Tuesday, Aug. 09, 2022 |
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Biden: US will protect Haiti embassy, won’t send troops
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Thursday that the U.S. will bolster security at its embassy in Haiti following last week’s assassination of that country’s president, but sending American troops to stabilize the country was “not on the agenda.”
Haiti’s interim government last week asked the U.S. and the United Nations to deploy troops to protect key infrastructure following President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination. Biden signaled he was not open to the request, which comes as he is drawing down U.S. forces in Afghanistan this summer.
“We’re only sending American Marines to our embassy,” Biden said. “The idea of sending American forces to Haiti is not on the agenda,” he added.
Mathias Pierre, Haiti’s elections minister, told The Associated Press Thursday that he believes the request for U.S. troops is relevant given what he called a “fragile situation” and the need to create a secure environment for elections scheduled to happen in 120 days.
He also said Biden’s comment that sending U.S. troops was “not on the agenda” still leaves the option open.
Pacific Rim leaders discuss economic way out of pandemic
CANBERRA, Australia — U.S. President Joe Biden, his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Russian President Vladimir Putin are among Pacific Rim leaders gathering virtually to discuss strategies to help economies rebound from a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will chair the special leaders’ meeting Friday of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
But the pandemic and vaccine diplomacy have proved to be divisive issues among members of a forum that says its primary goal is to support sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.
Biden spoke by phone with Ardern on Friday ahead of the leaders’ retreat and discussed U.S. interest in maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region, a White House statement said.
“They also discussed our cooperation on and engagement with Pacific Island nations,” the statement said.
Cuomo to be questioned in sexual harassment investigation
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to be interviewed Saturday as the state attorney general’s office winds down its investigation into sexual harassment and misconduct allegations that upended his national reputation and threatened his hold on power as he gears up to run for a fourth term next year.
The timing of the interview in Albany, the state’s capital, was confirmed Thursday to The Associated Press by two people familiar with the investigation. They were not authorized to speak publicly about the case and did so on condition of anonymity.
Investigators were always expected to speak with Cuomo, who said at the start of the probe in March that he would “fully cooperate.” Cuomo is also facing an impeachment inquiry in the state assembly.
Saturday’s interview signals that investigators are nearly done with their work, which has included interviews with the governor’s accusers, though they may need some time to tie up loose ends before a report is issued.
Several women have accused Cuomo, a Democrat, of unwanted kisses, touches and groping and inappropriate sexual remarks.
Child tax credit starts hitting US families’ bank accounts
WASHINGTON — The child tax credit had always been an empty gesture to millions of parents like Tamika Daniel.
That changed Thursday when the first payment of $1,000 hit Daniel’s bank account — and dollars started flowing to the pockets of more than 35 million families around the country. Daniel, a 35-year-old mother of four, didn’t even know the tax credit existed until President Joe Biden expanded it for one year as part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that passed in March.
Previously, only people who earned enough money to owe income taxes could qualify for the credit. Daniel went nearly a decade without a job because her eldest son is autistic and needed her. So she got by on Social Security payments. And she had to live at Fairfield Court, a public housing project that dead-ends at Interstate 64 as the highway cuts through the Virginia capital of Richmond.
But the extra $1,000 a month for the next year could be a life-changer for Daniel, who now works as a community organizer for a Richmond nonprofit. It will help provide a security deposit on a new apartment.
“It’s actually coming right on time,” she said. “We have a lot going on. This definitely helps to take a load off.”
Biden bids Merkel farewell: Friends — with disagreements
WASHINGTON — Welcoming Angela Merkel to the White House for a final time, President Joe Biden renewed his concerns to the German chancellor Thursday about a major, nearly complete Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline but said they agreed Russia must not be allowed to use energy as a weapon.
The two discussed — though made no apparent headway — on differences over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline during a largely friendly farewell visit for Merkel as she nears the end of a political career that has spanned four American presidencies.
“On a personal note, I must tell you I will miss seeing you at our summits,” Biden said as he stood by Merkel, the second-longest serving chancellor in Germany’s history, at a late afternoon White House press conference. “I truly will.”
Merkel, who had a famously difficult relationship with former President Donald Trump, showed her ease and familiarity with Biden, who has long been a fixture in international politics, repeatedly referring to him as “Dear Joe.”
Asked to compare her relationship with Biden to hers with Trump, Merkel remained diplomatic, saying only that it was in any German chancellor’s interest to “work with every American president.” She added with a smile, “Today was a very friendly exchange.”
Top Senate Dem sets infrastructure vote, pressures lawmakers
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pressured lawmakers Thursday to reach agreement by next week on a pair of massive domestic spending measures, signaling Democrats’ desire to push ahead aggressively on President Joe Biden’s multitrillion-dollar agenda.
From wire sources
Schumer, D-N.Y., said he was scheduling a procedural vote for next Wednesday to begin debate on a still-evolving bipartisan infrastructure bill. Senators from both parties, bargaining for weeks, have struggled to reach final agreement on a $1 trillion package of highway, water systems and other public works projects.
Schumer said he also wanted Democratic senators to reach agreement among themselves by then on specific details of a separate 10-year budget blueprint that envisions $3.5 trillion in spending for climate change, education, an expansion of Medicare and more.
“The time has come to make progress. And we will. We must,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.
The majority leader’s plans were an attempt to push lawmakers to work out differences so Democrats can advance their plans to fortify the economy for the long term and help lower-earning and middle-class families while imposing higher taxes on wealthy people and large corporations.
The long, ‘surreal’ days of the runaway Texas legislators
WASHINGTON — Sheltered in a downtown D.C. hotel, the Democratic lawmakers who left Texas to block a restrictive voting bill are living a life of stress and scrutiny.
After bolting the state Monday in order to sabotage the bill by denying a quorum in the Texas House of Representatives, the more than 50 state legislators find themselves balancing a punishing schedule of political lobbying, outside work and family obligations, all under a national spotlight.
Many have left young children behind; most have other professional obligations back in Texas. All seem to be operating on minimal sleep.
“It’s surreal,” said Rep. Gene Wu of Houston. “I can’t even describe to you how weird it has been.”
Wu said he realized just how big a story their exodus had become when they arrived via private plane at Dulles airport on Monday. He overheard a group of German tourists talking in the airport about the fugitive Texas legislators.
With virus cases rising, mask mandate back on in Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County will again require masks be worn indoors in the nation’s largest county, even by those vaccinated against the coronavirus, while the University of California system also said Thursday that students, faculty and staff must be inoculated against the disease to return to campuses.
The announcements come amid a sharp increase in virus cases, many of them the highly transmissible delta variant that has proliferated since California fully reopened its economy on June 15 and did away with capacity limits and social distancing. The vast majority of new cases are among unvaccinated people.
The rapid and sustained increase in cases in Los Angeles County requires restoring an indoor mask mandate, said Dr. Muntu Davis, public health officer for the county’s 10 million people. The public health order will go into effect just before midnight Saturday.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment,” Davis said during a virtual news conference.
He didn’t fully detail what would be some exceptions to the mask rule but said, for example, people could still take off their masks while eating and drinking at restaurants.
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