US ‘on track’ to meet Biden’s goal of 100m shots in 100 days
President Joe Biden will deliver a major speech from the State Department on Thursday, and outline the United States’s commitment to allies and international relations, among other items.
The speech, which will put a break on his predecessor’s haphazard approach to foreign diplomacy, comes amid discussion of plans to send face masks to all American homes – a plan that was allegedly scrapped by the Trump administration.
Mr Biden also appears unwilling to give in to pressure from Republicans on his $1.9trn Covid relief plan and is prepared to ditch bipartisanship to pass the economic package quickly.
According to CNN, Mr Biden told House Democrats: “I’m not going to start my administration by breaking a promise to the American people.”
It seems the US president, however, is open to negotiating on who exactly will receives the stimulus checks, but is stressing the need for speed.
This comes as the president is expected to announce a decision to open US doors to thousands of refugees, many more than were allowed in by the Trump administration.
Mr Biden previously pledged to increase the number of refugees being allowed entry into the US to 125,000 a year, compared to the low of 15,000 set by the Trump administration.
In other news, Mr Biden has agreed to work together with South Korea to achieve denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula.
The US president has also received an invitation from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to visit Australia in September.
Hunter Biden’s memoir ‘Beautiful Things’ to come out in April
President Joe Biden’s son, who has often been a target for conservatives, has a memoir due out 6 April.
The book, “Beautiful Things” will explore 51-year-old Hunter Biden’s struggles with substance abuse. This is according to Gallery Books, an imprint of publisher Simon & Schuster.
The US President’s son was previously mocked by Donald Trump about substance abuse problems, in a live presidential debate.
Mr Biden responded to this saying: “My son, like a lot of people, like a lot of people you know at home, had a drug problem,”
He went on to add: “[My son] has overtaken it. He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it, and I’m proud of him. I’m proud of my son.”
Eleanor Sly4 February 2021 15:04
‘Tough months ahead’ for US economy warns Treasury secretary
In an interview Thursday with ABC’s Good Morning America, US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen urged congress to “act forcefully” on Covid relief plan.
In her first television interview since being appointed, Ms Yellen warned of “tough months” to come and said the economic crisis was “as serious as any [she has] seen in [her] lifetime”.
The Treasury secretary went on to add: “There are people worrying about whether they will have a roof over their heads and [Biden] will address that urgent need.”
Eleanor Sly4 February 2021 14:34
US sees first-time unemployment claims fall for third week
A total of 779,000 people in the United States filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week.
This marks the third week in a row that numbers have fallen and is lower than economists predicted.
That said, this is still a historically-high total and illustrates how people continue to lose jobs in the pandemic.
Eleanor Sly4 February 2021 14:13
US President shows support of US diplomats in State Department visit
Joe Biden will make a visit to the State Department on Thursday to thank diplomats and present his ideas on foreign policy.
This is the president’s first Cabinet agency trip, which CNN reported would underline the Biden administration’s focus on improving diplomatic relations.
Officials disclosed that the speech would centre around the theme of “restoring America’s place in the world,” which was central to Mr Biden’s initial election campaign.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the speech would be aimed at thanking those working in the department who “have had a challenging couple of years.”
Ms Psaki disclosed that Biden is expected to “talk broadly about foreign policy.” She added: “This will not be a laydown of his vision for every issue in every foreign policy issue.”
The speech is expected to take place at 2:45pm ET (7:45pm GMT).
Eleanor Sly4 February 2021 13:54
Biden administration could send masks to all Americans
The White House is considering sending cloth masks directly to all households in the US, NBC News has reported.
The Trump administration looked into the scheme earlier in the pandemic, but it was scrapped with the government opting instead to send them to nonprofit organisations, as well as state agencies. This was according to an internal email from a senior administration official at the time.
The Covid-19 Response Team is now looking into the logistics of sending millions of masks across the country.
According to NBC News, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “There are a range of options on the table to help protect more Americans from the coronavirus and encourage people to mask up, but no decision has been made.”
A White House official stated that the proposal is yet to reach President Joe Biden for final approval.
Eleanor Sly4 February 2021 13:32
Poll says Biden approval rating at 49 per cent
The US president’s approval rating stands at 49 per cent, according to the latest poll carried out by Quinnipiac University.
The survey, released on Wednesday, means almost a half of all Americans approve of Mr Biden’s performance so far, having been sworn-in as president on 20 January.
While another 36 per cent said they disapproved of president Biden, some 16 per cent told Quinnipiac University pollsters they had no opinion on the matter.
Unsurprisingly, partisanship was high, with 89 per cent of Democrat respondents approving, and only 11 per cent of Republicans saying the same.
A poll carried out by Quinnipiac at a similar time of Donald Trump, showed the former president with a 42 per cent approval rating and 51 per cent disapproval, according to the Hill.
Gino Spocchia4 February 2021 13:04
United States ‘deeply disturbed’ by abuse of Uighur Muslims
On Wednesday, the US joined other nations in expressing concerns surrounding the abuse of Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region, where they are kept.
“We are deeply disturbed by reports, including first-hand testimony, of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang,” said a US state department spokesperson.
The remarks by US followed a BBC report that said rape, sexual abuse and torture was rampant in Xinjiang camps which China claims are vocational training centres.
Mayank Aggarwal has more:
Australia has also expressed concerns and demanded an independent investigation
Eleanor Sly4 February 2021 12:44
Biden taken to walking around White House
The US president has taken to strolling through the corridors of the White House since his inauguration, with in-person visits to multiple offices and departments in recent days – and as much as Covid pandemic restrictions permit.
As Politico reports, Mr Biden’s approach to running the White House marks a stark change to that under his predecessor, Donald Trump, whose time was largely spent on Twitter.
“Think about how hard this year has been for someone who loves engaging with people,” said Sen. Chris Coons, a longtime Biden associate. “He loves to be able to read their expressions, their responses, their intonation.”
In addition to more face-to-face meetings with White House staff, Mr Biden was described as having a schedule of calls and meetings carefully planned for him, Politico reported – again unlike his predecessor.
Terry Sullivan, the executive director of the White House Transition Project, said things were returning to “normal” and that, “If you’re Biden, you’re asking yourself ‘do I really want to spend time trying to line up meetings or do I want to lead on legislation and national security?’ The answer to that is pretty obvious.”
Gino Spocchia4 February 2021 12:24
Annual National Prayer Breakfast could give Biden fresh chance to call for unity
Thursday morning marks Joe Biden’s first National Prayer Breakfast as president of the United States.
The breakfast is a yearly event held in Washington DC and encourages politicians from opposition parties to set aside their differences for a morning.
Since 1953, every US president has addressed the breakfast and it is thought that Mr Biden will do the same. However, some liberals view the event with caution due to the conservative faith-based group that is responsible for it.
US Senator Chris Coons told reporters it is: “an inclusive and positive event” that “recognises the teachings of Jesus, but is not limited to Christianity.”
In spite of this, last year the event sparked controversy when former president Donald Trump used the occasion to attack political opponents and question their faith.
Eleanor Sly4 February 2021 11:53
The US sends warship through Taiwan Strait for the first time under Biden
The US Navy has sent a guided-missile destroyer through the Taiwan Strait, a waterway that separates China and Taiwan. This is the first time that a warship has passed through the Strait since Mr Biden became US president.
Taiwanese independence from Beijing has been a longstanding issue for the US. The Trump administration showed commitment to its defence and it appears this is just as important to Mr Biden.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his confirmation hearing last week: “There’s been a strong and long bipartisan commitment to Taiwan,” “Part of that commitment is making sure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself against aggression. And that is a commitment that will absolutely endure in a Biden administration.”
Beijing currently claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, in spite of the fact the two have been governed separately for over 70 years.
Lieutenant Joe Keiley, a spokesperson for the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, said in a statement: “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”
Eleanor Sly4 February 2021 11:20