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Banned on Facebook and Twitter, former US President Donald Trump has launched a new so-called social media platform, which is actually just a WordPress blog on his own website.
His followers can sign up for post alerts on the platforms via their email and phone numbers.
The new platform is designed like a generic version of Twitter but is hosted as a running blog.
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A Twitter spokesperson told The Verge on Tuesday that “Generally, sharing content from the website reference is permitted as long as the material does not otherwise the Twitter Rules”.
Trump has posted content dating back to March 24 on the new ‘platform’.
The latest post is a video advertising his new platform, calling it “a place to speak freely and safely, straight from the desk of Donald J. Trump.”
The platform appears to have been built by Campaign Nucleus, a digital services company founded by Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale.
Trump’s ‘platform’ went live just ahead of ruling by the independent Oversight Board on the ban concerning Trump, who was banned on Facebook following the Capitol attack on January 6.
On January 21, the Oversight Board accepted a case referral from Facebook to examine its decision to indefinitely suspend Trump’s access to post content on Facebook and Instagram, as well as provide policy recommendations on suspensions when the user is a political leader.
Trump is still banned from using Facebook and its other platforms like Twitter. (IANS/KB)
A “coming-out party for the United States on climate change.”
That’s how University of Maryland Center for Global Sustainability Director Nathan Hultman describes the virtual summit President Joe Biden is hosting with dozens of world leaders April 22-23.
After four years of disregard for the issue under former President Donald Trump, the summit will be “an opportunity for the U.S. to come back onto the scene to show it is taking climate change seriously,” said David Waskow, International Climate Initiative director at the World Resources Institute, Washington-based environmental research, and advocacy group.
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The White House said it will announce an “ambitious” 2030 target for greenhouse gas emissions before the summit.
Advocates are calling for a 50% cut from 2005 levels, a “highly ambitious but still achievable” goal, Hultman said.
And it would show other major polluters that the largest cumulative contributor to global warming is ready to take action.
“Certainly China is looking to see what the United States is going to do,” Waskow said. “We know that some of these other countries — Japan, South Korea, Canada, India — are watching to see how the United States will move.”
Make or break
The stakes are rising. Many experts say the 2020s are a make-or-break decade.
Averaged over the entire globe, temperatures have increased more than 1.1 degrees Celsius since 1880. Scientists link the increase to more severe heat waves, droughts, wildfires, storms, and other impacts. And they note that the rate of temperature rise has accelerated since the 1980s.
World leaders agreed to limit global warming to “well below” 2C in the 2015 U.N. Paris climate agreement and to aim for 1.5C.
But the world is currently on track for 3C of warming, which experts say would be catastrophic.
“The global trajectory is completely off track from where it needs to be,” said Rachel Cleetus, policy director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“We have to sharply bend that curve to keep 1.5 within reach,” she added. “At this point, we are really at grave risk of losing it.”
Global emissions need to fall by about 45% by 2030, according to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. By 2050, they need to reach “net-zero,” where emissions are canceled out by removing planet-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
“If you don’t start bending that curve now, the trajectory that one would have to be on following 2030 would be incredibly difficult to achieve,” Waskow said.
The Biden administration sees fighting climate change as an opportunity to create jobs — installing wind and solar power, building electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and making homes and buildings more efficient, for example.
It’s a cornerstone of his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.
“The American Jobs Plan will lead to transformational progress in order to tackle climate change with American jobs and American ingenuity,” he said, announcing the plan last month in Pittsburgh.
But Congress would have to pass that plan, and Republicans are solidly opposed, especially to the tax increases Biden proposed to pay for it.
South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune called it “a massive expansion of the government-financed on the backs of the American taxpayers, with taxes that will hurt the economy and cost us jobs.”
“Until we can sort out those politics, it’s going to be tough for us to claim this leadership mantle internationally on the top-line numbers,” said Joseph Majkut, director of climate policy at the Niskanen Center, a Washington-based policy research institute.
The United States faces skepticism on climate after the Trump administration pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and worked to undo regulations reducing emissions.
“Rebuilding trust is, I think, going to be an essential element of the conversation,” Majkut said.
But the United States is not the only country with a credibility problem.
China, the world’s biggest polluter, made a “world-leading” pledge to get to net-zero by 2060, the University of Maryland’s Hultman noted.
It “change(d) the idea of net-zero from something that was just for the greenest of the green,” he said, sending a signal to other developing countries that “net zero is actually our global future.”
At the same time, however, China keeps building and financing coal-fired power plants, the single largest source of greenhouse gases. China added enough coal-fired capacity last year to cancel out a near-record amount of plant closures, according to the Global Energy Monitor.
“Right now, they’re barreling forward,” Hultman said. “They basically have to pull back … and even reverse course a little bit in the next few years in order to boost the credibility of their long-term climate promises.”
Eyes will also be on India, a rising source, to announce its plans ahead of a major U.N. climate conference in Glasgow in November. (VOA/KB)
In a first step toward reversing a contentious Trump administration policy, President Joe Biden ordered his administration to review federal rules guiding colleges in their handling of campus sexual assaults.
In an executive order, Biden directed the Education Department to examine rules that the Trump administration issued around Title IX, the federal law that forbids sex discrimination in education. Biden directed the agency to “consider suspending, revising or rescinding” any policies that fail to protect students. Biden also signed a second executive order formally establishing the White House Gender Policy Council, which his transition team had announced before he took office.
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“The policy of this administration is that every individual, every student, is entitled to a fair education — free of sexual violence — and that all involved have access to a fair process,” Jennifer Klein, co-chair and executive director of the Gender Policy Council, told reporters at a White House briefing.
The orders were issued on International Women’s Day, a global celebration marking the achievements of women.
Both measures had been expected from Biden, who focused on gender equity during his campaign and previously promised to put an “immediate” end to rules that were finalized last year by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
DeVos’s policy made sweeping changes to the way colleges respond to sexual harassment and assault, with provisions that bolster the rights of the accused and narrow the scope of cases schools are required to address. It was seen as a swing away from Obama-era guidance that focused on protecting victims of sexual misconduct.
Among other changes, DeVos’s rules narrowed the definition of sexual harassment, reduced the legal liability of colleges investigating sexual misconduct claims, and gave accused students the right to cross-examine their accusers through a representative at live campus hearings.
Biden’s order for a review drew praise from civil rights groups that say DeVos’s policy has had a chilling effect on the reporting of sexual assaults, and also from colleges that say the rules are overly prescriptive and burdensome to follow.
“This is an important step,” said Shiwali Patel, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center. “The Title IX rules changes that took place under the Trump administration are incredibly harmful, and they’re still in effect.”
Although the order sets the stage for a major policy shift, change is unlikely to come quickly. Any effort to rewrite DeVos’s rules would have to go through a federal rule-making process that can take years to complete. It took three years, for example, for DeVos to reverse the Obama guidance and complete her own set of rules.
Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, said Biden’s announcement was welcome but changes very little immediately. “In the meantime, the Trump regulations will remain in place,” Hartle said.
Republicans slammed Biden’s move and defended DeVos’s rules.
“The right to due process is bigger than partisan politics — it is a cornerstone of American democracy,” said North Carolina Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, the ranking Republican on the House Education Committee. “By overturning these stakeholder-vetted, court-supported rules, key protections for victims and the due process rights of the accused would be jeopardized.”
Some of the most contentious aspects of DeVos’s rules — including the requirement to allow cross-examinations — are expected to be eliminated in the Biden overhaul. But rather than reverting to Obama’s 2011 policies, some legal experts expect Biden to seek a middle ground that equally protects accused students and their accusers.
Part of the solution will likely include greater flexibility for schools as they respond to complaints, said Josh Richards, a lawyer who advises universities on Title IX issues. The scope of cases that colleges must address is also likely to be expanded again under the Biden administration, he said.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to go to the extent that the DeVos era rules went in importing court-style legal rules to these processes in order to provide a fair process to everyone involved,” Richards said.
A rollback of the existing regulation would be a blow to DeVos, who saw it as one of her signature achievements. In a parting letter to Congress in January, she urged lawmakers to “reject any efforts to undercut this important rule for survivors.” Their approval, however, is not needed to create new agency rules.
Biden is starting the process even as DeVos’s policy faces ongoing legal challenges. Multiple lawsuits have been filed asking federal courts to strike down the policy, including a new suit filed Monday by a group of high school students in California. A lawsuit by the National Women’s Law Center is scheduled to go to trial in November.
While its suit is pending, the law center is urging the Biden administration to issue a directive suspending parts of the policy that are being challenged in court. Dozens of students and sexual assault survivors issued a separate letter on Monday urging Biden to issue immediate guidance that supports the rights of survivors.
Biden’s other order establishing the Gender Policy Council was issued after Trump disbanded an office specifically focused on women’s issues created during the Obama administration that was called the White House Council on Women and Girls. The new council is tasked with helping push gender equity on the administration’s domestic and foreign policy efforts.
Some of the issues the council will focus on include combating sexual harassment, addressing structural barriers to women’s participation in the workforce, decreasing gender wage and wealth gaps, and addressing caregiving issues that have disproportionately affected women.
Biden signed the orders hours before delivering a White House address to mark International Women’s Day. He used his speech to celebrate the recent nominations of Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost and Army Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson to serve as combatant commanders. If confirmed by the Senate, they will become just the second and third women to serve as combatant commanders in the military.
Biden also used the speech to make the case that more needed to be done to improve conditions for women who serve, including dealing with the scourge of sexual assault and harassment in the ranks. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has promised to make addressing the issue a top priority as reports of sexual assault has steadily gone up since 2006, according to Pentagon data.
Biden called the problem “nothing less than a threat to our national security.”
Vice President Kamala Harris
Ahead of Biden’s speech Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris marked International Women’s Day with a virtual address to the European Parliament, while first lady Jill Biden honored nearly two dozen women from around the world for demonstrating courage in pursuit of justice during a State Department ceremony.
Harris noted that women have been disproportionately impacted by the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic. Since February 2020, more than 2.3 million have left the workforce, putting women’s labor force participation rate at 57%, the lowest it has been since 1988, according to a National Women’s Law Center analysis.
“Simply put, our world does not work for women as it should,” Harris said. (VOA/SP)
After tolerating four years of tantrums, mood swings and fits, bad language, and the worst idiotic and overtly racist behavior when defeated by any US President, the world keenly awaited the change of power in the oldest democracy in the world when Joe Biden took over as the new American President.
Similarly, the world keenly looked forward to understanding the contours of the new administration’s internal and external policies, particularly its foreign policy. In a wide-ranging address at the US State Department last week, Biden outlined his new foreign policy vision, reiterating the catchphrase, “America is back”.
This stance was reflected in the words that Biden used, such as “re-build” (America’s alliances) and “re-engage” (with the world). He also sought to outline a clear vision of what the new administration aims to achieve in order to improve and stabilize international relations. It was a speech designed to re-establish order and global faith in the US; things that Biden clearly feels were lost under his controversial predecessor.
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Michelle Bentley, Reader in International Relations at the Royal Holloway University, London, opines that the US foreign policy will now focus more on multilateral diplomacy and working with other nations in a more positive way. But Biden hinted that this should not be considered a “soft approach”, insisting that diplomacy would be the best way to get what the US wants. He also tried to highlight the importance, which his administration attaches to democratic values, and described it as a key aspect of America’s identity and ethos.
During his first year in office, President Biden will bring together the world’s democracies to strengthen the global democratic institutions and forge a common agenda to address threats to common democratic values. Biden has explained that the so-called ‘Summit for Democracy’ he plans to convene later this year, will focus on fighting corruption and authoritarianism and protect human rights the world over.
The Summit will also issue a Call to Action for the private sector, including technology corporations and social media giants, to make their own commitments, recognizing their responsibilities and their overwhelming interest in preserving open, democratic societies and protecting free speech.
James Traub of the NYU’s Center on International Cooperation opines that in Asia, India has a geopolitical status of all its own. The world’s fifth-largest economy, India serves as a bulwark against China, which the Biden administration regards as America’s most dangerous adversary. And because China increasingly seeks to export its model of authoritarian, state-run capitalism, China also poses a unique threat to democracy, which the new administration will definitely try to weaken.
The Biden administration has inherited from Trump the premise of an ‘Indo-Pacific’ region with India at its core. In the recent past, as relations between New Delhi and Beijing soured, India strengthened its commitment to a multilateral partnership with the US, Japan, and Australia, known as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad.
China has castigated this forum as an Asian version of NATO, or one which is directly aimed against it. India, though cautious of formal alliances was initially hesitant to fully engage, as it also didn’t want to sour its trade relations with Beijing.
The US considers India as “one of the most important partners in the Indo-Pacific region” and says it welcomes its emergence as a leading global power. “India is one of the most important partners in the Indo-Pacific region to us. We welcome India’s emergence as a leading global power and its role as a net security provider in the region,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a press briefing earlier this week.
In addition, Kurt Campbell, the China hawk whom Biden recently appointed as the ‘Indo-Pacific Coordinator’ at the National Security Council, has reportedly proposed forging a new system of alliances binding South and East Asia, and Asia and Europe, as well as of incorporating India, South Korea, and Australia into the G-7 to form a new ‘D-10’, the 10 great democracies.
This further strengthens the importance which the US attaches to India but it will also keep a strict watch on the internal political developments in India, particularly related to minorities. Though the personal equation, which existed between Trump and Modi, might be missing under the new dispensation yet it may not afford to ignore India.
Also, the new administration will not be able to drastically alter its policy toward India as the US needs its help to counter China in the region and also increasingly values India as a military and trade partner.
Want to read an article in Hindi? Checkout: ट्रंप के खिलाफ ट्रायल में वारेन हेस्टिंग्स के महाभियोग का जिक्र
Biden, who once spoke optimistically of China’s emergence “as a great power”, has become increasingly tough on Beijing, and some analysts said his administration would most likely use the Quad as a way to ensure that the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region does not tilt too far toward China.
Still, in New Delhi, there is a school of thought which feels that the new administration might not be as tough on China as the previous one and that Biden might be forced to adopt a more nuanced and less favorable position toward India.
In addition, the US has been trying unsuccessfully to increase arms sales to India, but the country’s history of buying weapons from France, Israel and Russia, has complicated that effort. There is an added US concern that providing military equipment to India might help the Russian military or other foreign agents to have access to the US technology.
Other issues, which might have an impact on the relationship, are the visa and climate change issues. The outgoing President had earlier this year suspended H-1B visas for high-skilled workers, a major setback for the American IT sector, which employs many Indians. The US will also require Indian support and cooperation on its initiative on climate change issues and in addition, both countries are trying to hammer out a mutually beneficial Trade Agreement, which has eluded the officials so far conducting the talks.
However, there are signs that the next phase of the US-India relations will be based more on substance and less on rhetoric as India, now is able to offer much more to us, both in military, security, trade, and technological terms. The ties might not be personality-oriented but focus more on changing hard realities and individual aspirations, particularly in the post-Covid changed the world. (IANS)