Biden Convenes Over 100 Nations Including Nigeria For ‘Democracy’ Summit

File photo: US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and the rule that will allow the passage of the Build Back Better Act in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, DC on November 6, 2021. ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP

 

President Joe Biden, who took office amid the biggest US political crisis in decades, hosts representatives of more than 100 countries for a democracy summit Thursday that is drawing fire from China and Russia.

The event, held by video link because of the coronavirus pandemic, is billed by the White House as US leadership in an existential struggle between democracies and powerful autocracies or dictatorships.

“Make no mistake, we’re at a moment of democratic reckoning,” said Uzra Zeya, the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

“It’s no secret that democracies around the world are facing increasing challenges from new and novel threats. Countries in virtually every region of the world have experienced degrees of democratic backsliding.”

The summit, running Thursday and Friday, will feature opening remarks from Biden at the White House and is set to gather representatives from some 100 governments, as well as NGOs, private businesses, philanthropical organizations and legislatures.

But the fact that Biden continues to face a shocking challenge to US democratic norms from Donald Trump and his attempt to overturn the 2020 election provides a troubling backdrop for the summit.

READ ALSO: US Senate Blocks Biden Vaccine Mandate

And even before summit attendees could meet, tensions erupted simply over who should be on — and off — the list.

China and Russia, which Biden sees as champions of the autocracies camp, were pointedly left out, something they say is stoking an ideological “rift.”

“No country has the right to judge the world’s vast and varied political landscape by a single yardstick,” wrote ambassadors Anatoly Antonov of Russia and Qin Gang of China in a joint essay last month.

Further prickling Chinese sensibilities, the Biden administration has invited Taiwan — the democratically ruled island that mainland China considers part of its territory, albeit not yet under its control.

On Monday, the Biden administration also announced it would not send US government officials to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February in protest at human rights abuses, including “genocide” against the Uyghur ethnic group in Xinjiang.

Australia, Britain, and Canada have joined the diplomatic boycott, although the countries’ athletes will still compete. Again, Russia joined China in criticizing the decision.

Deciding when other countries should be excluded from the summit for human rights abuses or vote rigging hasn’t been any less fraught.

For example, Pakistan and the Philippines are in, while EU member Hungary’s nationalist government is out. Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro is invited, while the leader of NATO member Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been shunned.

Democracy problem at home 

The most awkward element to the summit, however, is the fact that Biden is struggling to restore faith in democracy at home, let alone on the other side of the world.

Trump refuses to recognize the results of the 2020 election, in which Biden defeated him.

With the help of sympathetic media outlets, including the powerful Fox News, the former Republican president continues to spread lies about fraud to his tens of millions of supporters.

And with shockwaves from the January 6 storming of Congress by Trump supporters still reverberating, there are growing fears over the 2022 legislative elections and the 2024 presidential vote in which Trump may seek a comeback.

Bruce Jentleson, who teaches political science at Duke University, said the summit was “never a good idea.”

“Our problems here are much worse than in any other Western democracy. We had our Capitol building attacked, an attempted coup. We haven’t seen that happen in Paris, or at the Bundestag, or at the EU headquarters in Brussels,” he said.

“If we want to compete, we’ve got to do our best and that is really more up to us within the country than somehow getting 100 leaders together and saying, ‘We like democracy.'”

AFP

US Senate Blocks Biden Vaccine Mandate

File photo of US President Joe Biden. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)

 

The US Senate on Wednesday voted to block President Joe Biden’s vaccine-or-test mandate for large private employers, in a symbolic win for conservatives that will have a little tangible effect.

The measure passed 52-48 with the support of all 50 Republicans in the upper chamber and two centrist Democrats but is not expected to fare well in the House of Representatives, where it may only have support from the right.

Under Biden’s plan, all companies with more than 100 workers will have to require their employees to be immunized or undergo weekly testing from January 4.

READ ALSO: Ethiopia Government Claims Recapture Of Key Towns

The Senate pushback was led by Indiana’s Mike Braun, who told reporters that threatening Americans’ jobs if they refuse on both counts “is the heavy hand of government.”

Wyoming’s John Barrasso, the chairman of the Senate Republicans, accused Biden, who is not a doctor, of “medical malpractice.”

After the vote, Joe Manchin, one of the two Democrats who sided with Republicans, said while he supports a vaccine mandate for federal employees and the military, it was “not the place of the federal government” to dictate to private businesses.

“We should incentivize, not penalize, private employers to encourage vaccination among their employees,” Manchin said in a statement.

Numerous states run by both Democrats and Republicans already require hundreds of thousands of their citizens to be vaccinated against a variety of diseases, and none of these mandates is controversial.

Most cover childhood immunizations, which have been a feature of American society since the 19th century, but there are mandates covering adults as well.

New York requires all workers in hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care facilities to be immunized against measles and rubella, while Rhode Island requires child care workers to be immunized against a variety of common childhood diseases, and the flu.

Several states have vaccination mandates for college students and all 50 require school children to get shots for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, measles, rubella, and chickenpox.

Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer likened the Republicans to flat-earth theorists and accused those who have sought out vaccine shots for themselves of hypocrisy.

“The biggest thing standing between us and the end of the pandemic is Americans who have refused to get vaccinated,” he said.

All three major Biden vaccine policies for people not employed by the federal government — the mandates for contractors, certain health care workers, and employees of larger companies — face legal challenges and are currently on ice.

AFP

Biden Warns Putin Of ‘Strong’ Western Response To Any Ukraine Attack

This combination of pictures created on June 07, 2021 shows Russia’s President Vladimir Putin speaking with US NBC news network anchor Megyn Kelly at the Kremlin on March 1, 2018 in Moscow and US President Joe Biden delivering remarks on his plan to administer Covid-19 vaccines at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware on January 15, 2021.  Angela WEISS, Alexey DRUZHININ / AFP

 

US President Joe Biden warned President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday of “strong” Western economic blowback against any Russian attack on Ukraine, while the Kremlin leader demanded guarantees that the NATO alliance keep clear of Russia.

The two leaders met by video link in a two-hour summit seen as a vital chance to defuse tension on the Russian-Ukrainian frontier, where Russia has deployed up to 100,000 troops, sparking fears of a major war in Europe.

Russia denies planning to invade Ukraine, where it already seized swaths of territory in 2014. However, Biden made clear that economic pain, perhaps including “risk” to Russia’s new Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline supplying Europe, would follow if it does.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates Should Be ‘Last Resort’, Says WHO Europe

“President Biden voiced the deep concerns of the United States and our European allies about Russia’s escalation of forces surrounding Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement.

Biden “made clear that the US and our allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation.” The US leader also “called for de-escalation and a return to diplomacy,” the statement said.

In its own readout, the Kremlin said Putin blamed NATO for tensions in Ukraine and insisted on “legal guarantees” against the Western military alliance expanding its forces any closer to Russia.

Reflecting the tense atmosphere, Biden was shown in an official photograph sitting behind closed doors with the secretary of state and national security advisor in the White House’s Situation Room. Putin, at his resort residence in Sochi, was pictured alone at a long table in front of the video screen.

Russian Denial

The United States says it doesn’t know for sure what Russia intends in Ukraine. Russia already supports a powerful separatist rebellion across swaths of eastern Ukraine and annexed the Crimean peninsula from Kiev in 2014.

Moscow describes accusations that it is preparing to invade as “hysteria.”

“Russian troops are on their territory, they are threatening no one,” Putin’s top foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov told reporters after the video summit.

Instead, Putin says that he sees Ukraine’s growing alliance with Western nations as a threat to Russian security — and that any move by Ukraine to join NATO or to host NATO missiles would be unacceptable.

“Russia is seriously interested in obtaining reliable legal guarantees that will exclude NATO’s eastward expansion and the deployment of offensive strike weapons in countries adjacent to Russia,” the Kremlin said.

While Ukraine is nowhere near being able to join NATO, the United States and NATO say Russia cannot be given a veto over Ukraine’s Western-leaning ambitions.

Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, told reporters that Biden “made no such commitments or concessions.”

Pipeline in crosshairs? 

There is no Western appetite for sending US or European troops into direct military conflict with Russia, leaving limited options for pressuring Moscow.

Sullivan said there were sanctions that Washington had held off from in 2014 but was “prepared to do now.”

One clear target could be the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which has yet to begin delivering natural gas to Germany. Sullivan said the pipeline’s future was at “risk” if Russia does invade Ukraine.

“It is leverage for the West, because if Vladimir Putin wants to see gas flow through that pipeline, he may not want to take the risk of invading Ukraine,” he said.

Sullivan said that an attack on Ukraine would also prompt calls from NATO’s eastern European members for increased US military commitments, and the White House would “respond positively to those things.”

Biden talked with the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Italy after he finished with Putin.

They “underscored their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the need for Russia to reduce tensions.” the White House said.

Biden was due to reach out to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday.

Zelensky to the front 

Clad in a combat uniform, Zelensky visited troops fighting pro-Moscow separatists in the country’s east on Monday.

“Thank you for protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Zelensky told the soldiers, according to a statement released by Kiev.

The conflict has claimed more than 13,000 lives, and while Ukrainian forces are deadlocked against their separatist opponents, they would likely be overwhelmed by Russian regular troops.

AFP

Omicron: Biden Rules Out Further Travel Restrictions

File photo: US President Joe Biden (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)

 

President Joe Biden on Monday told Americans not to “panic” over the newly identified Covid variant Omicron and said he does not foresee new lockdowns or extending travel restrictions for now.

The virus variant, first detected in South Africa but already appearing in multiple countries, “is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” Biden said.

He stressed that the United States was in a good position to control Omicron’s spread without having to resort to lockdowns or more travel bans beyond restrictions already imposed on eight southern African countries.

“We have more tools today to fight the variant than we’ve ever had before,” he said, adding that his chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci expects current vaccines to work against the new variant, with boosters enhancing protection.

“We’ll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion,” Biden said in nationally televised remarks from the White House, flanked by Fauci and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Biden promised a “detailed strategy” for the fight against Covid-19 this winter but signaled that Americans will not be subjected to burdensome measures.

“Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing, and more,” he said, specifying that he does not see a need now for ordering vaccine or testing mandates on domestic air travel.

The United States, Canada, and the European Union have all severely restricted entry of travelers from South Africa and seven other countries in the region. However, Biden also said “I don’t anticipate” more travel bans.

“The degree of the spread impacts on whether or not there’s a need for any travel restrictions,” he said.

AFP

Trump Is Back — On The Bidens’ Christmas Tree

The official White House Christmas Tree stands in the Blue Room of the White House during a press preview of the holiday decorations on November 29, 2021, in Washington, DC.. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

 

Donald Trump has made it back into the White House — at least in the form of a picture hanging on the Bidens’ Christmas tree unveiled Monday.

It’s no exaggeration to say there’s bad blood between the Trumps and Bidens, largely because Trump continues to push his unprecedented attempt to persuade Americans that Joe Biden didn’t really beat him in the 2020 presidential election.

But First Lady Jill Biden’s “Gifts from the Heart” theme for this year’s Christmas decorations is delivering seasonal goodwill.

A gold-framed photo of Trump and his wife Melania hangs on the tree in the State Dining Room, along with snaps of the Obamas, the families of both presidents Bush, the Reagans, and the Carters.

Democrats Bill and Hillary Clinton also get a place on the presidential family tree.

More photos of former first families, again including Trump, decorate a hallway. Hanging on another wall are framed holiday greetings cards from Biden, Obama, and Trump.

The Christmas truce of sorts contrasts with the bitter relationship between the Trumps and Bidens.

After Biden’s victory, Donald and Melania Trump scratched the longstanding traditional invitation to tea that outgoing presidents and first ladies extend to their replacements.

In another disruption to the more genteel customs of the White House, Trump never hosted his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama for an official portrait unveiling.

The Republican has also yet to have his own portrait hung up in Biden’s White House.

AFP

China, Russia Furious As Biden Snubs Them For Democracy Summit

In this file combination of pictures created on March 17, 2021 shows US President Joe Biden(L) during remarks on the implementation of the American Rescue Plan in the State Dining room of the White House in Washington, DC on March 15, 2021, and Russian President Vladimir Putin as he and his Turkish counterpart hold a joint press statement following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 5, 2020.
This file combination of pictures created on March 17, 2021, shows US President Joe Biden(L) during remarks on the implementation of the American Rescue Plan in the State Dining room of the White House in Washington, DC on March 15, 2021, and Russian President Vladimir Putin as he and his Turkish counterpart hold a joint press statement following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 5, 2020.

 

China and Russia reacted furiously Wednesday to US President Joe Biden’s planned democracy summit, which will exclude them, with Beijing angered over an invitation for Taiwan and the Kremlin branding it divisive.

The global conference was a campaign pledge by the US president, who has placed the struggle between democracies and “autocratic governments” at the heart of his foreign policy.

The inclusion of Taiwan, and not China, led to an angry rebuke from Beijing, which said it “firmly opposes” the invitation to “the so-called Summit for Democracy.”

Beijing claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory to be retaken one day, by force if necessary.

Around 110 countries have been invited to the virtual summit, including the United States’ major Western allies but also Iraq, India, and Pakistan.

But Russia said the guest list, released Tuesday on the State Department website, showed that the United States “prefers to create new dividing lines, to divide countries into those that — in their opinion — are good, and those that are bad.”

“More and more countries prefer to decide themselves how to live,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that Washington is “trying to privatise the term ‘democracy’.”

“That can’t do so and should not do so,” he said.

Diplomatic coup

The invitation is a major coup for Taipei at a time when China is ramping up its campaign to keep Taiwan locked out of international bodies.

Taiwan said the gathering would be a rare opportunity to burnish its credentials on the world stage.

“Through this summit, Taiwan can share its democratic success story,” presidential office spokesman Xavier Chang told reporters.

Only 15 countries officially recognise Taipei over Beijing, although many nations maintain de facto diplomatic relations with the island.

The US does not recognise Taiwan as an independent country but maintains it as a crucial regional ally and opposes any change to its status by force.

China baulks at any use of the word “Taiwan” or diplomatic gestures that might lend a sense of international legitimacy to the island.

“I agree Taiwan more than qualifies — but it does seem to be (the) only democratic govt invited that the US govt does not officially recognise. So its inclusion is a big deal,” tweeted Julian Ku, a Hofstra University law professor whose specialties include China.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it would be represented at the summit by its de facto US ambassador Bi-khim Hsiao and digital minister Audrey Tang, who is one of the world’s few openly transgender national politicians.

Scrutinised Guest List 

The long-advertised meeting will take place online on December 9 and 10 ahead of an in-person meeting at its second edition next year.

India, often called “the world’s biggest democracy”, will be present, despite increasing criticism from human rights defenders over democratic backsliding under Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

So too will Pakistan, despite its chequered relationship with Washington.

Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was dubbed an “autocrat” by Biden, did not make the list.

Neither did the city-state of Singapore, or Bangladesh, one of the world’s most populous democracies.

In the Middle East, only Israel and Iraq were invited. The traditional Arab allies of the US — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates — are all absent.

Biden also invited Brazil, which is led by controversial far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

In Europe, Poland is represented, despite recurring tensions with Brussels over respect for the rule of law, but Hungary’s far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban is not.

On the African side, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, and Niger are invited.

‘Decline of Democracy’ 

“For this kick-off Summit… there’s a case for getting a broad set of actors into the room: it provides for a better exchange of ideas than setting a perfect bar for qualification,” Laleh Ispahani of the Open Society Foundations told AFP.

Rather than using the summit as an anti-China meeting, Ispahani urged Biden to address “the serious decline of democracy around the world — including relatively robust models like the US.”

This summit is being organised as democracy has suffered setbacks in countries where the US had placed great hopes.

Sudan and Myanmar have experienced military coups, Ethiopia is in the midst of a conflict that could lead to its “implosion,” according to US diplomats, and the Taliban took power in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US troops after two decades.

AFP

US To Resume Talks With Taliban Next Week

File photo: Taliban fighters stand guard near the venue of an open-air rally in a field on the outskirts of Kabul on October 3, 2021. Hoshang Hashimi / AFP

 

The United States will resume talks with the Taliban next week in Qatar, addressing among other issues the fight against terrorism and the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

The American delegation will be led by the US special representative for Afghanistan, Tom West, for the planned two weeks of discussions, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday.

The two sides will discuss “our vital national interests,” which include counterterrorism operations against the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda, humanitarian assistance, Afghanistan’s devastated economy, and safe passage out of Afghanistan for US citizens and Afghans who worked for the United States during the 20-year war.

READ ALSO: Biden Invites Taiwan To Democracy Summit Alongside 110 Countries

West met two weeks ago in Pakistan with representatives of the hardline Islamist movement that seized power in August as US forces completed their withdrawal.

A first session between the two sides was held October 9-10 in the Qatari capital Doha, where US diplomats overseeing relations with Afghanistan transferred after the Taliban takeover.

West on Friday reiterated US conditions for the Taliban to receive US financial and diplomatic support: fight terrorism install an inclusive government, respect the rights of minorities, women, and girls, and provide equal access to educations and employment.

He said the United States would continue to have a dialogue with the Taliban and for now provide only humanitarian aid.

Amir Khan Muttaqi, foreign minister of the Taliban government, which is not recognized by the international community, called last week in an open letter to the US Congress for the release of Afghan assets frozen by the US.

AFP

Biden Invites Taiwan, Nigeria And Others To Democracy Summit

File photo: US President Joe Biden announces Jerome Powell as his nominee for Chair and Lael Brainard as Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Systems during an event at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 22, 2021. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)

 

Joe Biden has invited Taiwan to a virtual summit on democracy alongside more than 100 countries — a move bound to anger China, which is not on the list.

The conference was a campaign pledge by the US president, who has placed the struggle between democracies and “autocratic governments” at the heart of his foreign policy.

The “Summit for Democracy” will take place online on December 9 and 10 ahead of an in-person meeting at its second edition next year.

The meeting was long advertised, but the guest list — published Tuesday on the State Department’s website — will be closely scrutinized.

Unsurprisingly, America’s main rivals China and Russia are not on it.

READ ALSO: US To Resume Talks With Taliban Next Week

But the United States did invite Taiwan, which it does not recognize as an independent country but holds up as a model democracy.

China baulks at any use of the word “Taiwan” that lends a sense of international legitimacy to the democratic self-ruled island, which Beijing claims as part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize — by force if needed.

The US move is guaranteed to further inflame tensions between the two superpowers.

“I agree Taiwan more than qualifies- but it does seem to be (the) only democratic govt invited that the US govt does not officially recognize. So its inclusion is a big deal,” tweeted Julian Ku, a Hofstra University law professor whose specialities include China.

India, often called “the world’s biggest democracy,” will be present despite increasing criticism from human rights defenders over democratic backsliding under Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

So too will Pakistan, despite its checkered relationship with Washington.

Democracy in Decline 

Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was dubbed an “autocrat” by Biden, did not make the list.

In the Middle East, only Israel and Iraq were invited. The traditional Arab allies of the US — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — are all absent.

Biden also invited Brazil, which is led by controversial far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

In Europe, Poland is represented, despite recurring tensions with Brussels over respect for the rule of law, but Hungary’s far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban is not.

On the African side, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Niger are invited.

“For this kick-off Summit… there’s a case for getting a broad set of actors into the room: it provides for a better exchange of ideas than setting a perfect bar for qualification,” Laleh Ispahani of the Open Society Foundations told AFP.

Rather than using the summit as an anti-China meeting, Ispahani urged Biden to address “the serious decline of democracy around the world – including relatively robust models like the US.”

This summit is being organized as democracy has suffered setbacks in countries where the US had placed great hopes.

Sudan and Myanmar have experienced military coups, Ethiopia is in the midst of a conflict that could lead to its “implosion,” according to US diplomats, and the Taliban took power in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US troops after two decades.

AFP

Kamala Harris Becomes First Female To Hold US Presidential Power

File photo: US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a press conference in Mexico City, on June 8, 2021.(Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AE / AFP)

 

President Joe Biden will transfer power to Vice President Kamala Harris during the “brief” time Friday he is under anesthesia for a colonoscopy as part of a regular health check, the White House said.

Biden, the oldest person to hold the presidency in US history, went to the Walter Reed Medical Center just outside of Washington early Friday on the eve of his 79th birthday.

The White House described the appointment as Biden’s “routine annual physical.” It was his first since taking office in January.

Despite the administration’s stressing that there was nothing unusual in the hospital visit, Biden’s departure by motorcade from the White House early Friday was announced at the last minute.

READ ALSO: Biden Apologises For Trump Exit From Climate Accord

His public schedule, issued the previous night, listed only the traditional ceremony to “pardon” a turkey ahead of Thanksgiving and departure for a weekend at home in Delaware.

During a colonoscopy examination, Biden will be anesthetized and as in past practice the vice president will assume power, which includes control over the US armed forces and the nuclear weapons arsenal.

“President Biden will transfer power to the vice president for the brief period of time when he is under anesthesia. The vice president will work from her office in the West Wing during this time,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

Harris, 57, is the first woman to hold the vice presidency and made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic Party nomination in 2020, before being picked as Biden’s running mate. However briefly, her temporary holding of presidential powers will also make history.

Psaki noted that a similar temporary transfer of power, “following the process set out in the Constitution,” had been carried out when president George W. Bush underwent the same procedure in 2002 and 2007.

Psaki said that a written “summary” of the findings from the president’s exam would be released “later this afternoon.”

Any details on Biden’s health are sure to be closely watched, given speculation on whether he will stand by his stated intention to seek a second term in 2024.

Biden pledged before his election a year ago to be “totally transparent” with voters about all aspects of his health.

‘Vigorous’ 

In a letter released by his election campaign in December 2019, Biden’s physician had described him as “a healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency.”

Biden does not smoke or drink, and prior to his election worked out at least five days per week, according to the letter.

He was vaccinated early on against Covid-19 and received a booster shot in September.

The health check comes at a crucial moment in his presidency, with the House of Representatives adopting Biden’s huge “Build Back Better” social spending agenda. Earlier this week, Biden signed into law another package to fund the biggest national infrastructure revamp in more than half a century.

The twin victories come after weeks of falling approval ratings for Biden and setbacks for his Democratic party ahead of next year’s midterm elections when the Republicans are widely predicted to take control of at least the lower house of Congress.

After returning from hospital, Biden was due to participate in the annual tradition of issuing a presidential “pardon” to a turkey, with the bird being spared from next week’s Thanksgiving meals. He was then due to fly to his family home in Delaware for the weekend.

AFP

Nigerians Are Highly Competitive Abroad Due To Good Education At Home – Weekly Quote

 

Nigeria was a major topic of interest in the passing week, even as the gubernatorial election was held in Anambra State.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s attendance at the Paris Peace Forum also added to keep the nation in the news, as key issues which affect the country as a whole were discussed.

Most deliberations around Nigeria within the passing week have dwelt on polity, the protection of democracy, and the growth of the nation.

Here are the top quotes that give us a sense of what transpired within the passing week and give us a heads up for what to anticipate in the coming days:

1. “Nigerians are all over the place, very competitive. And the competitiveness starts from home, where they have acquired good education, gone into businesses, and then take all that abroad.”

President Muhammadu Buhari delivered a keynote speech at the Paris Peace Forum on November 11, 2021. Bayo Omoboriowo/State House
File photo: President Muhammadu Buhari delivered a keynote speech at the Paris Peace Forum on November 11, 2021. Bayo Omoboriowo/State House

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigerians all over the world are very competitive, noting that they acquired the trait from home where the citizens have been properly educated and immersed in business rudiments.

2. “We as governors, I don’t think anybody is afraid of direct primaries. No governor, not APC, PDP, or APGA – At least these are the parties that we have today,” Governor Bello said.

Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on November 10, 2021.

 

Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello says governors are not afraid of direct primaries, amid speculations that some governors have determined the political fate of federal lawmakers from their states.

3. “When infrastructure is in place, our people can look after themselves.”

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari makes a national statement on the second day of the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow on November 2, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP / POOL
File photo: Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari makes a national statement on the second day of the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow on November 2, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP / POOL

 

President Buhari says Nigerians can look after themselves when infrastructure is in place.

4. “I’m here to tell Nigerians that I’m taking this to the international tribunal. It is clear that the Nigerian courts are compromised.”

 

Bruce Fein, a lawyer to leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, laments after he was ‘locked out’ as Kanu’s trial resumed at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

5. “If I know that my return will depend on some few men, I may care about you. But if I know that my return will depend on my accountability and representation to the people, I will do the right thing.”

A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, explains why he pushed for direct primaries as the only method through which political parties should elect candidates to stand for elections.

6. “The outcome of this gubernatorial election presents hope and a new beginning for our dear state.”

Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano.

 

Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, describes the governorship election as one that presents hope and a new beginning for the South-Eastern state.

7. “Let’s take Anambra to the moon.”

Anambra governor-elect, Charles Soludo. Photo: Facebook/Soludo TV

 

The Governor-elect of Anambra State, Charles Soludo, extends a hand of fellowship to other contestants in the gubernatorial race, asking them to come together to keep the “spirit of Anambra alive and strong”.

8. “In his second phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in as many days, Putin spoke in favour of restoring contacts between EU states and Belarus in order to resolve this problem.”

File photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a session on the sidelines of the COP26 UN Climate Summit taking place in Glasgow, via teleconference in Moscow, on November 2, 2021. (Photo by SPUTNIK / AFP)

 

The Kremlin discloses that Russian President Vladimir Putin told the European Union it needs to start talks with Belarus if it hopes to resolve a crisis over hundreds of migrants trapped on the border with Poland.

9. “We are warming Europe, and they are threatening us.”

This combination created of file pictures on November 10, 2021 shows the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko (L, on November 12, 2019 in Vienna) and Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (on June 24, 2021 in Brussels). JOE KLAMAR, JOHN THYS / AFP
This combination created of file pictures on November 10, 2021 shows the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko (L, on November 12, 2019 in Vienna) and Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (on June 24, 2021 in Brussels). JOE KLAMAR, JOHN THYS / AFP

 

Belarus’s strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko threatens to cut off gas to Europe in retaliation for any new sanctions imposed over the migrant crisis on his country’s border with EU member Poland.

10. “Our concern is that Russia may make the serious mistake of attempting to rehash what it undertook back in 2014 when it amassed forces along the border, crossed into sovereign Ukrainian territory, and did so claiming falsely that it was provoked.”

In this file combination of pictures created on March 17, 2021 shows US President Joe Biden(L) during remarks on the implementation of the American Rescue Plan in the State Dining room of the White House in Washington, DC on March 15, 2021, and Russian President Vladimir Putin as he and his Turkish counterpart hold a joint press statement following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 5, 2020.
This file combination of pictures created on March 17, 2021, shows US President Joe Biden(L) during remarks on the implementation of the American Rescue Plan in the State Dining room of the White House in Washington, DC on March 15, 2021, and Russian President Vladimir Putin as he and his Turkish counterpart hold a joint press statement following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 5, 2020.

 

The United States warns Russia against making another “serious mistake” on Ukraine as it sought clarity about troop movements near the border.

11. “I strongly condemn the terrorist attack targeting the residence of Iraqi Prime Minister al-Kadhemi.”

File photo: US President Joe Biden addresses a press conference at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 2, 2021. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

US President Joe Biden condemns the attack that targeted Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi and said his administration would help Iraqi security forces identify those responsible.

12. “With all the competent, high level professionals and capable human resources available at the disposal of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, it only takes the imagination of the evil minds to assume or think that the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice will descend so low to engaging a quack or fake police officer to serve as his consultant.”

The arrest of the suspects, the police said, followed a thorough investigation. Photo: Channels TV/Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, distances himself from a suspect arrested over the siege of Justice Mary Odili’s home.

13. “The entire criminal operation has no authorization of any known Security Agency or Federal Government Ministry/Department.”

Force spokesman, Frank Mba during the parade of suspected raiders.

 

Police spokesman Frank Mba speaks following the arrest of 14 persons linked with the siege on Justice Odili’s home.

14. “Anambra election was generally peaceful but widespread vote buying prevailed.”

A combination of photos capturing the election at different polling units. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room gives its report on the gubernatorial election in Anambra State.

US Secretary Of State To Visit Nigeria, Kenya, And Senegal

In this file photo, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses reporters during his first press briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC, on January 27, 2021. CARLOS BARRIA / POOL / AFP

 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels to Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal next week, where he will discuss ending the Covid-19 pandemic and battling climate change, his spokesman said Thursday.

Blinken will meet with the president of each country to “advance US-Africa collaboration on shared global priorities,” state department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Other topics of conversation on the agenda for the Monday to Saturday trip include revitalizing democracies, advancing peace and security, and a more inclusive global economy, Price said.

READ ALSO: In Paris, Buhari Calls For Equitable Distribution Of COVID-19 Vaccines

Blinken travels first to Nairobi, where he will meet with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and other government officials, and underscore US support for peaceful 2022 elections.

Next, he travels to Abuja, to meet with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and deliver a speech on US-Africa policy.

He will end his trip in Dakar where he will meet with Senegalese President Macky Sall and other officials.

AFP

Biden Apologises For Trump Exit From Climate Accord

US President Joe Biden presents his national statement as part of the World Leaders’ Summit of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 1, 2021. Evan Vucci / POOL / AFP

 

US President Joe Biden on Monday apologised to world leaders for his predecessor Donald Trump’s withdrawal from a global climate accord and said fighting the crisis should be seen as an economic opportunity.

In a reference to Trump, who withdrew from the Paris climate deal on world action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Biden told the COP26 summit in Glasgow that he was sorry.

“I guess I shouldn’t apologize but I do apologize for the fact that the United States in the last administration pulled out of the Paris Accords and put us sort of behind the eight ball a little bit,” he said, noting that one of his first actions on taking office this January was to re-enter the accord.

Trump had argued that the Paris accord killed jobs.

But in his main speech to the UN COP26 summit in Glasgow, Biden said that fighting climate change will boost, not hurt economies.

“Within the growing catastrophe I believe there’s an incredible opportunity — not just for the United States, but for all of us,” he said in his speech to the summit.

He promised US leadership and “action, not words.”

“The United States is not only back at the table but hopefully leading by the power of example. I know that hasn’t been the case and that’s why my administration is working overtime,” he said.

Biden pushed back against criticism that reducing greenhouse gases and reliance on fossil fuels will hurt jobs, arguing that “it’s about jobs”.

Electrifying transport, building solar panels, and wind turbine networks “create good, paying union jobs for American workers”.

Continuing down the current path is already causing economic damage, Biden said.

READ ALSO: Buhari Arrives In Glasgow For COP26 Climate Change Summit

“We’re standing at an inflection point in world history,” Biden said, citing the proliferation of wildfires, droughts and other climate-related disasters.

“Climate change is already ravaging the world,” he said. It’s not hypothetical. It’s destroying people’s lives and livelihoods.

“We have the ability to invest in ourselves and build an equitable, clean-energy future and in the process create millions of good paying jobs and opportunities around the world.

“We meet with the eyes of history upon us,” Biden told the summit in Glasgow, Scotland. “Every day we delay, the cost of inaction increases, so let this be the moment when we answer history’s call, here in Glasgow.

“God bless you all and may God save the planet,” he said in closing.

AFP