In Brief: September 25, 2021

  • FILE - In this Thursday, July 15, 2021, file photo, Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell testifies before a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing to examine the Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Powell signaled Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, that the Fed plans to announce as early as November that it will start withdrawing the extraordinary support it unleashed after the coronavirus paralyzed the economy 18 months earlier. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

All migrants are gone from Texas border camp

DEL RIO, Texas — No migrants remained Friday at the Texas border encampment where almost 15,000 people — most of them Haitians — had converged just days earlier seeking asylum, local and federal officials said.

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It’s a dramatic change from last Saturday, when the number peaked as migrants driven by confusion over the Biden administration’s policies and misinformation on social media converged at the border crossing connecting Del Rio, Texas, and Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.

At a news conference, Del Rio Mayor Buno Lozano called it “phenomenal news.”

Many face expulsion because they are not covered by protections recently extended by the Biden administration to the more than 100,000 Haitian migrants already in the U.S., citing security concerns and social unrest in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. The devastating 2010 earthquake forced many of them from their homeland.

The United States and Mexico appeared eager to end the increasingly politicized humanitarian situation that prompted the resignation of the U.S. special envoy to Haiti and widespread outrage after images emerged of border agents maneuvering their horses to forcibly block and move migrants.

Biden: Budget talks hit ‘stalemate,’ $3.5T may take a while

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Friday that talks over his $3.5 trillion rebuilding plan have hit a “stalemate” in Congress as he made the case for his expansive effort to recast the nation’s tax and spending programs and make what he sees as sweeping, overdue investments.

Biden spoke at the White House as Democrats in the House and Senate are laboring to finish drafts and overcome differences between the party’s centrist and moderate factions. Despite efforts by the president and congressional leaders to show progress, Biden cast the road ahead as long and potentially cumbersome, even with upcoming deadlines.

“We’re getting down to the hard spot here,” Biden told reporters at the White House. “We’re at this stalemate at the moment.”

Biden said the process is “going to be up and down” but “hopefully at the end of the day I’ll be able to deliver on what I said I would do.”

The president’s acknowledgment of Democrats’ disagreements — and they have serious differences over taxes, health, climate change and the ultimate price tag — contrasted with congressional leaders’ more upbeat tone in recent days. Using carefully chosen words, top Democrats have seemed to be trying to create a sense of momentum as House votes approach.

Oregon school board ban on anti-racist, LGBT signs draws ire

NEWBERG, Ore. — An Oregon school board has banned educators from displaying Black Lives Matter and gay pride symbols, prompting a torrent of recriminations and threats to boycott the town and its businesses.

Newberg, a town of 25,000 residents situated 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Portland in gorgeous wine country, has become an unlikely focal point of a battle between the left and right across the nation over schooling.

The City Council has condemned the action by the Newberg School Board. So did members of color of the Oregon Legislature and House and Senate Democrats. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon is threatening to sue. The Oregon State Board of Education called on the school board to reverse course, saying student identities should be welcomed and affirmed.

But the four conservative members of the seven-member board are digging in their heels. Member Brian Shannon, who proposed the ban, said lawmakers from Portland should keep out of the school district’s business and instead focus on Portland, where homelessness is an issue.

Opponents say the board has emboldened racists. On Sept. 17, a special education staffer at a Newberg elementary school showed up for work in blackface, saying she was portraying anti-segregation icon Rosa Parks in order to protest a statewide vaccine mandate for educators. She was immediately placed on administrative leave.

Imran Khan paints Pakistan as victim of US ungratefulness

NEW YORK — Prime Minister Imran Khan sought to cast Pakistan as the victim of American ungratefulness and an international double standard in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday.

In a prerecorded speech aired during the evening, the Pakistani prime minister touched on a range of topics that included climate change, global Islamophobia and “the plunder of the developing world by their corrupt elites” — the latter of which he likened to what the East India Company did to India.

It was for India’s government that Khan reserved his harshest words, once again labeling Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government “fascist.” But the cricketer turned posh international celebrity turned politician was in turn indignant and plaintive as he painted the United States as an abandoner of both Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

“For the current situation in Afghanistan, for some reason, Pakistan has been blamed for the turn of events, by politicians in the United States and some politicians in Europe,” Khan said. “From this platform, I want them all to know, the country that suffered the most, apart from Afghanistan, was Pakistan when we joined the U.S. war on terror after 9/11.”

He launched into a narrative that began with the United States and Pakistan training mujahedeen — regarded as heroes by the likes of then-President Ronald Reagan, he said — during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. But Pakistan was left to pick up the pieces — millions of refugees and new sectarian militant groups — when the Soviets and the Americans left in 1989.

From wire sources

COVID at the UN: One topic, used to make many points

For the United States, COVID-19 was about leadership and “a dose of hope.” For Iran, it was about the inhumanity of sanctions. Tiny Palau, largely virus-free, used its precious speech minutes to praise Taiwan for its support during the pandemic — and, not incidentally, to urge the United Nations to re-admit the island as a member state.

Unsurprisingly, the coronavirus pandemic was THE talking point at the United Nations General Assembly this week — serving as projection, promotional tool and proxy for other pressing issues put forward by world leaders in their signature annual addresses.

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Through the lenses of vaccine inequality, economic disaster, scientific misinformation and social isolation, just about every president, king, foreign minister and head of state talked about the pandemic as a sweeping global catastrophe. Yet each made it into a distinctive political message that said as much about a nation and its leader as it did about the virus itself.

As the world at large has done for many months now, leaders struggled to connect the pandemic with the ways they wish to govern — and with the threats that face their attempts to do so.

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