Trump campaign adviser Stephen Miller discusses President Trump's busy travel schedule and the state of the 2020 presidential election.
Trump campaign adviser Stephen Miller discusses President Trump's busy travel schedule and the state of the 2020 presidential election.
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden on Monday tapped Obama administration veterans for top national security positions, signalling a stark shift from the Trump administration’s “America First” policies that disparaged international alliances, career diplomats and other veteran government officials.The six picks, including former Secretary of State John Kerry, mark a return to a more traditional approach to America’s relations with the rest of the world and reflect Biden’s campaign promises to have his Cabinet reflect the diversity of America.In choosing foreign policy veterans, Biden appears to be seeking to upend Trump’s war on the so-called “deep state” that saw an exodus of senior and mid-level career officials from government, notably from the ranks of the State Department and National Security Council, including some who were fired for voicing opposition to the president's moves.Biden will nominate his longtime adviser Antony Blinken to be secretary of state, lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas to be homeland security secretary, Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be ambassador to the United Nations. Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, will be nominated as director of national intelligence, the first woman to hold that post.The incoming president will also appoint Jake Sullivan to be his national security adviser and Kerry to be his climate change envoy. Those posts do not require Senate confirmation.The choices reflect Biden's emphasis on developing a diverse team with Thomas-Greenfield, a Black woman, at the helm of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and Mayorkas, a Cuban-American lawyer who will be the first Latino to lead Homeland Security.Thomas-Greenfield previously served in high-level State Department positions and Mayorkas was a deputy Homeland Security secretary under Obama.They “are experienced, crisis-tested leaders who are ready to hit the ground running on day one,” the transition said in a statement. “These officials will start working immediately to rebuild our institutions, renew and reimagine American leadership to keep Americans safe at home and abroad, and address the defining challenges of our time — from infectious disease, to terrorism, nuclear proliferation, cyber threats, and climate change.”In making the announcements, Biden moved forward with plans to fill out his administration even as Trump refuses to concede defeat in the Nov. 3 election, has pursued baseless legal challenges in several key states and has worked to stymie the transition process.The stakes of a smooth transition are especially high this year because Biden will take office amid the worst pandemic in more than a century, which will likely require a full government response to contain.“If confirmed, this is a mission I will take on with my full heart,” said Blinken who would take over the nation’s oldest Cabinet agency and be fourth in line for the presidency.Thomas-Greenfield — a career diplomat for more than 30 years serving as ambassador to Liberia, director general of the foreign service and assistant secretary of state for African affairs before being pushed out early in Trump's presidency — paid tribute to her mother in accepting the nomination.“My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place,” she said in a tweet. “I’ve carried that lesson with me throughout my career in Foreign Service — and, if confirmed, will do the same as Ambassador to the United Nations.”Perhaps the best known of the bunch is Kerry, who made climate change one of his top priorities while serving as Obama's secretary of state during which he also negotiated the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord. Trump withdrew from both agreements, which he said represented a failure of American diplomacy in a direct shot at Kerry who he called the worst secretary of state in U.S. history.“America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is,” Kerry said. “I’m proud to partner with the president-elect, our allies, and the young leaders of the climate movement to take on this crisis as the president’s climate envoy.”Sullivan, who at 43 will be one of the youngest national security advisers in history, was a top aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before becoming then-Vice-President Biden's national security adviser. He said the president-elect had “taught me what it takes to safeguard our national security at the highest levels of our government.”“Now, he has asked me to serve as his national security adviser,” Sullivan said. “In service, I will do everything in my power to keep our country safe.”Mayorkas said he was humbled by the nomination. “When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge,” he said. “Now, I have been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones.”Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. If confirmed, he would be a leading force in the incoming administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances.Blinken recently participated in a national security briefing with Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris and weighed in publicly just last week on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.Blinken will inherit a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Trump’s two secretaries of state, Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo, offered weak resistance to the administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention.Although the department escaped massive proposed cuts of more than 30% in its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, from which many diplomats have opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancements under an administration that they believe does not value their expertise.Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice-President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Kerry.A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement.“Democracy is in retreat around the world, and unfortunately it’s also in retreat at home because of the president taking a two-by-four to its institutions, its values and its people every day," Blinken told The Associated Press in September. "Our friends know that Joe Biden knows who they are. So do our adversaries. That difference would be felt on day one.”Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
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Months of EU deliberation to decide which business activities can be marketed as green investments have produced a set of draft standards some finance officials and NGOs say are lax for the polluting shipping sector and challenging for buildings. As the European Union pursues regulation to try to deliver the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, a powerful tool in channelling funding over the coming decades will be its financial taxonomy - in other words, a system of classifying activities that can be marketed as sustainable. Policy-makers on Friday published draft rules following months spent collecting input from all concerned, after a Technical Expert Group (TEG) in March delivered its recommendations.
TORONTO — Ontario's premier suggested Monday things would "get back to normal" once COVID-19 vaccines are approved and mass-produced, as two hot spots in the province entered lockdowns and Eastern Canada's Atlantic bubble was temporarily dismantled in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.Doug Ford dangled the possibility of an end to the pandemic in announcing a retired Canadian Forces general would lead the province's vaccine distribution, and vowed to support businesses struggling under stringent public health measures."Once approved, once in mass production, these vaccines will finally bring an end to this pandemic. The vaccine is what will get life back to normal," he said Monday. Ford's comments came as two major urban centres in Ontario where COVID-19 cases have been surging entered the lockdown stage of the province's pandemic protection plan, where they will remain for at least 28 days.As a result, all non-essential retailers in Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region are reduced to curbside pickup only, and restaurants are limited to takeout and delivery orders. Personal services such as hair salons are also closed, but schools and child-care centres remain open.Some noted the measures will disproportionately affect small businesses, while larger corporations will likely continue to thrive. "The structure of the lockdowns in Toronto and Peel will likely have the largest impact on small business who are now forced to shut down, driving shoppers to big-box stores," BMO analyst Benjamin Reitzes wrote in a morning note."This is where the real damage is going to be from this government decision."Asked why the province didn't try to level the playing field by preventing big-box stores from selling non-essential items like Manitoba did recently, Ford said it would be a "logistical nightmare" for business owners to cordon off areas of their stores and monitor shoppers to ensure they stick to essential purchases. The mayors of several municipalities in the Toronto and Hamilton area urged any retailers who remain open not to hold "large in-person sales" on Black Friday, noting these would "inevitably produce crowd scenes which would only serve to undermine the fight against COVID-19 and negate the sacrifices being made by so many, including other businesses."Other areas of Ontario, which reported 1,589 new cases of COVID-19 and 19 new deaths on Monday, are also seeing tighter restrictions as they move to higher alert levels under the province's colour-coded plan.Meanwhile, two provinces announced their temporary withdrawal from the Atlantic bubble on Monday in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.Anyone travelling to Newfoundland and Labrador from the Atlantic region will have to self-isolate for 14 days starting Wednesday, just like visitors from other parts of the country.Speaking in St. John's, N.L., Premier Andrew Furey said the decision was made in "an effort to avoid a full lockdown."Prince Edward Island is barring all non-essential travel to to the province for two weeks, in what P.E.I. Premier Dennis King called a preventive move.Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I., along with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, were part of the so-called Atlantic bubble that allowed residents to travel freely within the four provinces' borders without isolating.Newfoundland and Labrador reported two new cases Monday, and P.E.I. reported one. All of the Island's 69 cases since the pandemic began have been travel-related.Stricter limits on social gatherings also took effect in the Halifax region and a neighbouring county on Monday.New Brunswick's premier, Blaine Higgs, said the province isn't planning any changes regarding the Atlantic bubble, despite the decisions made by Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I. The province reported one new death and 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.Further west, Manitoba reported a new peak in daily infections, with 543 new COVID-19 cases. Quebec, another province hit hard by the pandemic, reported 1,164 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 more deaths on Monday.COVID-19 cases in Yukon jumped to 38, 14 more than just a week ago. Yukon increased restrictions last week as infection rates jumped in jurisdictions around it, requiring all but critical services workers to self isolate for two weeks when they enter the territory.Over the weekend, four provinces — Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Alberta — reported new records in daily infections.Canada's top public health doctor, Dr. Theresa Tam, said cases are increasing nationally among older adults, with more and larger outbreaks in long-term care homes and other congregate living settings."These developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies," Tam said in a written statement.An increasing number of people are also experiencing severe illness as a result of the novel coronavirus, with more being treated in intensive care units, she said."This situation is putting pressure on local healthcare resources and forcing hospitals to make the difficult decision to cancel elective surgeries and procedures in several areas of the country," Tam said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
Lawmakers from California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii warned of “an eviction cliff that could leave millions homeless in the middle of a deadly pandemic.”
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