according to Breibart Report
Though the editors and contributors of the Wild Rockies Review at that time frequently used pseudonyms or just last names to avoid legal consequences for their writings, multiple issues listed a “Stone” under “Assistance” on their mastheads. Stone-Manning went by “Tracy Stone” before she was married.
One such issue was the “Autumnal Equinox Issue,” labeled Vol. 1, No. 3. Also named under “Assistance” on that issue’s masthead was Stone-Manning’s classmate Bill Haskins, who was one of seven, including Stone-Manning, who were subpoenaed in 1989 over a tree spiking crime.
The Autumnal Equinox Issue included an obscene letter to the editor advocating violent action, and potentially assassination, against government officials. The letter began, “Dear Weeniewanker, What is all this pussyfooting bullshit about sensitive treatment of Forest Service pigdogs who ream our public lands”:
(Wild Rockies Review, Vol. 1, No. 3)
“Rend the entire USFS [U.S. Forest Service] limb from limb and tear out its guts,” it continued. “These swine are evil and must be rubbed out.”
On page 13 of the same issue, an article outlined steps Earth First! followers needed to take to prevent the building of a road in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest, the same forest that was later the target of the 1989 tree spiking crime that Stone-Manning was involved in.
Stages one and two of the article’s plan included contacting stakeholders to express opposition to building the road, as well as suing those stakeholders when necessary. Stage three resorted to physically blocking the project work “with non-violent civil disobedience actions, and a few new tactics.” Stage four ominously only instructed readers, “Use your imagination!”
“Remember, we’re in at Stage 1 now. Let’s hope we don’t make it to Stage 4, but be prepared!” the article stated.
(Wild Rockies Review, Vol. 1, No. 3)
A “Stone” is also named under “Assistance” in the 1988 “Winter Solstice Issue,” labeled Vol. 1, No. 4.
An article on page five of this issue, titled “$ummer Fire$ Up in $moke,” strikes a tune similar to that of a recent Harper’s Magazine article written by Stone-Manning’s husband suggesting homes in wildfire-prone areas ought to be left to burn as a consequence of perceived poor construction and zoning decisions. Stone-Manning last year shared her husband’s 2018 article on her social media and described it as a “clarion call.”
The Wild Rockies Review article asked, “Who really is responsible for a cabin that is consumed by wildfire?”
“Stone” was again listed on the masthead of the 1989 “Spring Equinox Issue,” labeled Vol. 2, No. 1. That issue’s lead editorial included a defense of the criminal acts of tree spiking and monkeywrenching.
Tree spiking is a form of sabotage — and an act of ecoterrorism as defined by the FBI — in which metal spikes are hammered into trees to prevent loggers from harvesting them. Tree spikes have been known to destroy expensive logging equipment and cause injury to the loggers or millworkers processing the spiked trees. Monkeywrenching is any tactic used by saboteurs to prevent what they believe to be environmental destruction, and the term can encompass acts of ecoterrorism.
(Wild Rockies Review, Vol. 2, No. 1)
The editorial, titled “Who Are the Real Terrorists,” promoted “confrontational politics” like “non-violent civil disobedience” and then stated, “We can, as a group make no statement condoning or denying monkeywrenching.”
“Some criticize those who spend their time writing for being hypocritical, and not getting out into the field to do something directly related to the terrorism that our politicians and military-industrial complex are wreaking,” the editorial continued. “This is all well and good, as the hand that writes need not necessarily be the hand that spikes. What binds us is our common goal to put Earth First!”
The editorial described tree spiking as a “fine art.”
Also in the Spring Equinox Issue is a letter to the editor from “Sick of Talk” calling for monkeywrenching. “What stops a road? Sand in an engine. What stops a saw? Metal and clay,” the letter read. “We know monkywrenching [sic] works. So do it. Often. You can go join an organization if you just want to talk”:
(Wild Rockies Review, Vol. 2, No. 1)
Later in that same issue, an ad appeared for an anonymous radical newsletter called Live Wild or Die and indicated that Earth First! chapters distributed the journal. Live Wild or Die has often been described as the “most radical” of the activist publications circulating during that time period. One particular 1989 issue of Live Wild or Diecontained an “Eco-Fucker Hit List,” which later became associated with Ted Kaczynski, better known as the Unabomber.
(Wild Rockies Review, Vol. 2, No. 1)
The list was actually a reprint from a wilderness conference and contained names of conference cosponsors and committee members.
According to several reports from 1995–1996, Kaczynski possessed a copy of the “Eco-Fucker Hit List” and may have used it to target some of his victims. One of Kaczynski’s bombs was mailed to the organization at the top of the “Ec0-Fucker Hit List,” the Timber Association of California, which had changed its name to the California Forestry Association. The bomb package killed California Forestry Association President Gil Murray while he was at work in 1995.
As Breitbart News reported, Kaczynski granted his first media interview after his arrest to the then-editor of the Earth First! journal and praised the group during the interview as being like-minded. He even characterized himself as being an “Earth Firster satellite.”
Bruce Vincent, who runs a fourth generation logging business called Vincent Logging, testified before Congress in 1998 that he had been the target of ecoterrorism in Montana beginning in 1989. Vincent stated that he had been featured in a skit performed by a “group in Missoula, Montana,” in which he was shot and killed to save animals. He said he also received anonymous threatening letters and phone calls, and he explained instances in which his bulldozer and trucks were tampered with, which created dangerous scenarios for the equipment operators.
Vincent spoke with Breitbart News about the Missoula-based environmental activist community that Stone-Manning was a part of. “The school of environmental activism down there, the University of Montana, had some real issues then,” he said, adding those issues included “believing that it was okay to go to the extreme in order to make points, political points.”
Vincent recalled that environmental extremists during the height of the “timber wars” — which the ongoing battles between loggers and activists were often called — caused “tens of millions of dollars” in damage to forestry equipment throughout the west. “Their goal was to put us out of business by making us uninsurable,” he said.
Asked about Earth First! specifically, Vincent asserted, “They were a terror group. Terror is real.” He specifically referenced a satirical article that the Earth First! journal (which is separate from the Wild Rockies Review) printed in 1989 advocating for ecoterrorism suicide missions.
“Are you terminally ill with a wasting disease? Do you have AIDS, ALS, brain cancer, or syphilis?” the article read. “Don’t go out with a whimper; go out with a bang! Undertake an ecokamikaze mission.”
Vincent said, “When they printed tongue-and-cheek the article on ‘ecokamikazes’ … that is not simply a very vigorous conservation group. That is ecoterror.” He said of the group’s reputation, “Back then, Earth First! wanted to blow up the systems that were collaborating.”
Stone-Manning, who is now serving as senior policy adviser for the National Wildlife Federation, said in 2013 that she ultimately left Earth First! because the group members were “angry,” according to the Missoulian. She said, “Anger doesn’t do much. It doesn’t solve problems. What I do is solve problems.” She also at that time denied having a role in the 1989 tree spiking crime except for sending a letter on behalf of a “disturbed man” because she “didn’t want anyone to be hurt.”
As Breitbart News reported on the tree spiking case:
In 1989, Stone-Manning mailed a letter to the U.S. Forest Service on behalf of John P. Blount, an individual in her “circle of friends,” crudely warning federal authorities that trees in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest that were scheduled to be cut down had been sabotaged with metal spikes to prevent them from being harvested.
After the Forest Service received the warning letter, Stone-Manning and six other individuals in Missoula were the target of a 1989 grand jury investigation for which they were subpoenaed and required to submit fingerprints and hair samples. However, the 1989 grand jury did not uncover enough evidence to charge Blount or anyone else with the crime. The case was not solved until Blount’s ex-girlfriend reported him to authorities two years later, and in doing so, also named Stone-Manning as the person who mailed the letter for him. In exchange for immunity, Stone-Manning testified in the 1993 trial against Blount, who was convicted for the tree spiking crime and sentenced to 17 months in prison.
Former BLM Acting Director William Perry Pendley references interviews in which Stone-Manning admits she did not come forward about her knowledge of Blount’s 1989 tree spiking until her 1993 testimony. Stone-Manning later filled out a questionnaire for her Senate confirmation hearing with inaccuracies related to the tree spiking case.
Amid renewed scrutiny over her involvement with Earth First! and with the 1989 tree spiking case, Stone-Manning’s confirmation for BLM director remains in flux. No vote has been scheduled for it as of the time of this writing, and most Democrats have remained silent on her nomination despite outspoken opposition from Republicans.
The objections to Stone-Manning were reinforced this week after two individuals directly involved with the 1989 tree spiking came forward with corroborating accounts of Stone-Manning’s role in the crime.
Retired Forest Service special agent Michael Merkley, who led the investigation of the case at the time, wrote an accusing letter Wednesday to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee about the nominee. He charged that she was “not an innocent bystander” but in fact helped in the planning process and allowed the crime to be carried out and remain unsolved for four years before coming forward in exchange for immunity.
The second individual, Blount, who was convicted in the tree spiking case, said to E&E News that Stone-Manning knew about his plan “far in advance.” He indicated she was not “heavily” involved in the planning and in the actual spiking of the trees but that she had a central and “agreed-upon” role in the operation as the letter deliverer.
As for Stone-Manning’s role in the Wild Rockies Review publications specifically, attempts to reach the nominee for comment through both the Department of Interior and the National Wildlife Federation were unsuccessful.
#AceNewsReport – July.15: The firm is linked to a Russian company, Intertech Instruments, sanctioned by the Biden administration for its alleged role in allegedly supplying Russia’s weapons of mass destruction programs.
Warrants unsealed in federal court allege that officials at Intertech Corporation, a firm founded by Matthew Grodowski in 1990, “intentionally falsified shipping documents, avoided and circumvented export compliance regulations, and obfuscated end-users” as they sent scientific instruments to recipients in Russia. Moscow’s domestic intelligence and security agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), was reportedly among the recipients of Intertech’s shipments, according to a search warrant application The Daily Beast…..
Prosecutors have not charged Intertech Corporation, Intertech Instruments, or company employees and officials with a crime. But in a search warrant application, federal agents claim that Intertech used a front company to disguise shipments to its Moscow-based subsidiary, Intertech Instruments. (Intertech did not respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast. Federal prosecutors in New Hampshire declined to comment, citing a policy not to comment on investigations.)
It’s unclear what specific goods federal agents believe Intertech shipped to Russia but previous export restrictions placed on an alleged Russian subsidiary point to concerns over diversion to the Russian government’s chemical and biological weapons programs.
In March 2021, the Commerce Department added Intertech Instruments to the Bureau of Industry and Security’s entity list, which restricts exports from companies at risk of supplying nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs, alongside nine Russian, three German, and one Swiss firm, because of their “proliferation activities in support of Russia’s weapons of mass destruction programs.” The department also included the 27th Scientific Center of the Russian Ministry of Defense, which the U.S. has alleged is “involved with Russian chemical weapons research and testing activities,” in its enforcement action.
The move came two days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the Treasury Department announced sanctions on “senior Russian government officials and a Russian state research institute for their involvement in the poisoning of [Alexei] Navalny,” a Russian dissident and anti-corruption activist currently imprisoned in Russia for what are widely criticized as politically motivated charges.
Navalny, a long time anti-corruption activist and critic of Vladimir Putin’s government, fell gravely ill after he was poisoned with Novichok, a top secret nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union and used in assassination attempts against enemies of the Kremlin.
Russian businessregistration records reviewed by The Daily Beast show the Moscow-based Intertech Instruments added to the Commerce Department’s entity list shares the same website and employee email addresses as the New Hampshire-based Intertech Corporation accused of violating export laws in a search warrant application.
Intertech allegedly enjoyed a long and prosperous business relationship with Russia’s FSB. One of Intertech’s Moscow employees, Tatiana Kimstach, had even “worked in an FSB lab many years ago, maintains some of those connections, and works closely with the FSB for her current sales,” according to court documents.
Federal agents claim that Intertech officials allegedly failed to accurately identify the FSB as the ultimate end user in five shipments sent between March 2015 and September 2016. Among the alleged recipients of the company’s shipments was the FSB’s Criminalistics Institute, which provides the FSB criminal investigative arm with forensic and scientific support.
But the open source research outlet Bellingcat has also identifiedCriminalistics Institute as the cover for an altogether more sinister activity: poisoning Kremlin enemies with chemical weapons. A December 2020 Bellingcat investigation labeled the Institute as the “center of operations for the current FSB poisoning program” which has targeted dissidents like Navalny and state enemies like Sergei Skripal, a Russian military intelligence officer recruited by British intelligence and poisoned by Russian operatives in 2018. Bellingcat reporters used mobile device location data to trace a dozen operatives working as part of the “clandestine sub-unit of the FSB Criminalistics Institute” to the poisoning of Navalny.
In September 2018, FBI and Commerce Department officials sent Intertech a letter informing the company that it would need a license to ship laboratory equipment to Intertech Instruments in Moscow because of the risk that scientific equipment sent there could be diverted “to chemical or biological end uses.”
After the 2018 letter, federal agents allege that Intertech “changed its business practices to circumvent and evade” the new licensing and export requirements. Transcripts of phone conversations and emails between Intertech employees detailed in court documents appear to show the company setting up a separate company, Laboratory Systems & Technology, as a cutout for continued shipments to Intertech Instruments “for the purposes of circumventing the licensing requirements,” according to federal law enforcement.
The search warrants were originally filed in January 2020. The Department of Justice requested, and received two extensions to keep the court records sealed, which expired on Tuesday.
#AceDailyNews reports that Biden has signed an ‘Executive Order’ cracking down on Big Tech as the move points to his desire for tougher scrutiny of Big Tech, which the administration has accused of “undermining competition” “Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation,” Mr Biden said at Friday’s signing event as he backs infrastructure compromise deal
The order includes 72 actions and recommendations involving ten agencies: It suggests that problems have arisen because of large tech firms collecting too much personal information, buying up potential competitors and competing unfairly with small businesses.
Several recommendations it sets out include:
Greater scrutiny of mergers in the tech sector
New rules to be set out by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on data collection
Barring unfair methods of competition on internet marketplaces.
The Biden administration is also targeting a number of other sectors with the order.
It encourages other government agencies to take action to improve competition across healthcare, travel and agriculture.
Once fully implemented, it would allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter, for example, as well as the ban of early exit fees from internet contracts. It also intends to make it easier for consumers to claim refunds from airlines
“For decades, corporate consolidation has been accelerating,” the fact sheet released by the White House says, describing the order as “a whole-of-government effort to promote competition in the American economy”.
Mr Biden said that the order seeks to limit the use of “non-compete agreements” as a condition of getting a job, which he claimed can make it harder for people to change jobs and therefore limits wages.
The executive order alone, however, does not mean these recommendations will come into force immediately.
The government agencies responsible will need to implement the changes, while some elements could be subject to court challenges.
The clearest sign yet of Biden’s views of Big TechBiden is on the warpath – and he has Big Tech in his sights: For Biden, there’s no better example of broken competition than in Silicon Valley. The “fact sheet” accompanying the executive order doesn’t name companies by name – but it’s clear which firms he’s talking about. Big Tech has long been accused of making “killer acquisitions”, essentially buying up the competition. It’s something the president wants to cut down on – expect greater scrutiny of mergers going forward. The fact sheet also talks about other criticisms of Big Tech. It describes how companies that run dominant online retail marketplaces can see how small businesses’ products sell and then use the data to launch their own competing products.It’s pretty clear Biden is talking about Amazon here – an accusation the company has always denied. These executive orders, though, lack teeth. They aren’t going to suddenly usher in a new competition regime. But it’s the clearest direction of travel we’ve seen yet from the president. Biden thinks Big Tech is too big, and he wants to do something about it.Built on a ‘flawed belief’The US Chamber of Commerce criticised the order, saying it was “built on the flawed belief that our economy is over-concentrated, stagnant and fails to generate private investment needed to spur innovation”. Neil Bradley, the Chamber’s executive vice president and chief policy officer, said: “Our economy needs both large and small businesses to thrive – not centralised government dictates. “In many industries, size and scale are important not only to compete, but also to justify massive levels of investment,” he added.It comes weeks after the House Judiciary Committee also voted to approve a series anti-trust bills, which could eventually become law and force big tech firms to transform or even break up their businesses.
#AceHealthReport – July.07: Amid concerns over the spread of the delta variant, President Joe Biden is set to deliver remarks Tuesday afternoon about the state of his administration’s vaccination effort and the “strong progress” the U.S. has made as it nears 160 million people fully vaccinated by the week’s end, a White House official said.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – Biden will outline five areas his team is focusing on to ramp up vaccination efforts, including door-to-door outreach, a larger emphasis on sending vaccines to health care providers and pediatricians who can encourage adolescents to get shots as part of their “back to school” check-ups and expanding mobile clinics and vaccination sites for workers, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to preview the president’s address.
The remarks will come after Biden is briefed by members of his COVID-19 response team. About 157 million Americans and 58% of U.S. adults have been fully vaccinated so far, and 67% of adults have had at least one vaccine shot – falling short of Biden’s goal to have 70% of U.S. adults receive at least one jab by July 4.
– Courtney Subramanian
Also in the news:
►About 7,550 out of 19.5 million fully vaccinated Californians have contracted the coronavirus, a rate of infection of one in 2,582 that’s a testament to the vaccines’ effectiveness, according to an analysis by CalMatters of state data through June 23.
►Hundreds of Italian health care workers have sued local health authorities to avoid being suspended after they refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
►Fourteen people have been arrested in Mumbai, India, in connection with a scheme to administer fake COVID-19 vaccines to thousands of people, who actually got injected with salt water.
►Prime Minister Boris Johnson says people in England will no longer be required by law to wear face masks in indoor public spaces and to keep at least 3 feet apart as soon as July 19, the country’s so-called “Freedom Day.”
►Germany will ease strict rules on travel from Britain, Portugal, Russia, India and Nepal that were imposed because of a surge in cases from the delta variant.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 605,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 184.2 million cases and nearly 3.98 million deaths. More than 157.3 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 47.4% of the population, according to the CDC.
📘What we’re reading: Since the beginning of the pandemic, a third of the 64 people who oversee the nation’s vaccination programs have left. In the midst of the largest vaccination effort in the country’s history, the nation lost a staggering amount of institutional knowledge. Read the full story.
In Missouri, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients jumped by nearly 30% over the Fourth of July weekend in a hard-hit area where immunization rates are low, leading to a temporary ventilator shortage and a public call for help from respiratory therapists. The delta variant, first identified in India, is spreading rapidly throughout the state, straining hospitals in Springfield and raising fresh fears that the situation could soon grow worse as holiday gatherings seed fresh cases. Missouri leads the nation with the most new cases per capita in the past 14 days; 39.4% of residents there are fully vaccinated.
COVID-19 cases in Mississippi increased by almost 15% in June. Mississippi’s fully vaccinated rate of 31% is the lowest in the nation.
“It feels very reminiscent of where we were in an early part of the pandemic,” State Epidemiologist Paul Byers said during a June 29 press conference. “It feels like we’re in the same situation now with the delta variant.”
She has received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and on Tuesday the British government said that self-isolating requirement will be scrapped Aug. 16 for those who are fully vaccinated.
The juxtaposition of the approaching end of COVID-19 restrictions in England with Prince William’s wife being confined to home for 10 days underscores one of the key messages British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered with Monday’s announcement:
“I want to stress from the outset that this pandemic is far from over,” he said in a news conference. “It certainly won’t be over by the 19th.”
Johnson pointed out there has been a marked increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations recently, and the number of new infections could rise to 50,000 per day by July 19.
#AceNewsReport – July.04: Ensuring that diverse representation is better reflected all throughout our health care system is priority for the Biden-Harris administration,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, a former California attorney general who served a dozen terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. “With this funding, we will be able to train and create new opportunities for thousands of minorities long underrepresented in our public health informatics and technology fields.”
JW: U.S. Spends $80 Mil to Train Minorities to Collect Health Data with Race, Socioeconomic Inequities it is part of the Biden administration’s efforts to “root out pervasive health and socioeconomic inequities” in the nation’s healthcare system, according to an announcement issued this month by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “
The multi-million-dollar investment will create a much-needed “pipeline of diverse professionals,” the HHS secretary added, assuring that it will help the country better prepare for “future public health emergencies.” The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated pervasive health and socioeconomic inequities, according to HHS, by, among other things, exposing gaps in the government’s public health reporting and data analysis around race and ethnicity-specific data. The administration aims to improve future public health responses in minority communities with data collection involving infection, hospitalization and mortality rates that also considers social vulnerabilities, race and ethnicity, age, gender, and other variables. “Representation is important,” Becerra said, referring to the need for diversity to tackle pressing healthcare challenges.
The new initiative is called Public Health Informatics & Technology (PHIT) Workforce Development Program and its goal is to train at least 4,000 individuals in informatics and technology and ensure the degree “programs are sustainable to create a continuous pipeline of diverse public health informatics and technology professionals.” A new curriculum will be developed focusing on topics such as data reporting that is inclusive of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, the government funding announcement states. It will be created by working with local and state public health departments, community-based organizations, and others with “on the ground” experience dealing with pressing and critical challenged in public health informatics and technology. It is fair to assume leftist groups will be deeply involved in developing the program. To reduce “longstanding health disparities and inequities,” the administration has singled out institutions of higher learning that serve minorities—including historically black colleges and universities as well as tribal colleges Hispanic serving institutions—to receive funding priority.
It seems to be part of a broad effort that also includes local governments to prioritize the health of minorities over others. Earlier this year Judicial Watch reported that Virginia shifted its COVID-19 vaccination distribution to prioritize black and Latino residents even as desperate 85-year-olds struggled to get the shot. A few months later Maryland opened a “special clinic” exclusively for Latinos in its two largest counties to receive the vaccine. Public officials in Montgomery County, Maryland’s most populous, said the controversial initiative would help overcome inequities in the vaccine rollout as well as general health disparities that plague poor minority communities. Keep in mind that the shots were created as part of a Trump administration initiative called Operation Warp Speed to accelerate the development, production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and deliver 300 million doses to all Americans. The U.S. reportedly invested $18 billion on the project which involves several key government agencies—such as the Department of Defense (DOD), HHS and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—and private companies.
During Obama’s presidency HHS’s medical research agency, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), invested hundreds of millions of dollars to racially diversify medical fields. The money started flowing after an NIH sanctioned study determined blacks who apply for federal research grants are less likely than whites and Hispanics to receive the awards. The study took years and was conducted to “learn more about the challenges facing the scientific community,” according to the NIH’s director, and to improve the diversity of its biomedical research workforce. He called the findings “disturbing and disheartening.”
#AceNewsReport – June.29: While Biden has been signaling weakness to Iran over the nuke deal, this development bears watching. Predictably, Iran accused the U.S. government of “working with Israel and Saudi Arabia to repress Iran’s freedom of expression.”
“Promoting terrorism” was cited as a reason for the asset seizure. Also seized was “a Palestinian-directed broadcast and an Arabic-language religious and cultural channel….the web domain of Iran’s Al-Alam news network and that of Al-Masirah, a Yemeni TV station controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi insurgency.”
Iran has become increasingly aggressive and openly hostile to America, making overt demands about a nuclear deal which would involve the dropping of all sanctions. The hardline, murderous incoming Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has also “declared that Iran will not agree to restrictions on its ballistic missile development or its support for terrorism throughout the region as a condition to the resumption of the nuclear deal.”
“US takes down Iran-linked news sites, alleges disinformation,” by Isabel Debre and Eric Tuck, Washington Post,June 23, 2021:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — American authorities seized a range of Iran’s state-linked news website domains they accused of spreading disinformation, the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday, a move that appeared to be a far-reaching crackdown on Iranian media amid heightened tensions between the two countries.
The Justice Department said 33 of the seized websites were used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union, which was singled out by the U.S. government last October for what officials described as efforts to spread disinformation and sow discord among American voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election. T
The U.S. says three other seized websites were operated by the Iraqi Shiite paramilitary group, Kata’ib Hizballah, which more than a decade ago was designated a foreign terrorist organization. The group is separate from the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group whose news websites remained operational.
The website domains are owned by U.S. companies, but despite the sanctions, neither the IRTVU nor KH obtained the required licenses from the U.S. government before using the domain names, according to the Justice Department.
US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have started a high-stakes summit that is expected to be dominated by deep disagreements: US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin kicked off a highly-anticipated summit in Geneva on Wednesday.
There were low expectations of a breakthrough, with a string of contentious issues on the agenda. But both sides have said they hope the meeting can at least lead to more stable and predictable relations: Swiss President Guy Parmelin is acting as host during the talks, which are scheduled to last four to five hours.
What is on the agenda?
Biden and Putin are likely to discuss a raft of issues, including arms control, cybercrime, Ukraine, Belarus, election interference and the coronavirus pandemic.
“There have been a few quite far-reaching cyberattacks in the US recently, some of them having Russian fingerprints on them, so the Biden administration is calling on Russia to do more to deter such attacks from within its borders,” she said.
“Both sides want to lower the temperature a notch or two and they’re trying to find ways to resume their dialogue.”
Russia-US relations: The contentious issuesBiden playing it coolPresident Joe Biden has kept his cards close to his chest ahead of the summit in Geneva. He declined to say how he plans to confront Putin during talks with his Russian counterpart — but is expected to address key issues. “I’m not looking for conflict with Russia, but we will respond if Russia continues its harmful activities,” Biden said ahead of the summit.
The situation worsened after Biden called Putin a killer in March, prompting Russia to recall its ambassador from Washington. The US then recalled its ambassador from Moscow. The possibility of returning the diplomats to their respective posts may also be on the agenda.
What do observers say about the talks?
US Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Chris Kupchan told DW the two leaders are “not coming in looking for a bromance like Trump and Putin,” but Biden could “invest in some kind of working relationship with Putin.”
“Biden is much more worried about China than he is about Russia. And I’m guessing that Putin is growing quietly uncomfortable with China. So part of this conversation might be about trying to improve the Western relationship with Russia in a way that contains China’s leverage and gives Moscow a little bit of breathing room in its relationship with Beijing,” he said.
NATO declares China a global security threat
Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Kremlin-founded Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), said Putin “understands that relations between Russia and the United States will continue to be mostly adversarial, at least for the foreseeable future. But at the same time, there are some potential pockets of cooperation that can be pursued further. And even the confrontation can and should be managed, to reduce costs and to cut down the risks.”
David O’Sullivan, former EU ambassador to the US, said Biden would aim to be charming, and at the same time “open but firm on the points which are important for him.”
“He will reach out to Putin and say, ‘look, we don’t agree on everything. Let’s find a way of coexisting and not creating excessive tensions for each other’.”
#AceNewsReport – June.01: Although Biden stated that Israel has a right to defend itself, his administration has bent over backwards to send the message to Palestinians that America under Biden supports the Palestinian cause — which is jihad for the eradication of Israel:
WASHINGTON: Biden’s plan to open separate Jerusalem consulate for Palestinians violates US law Biden’s plan for a diplomatic mission to the Palestinians blatantly violates US law,” by Mark Meadows and David Milstein, New York Post, May 26, 2021:
The White House lived up to its promise to send Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the Middle East to “rebuild ties” with Palestinians. In fact, it exceeded expectations, with a pledge by Biden to ask Congress to donate $75,000,000 to the Palestinians. It didn’t stop there. Blinken formally announced the decision to reopen the Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem during a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. But to do so isn’t legal according to the article below, which was written by Mark Meadows, chief of staff to former President Donald Trump, and David Milstein, who served as special assistant to the US ambassador to Israel.
A Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem violates the Jeruslem Embassy Act that Trump activated in 2017. The Act recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and calls for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city.
As presidential candidate, Joe Biden was asked if he would reverse President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Biden promised, “I wouldn’t reverse it.”
But candidate Biden also proposed re-opening the US diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, which had merged with the Jerusalem embassy in 2019.
Now Team Biden is moving forward with the latter initiative. On May 25, Secretary of State Antony Blinken formally told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that Washington would seek to reopen this diplomatic mission. The move contradicts Biden’s campaign promise not to renege on the recognition of Jerusalem, since a pair of missions in the same city undercuts Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital. It also breaks the Jerusalem Embassy Act that sought to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem no later than 1999 — a law Biden voted for along with 92 other senators.
The 1995 law states that “Jerusalem should remain an undivided city, in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected. … Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.” In 2017, on the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification in the Six Day War, the Senate unanimously voted to reaffirm the act and called upon the US to “abide by its provisions.”
Former President Donald Trump fulfilled the will of the American people, as expressed by Congress, by relocating the embassy in 2018. In February 2021, the Senate also adopted an amendment by a 97-3 vote to “make the US Embassy in Jerusalem permanent, effectively preventing it from being downgraded or moved out of Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.”
The Biden administration’s intent to reopen a separate diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital and the location of the US Embassy, would be a violation of US law, wrongly signaling that Washington supports dividing Jerusalem.
If implemented, this could signal the return to a misguided diplomatic arrangement, under which the US ambassador to Israel historically lacked jurisdiction over the eastern part of Jerusalem, the West Bank or Gaza. Instead, a US consul general led a separate diplomatic mission to the Palestinians, who had jurisdiction over those geographic areas. The consulate general didn’t even report to the US ambassador to Israel, but directly to the State Department, often sending conflicting reports to DC.
The diplomatic mission included the US consulate general’s official residence, located in the western part of Jerusalem, thus resulting in the US having a diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, despite that the fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
The Trump administration’s decision to merge the US diplomatic mission to the Palestinians into the US Embassy in Jerusalem remedied the prior arrangement and implemented a key aspect of the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which requires that the US Embassy in Jerusalem include the ambassador’s official residence.
Reopening this separate diplomatic mission to the Palestinians would therefore render the US government noncompliant with American law…..
#AceNewsReport – May.21: More than 230 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s brutal attack which started on 10 May, including 65 children. A further 1,700 were injured, while many thousand lost their homes. Twelve Israelis were also killed.
CEASEFIRE: Palestinians celebrate as ceasefire goes into effect over Gaza: Mosques across the Gaza Strip hailed a “victory” and prayers could be heard across the enclave as a ceasefire took hold in Gaza at 2am local time (11pm GMT), bringing to an end to 11 days of the fiercest bombing campaign the Strip has come under since 2014 with at least 230-Palestinians killed, including children and nearly 2,000 injured’
The Cabinet unanimously approved the ceasefire unanimously; Time designated for the start of the ceasefire: 02:00 at night – subject to understandings between Hamas and Egypt. https://t.co/gyZ3k4nGwG
Palestinians carry a model of Dome of the Rock as they gather for a celebration after “mutual and simultaneous” cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas took effect at 2 am Friday (2300GMT Thursday), ending the 11-day conflict, in Rafah, Gaza on 21 May 2021. [Abed Rahim Khatib – Anadolu Agency]May 21, 2021 at 10:39 am
Palestinians could be seen dropped to the floor in prostration by way of thanks to God. Celebrations reverberated across the besieged Strip, in the occupied West Bank and in Jerusalem, where fireworks were set off, cars lined the streets with drivers honking.
Many worshippers heading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for morning prayers also prostrated in thanks for the safety of their brothers and sisters in Gaza.
The truce took hold after the Israeli cabinet agreed to the “mutual and unconditional” ceasefire proposed by Egypt.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad also confirmed the “mutual and simultaneous” agreement.
Commiting on the ceasefire, UN Secretary-general Antonio Guterres said: “Israeli and Palestinian leaders have a responsibility beyond the restoration of calm to start a serious dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict.”
He added that the UN was ready to help both parties return to “meaningful negotiations” on a two-state settlement.
ABC’s ‘World News Tonight’ suggests Biden brokered cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, avoids crediting Egypt
ABC News praised Biden for ‘walking a fine line throughout’ his ‘first big foreign policy test’
8 hours ago
ABC’s “World News Tonight” heavily implied that President Biden was responsible for the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas when it was actually Egypt that brokered the truce.
“Tonight, breaking news as we come on the air. Israel and Hamas agreeing to a cease-fire. President Biden speaking just moments ago,” ABC News anchor David Muir began the program. “After 11 days of relentless rockets and missile attacks, a truce now set to take effect just a short time from now. President Biden, who put increasing pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden talking just a short time ago.”
Muir told viewers that “we knew” that President Biden told the Israeli Prime Minister that he “wanted to see a significant de-escalation in the Israeli operation.”
ABC News correspondent Matt Gutman, who was reporting from Tel Aviv, read a statement that was released by Hamas saying a “mutual and simultaneous ceasefire in the Gaza Strip” had been reached. However, Gutman scrubbed the first part of that sentence from the official Hamas statement, which read, “We were informed by our brothers in Egypt that an agreement had been reached.”
After reiterating Biden’s push for a “significant de-escalation,” Muir brought on ABC News White House correspondent Mary Bruce to talk about the “delicate dance” that Biden endured and the “quiet diplomacy” that was enacted.
“David, this was the first big foreign policy test for this president and Biden walked a fine line throughout,” Bruce told Muir. “He was facing growing pressure from his own party to take a tougher stance on Israel and you seemed to see the president nod to that tonight in his remarks, saying, quote, ‘I believe the Palestinians and Israelis deserve to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy.’”
“Now, White House sources I’ve talked to feel that this all shows Biden’s approach to diplomacy working. He laid low in those first few days, trying to rely heavily on that quiet, intensive, behind-the-scenes diplomacy, and then upped the public pressure on Israel in just the recent days,” Bruce explained. “He and prime minister Netanyahu have a relationship, they understand how each other work. Biden took an increasingly serious tone, I am told, and made it clear to Israel that it would not be in their interest if this continued.”
However, as NewsBusters news analyst Nicholas Fondacaro pointed out, ABC’s report made no mention of Egypt’s critical role in the ceasefire.
Reversely, CBS and NBC gave credit to Egypt.
“The truce follows last-minute negotiations led by Egypt after days of what the White House has called quiet intensive diplomacy,” Norah O’Donnell of “CBS Evening News” told viewers.
“Israel’s security cabinet said it unanimously approved the Egyptian initiative for Israel and Hamas to simultaneously stop their attacks, starting in just minutes,” NBC News correspondent Richard Engel said in his report on “NBC Nightly News.”
#AceNewsReport – May.21: American officials have privately urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his aides to wind down his country’s operations against the Gaza Strip… At the start, the person familiar with the situation said, Israel appeared on the verge of pushing forth with a ground invasion, a move that could have led to significantly more bloodshed and possibly a longer conflict. U.S. influence was important in preventing a ground operation, the person said:
WASHINGTON: ‘Biden Admin Pressuring Israel to End Campaign Against Hamas Terrorists: U.S. officials are confident their mostly behind-the-scenes intervention helped avert an early Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip’
1. Pressuring Israel behind the scenes into accepting a Hamas “cease-fire” which just means restarting this conflict when the terrorists get more Iranian rockets to shoot off.
2. Accusing Israel of “destabilizing the region” which as everyone knows is very stable.
3. Supporting the UN’s campaign against Israel out of one side of its mouth while promising to support Israel out of the other
Wind down, that is to say, bail out Hamas. Also bail out Hamas, literally.
That being said, the Biden administration and others already are looking at ways to send in humanitarian assistance to Gaza, a densely packed seaside territory of 2 million people.
How much of that “humanitarian assistance” will go to Hamas? Assume that plenty of it will in one way or another.
On Monday, Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, conveyed a sense of urgency when he warned that the longer the conflict drags on, the more it risks destabilizing the region.
“It’s in no one’s interest to continue fighting,” Milley said.
This is a region with multiple civil wars and insurgencies, in which Iran’s proxies are bombing Saudi Arabia out of Yemen, Syria’s Shiite government is bombing the Sunnis, Turkey is in the midst of a prolonged campaign against the Kurds, Iraq is on the verge of another civil war, Libya is in a permanent state of civil war…and I could go on. But it’s the Israelis who are destabilizing the region because of a brief campaign against Hamas terrorists.
And, oh yes, don’t expect the Biden administration to back up Israel on the Hamas building bombing.
Israel’s operations drew heightened criticism in recent days after its armed forces leveled a building that housed several media offices, including that of The Associated Press. Israel – which warned people to evacuate the building about an hour before striking it – has said it has shared information with the United States showing that Hamas based some of its assets in that facility.
The person familiar with the situation confirmed that Israel has shared some classified intelligence with America about the building, but declined to characterize it other than to say it suggested the Hamas presence was significant, including involving operational activity. The United States has told Israel that it should share more information publicly about this intelligence.
Netanyahu says no to Biden’s call for ceasefire amid continuing Hamas rocket fire
The barrage of rocket fire targeting Israel’s civilian population continues as Biden is calling on Israel for a ceasefire, only to be met by a determined “no” from Netanyahu — a short answer of logical reason for a weak and blind leader. Since “Hamas and now terrorists in Lebanon are ignoring Biden’s calls for calm,” it is unreasonable for anyone in his right mind to advise Israel to stop defending itself. Israel needs to put an end to jihadist bullying once and for all as it engages Operation Guardian of the Walls.
One wonders: if Iran started bombing America, would Biden sit by and allow it? In fact, there is no sovereign nation on the face of the earth that would allow a hostile enemy to rain a steady barrage of rockets on its citizens, without taking defensive action. Israel is a sovereign nation with the duty to protect its country and citizenry, not to listen to the dictates of outsiders.
The Israel Government Press Office gave a thorough and brief summary of this latest round of violence HERE.
“BREAKING: Netanyahu Says No to Biden’s Call for Ceasefire,” by Katie Pavlich, Townhall, March 19, 2021:
Netanyahu says he is “determined” to continue operations against Hamas until Israeli’s goal is met.
President Joe Biden is calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “de-escalate” with Hamas terrorists in Gaza as the Iranian backed organization continues its attacks on innocent civilians.
“President Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu today. The two leaders had a detailed discussion on the state of events in Gaza, Israel’s progress in degrading the capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist elements, and ongoing diplomatic efforts by regional governments and the United States. The President conveyed to the Prime Minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire,” the White House released about a call between Biden and Netanyahu Wednesday morning.
Hamas and now terrorists in Lebanon are ignoring Biden’s calls for calm…..
#AceNewsReport – May.03: In February, President Biden signed an Executive Order establishing the Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families (Task Force) to identify parents and children separated by the prior administration. The order directed the Task Force to implement comprehensive strategies that will bring families back together and ensure the families are provided support.
Biden Administration Begins This Week to Reunite Families Separated Under the Prior Administration: “The Family Reunification Task Force has been working day and night, across the federal government and with counsel for the families and our foreign partners, to address the prior administration’s cruel separation of children from their parents,” said Secretary Mayorkas, who serves as the Chair of the Task Force. “Today is just the beginning. We are reuniting the first group of families, many more will follow, and we recognize the importance of providing these families with the stability and resources they need to heal.”
The Task Force has been working tirelessly to establish a complete database of separated families, correct inaccuracies in the files they were provided, and build the processes to find every family and give them the opportunity to reunite and heal. The Task Force is in the process of reviewing additional cases for reunification in the coming months. The Task Force’s initial report is due on June 2, 2021, and will provide a full update on the Task Force’s progress.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leads the President’s Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families and is joined by the Department of State, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Justice. Michelle Brané serves as the Task Force’s Executive Director. While the Task Force is leveraging existing authorities, the reunification effort is novel work that has required significant interagency coordination:
DHS has established a process for accepting parole requests and stands ready to process and receive families as they request to enter the U.S.
The Department of Health and Human Services is working on facilitating services to support harmed families.
The Department of State has developed a streamlined system for processing in-country requests for travel documents to enter the U.S.
The Department of Justice supports the Task Force in related settlement negotiation efforts.
While coordinating all these efforts, the Task Force is also exploring options for long term legal stability for reunified families and identifying and recommending policies to avoid repeating these unnecessary and cruel separations in the future. The Task Force has made critical progress in a short period of time, resulting in reunifications starting this week and many more in the weeks ahead.
#AceNewsReport – May.03: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita during a Friday phone call that the Biden administration would not, “for the time being,” reverse his predecessor’s pro-Israeli move in the waning days of his presidency, US-based Axios news website reported, citing “two sources familiar with the call.”
Biden to uphold Western Sahara recognition for sake of Israel: ‘The recognition came as part of a deal with the despotic North African country to normalize relations with the Israeli regime’
Saturday, 01 May 2021 10:05 AM [ Last Update: Saturday, 01 May 2021 11:08 AM ]
“The secretary welcomed Morocco’s steps to improve relations with Israel and noted the Morocco-Israel relationship will bring long-term benefits for both countries,” according to a readout of the call released by the State Department.
Responding to inquires about the issue during a Friday press briefing, State Department deputy spokesperson Jaline Porter tried to dodge the issue.
“When it comes to Western Sahara, we are consulting privately with parties on how to best halt the violence there… We would also talk about having the goal to achieve a lasting settlement,” she said.
Trump’s recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco reversed decades of Washington’s policy regarding the disputed territory. It was part of a wider agreement with Rabat’s ruler that included the renewal of diplomatic ties between the Israeli and the Moroccan regimes that triggered massive protests in Palestine and Morocco.Moroccans protest normalization deal with Israel, voice solidarity…
The US thus became the only Western country to recognize Morocco’s alleged sovereignty over Western Sahara, which was annexed by the Rabat regime in 1975 after the former colonial government of Spain surrendered control.
The report further revealed that 10 days ago Biden’s Middle East advisor Brett McGurk “spoke to Bourita and gave the impression that there would be no change in the US policy on Western Sahara.”
It report said both Morocco and Israel had become concerned that the Biden administration may reverse Trump’s contentious decision, solely intended to press more Arab dictatorships to recognize Israel.
Last December, Morocco became the fourth US-backed Arab kingdom to strike a deal aimed at establishing ties with Israel. The others were the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.
The move sparked protests across the North African country, opposing the deal and expressing solidarity with the Palestinian cause while condemning the Israeli regime’s persisting atrocities against Palestine’s native population.
Trump’s controversial decision, which contradicts UN resolutions on the issue, has been challenged by US lawmakers.
In February, half the US Senate signed a bipartisan letter led by Republican Jim Inhofe and senior Democrat Patrick Leahy calling on Biden to reverse Trump’s “illegitimate” decision.
“The abrupt decision by the previous administration on December 11, 2020, to officially recognize the Kingdom of Morocco’s illegitimate claims of sovereignty over Western Sahara was short-sighted, undermined decades of consistent US policy, and alienated a significant number of African nations,” the senators wrote.
“The Sahrawi people deserve the right to freely choose their own destiny. We hope that we can count on you to be a partner in this effort,” they added.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.29: No president has ever said those words from this podium, and it’s about time.
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by President Biden — Address to a Joint Session of Congress
April 28, 2021:
Madame Vice President.
The First Lady.
The Second Gentleman.
Mr. Chief Justice.
Members of the United States Congress and the Cabinet – and distinguished guests.
My fellow Americans.
While the setting tonight is familiar, this gathering is very different – a reminder of the extraordinary times we are in.
Throughout our history, Presidents have come to this chamber to speak to the Congress, to the nation, and to the world.
To declare war. To celebrate peace. To announce new plans and possibilities.
Tonight, I come to talk about crisis — and opportunity.
About rebuilding our nation — and revitalizing our democracy.
And winning the future for America.
As I stand here tonight — just one day shy of the 100th day of my administration.
100 days since I took the oath of office, lifted my hand off our family Bible, and inherited a nation in crisis.
The worst pandemic in a century.
The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.
Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again.
Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.
Life can knock us down.
But in America, we never stay down.
In America, we always get up.
And today, that’s what we’re doing: America is rising anew.
Choosing hope over fear. Truth over lies. Light over darkness.
After 100 Days of rescue and renewal, America is ready for takeoff.
We are working again. Dreaming again. Discovering again. Leading the world again.
We have shown each other and the world: There is no quit in America.
100 days ago, America’s house was on fire.
We had to act.
And thanks to the extraordinary leadership of Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer – and with the overwhelming support of the American people – Democrats, Independents, and Republicans – we did act.
Together — we passed the American Rescue Plan.
One of the most consequential rescue packages in American history.
We’re already seeing the results.
After I promised 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots in 100 days – we will have provided over 220 million COVID shots in 100 days.
We’re marshalling every federal resource. We’ve gotten the vaccine to nearly 40,000 pharmacies and over 700 community health centers.
We’re setting up community vaccination sites, and are deploying mobile units into hard-to-reach areas.
Today, 90% of Americans now live within 5 miles of a vaccination site.
Everyone over the age of 16, everyone – is now eligible and can get vaccinated right away.
So get vaccinated now.
When I was sworn in, less than 1% of seniors were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
100 days later, nearly 70% of seniors are fully protected.
Senior deaths from COVID-19 are down 80% since January. Down 80%.
And, more than half of all adults in America have gotten at least one shot.
At a mass vaccination center in Glendale, Arizona, I asked a nurse what it’s like.
She looked and said every shot feels like a dose of hope.
A dose of hope for the educator in Florida who has a child who suffers from an auto-immune disease.
She wrote to me that she was worried about bringing the virus home.
When she got vaccinated, she sat in her car and just cried.
Cried out of joy, cried out of relief.
Parents are seeing smiles on their kids’ faces as they go back to school because teachers and school bus drivers, cafeteria workers have been vaccinated.
Grandparents hugging their children and grandchildren instead of pressing their hands against a window to say goodbye
It means everything to both of them.
There’s still more work to do to beat this virus. We can’t let our guard down now.
But tonight, I can say because of you — the American people – our progress these past 100 days against one of the worst pandemics in history is one of the greatest logistical achievements our country has ever seen.
What else have we done these first 100 days?
We kept our commitment and we are sending $1,400 rescue checks to 85% of all American households.
We’ve already sent more than 160 million checks out the door.
It’s making a difference.
For many people, it’s making all the difference in the world.
A single mom in Texas wrote to me.
She said when she couldn’t work, this relief check put food on the table
and saved her and her son from eviction.
A grandmother in Virginia told me she immediately took her granddaughter to the eye doctor — something she put off for months because she didn’t have the money.
One of the defining images of this crisis has been cars lined up for miles waiting for a box of food to be put in the trunk.
Did you ever think you’d see that in America?
That’s why the American Rescue Plan is delivering food and nutrition assistance to millions of Americans facing hunger – and hunger is down sharply already.
We’re also providing:
Rental assistance to keep people from being evicted from their homes. Providing loans to keep small businesses open and their employees on the job.
During these 100 days, an additional 800,000 Americans enrolled in the Affordable Care Act because I established a special sign up period to do that.
We’re making one of the largest one-time investments ever in improving health care for veterans.
Critical investments to address the opioid crisis.
And, maybe most importantly, thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we are on track to cut child poverty in America in half this year.
In the process, the economy created more than 1.3 million new jobs in 100 days.
More new jobs in the first 100 days than any president on record.
The International Monetary Fund is now estimating our economy will grow at a rate of more than 6% this year.
That will be the fastest pace of economic growth in this country in nearly four decades.
America is moving. Moving forward. And we can’t stop now.
We’re in a competition with China and other countries to win the 21st Century.
We have to do more than just build back. We have to build back better.
Throughout our history, public investments and infrastructure have transformed America.
The transcontinental railroad and interstate highways united two oceans and brought us into a totally new age of progress.
Universal public school and college aid opened wide the doors of opportunity.
Scientific breakthroughs took us to the Moon and now to Mars, discovered vaccines, and gave us the Internet and so much more.
These are the investments we make together, as one country, and that only government can make.
Time and again, they propel us into the future.
That’s why I proposed The American Jobs Plan — a once-in-a-generation investment in America itself.
The largest jobs plan since World War II.
It creates jobs to upgrade our transportation infrastructure. Jobs modernizing roads, bridges and highways. Jobs building ports and airports, rail corridors and transit lines. It’s clean water.
Today, up to 10 million homes and more than 400,000 schools and child care centers have pipes with lead in them, including for drinking water.
A clear and present danger to our children’s health.
The American Jobs Plan creates jobs replacing 100% of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines so every American, so every child – can turn on the faucet and be certain to drink clean water.
It creates jobs connecting every American with high-speed internet, including 35% of rural Americans who still don’t have it.
This will help our kids and businesses succeed in a 21st Century economy.
And I am asking the Vice President to help lead this effort.
It creates jobs by building a modern power grid.
Our grids are vulnerable to storms, hacks, and catastrophic failures – with tragic results as we saw in Texas and elsewhere during winter storms.
The American Jobs Plan will create jobs to lay thousands of miles of transmission lines needed to build a resilient and fully clean grid.
The American Jobs Plan will help millions of people get back to their jobs and their careers.
2 million women have dropped out of the workforce during this pandemic, too often because they couldn’t get the care they need for their family, their children.
800,000 families are on a Medicaid waiting list right now to get homecare for their aging parent or loved one with a disability.
This plan will help these families and create jobs for our caregivers with better wages and better benefits.
For too long, we have failed to use the most important word when it comes to meeting the climate crisis.
For me, when I think about climate change, I think jobs.
The American Jobs Plan will put engineers and construction workers to work building more energy efficient buildings and homes.
Electrical workers installing 500,000 charging stations along our highways.
Farmers planting cover crops, so they can reduce carbon dioxide in the air and get paid for doing it.
There’s no reason the blades for wind turbines can’t be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing.
No reason why American workers can’t lead the world in the production of electric vehicles and batteries.
The American Jobs Plan will create millions of good paying jobs – jobs Americans can raise their families on.
And all the investments in the American Jobs Plan will be guided by one principle: “Buy American.”
American tax dollars are going to be used to buy American products made in America that create American jobs.
The way it should be.
Now – I know some of you at home are wondering whether these jobs are for you.
You feel left behind and forgotten in an economy that’s rapidly changing.
Let me speak directly to you.
Independent experts estimate the American Jobs Plan will add millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in economic growth for years to come.
These are good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced.
Nearly 90% of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan do not require a college degree.
75% do not require an associate’s degree.
The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America.
And, it recognizes something I’ve always said.
Wall Street didn’t build this country. The middle class built this country. And unions build the middle class.
And that’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act – the PRO Act — and send it to my desk to support the right to unionize.
By the way – let’s also pass the $15 minimum wage.
No one should work 40 hours a week and still live below the poverty line.
And we need to ensure greater equity and opportunity for women.
Let’s get the Paycheck Fairness Act to my desk for equal pay.
It’s long past time.
Finally, the American Jobs Plan will be the biggest increase in non-defense research and development on record.
We will see more technological change in the next 10 years – than we saw in the last 50 years.
And we’re falling behind in that competition.
Decades ago we used to invest 2% of our GDP on research and development.
Today, we spend less than 1%.
China and other countries are closing in fast.
We have to develop and dominate the products and technologies of the future: advanced batteries, biotechnology, computer chips, and clean energy.
The Defense Department has an agency called DARPA – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – that’s there to develop breakthroughs to enhance our national security – which led to the internet and GPS and so much more.
The National Institutes of Health, the NIH – should create a similar Advanced Research Projects Agency for health.
To develop breakthroughs – to prevent, detect, and treat diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer.
This is personal to so many of us.
I can think of no more worthy investment. And I know of nothing that is more bipartisan.
Let’s end cancer as we know it. It’s within our power
Investments in jobs and infrastructure like the ones we’re talking about have often had bipartisan support.
Vice President Harris and I meet regularly in the Oval Office with Democrats and Republicans to discuss the American Jobs Plan.
And I applaud a group of Republican Senators who just put forward their proposal.
So, let’s get to work.
We welcome ideas.
But, the rest of the world isn’t waiting for us. Doing nothing is not an option.
We can’t be so busy competing with each other that we forget the competition is with the rest of the world to win the 21st Century.
To win that competition for the future, we also need to make a once-in-a-generation investment in our families – in our children.
That’s why I’m introducing the American Families Plan tonight, which addresses four of the biggest challenges facing American families today.
First, access to a good education.
When this nation made 12 years of public education universal in the last century, it made us the best-educated and best-prepared nation in the world.
But the world is catching up. They are not waiting.
12 years is no longer enough today to compete in the 21st Century.
That’s why the American Families Plan guarantees four additional years of public education for every person in America – starting as early as we can.
We add two years of universal high-quality pre-school for every 3- and 4- year-old in America.
The research shows that when a young child goes to school—not day care—they are far more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college.
And then we add two years of free community college.
And we will increase Pell Grants and investment in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal colleges, and minority-serving institutions.
Jill is a community college professor who teaches today as First Lady.
She has long said any country that out-educates us is going to outcompete us – and she’ll be leading this effort.
Second, the American Families plan will provide access to quality, affordable child care.
We guarantee that low- to middle-income families will pay no more than 7% of their income for high-quality care for children up to the age of 5.
The most hard-pressed working families won’t have to spend a dime.
Third, the American Families Plan will finally provide up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
No one should have to choose between a job and paycheck or taking care of themselves and a loved one – a parent, spouse, or child.
And fourth, the American Families Plan puts money directly into the pockets of millions of families.
In March we expanded a tax credit for every child in a family.
Up to a $3,000 Child Tax Credit for children over 6 — and $3,600 for children under 6.
With two parents, two kids, that’s up to $7,200 in your pocket to help take care of your family.
This will help more than 65 million children and help cut child poverty in half this year.
Together, let’s extend the Child Tax Credit at least through the end of 2025.
The American Rescue Plan lowered health care premiums for 9 million Americans who buy their coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Let’s make that provision permanent so their premiums don’t go back up.
In addition to my Families Plan, I will work with Congress to address – this year – other critical priorities for America’s families.
The Affordable Care Act has been a lifeline for millions of Americans –protecting people with pre-existing conditions, protecting women’s health.
And the pandemic has demonstrated how badly it is needed.
Let’s lower deductibles for working families on the Affordable Care Act, and let’s lower prescription drug costs.
We all know how outrageously expensive they are.
In fact, we pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world right here in America – nearly three times as much as other countries.
We can change that.
Let’s do what we’ve always talked about.
Let’s give Medicare the power to save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating lower prices for prescription drugs.
That won’t just help people on Medicare – it will lower prescription drug costs for everyone.
The money we save can go to strengthen the Affordable Care Act – expand Medicare coverage and benefits – without costing taxpayers one additional penny.
We’ve talked about it long enough – Democrats and Republicans.
Let’s get it done this year.
This is all about a simple premise: Health care should be a right, not a privilege in America.
So how do we pay for my Jobs and Family Plans?
I’ve made clear that we can do it without increasing deficits.
Let’s start with what I will not do.
I will not impose any tax increases on people making less than $400,000 a year.
It’s time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1% of Americans to pay their fair share.
Just pay their fair share.
A recent study shows that 55 of the nation’s biggest corporations paid zero in federal income tax last year.
No federal taxes on more than $40 billion in profits.
A lot of companies evade taxes through tax havens from Switzerland to Bermuda to the Cayman Islands.
And they benefit from tax loopholes and deductions that allow for offshoring jobs and shifting profits overseas.
That’s not right.
We’re going to reform corporate taxes so they pay their fair share – and help pay for the public investments their businesses will benefit from.
And, we’re going to reward work, not wealth.
We take the top tax bracket for the wealthiest 1% of Americans – those making $400,000 or more – back up to 39.6%.
We take the top tax bracket for the wealthiest 1% of Americans – those making $400,000 or more – back up to 39.6%.
That’s where it was when George W. Bush became president.
We’re going to get rid of the loopholes that allow Americans who make more than $1 million a year pay a lower rate on their capital gains than working Americans pay on their work.
This will only affect three tenths of 1% of all Americans.
And the IRS will crack down on millionaires and billionaires who cheat on their taxes.
That’s estimated to be billions of dollars.
Look, I’m not out to punish anyone.
But I will not add to the tax burden of the middle class of this country.
They’re already paying enough.
What I’ve proposed is fair. It’s fiscally responsible.
It raises the revenue to pay for the plans I’ve proposed that will create millions of jobs and grow the economy.
When you hear someone say that they don’t want to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1% and on corporate America – ask them: whose taxes are you going to raise instead, and whose are you going to cut?
Look at the big tax cut in 2017.
It was supposed to pay for itself and generate vast economic growth.
Instead it added $2 trillion to the deficit.
It was a huge windfall for corporate America and those at the very top.
Instead of using the tax savings to raise wages and invest in research and development – it poured billions of dollars into the pockets of CEOs.
In fact, the pay gap between CEOs and their workers is now among the largest in history.
According to one study, CEOs make 320 times what their average workers make.
The pandemic has only made things worse.
20 million Americans lost their jobs in the pandemic – working- and middle-class Americans.
At the same time, the roughly 650 Billionaires in America saw their net worth increase by more than $1 Trillion.
Let me say that again.
Just 650 people increased their wealth by more than $1 Trillion during this pandemic.
They are now worth more than $4 Trillion.
My fellow Americans, trickle-down economics has never worked.
It’s time to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle-out.
A broad consensus of economists – left, right, center – agree that what I’m proposing will help create millions of jobs and generate historic economic growth.
These are among the highest value investments we can make as a nation.
I’ve often said that our greatest strength is the power of our example – not just the example of our power.
And in my conversations with world leaders – many I’ve known for a long time – the comment I hear most often is: we see that America is back – but for how long?
My fellow Americans, we have to show not just that we are back, but that we are here to stay.
And that we aren’t going it alone – we’re going to be leading with our allies.
No one nation can deal with all the crises of our time alone – from terrorism to nuclear proliferation to mass migration, cybersecurity, climate change – and as we’re experiencing now, pandemics.
There’s no wall high enough to keep any virus away.
As our own vaccine supply grows to meet our needs – and we are meeting them – we will become an arsenal of vaccines for other countries – just as America was the arsenal of democracy in World War 2.
The climate crisis is not our fight alone, either.
It’s a global fight.
The United States accounts for less than 15% of carbon emissions.
The rest of the world accounts for 85%.
That’s why – I kept my commitment to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement on my first day in office.
And I kept my commitment to convene a climate summit right here in America, with all of the major economies of the world – from China and Russia to India and the European Union in my first 100 days.
I wanted the world to see that there is consensus that we are at an inflection point in history.
And the consensus is if we act, we can save the planet – and we can create millions of jobs and economic growth and opportunity to raise the standard of living for everyone in the world.
The investments I’ve proposed tonight also advance a foreign policy that benefits the middle class.
That means making sure every nation plays by the same rules in the global economy, including China.
In my discussion with President Xi, I told him that we welcome the competition – and that we are not looking for conflict.
But I made absolutely clear that I will defend American interests across the board.
America will stand up to unfair trade practices that undercut American workers and industries, like subsidies for state-owned enterprises and the theft of American technologies and intellectual property.
I also told President Xi that we will maintain a strong military presence in the Indo—Pacific just as we do with NATO in Europe – not to start conflict – but to prevent conflict.
And, I told him what I’ve said to many world leaders – that America won’t back away from our commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms.
No responsible American president can remain silent when basic human rights are violated. A president has to represent the essence of our country.
America is an idea – unique in the world.
We are all created equal. It’s who we are. We cannot walk away from that principle.
With regard to Russia, I made very clear to President Putin that while we don’t seek escalation, their actions have consequences.
I responded in a direct and proportionate way to Russia’s interference in our elections and cyber—attacks on our government and businesses – and they did both of those things and I did respond.
But we can also cooperate when it’s in our mutual interests.
As we did when we extended the New START Treaty on nuclear arms – and as we’re working to do on the climate crisis.
On Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs that present a serious threat to America’s security and world security – we will be working closely with our allies to address the threats posed by both of these countries through diplomacy and stern deterrence.
And American leadership means ending the forever war in Afghanistan.
We have the greatest fighting force in the history of the world.
And I’m the first President in 40 years who knows what it means to have had a child serving in a warzone.
Today we have service members serving in the same war as their parents once did.
We have service members in Afghanistan who were not yet born on 9/11.
War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multi—generational undertaking of nation—building.
We went to Afghanistan to get the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.
We delivered justice to Osama Bin Laden and we degraded the terrorist threat of al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
After 20 years of American valor and sacrifice, it’s time to bring our troops home.
Even as we do, we will maintain an over—the—horizon capability to suppress future threats to the homeland.
But make no mistake – the terrorist threat has evolved beyond Afghanistan since 2001 and we will remain vigilant against threats to the United States, wherever they come from.
Al Qaeda and ISIS are in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and other places in Africa and the Middle East and beyond.
And, we won’t ignore what our own intelligence agencies have determined – the most lethal terrorist threat to the homeland today is from white supremacist terrorism.
And my fellow Americans, we must come together to heal the soul of this nation.
It was nearly a year ago before her father’s funeral, when I spoke with Gianna Floyd, George Floyd’s young daughter.
As I knelt down to talk to her so we could talk eye—to—eye, she said to me, “Daddy changed the world.”
After the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer, we can see how right she was – if we have the courage to act.
We have all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black America.
Now is our opportunity to make real progress.
Most men and women in uniform wear their badge and serve their communities honorably.
I know them. I know they want to help meet this moment as well.
My fellow Americans, we have to come together.
To rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve.
To root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system.
And to enact police reform in George Floyd’s name that passed the House already.
I know the Republicans have their own ideas and are engaged in productive discussions with Democrats.
We need to work together to find a consensus.
Let’s get it done next month, by the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death.
The country supports this reform.
Congress should act.
We have a giant opportunity to bend to the arc of the moral universe toward justice.
And with the plans I outlined tonight, we have a real chance to root out systemic racism that plagues American life in many other ways.
A chance to deliver real equity.
Good jobs and good schools. Affordable housing. Clean air and clean water.
Being able to generate wealth and pass it down through generations.
Real opportunities in the lives of more Americans – Black, white, Latino, Asian American, Native American.
I also want to thank the Senate for voting 94—1 to pass the COVID—19 Hate Crimes Act to protect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from the vicious hate crimes we’ve seen this past year – and for too long.
I urge the House to do the same and send that legislation to my desk as soon as possible.
I also hope Congress can get to my desk the Equality Act to protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans.
To all the transgender Americans watching at home – especially the young people who are so brave – I want you to know that your president has your back.
And another thing.
Let’s reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which has been law in this country for 27 years since I first wrote it.
It will close the so—called “boyfriend” loophole to keep guns out of the hands of abusers.
It’s estimated that more than 50 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner – every month in America.
Pass it and save lives.
And I need not tell anyone this, but gun violence is an epidemic in America.
Our flag at the White House was still flying at half—staff for the 8 victims of the mass shooting in Georgia, when 10 more lives were taken in a mass shooting in Colorado.
In the week between those mass shootings, more than 250 other Americans were shot dead.
250 shot dead.
I know how hard it is to make progress on this issue.
In the 1990s, we passed universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons and high—capacity magazines that hold 100 rounds that can be fired in seconds.
We beat the NRA. Mass shootings and gun violence declined.
But in the early 2000’s, that law expired and we’ve seen the daily bloodshed since.
More than two weeks ago in the Rose Garden, surrounded by some of the bravest people I know – the survivors and families who lost loved ones to gun violence – I laid out several steps the Department of Justice is taking to end this epidemic.
One of them is banning so—called “ghost guns.”
They are homemade guns built from a kit that includes the directions on how to finish the firearm.
The parts have no serial numbers, so when they show up at a crime scene, they can’t be traced.
The buyers of ghost gun kits aren’t required to pass a background check.
Anyone from a criminal to a terrorist could buy this kit and, in as little as 30 minutes, put together a lethal weapon.
But not anymore.
I will do everything in my power to protect the American people from this epidemic of gun violence.
But it’s time for Congress to act as well.
We need more Senate Republicans to join with the overwhelming majority of their Democratic colleagues, and close loopholes and require background checks to purchase a gun.
And we need a ban on assault weapons and high—capacity magazines again.
Don’t tell me it can’t be done. We’ve done it before … and it worked.
Talk to most responsible gun owners, most hunters – they’ll tell you there’s no possible justification for having 100 rounds – 100 bullets – in a weapon.
They will tell you that there are too many people today who are able to buy a gun, but who shouldn’t be able to.
These kinds of reasonable reforms have the overwhelming support of the American people – including many gun owners.
The country supports reform, and the Congress should act.
This shouldn’t be a Red vs. Blue issue. It’s an American issue.
And here’s what else we can do.
Immigration has always been essential to America.
Let’s end our exhausting war over immigration.
For more than 30 years, politicians have talked about immigration reform and done nothing about it.
It’s time to fix it.
On day one of my Presidency, I kept my commitment and I sent a comprehensive immigration bill to Congress.
If you believe we need a secure border – pass it.
If you believe in a pathway to citizenship – pass it.
If you actually want to solve the problem – I have sent you a bill, now pass it.
We also have to get at the root of the problem of why people are fleeing to our southern border from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador.
The violence. The corruption. The gangs. The political instability. Hunger. Hurricanes. Earthquakes.
When I was Vice President, I focused on providing the help needed to address these root causes of migration.
It helped keep people in their own countries instead of being forced to leave.
Our plan worked.
But the last administration shut it down.
I’m restoring the program and asked Vice President Harris to lead our diplomatic efforts.
I have absolute confidence she will get the job done.
Now, if Congress won’t pass my plan – let’s at least pass what we agree on.
Congress needs to pass legislation this year to finally secure protection for the Dreamers – the young people who have only known America as their home.
And, permanent protections for immigrants on temporary protected status who come from countries beset by man—made and natural made violence and disaster.
As well as a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers who put food on our tables.
Immigrants have done so much for America during the pandemic – as they have throughout our history.
The country supports immigration reform.
Congress should act.
And if we are to truly restore the soul of America – we need to protect the sacred right to vote.
More people voted in the last presidential election than ever before in our history – in the middle of one of the worst pandemics ever.
That should be celebrated. Instead it’s being attacked.
Congress should pass H.R. 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and send them to my desk right away.
The country supports it.
Congress should act.
As we gather here tonight, the images of a violent mob assaulting this Capitol—desecrating our democracy—remain vivid in our minds.
Lives were put at risk. Lives were lost. Extraordinary courage was summoned.
The insurrection was an existential crisis—a test of whether our democracy could survive.
But the struggle is far from over. The question of whether our democracy will long endure is both ancient and urgent.
As old as our Republic. Still vital today.
Can our democracy deliver on its promise that all of us – created equal in the image of God – have a chance to lead lives of dignity, respect, and possibility?
Can our democracy deliver on the most pressing needs of our people?
Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate and fears that have pulled us apart?
America’s adversaries – the autocrats of the world – are betting it can’t.
They believe we are too full of anger and division and rage.
They look at the images of the mob that assaulted this Capitol as proof that the sun is setting on American democracy.
They are wrong. And we have to prove them wrong.
We have to prove democracy still works.
That our government still works – and can deliver for the people.
In our first 100 Days together, we have acted to restore the people’s faith in our democracy to deliver.
We’re vaccinating the nation. We’re creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. We’re delivering real results people can see and feel in their own lives.
Opening the doors of opportunity. Guaranteeing fairness and justice.
That’s the essence of America.
That’s democracy in action.
Our Constitution opens with the words, “We the People”.
It’s time we remembered that We the People are the government. You and I.
Not some force in a distant capital. Not some powerful force we have no control over.
It’s us. It’s “We the people.”
In another era when our democracy was tested, Franklin Roosevelt reminded us—In America: we do our part.
That’s all I’m asking. That we all do our part.
And if we do, then we will meet the central challenge of the age by proving that democracy is durable and strong.
The autocrats will not win the future.
The future will belong to America.
I stand here tonight before you in a new and vital hour in the life of our democracy and our nation.
And I can say with absolute confidence: I have never been more confident or more optimistic about America.
We have stared into an abyss of insurrection and autocracy — of pandemic and pain — and “We the People” did not flinch.
At the very moment our adversaries were certain we would pull apart and fail.
We came together.
With light and hope, we summoned new strength and new resolve.
To position us to win the competition for the 21st Century.
On our way forward to a Union more perfect. More prosperous. More just.
As one people. One nation. One America.
It’s never been a good bet to bet against America.
And it still isn’t.
We are the United States of America.
There is nothing – nothing – beyond our capacity – nothing we can’t do – if we do it together.
#AceNewsRepor t- Apr.24: Despite a minuscule majority, House Democrats have passed legislation this year reworking voting laws, toughening gun background checks and fulfilling other party goals. Yet in the 50-50 Senate, which Democrats control because of Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote, Republicans will be able to force changes in some bills and block others completely:
The Senate GOP’s superpower: filibusters, bill-killing delays that would force the chamber’s 50 Democrats to win votes from at least 10 Republicans to prevail. That gives Republicans tremendous power over much of Biden’s and Democrats’ agenda, and it’s fueling frustration among progressives who want senators to abolish the filibuster rule.
“Everything we love is at stake,” first-term Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., said Thursday, ticking off a list of House-passed bills gathering dust in the Senate. “Not just everything we love, but everything we need.”
It would take all 50 Democratic senators — plus Harris — to abolish or curtail the filibuster, over the certain objection of the chamber’s 50 Republicans.
But moderate Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have opposed eliminating it, and Democrats say others in the party quietly oppose the move as well. Filibuster supporters cite a preference for seeking bipartisan accord with Republicans as well as repercussions when the GOP, inevitably at some point, returns to majority Senate control.
Manchin said at an event this week sponsored by Axios, a news website, that the filibuster was designed to prod the two parties to “find a pathway forward.” And while Republicans are using the filibuster to block Democratic legislation, Democrats in past GOP-run Senates have used it to stall Republican efforts to curtail abortion rights and in other fights, and some in the party fear losing that weapon in the future.
“What goes around comes around,” Manchin added.
Significantly, Biden has already won the capstone of his first months’ agenda — the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, signed into law in March. In coming months, he stands a strong chance of achieving a second major triumph on his proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, which the White House says would create millions of jobs.
“The biggest pieces of Biden’s agenda, that he’s put the most political capital behind, already became law” or have a strong chance of that, said Matt Bennett, a top official with Third Way, a centrist Democratic group.
Democrats passed the virus relief bill over unanimous Republican opposition because they used special budget rules preventing GOP filibusters. They might resort to the same procedure for the infrastructure bill to prevail if, as seems strongly possible, they can’t reach compromise with Republicans.
But use of the procedure circumventing filibusters is strictly limited by Senate rules. Since January alone, that’s stymied Democratic initiatives beloved by the party’s core liberal voters, including bills easing voting restrictions, reviving portions of the Voting Rights Act, tightening gun restrictions and helping women win salaries equal to men’s pay. The bill granting statehood to the District of Columbia also faces no chance in the Senate.
Under pressure after this week’s conviction of a former Minneapolis police officer in the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, senators are trying to negotiate a compromise for overhauling police procedures. A House-passed bill would ban chokeholds, improve police training and end immunity of many police officers from lawsuits.
The roadblocks have prompted progressives like Bush to continue pressing Democratic senators to eliminate the filibuster. Some top Democrats have repeatedly dangled the threat of doing just that. Liberals hope pressure on Senate Democrats to end the rule will build as House-passed bills stack up in the chamber.
“This chamber can work in a bipartisan fashion to get things done,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday after it passed the bill on violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. “That doesn’t mean we forgo our principles. That doesn’t mean we cut back on the boldness that is needed. But it means we try to work with our Republican colleagues whenever we can.”
At a news conference last month, Biden advocated a return to an earlier filibuster version that forced objecting senators to speak on the Senate floor until one side or the other surrendered. He added that if a “complete lockdown” occurred, “we’ll have to go beyond what I’m talking about.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Thursday that “Mitch McConnell is still the problem.” She was referring to Democrats’ nemesis, the Senate minority leader from Kentucky, who exactly two years ago happily described himself as the “Grim Reaper” killing progressive bills in his chamber.
McConnell, however, isn’t to blame for all their Senate woes. Democrats currently lack 50 Senate votes for expanded gun background checks, raising the minimum wage and some other priorities, so eliminating the filibuster wouldn’t be enough.
Republicans are already playing offense on the filibuster fight. McConnell warned on the Senate floor Thursday that Democrats want to eliminate the procedure to push though legislation imposing new federal voting rules, adding more Supreme Court justices and creating a new Democratic-controlled state.
“Rewriting the rules of American politics to exclusively benefit one side,” McConnell said.
Looking ahead to 2022 elections when Republicans hope to win congressional control, the GOP House and Senate campaign committees are savoring using the issue.
“It’s going to become a standard question” for Democrats, said Chris Hartline, spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “They’ll have to say that they support getting rid of the filibuster, or they will face the ire of their liberal base” if they don’t.