Macron Blasts Biden Subsidies At Start Of US State Visit

File: French President Emmanuel Macron

 

France’s President Emmanuel Macron fired an undiplomatic volley at his American hosts on the first day of a rare state visit to Washington, telling lawmakers Wednesday that US industrial subsidies are “super aggressive” against French competitors.

“This is super aggressive for our business people,” an AFP reporter heard Macron tell members of Congress and business leaders, who had invited him to lunch ahead of the main part of the state visit on Thursday, when the French leader will spend most of the day with President Joe Biden.

Macron was referring to Biden’s signature policy called the Inflation Reduction Act, which is set to pour billions of dollars into environmentally friendly industries — with strong backing for US-based manufacturers.

The White House touts the IRA legislation as a groundbreaking effort to reignite US manufacturing and promote renewable technologies, but European Union governments are crying foul, threatening to launch a trade war by subsidizing their own green economy sector.

Macron’s blunt assessment, saying he just wanted “to be respected as a good friend,” tore some of the veneer off a carefully choreographed state visit intended to celebrate historic US-French ties — and also tackle the trickier parts of the US-EU transatlantic alliance.

Macron warned that the United States championing its own industry under the IRA will “kill a lot of jobs” in Europe and it may “perhaps fix your issue but you will increase my problem.”

– Space talk –
Earlier, Macron joined Vice President Kamala Harris at the NASA facility in Washington to discuss cooperation in space.

“France is a vital ally to the United States and this visit demonstrates the strength of our partnership, our friendship…, one that is based on shared democratic principles and values,” Harris told Macron.

Macron stayed in the high-tech sphere later with a meeting on civilian nuclear energy. His busy schedule, which also included a working lunch to discuss biodiversity and clean energy, and a visit to the historic Arlington National Cemetery, illustrated the ambitions set for the trip — the first formal state visit by a foreign leader to Washington since Biden took office nearly two years ago.

The core of the visit will be on Thursday, including a White House military honor guard, Oval Office talks with Biden, a joint press conference and a banquet where Grammy-award-winning American musician Jon Batiste will perform.

– EU-US tensions –
Trade tensions, however, are only part of the uncomfortable flip side to the red carpet occasion.

Another gripe in Europe is the high cost of US liquid natural gas exports — which have surged to help compensate for canceled Russian deliveries.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the US side wants to defuse tensions, promising “transparent, forthright” discussions.

“We certainly will stay open to listening” to the EU concerns, he said.

There is also divergence on how to deal with the rise of superpower China. The question — with Washington pursuing a more hawkish tone and EU powers trying to find a middle ground — is unlikely to see much progress.

“Europe has since 2018 its own, unique strategy for relations with China,” tweeted French embassy spokesman Pascal Confavreux in Washington.

Kirby said China will be “very high on the agenda” this week but stressed that both countries share a broad approach.

“We believe that not only France, but every other member of the G7 — frankly, our NATO allies too — see the threats and challenges posed by China in the same way.”

The breadth of Macron’s entourage — including the foreign, defense and finance ministers, as well as business leaders and astronauts — illustrates the importance Paris has put on the visit.

At the White House, however, a senior official said the main goal of the state visit is to nurture the “personal relationship, the alliance relationship” with France — and between Biden and Macron.

AFP

Republicans Take Control Of US House, Congress Split – Projections

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her weekly news conference in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on April 29, 2022 in Washington, DC. Getty Images via AFP

 

Republicans on Wednesday took control of the US House of Representatives from Democrats, networks said, narrowly securing a legislative base to oppose President Joe Biden’s agenda for the final two years of his term –- and leaving power in Congress split.

The slim Republican majority in the lower house of the US legislature will be far smaller than the party had been banking on, and Republicans also failed to take control of the Senate in a historically weak performance in the November 8 midterm elections.

NBC and CNN projected the victory for Republicans with at least 218 seats in the 435-member House of Representatives — the magic number needed to take control. This came a week after millions of Americans went to the polls for the midterms, which typically deliver a rejection of the party in the White House.

Biden congratulated top House Republican Kevin McCarthy “on Republicans winning the House majority” and added that he was “ready to work with House Republicans to deliver results for working families.”

Last week’s vote, he said, was “a strong rejection of election deniers, political violence and intimidation” and demonstrated “the strength and resilience of American democracy.”

Tweeting soon after the projection was called, McCarthy said that “Americans are ready for a new direction, and House Republicans are ready to deliver.”

The news came one day after former president Donald Trump — who loomed large during the election cycle, and whose endorsement appears to have doomed some of his party’s candidates — announced a new run for the White House.

With inflation surging and Biden’s popularity ratings cratering, Republicans had hoped to see a “red wave” wash over America, giving them control of both houses and hence an effective block over most of Biden’s legislative plans.

But instead, Democratic voters — galvanized by the Supreme Court’s overturning of abortion rights and wary of Trump-endorsed candidates who openly rejected the result of the 2020 presidential election — turned out in force.

And Republicans lost ground with candidates rejected by moderate voters as too extreme.

“In the next Congress, House Democrats will continue to play a leading role in supporting President Biden’s agenda — – with strong leverage over a scant Republican majority,” House speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

– ‘Officially flipped’ –

Biden’s party flipped a key Senate seat in Pennsylvania and held onto two more in battleground states Arizona and Nevada, giving them an unassailable majority in the upper chamber with 50 seats plus Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.

A Senate runoff election in Georgia set for next month could see the Democrats ultimately improve their majority in the upper house.

The Senate oversees the confirmation of federal judges and cabinet members, and having the 100-seat body in his corner will be a major boon for Biden.

Meanwhile on Tuesday McCarthy won his party’s leadership vote by secret ballot, putting him in prime position to be the next speaker, replacing Democrat Nancy Pelosi.

The 57-year-old congressman from California, a senior member of House Republican leadership since 2014, fended off a challenge from Andy Biggs, a member of the influential far-right Freedom Caucus.

But potential far-right defections could yet complicate his path when the full chamber votes in January.

McCarthy now begins what is expected to be a grueling campaign to win the consequential floor vote on January 3, when the House of Representatives’ 435 newly elected members — Democrats and Republicans — choose their speaker, the third most important US political position after president and vice president.

McCarthy has raised eyebrows by saying that his party might not grant a “blank check” for continued multi-billion dollar US funding for Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion.

AFP

Xi, Kishida To Meet As North Korea Fires Missile

(L-R)Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Photo: EPA-EFE/AFP

 

The leaders of China and Japan will hold their first face-to-face talks in three years on Thursday, after North Korea fired the latest in a record-breaking missile blitz that has sent nuclear fears soaring.

Chinese President Xi Jinping flies in to the talks in Bangkok from a G20 meeting in Bali where US President Joe Biden pressed him to use his influence to rein in Pyongyang’s activities.

As Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida prepared to meet, North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile and warned Washington and its allies to expect a “fiercer” military response.

The pair will meet on the sidelines of a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) focused on pandemic recovery and the global economic turmoil unleashed by the war in Ukraine.

Kishida’s office condemned the latest launch by the North, which adds to a flurry that began earlier this month and has included an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Seoul and Washington have warned the North could be preparing to carry out a nuclear test — which would be its seventh.

Biden held a three-way summit in Phnom Penh last week with allies Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol to discuss the latest drama with the North.

The trio issued a joint statement warning that any new nuclear test would be met with a “strong and resolute” response, without giving further details.

After his talks with Xi on Monday, Biden said he was confident China — Pyongyang’s main diplomatic and economic ally — did not want Kim Jong Un’s regime to escalate tensions any further.

– Diplomatic blitz –
China and Japan — the world’s second and third-largest economies — are key trading partners, but relations have soured as Beijing bolsters its military, projects power regionally and takes a harder line on territorial rivalries.

Chinese missiles fired during massive military drills around Taiwan in August are believed to have fallen within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, and Tokyo has protested at what it calls growing aerial and maritime violations in recent months.

Xi last held face-to-face talks with a Japanese prime minister in December 2019, when he met Shinzo Abe in Beijing, though he has spoken to Kishida by phone.

The APEC gathering — which French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will also attend — caps a diplomatic blitz in Asia, following the G20 and the ASEAN summit in Cambodia.

The G20 was upended by fears that a deadly missile strike on Poland signalled a dangerous escalation of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

But Western leaders have moved to dial down the alarm, saying the blast was probably an accident, with both Poland and NATO saying the explosion was most likely caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile launched to intercept a Russian barrage.

Biden and Xi’s landmark summit talks on Monday sought to cool their rivalry, which has intensified sharply in recent years as Beijing has become more powerful and more assertive about replacing the US-led order that has prevailed since World War II.

The easing of tensions will be welcome news for APEC members who have grown increasingly alarmed at the prospect of having to take sides between the world’s two biggest economies.

While the pair still clashed on the question of self-governing Taiwan’s future — a major regional flashpoint — they found common ground on Ukraine.

They underlined that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was unacceptable — a clear rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats over his failing war in Ukraine.

Macron landed in Bangkok late Wednesday aiming to relaunch France’s strategic ambitions in the Asia-Pacific region after the humiliating blow of Australia cancelling a major submarine contract in 2021.

“In this highly contested region, which is the theatre of a confrontation between the two major world powers, our strategy is to defend freedom and sovereignty,” Macron said on Thursday.

AFP

Trump Failed America, Biden Says After Ex-President Announces 2024 Run

US President Joe Biden announces a ban on US imports of Russian oil and gas, March 8, 2022, from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Jim WATSON / AFP
File photo of US President Joe Biden. Jim WATSON / AFP

 

President Joe Biden responded Wednesday to Donald Trump’s announcement of another run for the White House by saying the Republican “failed” his country while in office.

“Donald Trump failed America,” Biden said in a tweet from Bali, where he was attending the last day of the G20 summit.

This accompanied a video compilation saying Trump presided over “rigging economy for rich”, “attacking health care”, “coddling extremists”, “attacking women’s rights”, and “inciting a violent mob” to try to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden.

Later, while participating in a ceremonial mangrove planting with other G20 leaders, reporters asked Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron if they had reactions to the Trump announcement.

The two looked at each other briefly before Biden said “not really,” while Macron remained silent.

AFP

US Judge Throws Out Policy Used To Block Migrant Entry

An image of the U.S. flag.
An image of the U.S. flag.

 

A US federal judge ruled Tuesday that the government could not use public health rules to block the entry of asylum-seeking migrants, marking the apparent end of a controversial Donald Trump-era policy that has been criticized as cruel and ineffective.

Judge Emmet Sullivan said Title 42, which has been used to expel hundreds of thousands of people since being invoked in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, was an “arbitrary and capricious” policy that violated government procedures.

The Department of Homeland Security filed a stay motion asking that Tuesday’s decision be suspended for five weeks, but stressed it was doing so as a transitional measure.

“The delay in implementation of the court’s order will allow the government to prepare for an orderly transition to new policies at the border,” a statement said.

“But to be clear, under the unopposed motion, Title 42 would remain in place for some period. During the period of this freeze, we will prepare for an orderly transition to new policies at the border.”

The stay, until midnight on December 21, would give the government time to put in place tools to stem the flow of migrants at the southern border with Mexico, most of whom ask for asylum.

The ballooning numbers at the border — more than 200,000 have been interdicted each month this year — is an increasing political headache for President Joe Biden and his Democratic Party, who the Republicans have repeatedly sought to paint as soft on illegal immigration.

Before the ruling, newly re-elected Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican immigration hardliner, took to Twitter to say that he was deploying the national guard and gunboats to turn back migrants.

“I invoked the Invasion Clauses of the US & Texas Constitutions to fully authorize Texas to take unprecedented measures to defend our state against an invasion,” he tweeted.

READ ALSO: Trump Declares 2024 Presidential Bid, Says Biden Won’t Get Another Term

Those clauses, he said, would allow him to “build a border wall” and “designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.”

– ‘Huge victory’ –
Tuesday’s ruling came after a lawsuit brought in January by the American Civil Liberties Union, which accused the Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrol of “summary expulsion” of vulnerable families seeking asylum who showed no signs of Covid infection.

“This is a huge victory and one that literally has life-and-death stakes,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt, who led the lawsuit.

“We have said all along that using Title 42 against asylum seekers was inhumane and driven purely by politics. Hopefully this ruling will end this horrific policy once and for all,” he said in a statement.

The ruling came six months after a Louisiana judge ruled in a separate suit that Biden’s administration, which inherited the Title 42 policy from Donald Trump, could not drop it.

The judge in that case said ending the use of Title 42 rule would violate official government procedures.

While Biden’s team had wanted to end the use of Title 42, it has at the same time continued to rely heavily on the policy.

Border agents logged a record 2.3 million migrant encounters along the land border with Mexico in the year to September 22.

Critics branded Title 42 “inhumane,” and said it was an ad-hoc immigration plan dressed up as a health policy, but fit for neither purpose.

The measure, originally placed on the books in the 19th century in an effort to control contagious diseases, allows for the immediate removal of any foreigner or non-resident trying to enter the country without a visa.

There is no legal process, or any formal deportation to the country of origin, and a border agent can apply a Title 42 expulsion without the lengthy interview process usually required.

But, unlike a regular expulsion, which usually results in some kind of ban on attempting to re-enter the United States, a Title 42 expulsion comes with no black mark.

Some have noted that this means anyone who is apprehended while illegally crossing can simply try again.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, director of policy for the American Immigration Council said Title 42 had been “a failed border management policy that caused chaos along the border, immeasurable harm to innocent people seeking our protection, and diminished our standing on the world stage.”

“Judge Sullivan’s decision is… a long overdue step toward rebuilding a humanitarian protection system at the border that is safe, humane, and orderly.”

AFP

Trump Declares 2024 Presidential Bid, Says Biden Won’t Get Second Term

This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP
This combination of file pictures shows former US President Donald Trump (L) and US President Joe Biden. Credit: Morry GASH / AFP

 

A combative Donald Trump launched into the 2024 White House race on Tuesday, setting the stage for a bruising Republican nomination battle after a poor midterm election showing by his hand-picked candidates weakened his grip on the party.

“America’s comeback starts right now,” the 76-year-old former president told hundreds of supporters gathered in an ornate American flag-draped ballroom at his palatial Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.

“In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Trump said, minutes after filing the official paperwork for his third presidential run.

Trump’s unusually early entry into the race is being seen in Washington as an attempt to get the jump on other Republicans seeking to be party flag-bearer — and to stave off potential criminal charges.

In a fiery, hour-long speech, Trump lauded — and at times inflated — his accomplishments as America’s 45th president and fired off verbal salvos against Democrat Joe Biden, who defeated him in 2020.

“I will ensure that Joe Biden does not receive four more years,” Trump vowed, while the US leader greeted his announcement with a tweet saying: “Donald Trump failed America.”

Trump, who was impeached for seeking political dirt on Biden from Ukraine and again after the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol by his supporters, launches his new bid with several potential handicaps.

He is the target of multiple investigations into his conduct before, during and after his first term as president — which could ultimately result in his disqualification.

These include allegations of fraud by his family business, his role in the attack on the Capitol, his attempt to overturn the 2020 election, and his stashing of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

Meanwhile Trump’s Republicans are licking their wounds after disappointing midterms, widely blamed on the underperformance of Trump-anointed candidates, and some are openly asking whether Trump — with his divisive politics and mess of legal woes — is the right person to carry the party colors next time around.

Several possible 2024 primary rivals are circling, chief among them the governor of Florida Ron DeSantis, who bucked the tide and won a resounding reelection victory on November 8.

– ‘Nation in decline’ –
The powerful media empire of Rupert Murdoch has already appeared to turn its back on Trump, labelling him a “loser” who shows “increasingly poor judgement.”

And Trump remains banned by Facebook and Twitter, which was instrumental in his stunning political rise.

In his announcement speech, Trump attacked Biden over inflation, crime and immigration, mocked climate change and congratulated himself for toppling the Islamic State, keeping North Korea in check and building a border wall with Mexico.

“Under our leadership, we were a great and glorious nation. But now we are a nation in decline,” he said. “This is not just a campaign this is a quest to save our country.

“In two years the Biden administration has destroyed the US economy,” he said. “With a victory we will again build the greatest economy ever.

“The blood-soaked streets of our once great cities are cesspools of violent crimes,” he said, vowing to “restore and secure America’s borders.”

The 79-year-old Biden has said his intention is to seek a second term — but he will make a final decision early next year.

Trump had made denial of the 2020 election results a key litmus test for midterm candidates seeking his endorsement — but a string of defeats by loyal allies sapped his momentum for a new White House bid.

Having failed to wrest control of the Senate, Republicans appeared poised to take over the House with a razor-thin majority.

But despite his lackluster election performance, the real estate tycoon retains an undeniable popularity with the millions of grassroots supporters who have flocked to his “Make America Great Again” banner.

And though abandoned by several top donors, he has a campaign war chest of well over $100 million.

– 2024 challengers –
For the moment, the hard-right DeSantis looks like the leading challenger to Trump in a Republican field that may include former vice president Mike Pence, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and ex-South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.

The 44-year-old DeSantis, dubbed “Ron DeSanctimonious” by Trump, had a ready reply Tuesday when asked about the former president’s attacks on him, urging “people to go check out the scoreboard from last Tuesday night.”

By throwing his hat in the ring, Trump is seeking to become just the second American president to serve non-consecutive terms — Grover Cleveland was elected in 1884, lost in 1888, and won again in 1892.

AFP

White House Hails Ukraine’s ‘Extraordinary Victory’ In Kherson

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart in Kyiv on August 23, 2022, amid Russia's military invasion launched on Ukraine. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)
In this file photo, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart in Kyiv on August 23, 2022, amid Russia’s military invasion launched on Ukraine. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)

 

The White House on Saturday hailed what it said appeared to be an “extraordinary victory” for Ukraine in recapturing the city of Kherson from Russian occupiers.

“It does look as though the Ukrainians have just won an extraordinary victory where the one regional capital that Russia had seized in this war is now back under a Ukrainian flag — and that is quite a remarkable thing,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters as he accompanied President Joe Biden to the ASEAN summit in Cambodia.

Sullivan was speaking after Ukrainian troops entered the city, which was one of the lynchpins in Russia’s occupation of swathes of Ukraine.

Sullivan said that the Russian retreat would have “broader strategic implications,” including relieving the longer-term threat by Russia to other southern Ukrainian cities such as Odessa.

“It’s a big moment and it’s due to the incredible tenacity and skill of the Ukrainians, backed by the relentless and united support of the United States and our allies,” Sullivan said.

Asked about reports that the Biden administration has started to press President Volodymyr Zelensky to explore negotiations with Moscow, Sullivan said that Russia, not Ukraine, was the side that has to decide whether or not to go to the table.

“This whole notion, I think, in the Western press of ‘when’s Ukraine going to negotiate?’ misses the underlying fundamentals,” Sullivan said.

Russia, he added, continues to make “outlandish claims” about its self-declared annexations of Ukrainian lands, even as it retreats from Ukrainian counter-attacks.

“Ultimately, at a 30,000-foot level, Ukraine is the party of peace in this conflict and Russia is the party of war. Russia invaded Ukraine. If Russia chose to stop fighting in Ukraine and left, it would be the end of the war. If Ukraine chose to stop fighting and give up, it would be the end of Ukraine,” he said.

“In that context, our position remains the same as it has been and fundamentally is in close consultation and support of President Zelensky.”

AFP

Biden Urges World To ‘Step Up’ Climate Fight At COP27

US President Joe Biden delivers a speech during the COP27 climate conference in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, on November 11, 2022.
US President Joe Biden delivers a speech during the COP27 climate conference in Egypt’s Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, on November 11, 2022.

 

President Joe Biden vowed at UN climate talks on Friday that the United States was on track to slash its carbon emissions, urging all nations to ramp up their own efforts to avert catastrophic global warming.

His speech came at the halfway point of a two-week COP27 conference in Egypt where rich polluters like the US are under pressure to finally provide the funding developing countries have been promised in the battle against climate change.

Biden touted the passage of a massive, $369 billion spending package to green the US economy as an achievement that would “shift the paradigm” for his country and the entire world.

“The climate crisis is about human security, economic security, environmental security, national security and the very life of the planet,” Biden said.

In an hours-long visit to Egypt before heading to Asia for ASEAN and G20 summits, Biden said the United States “will meet” its goal of cutting emissions 50-52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

He also announced plans to step up efforts to cut methane emissions — a major contributor to global warming — by plugging fossil fuel leaks and requiring companies to act on leaks reported by credible third parties.

“To permanently bend the emissions curve, every nation needs to step up. At this gathering, we must renew and raise our climate ambitions,” he said.

“The United States has acted, everyone has to act. It’s a duty and responsibility of global leadership,” said Biden, whose administration also announced plans to require federal contractors to reduce their emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.

Howl of protest

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has sent energy prices soaring, has raised concerns that tackling climate change has dropped down the priority list of many countries.

“Russia’s war only enhances the urgency of the need to transition the world off its dependence on fossil fuels,” Biden said.

His 22-minute speech was briefly interrupted by a small group of demonstrators, who howled and attempted to unfurl a banner protesting fossil fuels before they were removed by UN security.

New research shows just how dauntingly hard it will be to meet the ambitious goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels — requiring emissions to be slashed nearly in half by 2030.

The new study — published on Friday in the journal Earth System Science Data — found that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are on track to rise one percent in 2022 to reach an all-time high.

Mixed reviews

Biden’s visit to COP27 came three days after US midterm elections that have raised questions about what the result could mean for US climate policy.

His climate speech earned mix reviews from COP27 participants.

“President Biden is advancing the boldest climate agenda of any American president by far,” said Ani Dasgupta, president of the World Resources Institute.

But he said the US was “grossly underperforming” on its commitments in a $100-billion-a-year global climate funding programme to help developing nations transition to renewable energy and build resilience.

Biden has pledged to double the US contribution to $11.4 billion, but Democrats may be running out of time to honour that as control of the House of Representatives appears poised to shift to the Republicans from January in the wake of this week’s vote.

Others pointed out that the United States has previously blocked efforts to establish a “loss and damage” mechanism that would see rich polluters compensate poorer countries for the destruction from climate-induced natural disasters.

Biden did not address the “loss and damage” mechanism idea in his speech, though the United States has allowed it to be on the official COP27 agenda.

“Joe Biden comes to COP27 and makes new promises but his old promises have not even been fulfilled,” said Mohamed Dowd, founder of the Power Shift Africa think tank.

“He is like a salesman selling goods with endless small print.”

Before his COP27 address, Biden met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on the sidelines of COP27, where he raised human rights issues with his host amid concerns over the health of jailed dissident Alaa Abdel Fattah, who is on a hunger strike.

 

AFP

‘It’s My Intention To Run Again’, Biden Eyes Re-Election

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

 

Joe Biden, the oldest person ever in the US presidency, said Friday it’s his “intention” to run again in 2024 and that his wife Jill thinks he should not “walk away.”

Biden’s comments in an interview with MSNBC addressed a question fascinating Washington watchers as Biden approaches his 80th birthday next month.

“I have not made that formal decision but it’s my intention, my intention to run again, and we have time to make that decision,” Biden told MSNBC.

Asked what the first lady, who is widely judged to be a powerful voice behind the scenes in the White House, thinks of him seeking a second term, Biden indicated she was in favor.

“Dr Biden, my wife, thinks that we’re doing something very important and that I shouldn’t walk away from it,” he said.

Biden has previously said he wants to run, but at times has also sown doubts. In an interview in September with CBS, he said it was “much too early” and his decision “remains to be seen.”

He also called himself in that interview “a great respecter of fate.”

In Friday’s comments, Biden went further than before in explaining his reasoning about what would be a mold-breaking candidacy. If re-elected, he would be 86 by the time he finished his second term.

Biden hinted — as he has before — that an attempt by Donald Trump to return to the White House might be his motivation to seek the grueling job again.

He said his son Beau, who died in 2015, would have told him to run “depending on who the opponent is.”

“If they have a view that is the antithesis of what I believe is democracy and is good for average Americans,” Biden said, then Beau would tell him: “Dad, you have an obligation.”

Biden also offered an explanation for why he has not explicitly announced a decision, noting that this would change his legal status and “once I make that judgement a whole series of regulations kick in and I have to treat myself as a candidate from that moment on.”

Pressure will grow on Biden to clarify his plans after the midterm elections on November 8, where his Democratic party is currently expected to lose control of Congress to the Republicans.

Speculation is rife that Trump, who faces multiple legal challenges and oversaw an unprecedented attempt to refuse concession to Biden’s victory in 2020, will try to come back in the 2024 race.

AFP

Biden Vows Close Cooperation With UK After Truss Quits

US President Joe Biden announces student loan relief on August 24, 2022 in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Biden announced that most US university graduates still trying to pay off student loans will get $10,000 of relief to address a decades-old headache of massive educational debt across the country. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP)
In this file photo, US President Joe Biden announces student loan relief on August 24, 2022 in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Biden announced that most US university graduates still trying to pay off student loans will get $10,000 of relief to address a decades-old headache of massive educational debt across the country. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP)

 

US President Joe Biden vowed Thursday to continue close cooperation with Britain following the resignation of Liz Truss, whose six-week premiership was marred by political and economic chaos.

“I thank Prime Minister Liz Truss for her partnership on a range of issues including holding Russia accountable for its war against Ukraine,” Biden said in a statement.

“We will continue our close cooperation with the UK government as we work together to meet the global challenges our nations face.”

AFP

Biden To ‘Re-Evaluate’ Saudi Ties After OPEC Snub

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. President Joe Biden meet at Al Salman Palace upon his arrival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 15, 2022. (Reuters Photo)

 

 

US President Joe Biden promised “consequences” for Saudi Arabia after a Riyadh-led coalition of oil-producing nations sided with Russia to slash output.

The 13-nation OPEC cartel and its 10 allies headed by Moscow angered the White House last week with its decision to cut production by two million barrels a day from November, raising fears that oil prices could soar.

“I’m not going to get into what I’d consider and what I have in mind. But there will be — there will be consequences,” Biden told CNN when pressed on possible responses in a rare televised interview.

The Democratic leader didn’t reveal what options were being considered, but the White House had made clear earlier that Biden was reassessing ties between the allies.

“I think the president’s been very clear that this is a relationship that we need to continue to re-evaluate, that we need to be willing to revisit,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told CNN.

“Certainly in light of the OPEC decision, I think that’s where he is.”

The OPEC move was widely seen as a diplomatic slap in the face, since Biden traveled to Saudi Arabia in July and met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, despite vowing to make the kingdom an international “pariah” following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

It also comes at a sensitive moment for Biden’s Democratic party, as it faces November midterm elections with rising consumer prices a key Republican talking point.

Saudi Arabia has defended the planned production cuts, saying the priority of OPEC+ was “to maintain a sustainable oil market”.

On Tuesday, Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told the Al-Arabiya channel that the move “was purely economic and was taken unanimously by the (organization’s) member states.”

“OPEC+ members acted responsibly and took the appropriate decision,” he said.

Kirby added that Biden was “willing to work with Congress to think through what that relationship (with Saudi Arabia) ought to look like going forward,” although he clarified that no formal discussions had yet begun.

His remarks came a day after Bob Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for Washington to halt all cooperation with Riyadh.

Menendez said the kingdom had decided to “underwrite” Russia’s war in Ukraine with a move he denounced as a concession to Moscow that would hurt the global economy.

– ‘They chose Russia’ –
“The United States must immediately freeze all aspects of our cooperation with Saudi Arabia, including any arms sales and security cooperation beyond what is absolutely necessary to defend US personnel and interests,” Menendez said.

“As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will not greenlight any cooperation with Riyadh until the kingdom reassesses its position with respect to the war in Ukraine.”

The partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia was sealed after World War II, providing the kingdom with military protection in exchange for American access to oil.

Fraught with crises, the relationship was revived by Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, whose single term saw Riyadh accounting for a quarter of US arms exports, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Continuing the rapprochement, Biden’s State Department announced in August that Saudi Arabia would buy 300 Patriot MIM-104E missile systems, which can be used to bring down at long-range incoming ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as attacking aircraft.

The relationship is “strategic” and has “advanced the security and stability of the Middle East,” the Saudi embassy in Washington said in a statement on Tuesday.

Bilateral military cooperation “serves the interests of both countries,” it said, paraphrasing Prince Faisal’s comments to Al-Arabiya.

Saudi Arabia has faced recent rocket threats from Yemen’s Huthi rebels, who have been supplied with Iranian equipment and technology.

Biden said last week that he would look at alternatives to prevent gas price hikes.

These could include further releases from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, potentially increased domestic drilling, as well as more drastic measures, including limits on exports.

Menendez’s call for a freeze in arms sales has the support of several fellow Democratic lawmakers, including Connecticut’s Senator Chris Murphy, who told CNN that Washington had for too long given Riyadh a pass on transgressive conduct.

“For years we have looked the other way as Saudi Arabia has chopped up journalists, has engaged in massive political repression, for one reason: we wanted to know that when the chips were down, when there was a global crisis, that the Saudis would choose us instead of Russia,” he said.

“Well, they didn’t. They chose Russia.”

Biden Calls For Los Angeles City Council Members To Resign Over Racist Remarks

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 11: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Summit on Fire Prevention and Control, at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on October 11, 2022 in Washington, DC. Biden spoke to commemorate Fire Prevention Week, honored fallen firefighters, and discussed efforts to protect and ensure firefighter health and safety. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Kevin Dietsch / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

 

US President Joe Biden believes that three members of the Los Angeles city council should resign after leaked audio recordings revealed they made racist remarks, a White House spokesperson said Tuesday.

Council President Nury Martinez, council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de Leon, and Los Angeles county federation of labor president Ron Herrera, have come under fire since the weekend, when a recording of them making openly racist remarks and derisive comments about colleagues were posted online.

Martinez announced Monday she would take a leave of absence from the council and stepped down from her post as president, but did not resign from the board. Herrera resigned Monday evening.

Multiple calls have been made for Cedillo and de Leon to step down.

“The President is glad to see that one of the participants in that conversation has resigned,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday.

“He believes that they all should resign. The language that was used and tolerated during that conversation was unacceptable, and was appalling.”

The council members’ conversation took place in October 2021, but the recordings were not made public until Sunday, when they were uploaded to the online forum Reddit.

The four were discussing maps that had been proposed by the city’s redistricting commission, as well as the November 2022 midterm elections.

Martinez in particular made blatantly racist remarks about Black people, Jewish people, Armenians and Indigenous people from Mexico’s Oaxaca state.

She also made racist and homophobic comments about Councilmember Mike Bonin, who is white and gay, and his son, who is Black.

In response to these remarks, De Leon and Cedillo laughed and made more jokes.

Jean-Pierre’s comments come the night before Biden embarks on a four-day trip through western US states that will include stops in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

The trip aims to drum up support ahead of the midterms.