In Brief: April 25, 2021

Biden recognizes atrocities against Armenians as genocide

WILMINGTON, Del. — The systematic killing and deportation of more than a million Armenians by Ottoman Empire forces in the early 20th century was “genocide,” the United States formally declared on Saturday, as President Joe Biden used that precise word after the White House had avoided it for decades for fear of alienating ally Turkey.

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Turkey reacted with furor, with the foreign minister saying his country “will not be given lessons on our history from anyone.” A grateful Armenia said it appreciated Biden’s “principled position” as a step toward “the restoration of truth and historical justice.”

Biden was following through on a campaign promise he made a year ago Saturday — the annual commemoration of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day — to recognize that the events that began in 1915 were a deliberate effort to wipe out Armenians.

While previous presidents have offered somber reflections of the dark moment in history, they have studiously avoided using the term genocide out of concern that it would complicate relations with Turkey, a NATO ally and important power in the Middle East.

But Biden campaigned on a promise to make human rights a central guidepost of his foreign policy. He argued last year that failing to call the atrocities against the Armenian people a genocide would pave the way for future mass atrocities. An estimated 2 million Armenians were deported — 1.5 million of whom were killed in the events known as Metz Yeghern.

ASEAN leaders tell Myanmar coup general to end killings

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Southeast Asian leaders demanded an immediate end to killings and the release of political detainees in Myanmar in an emergency summit Saturday with its top general and coup leader, Indonesia’s president said.

The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations also told Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing during the two-hour talks in Jakarta that a dialogue between contending parties in Myanmar should immediately start, with the help of ASEAN envoys, President Joko Widodo said.

“The situation in Myanmar is unacceptable and should not continue. Violence must be stopped, democracy, stability and peace in Myanmar must be returned immediately,” Widodo said during the meeting. “The interests of the people of Myanmar must always be the priority.”

Daily shootings by police and soldiers since the Feb. 1 coup have killed more than 700 mostly peaceful protesters and bystanders, according to several independent tallies.

The messages conveyed to Min Aung Hlaing were unusually blunt and could be seen as a breach of the conservative 10-nation bloc’s bedrock principle forbidding member states from interfering in each other’s domestic affairs. But Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that policy should not lead to inaction if a domestic situation “jeopardizes the peace, security, and stability of ASEAN and the wider region” and there is international clamor for resolute action.

The big Pentagon internet mystery now partially solved

BOSTON — A very strange thing happened on the internet the day President Joe Biden was sworn in. A shadowy company residing at a shared workspace above a Florida bank announced to the world’s computer networks that it was now managing a colossal, previously idle chunk of the internet owned by the U.S. Department of Defense.

That real estate has since more than quadrupled to 175 million addresses — about 1/25th the size of the current internet.

“It is massive. That is the biggest thing in the history of the internet,” said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at Kentik, a network operating company. It’s also more than twice the size of the internet space actually used by the Pentagon.

After weeks of wonder by the networking community, the Pentagon has now provided a very terse explanation for what it’s doing. But it has not answered many basic questions, beginning with why it chose to entrust management of the address space to a company that seems not to have existed until September.

The military hopes to “assess, evaluate and prevent unauthorized use of DoD IP address space,” said a statement issued Friday by Brett Goldstein, chief of the Pentagon’s Defense Digital Service, which is running the project. It also hopes to “identify potential vulnerabilities” as part of efforts to defend against cyber-intrusions by global adversaries.

From wire sources

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From scarcity to abundance: US faces calls to share vaccines

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Victor Guevara knows people his age have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in many countries. His own relatives in Houston have been inoculated.

But the 72-year-old Honduran lawyer, like so many others in his country, is still waiting. And increasingly, he is wondering why the United States is not doing more to help, particularly as the American vaccine supply begins to outpace demand and doses that have been approved for use elsewhere in the world, but not in the U.S., sit idle.

“We live in a state of defenselessness on every level,” Guevara said of the situation in his Central American homeland.

Honduras has obtained a paltry 59,000 vaccine doses for its 10 million people. Similar gaps in vaccine access are found across Africa, where just 36 million doses have been acquired for the continent’s 1.3 billion people, as well as in parts of Asia.

In the United States, more than one-fourth of the population — nearly 90 million people — has been fully vaccinated and supplies are so robust that some states are turning down planned shipments from the federal government.

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Democrat Troy Carter wins New Orleans-based US House seat

BATON ROUGE, La. — Democrat Troy Carter won Saturday’s special election for Louisiana’s vacant U.S. House seat, defeating his state Senate colleague and ending an acrimonious, intraparty clash.

Carter easily defeated Karen Carter Peterson in the race for Louisiana’s only Democrat-held seat in Congress, handing a victory to the more moderate side of the party after Peterson planted herself firmly in the progressive camp.

The pair of state senators had only modest policy differences to distinguish them, and the race centered mainly on personality. Carter had the backing, however, of the seat’s predecessor, Cedric Richmond.

The 2nd District seat — representing a majority-Black district centered in New Orleans and extending up the Mississippi River into Baton Rouge — was open because Richmond left the position shortly after he won last year’s election to work as a special adviser to President Joe Biden. Richmond endorsed Carter, a former New Orleans City Council member, in the race.

Peterson, the former chair of Louisiana’s Democratic Party, would have been the state’s first Black woman elected to Congress if she had been elected.

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1 verdict, then 6 police killings across America in 24 hours

Even as the Derek Chauvin case was fresh in memory — the reading of the verdict in a Minneapolis courtroom, the shackling of the former police officer, the jubilation at what many saw as justice in the death of George Floyd — even then, blood flowed on America’s streets.

And even then, some of that blood was shed at the hands of law enforcement.

At least six people were fatally shot by officers across the United States in the 24 hours after jurors reached a verdict in the murder case against Chauvin on Tuesday. The roll call of the dead is distressing:

A 16-year-old girl in Columbus, Ohio.

An oft-arrested man in Escondido, California.

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DMX immortalized by family and close friends at memorial

NEW YORK — DMX’s legacy was immortalized as a man beloved by his family, honored for his strong faith and respected as one of hip-hop’s greatest icons at his memorial service Saturday, with several heartfelt speeches from those who knew the rapper best.

The speakers included friends Swizz Beatz and Nas, as well as his daughter, who rapped in honor of her father.

Kanye West and Busta Rhymes were among the big names who attended the two-hour ceremony at the Barclays Center in New York. The service at the Brooklyn arena was closed to the public and restricted to close friends and family because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a touching moment, DMX’s 15 children gathered on stage to talk — and sometimes rap — about the star as a father who taught them such lessons as “always say thank you,” “be kind to everyone” and that being afraid can sometimes show a person how to be brave. Relatives emphasized his love of Jesus and his drive to make his fans happy, giving audiences the best show he could every time.

West’s Sunday Service Choir kicked off the ceremony with a gospel performance. The hoodie sweatshirt-wearing ensemble performed a few songs, including their arrangement of “Excellent” and Soul II Soul’s “Keep On Movin’.” The choir took the stage during other moments of the ceremony, performing “Ultralight Beam” and Whitney Houston’s assisted vocals on the hymn “Jesus Loves Me.”

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With OK from experts, some states resume use of J&J vaccine

NEW YORK — With a green light from federal health officials, many states resumed use of the one-shot Johnson &Johnson coronavirus vaccine on Saturday. Among the venues where it was being deployed: the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Among the other states ordering or recommending a resumption, along with Indiana, were Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Those moves came swiftly after U.S. health officials said Friday evening that they were lifting an 11-day pause on vaccinations using the J&J vaccine. During the pause, scientific advisers decided the vaccine’s benefits outweigh a rare risk of blood clot.

“The state of New York will resume administration of this vaccine at all of our state-run sites effective immediately,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Saturday morning.

“The vaccine is the weapon that will win the war against COVID and allow everyone to resume normalcy, and we have three proven vaccines at our disposal,” Cuomo said, urging New York residents to take whichever one is available to them first.

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Chocolate chip diplomacy: Biden courts Congress with gusto

WASHINGTON — The pictures always make it look so presidential: Joe Biden sitting in a tall-back chair, surrounded by the arrayed members of Congress invited for a meeting at the White House.

But inside the Oval Office, lawmakers tell a different story, of a president so warm, so engaged, so animated — standing up, sitting down, calling on lawmakers by name, swapping stories about their hometowns — and so determined to make them get to work and get things done.

On their way out the door, they are offered a chocolate chip cookie, that most American of snacks, a to-go boost for the potential partnership between this White House and the Congress.

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“It was the day that you will remember, not so much because you were in the Oval Office, but because of the attention the president gave to us — the personal attention, the commitment, the authenticity and the seriousness of caring about people, and especially people who have been marginalized,” said Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“Very presidential with a personal flair,” she said.

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