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Ukraine crisis, a lesson for US to prepare for Chinese invasion of Taiwan

Washington [US]: The Ukraine-Russia conflict has become a guide for the United States to prepare a strategy to defend Taiwan against a possible attack by China, according to an analysis.

The US military has in a report on the strategic assessment of the Ukraine crisis detailed the need to prepare a strategy on how to defend Taiwan in case of a possible attack by China, air superiority is the deciding factor in defence against the Chinese forces.
Notably, the US did not agree to the Ukrainian request for enforcing a no-fly zone over its air space as that would have brought it into direct combat with Russia. However, Taiwan is not Ukraine as it is in a far more vulnerable position, The Hong Kong Post reported citing a military analysis website DefenseOne.

“No matter what other idea guides the defense of the island republic, air superiority will be critical. Washington and Taipei must prepare now to ensure this air superiority….planning for Taiwan’s air defense must be grounded in hard truth, the media outlet quoted the website as saying.

However, according to American military experts, Taiwanese airspace is “much more difficult to defend” than that of Ukraine as Taiwan is separated from US bases by thousands of miles of open Pacific waters and the closest supply routes are through “the Philippine Sea, south along the Ryukyus, or north from Luzon” and all these regions are beyond Taiwanese territory and its Exclusive Economic Zone.

Thus, approving a no-fly war zone over Taiwan means a large territory beyond the island of Taiwan will need to be defended. However, Seth Cropsey, a naval officer and former US Deputy Undersecretary of the Navy, has come up with a four-point strategy that is being discussed within the military circles.

According to this strategy, the US must ensure its naval and aerial superiority in the Ryukyu archipelago which can be turned into an anti-air nest, packed with forward-deployed US Marines and Air Defense Artillery. Further, the US should have an “integrated air defense network” to protect Taiwan from Chinese “missile bombardment”.

The US should also obtain more tanker aircraft as a “no-fly zone would require air combat over Taiwan and near the Taiwan Strait which is extremely close to Chinese territory. Lastly, the US must begin the fight with a significant numerical advantage as according to the naval officer, the fight will boil down to numerical superiority of either force.

In a comparison of the Russia-Ukraine situation to that of China-Taiwan, Cropsey laments US’ casual attitude toward Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attacks on the other Black Sea targets.

“Had we (Americans) taken more seriously (Vladimir) Putin’s attacks on such other Black Sea targets as Georgia and Crimea and acted with greater resolve years ago to help Ukraine defend itself, war might have been averted. Xi Jinping and his predecessors’ declared intent to subdue Taiwan–if needed, by force–is clear as blue skies. Those skies must be defended over Taiwan if the US is to remain the Pacific’s pre-eminent power and our friends and allies in the region are to continue casting their lot with us,” the media outlet quoted him as saying. (ANI)

 

Biden fumbles on word ‘kleptocracy’ during address to Congress, Twitter flooded

Washington [US]: US President Joe Biden fumbled on the word “kleptocracy” during an address to the US Congress on Thursday, when he was seeking an additional $33 billion in aid to Ukraine and following the lapse, Twitter was flooded with reactions to his stuttering.

Tom Cotton, US Senator for Arkansas posted a clip of the speech on his Twitter handle, and captioned it as “Alarming”. In the clip, Biden can be seen fumbling with the word kleptocracy. After, two or three attempts he seemingly gets it correct. The video has garnered about 37,000 likes and over three million views on Twitter.
“We’re going to seize their yachts, their luxury homes, and other ill-begotten gains of Putin’s kleptoc- yeah – kleptocracy and klep- the guys who are the kleptocracies,” said Biden while addressing the US Congress.

Earlier, the US President mistakenly used the word “accommodate” while mentioning the Russian oligarchs. Still fumbling with words, Biden said that the US will “make sure we take their – take their ill-begotten gains.”

Twitterati were divided in their opinions. While some pointed out Biden’s speech defect and mocked at him, a few of them were defensive.

Exec Director of America Matters & former Army Special Forces Weapons, Jim Hanson responded to Tom Cotton, with the caption “America deserves better” in a tweet. Another Twitter user also agreed with the Senator that Biden’s speech was indeed alarming.

However, another Twitterati slammed Cotton by giving a befitting replying to his tweet which reads that a Senator mocking a President is even more alarming.

“A senator mocking someone’s stutter? Yeah, that is pretty alarming. Thanks for showing everyone quite clearly who you are,” the user commented.

“You know he has a speech impediment, right? It’s pretty publicly known. Are you mocking that?” wrote a third Twitter user. (ANI)

 

Biden to visit S Korea, Japan next month for talks on trade, security

Washington [US]: US President Joe Biden will visit South Korea and Japan from May 20 to May 24 for bilateral discussions on trade and security matters, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a press release.

“President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. will visit the Republic of Korea and Japan from May 20-May 24 to further deepen ties between our governments, economies, and people,” Psaki said on Wednesday.
Biden will have bilateral meetings with newly-elected South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, the release said. Biden will discuss with each leader ways to bolster security and economic ties, the release added.

Biden, while in Tokyo, will also meet with the leaders of the Quad group consisting of Australia, Japan, and India, according to the release.

More details about the Biden’s trip will be shared by the White House soon, the release said.

 

Biden greets Jain community on occasion of Mahavir Jayanti

Washington [US]: US President Joe Biden on Friday extended wishes to the Jain community across the world on the occasion of Mahavir Jayanti and encouraged people to follow Lord Mahavir’s path of non-violence, truthfulness, and compassion.

Taking to Twitter, Biden sends his regards writing “Jill and I send warm greetings on Mahavir Jayanti to people of the Jain faith. This is a day to strive for peace, happiness, and the success of all. May we each pursue the values Mahavir Swami embodied: to seek truth, turn from violence, and live in harmony with each other.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also greeted people on the birth anniversary of Mahavir, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism.

“Mahavir Jayanti greetings to you all. We recall the noble teachings of Bhagwan Mahavir, especially the emphasis on peace, compassion and brotherhood,” PM Modi tweeted.

Mahavir Jayanti is an important religious festival in Jainism that celebrates the birth of Lord Mahavir. The festival is marked with prayers and fasting.

The occasion marks the birth of the 24th and last Tirthankara, Lord Mahavir. This year, Mahavir Jayanti falls on April 14. (ANI)

US President Joe Biden calls Putin ‘Murderous Dictator’, ‘Pure Thug’

Washington [US]: US President Joe Biden on Thursday (local time) called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “murderous dictator” and a “pure thug” while speaking at the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon on St. Patrick’s Day at Capitol Hill.

“(Putin is) a murderous dictator, a pure thug who is waging an immoral war against the people of Ukraine,” Biden was quoted as saying by CNN.
Earlier on the same day, in a meeting with Micheal Martin, the Taoiseach of Ireland, he said that “Putin’s brutality and what he’s doing and his troops are doing in Ukraine is just inhumane.”

The strong remarks come just a day after Biden called Putin a “war criminal” during a press briefing.

“I think he is a war criminal,” Biden had said.

Biden had initially said “no” when asked whether Putin was a war criminal but returned to a group of reporters immediately to clarify what had been asked. When asked again whether Putin was a war criminal, he answered in the affirmative, reported Sputnik.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that US President Joe Biden’s remarks on Russian President Vladimir Putin speak for themselves when asked to comment on the remarks.

Kremlin had taken serious objection to Biden’s “war criminal” remark with spokesperson Dmitry Peskov saying, “We consider such rhetoric of the head of state, whose bombs killed hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, unacceptable and inexcusable.”

The recent rhetoric from Biden is a significant escalation in his condemnation of Putin’s actions in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday Biden’s comments were “absolutely unacceptable and inexcusable,” CNN reported. (ANI)

 

Biden condemns Russia’s ‘unprovoked, unjustified attack’ on Ukraine

               

Washinton [US](ANI): Condemning Russia’s “unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine”, US President Joe Biden said that the premeditated war will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human.

“The prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” said Biden, as per a statement released by White House.
Asserting that the United States and its allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way, Biden said that Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring. The world will hold Russia accountable, he added.

The US President further informed that he will be monitoring the situation from the White House as of now and will meet with his G7 counterparts in the morning.

“Tomorrow, I will meet with my G7 counterparts in the morning and then speak to the American people to announce the further consequences the United States and our allies and partners will impose on Russia for this needless act of aggression against Ukraine and global peace and security,” he said.

Biden said that the US will also coordinate with its NATO allies to ensure a strong, united response that deters any aggression against the alliance.

“Tonight, Jill (First Lady Jill Biden) and I are praying for the brave and proud people of Ukraine,” he added.

Biden’s statement comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a special “military operation” to protect Donbas, the separatist-held region in eastern Ukraine, media reports said on Thursday.

Delivering an emergency address, Putin said the operation has been launched to demilitarize Ukraine and also warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences”.

Notably, Putin recognized the independence of the Ukraine breakaway regions Donetsk and Luhansk following which Biden imposed sanctions on Russia and affirmed the US’ support to Ukraine.

Putin after his announcement also ordered the sending of the Russian Armed Forces to Ukraine’s breakaway regions.

Following this, the Ukrainian Parliament, Verkhovna Rada, on Wednesday approved declaring a state of emergency in the whole country except for Donetsk and Luhansk regions amid the escalating situation at the country’s borders. (image instagram)

Biden signs executive order to preserve certain Afghanistan central bank assets: Blinken

               

Washington [US] (ANI): As Afghanistan faces a worsening humanitarian and economic crisis, US President Joe Biden on Friday (local time) signed an Executive Order as part of an effort to set aside USD 3.5 billion in Afghan central bank assets for the benefit of the Afghan people.

In a statement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “the people of Afghanistan face enormous challenges: an economic crisis born of decades of dependence on international aid, severe drought, COVID-19, and endemic corruption.”
The statement said that the US also recognize that victims of terrorism, including of the September 11 terrorist attacks, have brought claims against the Taliban and are pursuing the central bank’s remaining assets in federal court.

“This Administration will continue to support these victims and their families, recognizing the enduring pain they have suffered at the hands of terrorists, including those who operated from Afghanistan prior to the September 11 attacks. These victims and their families should have a full opportunity to set forth their arguments in court,” the statement added.

The statement said that Afghanistan’s economic challenges were exacerbated when the Taliban decided to take the country by force rather than through a negotiated settlement. “But America’s ties to the people of Afghanistan, built during two decades of working side-by-side, are steadfast and enduring,” the statement added.

The Taliban took over Afghanistan after entering Kabul in August 2021, leading to the collapse of the Ashraf Ghani led government and mass evacuations.

A combination of a suspension of foreign aid, the freezing of Afghan government assets, and international sanctions on the Taliban, have plunged the country, already suffering from high poverty levels, into a full-blown economic crisis. (ANI)

Biden says US launching major initiative to reduce gun violence

              

Washington [US](ANI/Sputnik): The United States is launching a new major initiative to reduce gun violence in the country, President Joe Biden said on Thursday.

“Today, the Department [of Justice] is launching intensified National Ghost Gun Enforcement Initiative to deter criminals from using weapons,” Biden said in New York City at a meeting with federal and state officials.
He noted that Attorney General Merrick Garland directed all attorneys in the country to prioritise combating gun trafficking within the country.

The White House explained in a separate statement that the federal government will cooperate with state and local law enforcement to address the most significant sources of violence in each area.

The administration expressed commitment to deploy additional personnel and resources to strengthen the ability to crack down on the so-called Iron Pipeline – the illegal flow of guns circulating across the country, along with other firearms trafficking.

In addition, US authorities are going to pursue illegal gun sellers by prioritizing federal prosecutions of those who criminally sell or transfer firearms that are used in violent crimes, the White House added. (ANI/Sputnik)-image -instagram

‘Sidney Poitier changed the way America saw itself’

                

Washington [US], (ANI): US President Joe Biden praised Sidney Poitier, the legendary Hollywood star who was the first Black man to win the Oscar for Best Actor, as a “once-in-a-generation actor and advocate whose work carried so much dignity, power, and grace that it changed the world on and off the big screen.”

“Jill and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Sidney Poitier, the once-in-a-generation actor and advocate whose work carried so much dignity, power, and grace that it changed the world on and off the big screen,” the US President said in a White House statement.
Biden said that Poitier “was more than just one of the finest actors in our history. His iconic performances in films like The Defiant Ones, A Raisin in the Sun, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and In the Heat of the Night held a mirror up to America’s racial attitudes in the 1950s and 1960s. With unflinching grandeur and poise — his singular warmth, depth, and stature on-screen — Sidney helped open the hearts of millions and changed the way America saw itself.”

Furthermore in the statement, the US President added: “The son of tomato farmers in the Bahamas, Sidney became the first Black man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor — but the trail he blazed extended leaps and bounds beyond his background or profession. He blazed a path for our nation to follow, and a legacy that touches every part of our society today. Jill and I send our love and prayers to Sidney’s wife, Joanna, his daughters, and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. May God bless Sidney Poitier.”

Earlier, the former American President Barack Obama paid tribute to Sidney Poitier today, calling him a singular talent” who “epitomized dignity and grace.”

“Through his groundbreaking roles and singular talent, Sidney Poitier epitomized dignity and grace, revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together. He also opened doors for a generation of actors. Michelle and I send our love to his family and legion of fans,” he tweeted.

US Congress members urge for meeting between Biden, Dalai Lama

               

Washington [US]: The Biden administration’s presumptive Tibet coordinator should push for a meeting between US President Joe Biden and the Dalai Lama, fully implement US laws on Tibet, end the practice of calling Tibet part of China and more, over 60 members of the US Congress said in new Senate and House bipartisan letters on Tuesday.

The letters to Under Secretary of State Uzra Zeya are the latest sign of Congress’ intensifying interest in Tibet, a historically independent country that the Chinese government has brutally occupied for over 60 years. Zeya’s appointment as special coordinator for Tibetan issues in the State Department is expected soon.
“These letters provide a vital framework for the next special coordinator to address China’s oppression in Tibet while making it clear that Congress expects the Biden administration to act quickly and meaningfully to support the Tibetan people,” said Franz Matzner, government relations director of the International Campaign for Tibet, an advocacy group with offices in Washington, DC and Europe.

“At a time when Freedom House has declared Tibet the least-free country on Earth alongside Syria, ICT thanks the 38 senators and 27 representatives who signed onto these letters and showed crucial leadership on the Tibetan issue. We look forward to working with the next special coordinator and encourage her to use these letters to advance US policy on Tibet,” Matzner added.

Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in the Senate and Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Chris Smith, R-NJ, in the House led the letters. The broad, diverse and bipartisan swath of signers demonstrated once again Congress’ steadfast support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, religious freedom and basic human rights.

Zeya currently serves as undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights–a position that has traditionally doubled as the special coordinator. The Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 mandates the appointment of the special coordinator.

The letters to Zeya list 10 areas where Congress and the Biden administration can work together on Tibet, including:

The letter urges the administration to engage with the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration, which provides democratic governance for Tibetans in exile. The letters suggest that President Biden invite the Dalai Lama to the Oval Office–as several of his predecessors have done–or meet with him in his exile home of India, among other options.

It also suggests resisting China’s attempts to interfere in the Dalai Lama’s succession. The Chinese government plans to appoint its own successor to the 86-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader, but the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020 states that only the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Buddhist community can decide on his succession. The letters urge the administration to “work with like-minded governments” to “affirm this principle as the international norm,” as the TPSA requires. (ANI)

US President Joe Biden meets with European allies about Russian military buildup near Ukraine

Washington [US]: US President Joe Biden discussed with European allies the Russian military buildup near Ukrain and underscored the collective support for the country’s sovereignty, the White House said in a readout of the call.

“The leaders discussed their shared concern about the Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders and Russia’s increasingly harsh rhetoric. They called on Russia to de-escalate tensions and agreed that diplomacy, especially through the Normandy Format, is the only way forward to resolve the conflict in Donbas through the implementation of the Minsk Agreements,” the White House said in the readout on Monday.
Participants in the call included French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the White House said.

The parties called on Russia to de-escalate tensions and agreed that diplomacy is the only way to resolve conflict in Donbas through the Minsk Agreements, the White House added. Russia has said it reserves the right to move troops on its territory as it sees fit.

Xi warns Biden, says US ‘playing with fire’ on Taiwan issue

Beijing [China]/Washington [US]: The highly anticipated meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday saw the two leaders locking horn on the issue of Taiwan, in a summit that saw a discussion on strategic and overarching importance and topics of mutual interest.

Both leaders held an “in-depth and constructive” meeting for over three hours and exchanged views on bilateral relations on issues of fundamental importance shaping the development of China-US relations.
Xi said that China will be compelled to take resolute measures, should the separatist forces for “Taiwan independence” “provoke us, force our hands or even cross the red line.”

Chinese President noted the new wave of tensions across the Taiwan Strait, and ascribed the tensions to attempts by the Taiwan authorities to look for US support for their independence agenda as well as the intention of some Americans to use the issue to contain China, Xinhua news agency reported. “Such moves are extremely dangerous, just like playing with fire,” Xi said. “Whoever plays with fire will get burnt.”

For the two countries to get along in the new era, three principles must be followed, Xi emphasised.

“First, mutual respect. The two countries need to respect each other’s social systems and development paths, core interests & major concerns, and respect each other’s right to development. Second, peaceful coexistence. No conflict and no confrontation is a line that both sides must hold. Third, win-win cooperation. The world is big enough for the two countries to develop individually and collectively,” he said.

Underscoring his country’s commitment to the “one China” policy, Biden strongly opposed unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Reiterating the importance of freedom of navigation, Biden stressed that the US will continue to stand up for its interests and values to ensure the rules of the road for the 21st century advance an international system that is free, open, and fair.

“On Taiwan, President Biden underscored that the United States remains committed to the ‘one China’ policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances, and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the White House said in a statement.

This meeting was held amid deteriorating relations between Beijing and Washington on several issues including human rights, trade and the growing arms race. Recently, Beijing has increased its military incursions in Taiwan and continues to claim sovereignty over the democratic island.

During the meeting, Biden raised concerns about China’s practices in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong. Biden also discussed the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific and communicated the continued determination of the US to uphold its commitments in the region.

In particular, the two leaders discussed the existential nature of the climate crisis to the world and the important role that the United States and China play. “They also discussed the importance of taking measures to address global energy supplies.

Both leaders also discussed the ongoing situation in Afghanistan and the Iranian nuclear program.

“The two leaders also exchanged views on key regional challenges, including DPRK (North Korea), Afghanistan, and Iran. Finally, they discussed ways for the two sides to continue discussions on a number of areas, with President Biden underscoring the importance of substantive and concrete conversations,” the White House said. (ANI)

US court temporarily halts Biden’s vaccine mandate for companies

Washington [US] : A US federal appeals court has ruled to temporarily halt a mandate by President Joe Biden’s administration that required employees of large companies to get vaccinated or undergo frequent testing.
According to the mandate, employees of companies with a workforce of 100 or more must be fully vaccinated by Jan 4. Unvaccinated employees must submit weekly negative COVID-19 tests to enter the workplace after the deadline, and have to wear masks indoors at their workplaces starting December 5. Issued by three judges from the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit who were appointed by Republican presidents, the order reasoned that “there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate” and suspended the mandate “pending further action by this court.”
The court order came after a joint petition against the mandate from several Republican-led states as well as several private companies.
In response to the petition, the Labor Department’s top lawyer, Seema Nanda, said Friday that the department was “confident in its legal authority” to issue the mandate, which will be enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
OSHA has the authority “to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds that workers are subjected to a grave danger and a new standard is necessary to protect them,” she said, adding the administration was “fully prepared to defend this standard in court.”

Top Biden administration official and US lawmakers celebrate Diwali

Washington [US] : Top official of the White House and influential US lawmakers together with members of the Indian diaspora gathered for the Diwali celebration on Capitol Hill. The annual reception was hosted by Indiaspora that also honoured some of the top Indian Americans in the Biden administration including Vice Admiral Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Neera Tanden, Senior Advisor and Staff Secretary to President Joe Biden.
“Diwali is about light overcoming darkness, and there has been a lot of darkness in the last year and a half. To be able to celebrate Diwali, to talk about the meaning, to talk about the light in oneself and the light in others in these tough times, means a lot and I’m grateful to be here,” the Surgeon General told ANI.
“But one of the things that concerns me most about the last few years is another type of pandemic, the invisible pandemic that we are in the midst of. That’s a pandemic of polarisation where it feels increasingly people have turned against each other, where they have demonised one another, called each other evil and treated each other as so. That’s a particular kind of darkness,” he said.
The program included the traditional Diwali ‘Diya’ lighting and remarks from several elected and appointed leaders in federal government and lawmakers. Congressman Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Congressman Ro Khanna and Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi also addressed the gathering and greeted the community.
“As an Indian American to see the Diwali celebrations getting bigger at the Hill, is not just about Indian Americans but also members of the Congress both Republicans and Democrats. Diwali is about coming together and enlightenment, that’s something to remember, ” Congressman Bera told ANI.
The event also witnessed an interfaith prayer service that was attended by members of the Congress. Congressman James Clyburn, Steve Chabot, Congresswoman Judy Chu and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney praised the contribution of Indian Americans in the development of the US and stressed the significance of Diwali in a post-Covid-19 world.
“The Congressmen at the gathering are not just Indian Americans, we have African American, Chinese American mainstream American Congressman. It’s historic that such a diverse group of congressmen are supporting us, ” M.R. Rangaswami founder Indiaspora told ANI.
“We are honoured to celebrate Diwali on Capitol Hill and share our traditions with the leaders who have dedicated themselves to serving the public. The Indian diaspora has had a profound impact on American society, and their diverse contributions continue to strengthen our nation,” said Sanjeev Joshipura, Executive Director of Indiaspora.
American actress and singer Mary Millben was also present to celebrate Diwali at Capitol Hill. The singer performed the ‘Om Jai Jagdish Hare’ rendition for the diaspora and community members too crooned the hymn with the singer.
“To see folks come all over the country to celebrate Diwali is so beautiful and meaningful to me. I have a strong relationship with the people of India. It’s a very full-circle moment for me to be with people whom I love and a culture that I love, I am delighted to be here,” Mary said.

Biden administration ends mass arrest operations at worksites hiring illegal immigrants in US

Washington [US]: Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued an order on Tuesday to end mass arrest operations at worksites in the United States suspected of hiring illegal immigrants.

“We will develop a Department-wide approach to worksite enforcement based upon our consideration of the plans and recommendations you present in response to this memorandum. In the interim, the following guidance will govern our worksite enforcement efforts: Cease mass worksite operations,” Mayorkas said in a memorandum.
The DHS will instead focus on cracking down on employers who exploit illegal immigrants, including through substandard wages, imposing unsafe working conditions and facilitating human trafficking, he said.

Mayorkas explained the new strategy will help create a level-playing field for US businesses and citizens put at a disadvantage when employers use illegal immigrants who are paid low wages.

In September, Mayorkas ordered the DHS to prioritize arresting and deporting illegal immigrants considered a risk to national security while protecting undocumented migrants who are considered to be contributing members in US communities.

More than 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States, according to the Department of Homeland Security. (ANI/Sputnik)

On 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks, Biden commemorates victims, calls for unity

Washington [US] September 11 : On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the horrific 9/11 attacks, US President Joe Biden commemorated the lives of 2,977 people who lost their lives on the day twenty years ago.
“To the families of 2,977 people from more than 90 nations killed on September 11, 2001, in New York City, Arlington, Virginia and Shanksville, Pennsylvania and a thousand more who were injured. America commemorates you and your loved ones,” Biden said in a video message posted on the Twitter account of the US President. He also said this tragedy highlights how even at our most vulnerable, unity is our greatest strength.
Biden also lauded forces who risked and gave their lives in and after the attacks.
“We honour the firefighters, police officers, EMTs and construction workers, doctors and nurses, faith leaders, service members, and all of the everybody people who gave their all to rescue, recover and rebuild,” he added.
Earlier, the White House informed that Biden and first lady Jill Biden will travel to New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
On September 11, 2001, the United States faced the deadliest terrorist attack in its history. More than 3,000 people were killed in the terror attacks. In a span of just 102 minutes, both towers of New York’s World Trade Center collapsed after planes hijacked by Al Qaeda operatives crashed into them.

horror of 9/11

Smoke billows from one of the towers of the World Trade Center as flames and debris explode from the second tower, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.
A person falls from the north tower of New York’s World Trade Center as another clings to the outside, left, while smoke and fire billow from the building, Tuesday Sept. 11, 2001.
Pedestrians on Pierrepont Place in the Brooklyn borough of New York, watch as smoke billows from the remains of the World Trade Center in New York, Sept. 11, 2001.
Flames and smoke pour from a building at the Pentagon in Washington on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.
People flee the scene near New York’s World Trade Center Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.

Two US Congressmen urge Biden to recognise Amrullah Saleh as legitimate govt of Afghanistan

Kabul/Washington, Aug 28: In a joint statement after talks with Afghanistan’s caretaker President Amrullah Saleh, US Senate Republican Lindsey Graham and Congressman Mike Waltz have called on US President Joe Biden to recognise Saleh and Ahmad Massoud, who is leading the resistance in Panjshir, as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

Waltz, from Florida, in a statement said the Biden administration should recognise that the Afghan constitution is still in force and the Taliban’s seizure of power is illegal.

They also said in the statement that Panjshir in northeastern Afghanistan, which has not been taken over by the Taliban, should be declared a humanitarian zone.

The statement said that Saleh and Massoud chose to stay and fight for the freedom of the Afghan people and oppose extremism.

They also called on the president to designate the Afghan Taliban as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and urge him to publicly support Congressional efforts to stand with “our friends in the Panjshir Valley who will serve as a bulwark against regional terror”.

The statement read:

“On Friday, U.S. Congressman Mike Waltz (FL-6) and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) released the following joint statement:

“After speaking with Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh and representatives of Ahmad Massoud, we are calling on the Biden Administration to recognize these leaders as the legitimate government representatives of Afghanistan. We ask the Biden Administration to recognize that the Afghan Constitution is still intact, and the Afghan Taliban takeover is illegal.

“These leaders chose to stay and fight for the freedoms of the Afghan people and oppose extremism. They have established a safe haven in the Panjshir Valley for Americans left behind, our allies, and those seeking freedom from Afghan Taliban rule. They will also be on the front lines in the fight against global Islamic Extremism, which will continue to plot attacks against the West in the wake of our withdrawal from the region.

“We call on President Biden to designate the Afghan Taliban as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and we urge him to publicly support Congressional efforts to stand with our friends in the Panjshir Valley who will serve as a bulwark against regional terror.”

Waltz tweeted: “After speaking with Afghan VP Amrullah Saleh & Reps of Ahmad Massoud,

@LindseyGrahamSC & I are calling on Pres. Biden to support a humanitarian safe zone in Afghanistan and Congressional efforts to stand with opposition forces in the Panjshir Valley.”

Separately, Saleh tweeted on the Kabul blasts that killed over 100 people and left scores injured.

“The world must not bow to terrorism. Let’s not allow Kabul airport to be the site for humiliation of humanity & “rules based world order”. Let’s believe in our collective effort and energy. Defeatist psyche puts you under risk more than terrorists. Don’t die psychologically,” he tweeted.

Eliminate safe havens of Taliban along Pak-Afghanistan border: US to Pakistan

Kabul [Afghanistan], August 12 : Islamabad should target safe hideouts of the Taliban along its border with Afghanistan, said US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during his phone call with Army Chief of Staff of Pakistan General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
During a presser on Wednesday, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that secretary Austin believes the safe havens to be the main cause behind insecurity and the ongoing atrocities in Afghanistan, Daily Outlook Afghanistan reported. This comes as Pakistan continues to deny supporting and providing safe havens to the Taliban fighters. The Afghan government has been accusing its neighbor of funding and providing support to the Taliban.
US Defence Secretary earlier this week held a telephonic conversation with Pakistan Army Chief and discussed the ongoing situation in Afghanistan where Taliban and Afghan forces are engaged in violent clashes. Austin and Bajwa discussed mutual goals of security and stability in the region.
“Secretary Austin and General Bajwa discussed the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, regional security and stability, and the bilateral defence relationship more broadly,” the statement read.
With the US drawdown from Afghanistan on the verge of completion, Pakistan’s terrorist groups are extending Taliban full support in recruiting terrorists for the ongoing fighting in the war-torn country to overthrow the current President and the Government of Afghanistan.
The United States is concerned that the Taliban could capture Kabul in 1-3 months, far sooner than the previous intelligence assessment suggested.
A report published by The Washington Post stated that the situation in the country is now worse than it was in June when the US intelligence predicted that Kabul could collapse in 6-12 months after the American troop pullout from Afghanistan.

Writing for the InsideOver, Federico Giuliani said, “The withdrawal of American troops has finally revealed the true essence of the so-called Afghan conflict – this is the Pakistani-Afghan hybrid war that Islamabad is waging against the government and people of Afghanistan.”
Giuliani states that the Pakistan government needs the Taliban to solve a strategic task and replace the Afghan government with politicians controlled by Islamabad.

Trump responds to Biden’s criticism of those who doubt integrity of 2020 election

Trump responds to Biden's criticism of those who doubt integrity of 2020 election

Washington: (UNI) Former US President Donald Trump has responded to the attacks made by his successor, Joe Biden, against those who question the integrity of the 2020 presidential election, once again alleging electoral fraud.

Speaking at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Biden decried the claim made by Trump and his supporters about the election being stolen as a “big lie,” stressing that it had the largest voter turnout in history despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Biden just said 150 people voted in the 2020 Presidential Election (Scam!). On the assumption that he meant 150 million people, and based on the fact that I got 75 million +++, that would mean that Biden got 75 million votes, which is 6 million votes less than what they said they got. So what is that all about? Are they already conceding 6 million votes? ” Trump said in a statement.

Joe Biden: “Today We’re Closer Than Ever To Declaring Our Independence From A Deadly Virus”

Calling a vaccination “the most patriotic thing you can do,” President Joe Biden on Sunday mixed the nation’s birthday party with a celebration of freedom from the worst of the pandemic. He tempered the strides against COVID-19 with a warning that the fight against the virus wasn’t over.

“Today, all across this nation, we can say with confidence: America is coming back together,” Biden declared as he hosted more than 1,000 service members, first responders and other guests for a July Fourth celebration on the South Lawn of the White House.

For Biden, it was a long-awaited opportunity to highlight the success of the vaccination campaign he championed. The event was the largest yet of his presidency, the clearest indication yet that the U.S. had moved into a new phase of virus response. Shifting from a national emergency to a localized crisis of individual responsibility, the nation also moved from vaccinating Americans to promoting global health.

“This year the Fourth of July is a day of special celebration, for we’re emerging from the darkness of a year of pandemic and isolation, a year of pain fear and heartbreaking loss,” the president said before fireworks lit up the sky over the National Mall.

Noting the lockdowns that shuttered businesses, put millions out of work and separated untold numbers of families, Biden said: “Today we’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus. That’s not to say the battle against COVID-19 is over. We’ve got a lot more work to do.”

Biden wanted all Americans to celebrate, too, after enduring 16 months of disruption in the pandemic and more than 605,000 deaths. The White House encouraged gatherings and fireworks displays all around the country to mark — as though ripped from a Hollywood script — the nation’s “independence” from the virus.

And there was much to cheer: Cases and deaths from COVID-19 were at or near record lows since the outbreak began, thanks to the robust U.S. vaccination program. Businesses and restaurants were open, hiring was picking up and travel was getting closer to pre-pandemic levels.

However, Biden’s optimism was measured for good reason. The vaccination goal he had set with great fanfare for July Fourth — 70% of the adult population vaccinated — fell short at 67%, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More concerning to officials was the gap between heavily vaccinated communities where the virus was dying out and lesser-vaccinated ones where a more infectious variant of the virus was already taking hold.

More than 200 Americans still die each day from COVID-19, and tens of millions have chosen not to get the lifesaving vaccines.

“If you’ve had the vaccine, you’re doing great,” said Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, an infectious disease physician at the John Cochran VA Medical Center and St. Louis Board of Health. “If you haven’t had the vaccine, you should be alarmed and that’s just the bottom line, there’s no easy way to cut it.”

Calling a vaccination “the most patriotic thing you can do,” President Joe Biden on Sunday mixed the nation’s birthday party with a celebration of freedom from the worst of the pandemic. He tempered the strides against COVID-19 with a warning that the fight against the virus wasn’t over.

“Today, all across this nation, we can say with confidence: America is coming back together,” Biden declared as he hosted more than 1,000 service members, first responders and other guests for a July Fourth celebration on the South Lawn of the White House.

For Biden it was a long-awaited opportunity to highlight the success of the vaccination campaign he championed. The event was the largest yet of his presidency, the clearest indication yet that the U.S. had moved into a new phase of virus response. Shifting from a national emergency to a localized crisis of individual responsibility, the nation also moved from vaccinating Americans to promoting global health.

“This year the Fourth of July is a day of special celebration, for we’re emerging from the darkness of a year of pandemic and isolation, a year of pain fear and heartbreaking loss,” the president said before fireworks lit up the sky over the National Mall.

Noting the lockdowns that shuttered businesses, put millions out of work and separated untold numbers of families, Biden said: “Today we’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus. That’s not to say the battle against COVID-19 is over. We’ve got a lot more work to do.”

Biden wanted all Americans to celebrate, too, after enduring 16 months of disruption in the pandemic and more than 605,000 deaths. The White House encouraged gatherings and fireworks displays all around the country to mark — as though ripped from a Hollywood script — the nation’s “independence” from the virus.

And there was much to cheer: Cases and deaths from COVID-19 were at or near record lows since the outbreak began, thanks to the robust U.S. vaccination program. Businesses and restaurants were open, hiring was picking up and travel was getting closer to pre-pandemic levels.

However, Biden’s optimism was measured for good reason. The vaccination goal he had set with great fanfare for July Fourth — 70% of the adult population vaccinated — fell short at 67%, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More concerning to officials was the gap between heavily vaccinated communities where the virus was dying out and lesser-vaccinated ones where a more infectious variant of the virus was already taking hold.

More than 200 Americans still die each day from COVID-19, and tens of millions have chosen not to get the lifesaving vaccines.

“If you’ve had the vaccine, you’re doing great,” said Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, an infectious disease physician at the John Cochran VA Medical Center and St. Louis Board of Health. “If you haven’t had the vaccine, you should be alarmed and that’s just the bottom line, there’s no easy way to cut it.”

“But that doesn’t take away from the fact that this country is in a significantly better place,” she said.

Still, about 1,000 counties have a vaccination rate below 30%, and the federal government is warning that they could become the next hot spots as virus restrictions ease.

The administration was sending “surge” teams to Colorado and Missouri. Additional squads of infectious disease experts, public health professionals and doctors and nurses were getting ready to assist in additional locations with a combination of low vaccination rates and rising cases.

Overall, the vastly improved American landscape stood in stark contrast with much of the rest of the world, where there remained vast vaccine deserts and wide community spread that could open the door to even more dangerous variants. The Biden administration was increasingly turning the federal response to the complicated logistics of sending excess U.S. vaccines abroad in an effort to assist other nations in beating back the pandemic.

With U.S. demand for vaccines falling even as they have been widely available for months, and as governments and businesses dangled an array of incentives at Americans to get a shot, officials were increasingly emphasizing that the consequences of disease now largely reflect the individual choices of those who are not yet vaccinated.

“The suffering and loss we are now seeing is nearly entirely avoidable,” said the CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

When asked about the potential risks of holding gatherings around July Fourth in areas where there are large pockets of unvaccinated individuals, White House press secretary Jen Psaki had countered that “if individuals are vaccinated in those areas, then they are protected.”

The cookout and fireworks viewing at the South Lawn was “being done in the right way,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said in television interviews, and “consistent” with CDC guidelines. The White House was not requiring vaccinations but was asking guests to get a COVID-19 test and to wear a mask if they are not fully vaccinated.

“For as much work there still is to do, it’s so important to celebrate the victories,” Davis said. “I’m OK with us having those pockets of joy and celebration as long as we still wake up the next day and continue to go to work and prioritize equity in vaccine distribution.”

Joe Biden: US Troops Not To Leave Afghanistan In Next Few Days

US President Joe Biden said on Friday that the drawdown in Afghanistan is “on track”, but troops will not leave the country in the next few days.

When asked by reporters at the White House whether the US will complete withdrawal in the next few days, Biden replied, “No, we’re on track exactly as to where we expect it to be.”

“I wanted to make sure there was enough running room that we…wouldn’t be able to do it all till

“There’ll still be some forces left, but it’s a rational drawdown with our allies… there is nothing unusual about it.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki later told reporters during a daily briefing that the withdrawal is expected to be completed by the end of August.

Biden in April ordered all US troops to leave Afghanistan before September 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that drew the US into its longest war.

Security situation in the war-torn country has deteriorated as Taliban militants continue heavy fighting against government forces and gain ground since the drawdown of US troops on May 1.

The Taliban advances have prompted the US intelligence community to conclude that the government of Afghanistan could collapse as soon as six months after the complete withdrawal of the US military from the country, according to a report of The Wall Street Journal.

“I think they have the capacity to be able to sustain the government,” Biden said on Friday. “But I am concerned that they deal with the internal issues that they have to be able to generate the kind of support they need nationwide to maintain the government.”

He also noted that the Afghan military needs to depend on its own capabilities to ensure the security of the capital Kabul.

Biden’s words came as US troops had left a major military base in Afghanistan. A spokesperson for the Afghan Defense Ministry confirmed earlier in the day that all US and NATO forces in Afghanistan had evacuated the Bagram Airfield near Kabul, handing over the largest coalition base to Afghan government troops.

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