Connect with us


Biden seeks rebound as he basks in huge political victory – CNN



(CNN)President Joe Biden’s soon-to-be-signed $1 trillion infrastructure legislation is a direly needed political win and a vindication of his entire creed of politics. But on its own, it is unlikely to rescue a wobbling presidency as midterm elections loom.

If ever a President needed a break, it was Biden, after brutal months battered by the pandemic, a consequent economic storm and his own mismanaged withdrawal from Afghanistan. In recent months, Biden has often looked outpaced by multiple challenges, raising questions about his authority and capacity to restore competent, calm leadership that voters craved when they chose him in 2020. Even more moderate members of his own party have wondered whether the President’s decision to adopt a transformative agenda despite minuscule majorities in Congress backfired. And deeper problems afflicting his presidency, doubts over whether Democrats’ message is a fit with the country’s mood and historic factors weighing against first-term presidents in midterm elections mean one big legislative win may not launch a comeback.
But if the 2022 campaign effectively started after last week’s gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, which further tarnished the Democratic brand, it could hardly have begun better for Biden.
On Friday morning, a surge of optimism greeted new official data showing the economy churned out 531,000 jobs in October after several shockingly poor months. News that Pfizer is seeking regulatory approval for a highly effective pill to treat Covid-19, new authorization for vaccines for kids ages 5-11 and figures showing that 70% of US adults are now fully vaccinated offered the promise of escape from the pandemic after many false dawns. Then, on Friday evening, Biden got his biggest win on Capitol Hill yet, with House passage of the infrastructure measure that had been held up by progressives seeking guarantees on a large social spending bill that Biden hopes to pass next.
A historic federal effort will soon flow to repair the country’s potholed roads, aging airports, crumbling bridges and antiquated railroads, with more funds targeting rural broadband and earmarked to catalyze a fast evolution of electric vehicles.
Several Democrats, including Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, argued that had the bill — which passed the Senate in August — become law earlier, Democrat Terry McAuliffe might have been elected governor of the commonwealth instead of Republican Glenn Youngkin last week. But Warner also highlighted Friday night’s victory in a bid to turn the page for Democrats, who must now show they can sell the benefits of the bill more effectively than they have so far in marketing Biden’s agenda.
“What a difference a week makes,” Warner told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” on Sunday. Speaking on the same show, Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan admitted that the bill’s passage was a big win but argued that the tortuous political process that was required to pass it would limit its political potency. “It should have been an overwhelming win back in August, and I think (Biden) should not have let it get sidetracked by the progressives in the House,” Hogan told Bash.

A bill that will live in history

Still, presidencies unfold in several parallel realities. If the bill is a success, no one, in 30 years, will remember the excruciating political drama surrounding its passage and it will be a significant legacy achievement for Biden.
The measure also represents significant political vindication for the President. He anchored his campaign in 2020 on a case that he could use government to tilt the economy toward working Americans. He says the infrastructure plan will create the kind of secure, blue-collar jobs the US has been shedding for years.
Over the last decade, the idea of an infrastructure reform bill had become a Washington punchline. But Biden achieved something that former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump both failed to do despite their own hopes of splashy infrastructure bills.
Almost alone in Washington, Biden also believed he could draw Republican support for an infrastructure plan that would show that the polarized and traumatized Washington system could still function as it was supposed to. In the event, he got 19 GOP senators and 13 House Republicans to vote in favor — a relatively small group but still rare bipartisanship in modern Washington.
“All along, you told me I can’t do any of it anyway,” Biden told reporters on Saturday. “From the very beginning … You didn’t believe we could do any of it. And I don’t blame you. Because you look at the facts, you wonder, ‘How is this going to get done?'”
The President had a point in his rare White House victory lap. And after weeks failing to quell showdowns raging within his own Democratic Party, his reputation as a consummate congressional dealmaker may be partially restored.
Yet bolstering his legacy with a historic legislative achievement may do little to ease the Democrats’ problems in the short-term. Most immediately, there is the question of the companion social spending legislation meant to transform early childhood education, home care for the sick and the elderly and meet the challenge of saving a planet afflicted by global warming. The infrastructure bill passed under a compromise between House progressives and moderates under which the latter agreed to vote on the bigger plan — worth roughly $2 trillion — when assessments come back from the Congressional Budget Office on its impact on the deficit.
But a perilous path still looms in the 50-50 Senate with moderates, including West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, still not definitely on board despite Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s plan to pass it by Thanksgiving to give the President another big victory. Driving the bill into law could be crucial to getting progressive base voters out next November. But like the infrastructure plan, there is no guarantee that Americans will begin to experience widespread results by then.
Still, White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday he was “almost certain” some shovel ready infrastructure projects could begin unfolding by the spring. But given the size of the bill, and the complicated planning and design process involved in major infrastructure overhauls, it could months or even years before much of the money shows tangible benefits.
Most Washington Republicans, hoping to deny Biden the benefits of a political win, are billing the newly passed legislation as an example of Democratic overspending they plan to put at the center of their midterm campaign — despite showing little concern for fiscal discipline when Trump was in office. The ex-President, meanwhile, blasted Republicans who voted for the plan in a statement and slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky for not stopping it — perhaps smarting from his own widely mocked failure to pass an infrastructure bill.

Energy secretary warns of rising heating costs

Despite the passage of the bill, the Biden administration will now face nettlesome challenges that have helped drive down the President’s approval ratings just as the midterm campaign begins to fire up.
The administration is plunging into court battles to uphold the President’s vaccine mandates covering federal employees and large company offices. The aim is to end the pandemic more quickly. But the issue fires up conservative sentiment that is already being used by the GOP to power the midterm campaign.
Many of the issues relating to Covid-19’s deadly impact would have tested any administration. And most world leaders have struggled to cope with a once-in-a-century health crisis that has demoralized entire populations. But that doesn’t mean those in charge at national and state levels won’t pay a political price.
A supply chain crisis linked to the lingering effects worldwide from the pandemic, consequently rising inflation, and the high price of gas and home energy have also helped to portray Biden as hostage to events. He has also sometimes come across as following rather than leading his party as progressives assert their own power. And his tetchy and sometimes misleading and blame-shifting response to the bloody US exit from Afghanistan cemented an impression of a presidency running off the rails, which Republicans have exploited and which hurt Democrats in Virginia and New Jersey. While there is reason for the White House to feel more optimistic that the national mood could improve early next year — barring another worsening of the morale-sapping pandemic — the next few months could be rough. This is a particular issue for a President who back in March defined the purpose of his term as fixing problems Americans wanted to be addressed.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, for example, offered little hope Sunday that gasoline prices — amid a refusal by oil-producing nations to pump more crude — would dip any time soon. Asked whether gas could hit an average price of $4 a gallon, 60 cents higher than the current price, she told Bash, “Well, we certainly hope not.” Granholm also warned of rising heating costs this winter. “Yes, this is going to happen. It will be more expensive this year than last year,” she said.
Energy prices are a classic example of problems that are hard for presidents to instantly fix but that expose them to significant political risk. So while he made real strides in history late Friday night with the passage of his infrastructure bill, the fortunes of Biden and Democrats are unlikely to suddenly soar.

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link


Sudan’s al-Burhan says army will exit politics after 2023 vote –



Top general says Sudan’s military will not participate in politics after a civilian government is elected in 2023.

Sudan’s military chief says the army will leave politics after elections that are scheduled for 2023.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan offered the assurance during one of several interviews he gave to international news agencies on Saturday.

The general had led a military takeover in late October, upending Sudan’s transition to civilian-led democracy, but a deal struck on November 21 has reinstated Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to lead a technocratic Cabinet until elections in July 2023.

“When a government is elected, I don’t think the army, the armed forces, or any of the security forces will participate in politics. This is what we agreed on and this is the natural situation,” al-Burhan told the Reuters news agency.

The coup, which ended a partnership with civilian political parties after the toppling of long time ruler Omar al-Bashir, drew international condemnation after the detention of dozens of key officials and crackdowns on protesters.

Neighbourhood resistance committees and political parties have called for the military to exit politics immediately and have rejected any compromise, including the deal with Hamdok. At least 44 people have died during demonstrations, many from gunshot wounds from security forces, according to medics.

“Investigations regarding the victims of the protests have begun to identify who has done this … and to punish the criminals,” al-Burhan said, adding that security forces had only dispersed non-peaceful protests.

Al-Bashir has been jailed since his overthrow on corruption and other charges. Along with several other Sudanese suspects, he is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged war crimes in Darfur.

The civilian government dissolved in the coup had approved al-Bashir’s handover, but the military has yet to agree.

“We have understandings with the International Criminal Court for the appearance [of suspects] before the judiciary or before the court,” al-Burhan said. “We have remained in dialogue with the court on how to do right by the victims.”

In the aftermath of the coup, many civilian bureaucrats were dismissed or transferred and replaced with al-Bashir-era veterans in decisions Hamdok has sought to reverse.

Al-Burhan said on Saturday that al-Bashir’s former ruling party would have no role in the transition.

“We will work together so that the National Congress Party will not be a part of the transition in any form,” he said.

Sudan is in a deep economic crisis, though an influx of international economic support had begun to be felt before much of it was suspended after the coup.

Al-Burhan said he expected the backing to return once a civilian government is formed, indicating that the country would not reverse reforms enacted over the past two years by reinstating subsidies or returning to printing money.

“The international community including the African Union is watching what will happen in the coming days,” he told the AFP news agency.

“I believe there are positive indicators that things will return [to how they were] soon. The formation of a civilian government will put things back in order.”

Though Western nations and the African Union have spoken out against the coup, diplomats say Russia, which is seeking to develop a naval base on Sudan’s Red Sea coast, has been cultivating ties with military leaders.

A deal for the base has yet to be finalised, al-Burhan told Reuters.

“We hope that our relations [with Russia] will become stronger with the signature of this agreement,” he said. “Consultations are continuing and we are working on the agreement until it becomes acceptable and legal.”

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Biden and Putin to hold video call on Tuesday, will discuss Ukraine



U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a video call on Tuesday to deal with military tensions over Ukraine other topics.

Biden wants to discuss U.S. concerns about Russia’s military buildup on the Ukraine border, a U.S. source said on Saturday, as well as strategic stability, cyber and regional issues.

“We’re aware of Russia’s actions for a long time and my expectation is we’re going to have a long discussion with Putin,” Biden told reporters on Friday as he departed for a weekend trip to Camp David. “I don’t accept anybody’s red lines,” he said.

The two will also talk about bilateral ties and the implementation of agreements reached at their Geneva summit in June, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

“The conversation will indeed take place on Tuesday,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters. “Bilateral relations, of course Ukraine and the realisation of the agreements reached in Geneva are the main (items) on the agenda,” he said.

More than 94,000 Russian troops are massed near Ukraine’s borders. Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Friday that Moscow may be planning a large-scale military offensive for the end of January, citing intelligence reports.

Biden will reaffirm the United States’ support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the U.S. source said. The exact timing of the call was not disclosed. The White House declined to comment.

The U.S. president on Friday said he and his advisers are preparing a comprehensive set of initiatives aimed at deterring Putin from an invasion. He did not give further details, but the Biden administration has discussed partnering with European allies to impose more sanctions on Russia.

Moscow accuses Kyiv of pursuing its own military build-up. It has dismissed as inflammatory suggestions that it is preparing for an attack on its southern neighbor and has defended its right to deploy troops on its own territory as it sees fit.

U.S. officials say they do not know yet what Putin’s intentions are, adding while intelligence points to preparations for a possible invasion of Ukraine, it is unclear whether a final decision to do so has been made.

U.S.-Russia relations have been deteriorating for years, notably with Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its 2015 intervention in Syria and U.S. intelligence charges of meddling in the 2016 election won by now-former President Donald Trump.

But they have become more volatile in recent months.

The Biden administration has asked Moscow to crack down on ransomware and cyber crime attacks emanating from Russian soil, and in November charged a Ukraine national and a Russian in one of the worst ransomware attacks against American targets.

Russia has repeatedly denied carrying out or tolerating cyber attacks.

The two leaders have had one face-to-face meeting since Biden took office in January, sitting down for talks in Geneva last June. They last talked by phone on July 9. Biden relishes direct talks with world leaders, seeing them as a way to lower tensions.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Russian Foreign Minister ” Sergei Lavrov in Stockholm earlier this week that the United States and its European allies would impose “severe costs and consequences on Russia if it takes further aggressive action against Ukraine.”

(Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in WashingtonEditing by Heather Timmons and Alistair Bell)

Continue Reading


Meet the recipients of the new Women in Politics scholarship – The Signal



Dalhousie award created to encourage more women to enter male dominated field

Having more women at the decision-making table is important for Claire Belliveau.

“If we have male dominated rooms, we’re going to have male dominated issues, as easy as that,” said Belliveau.

Belliveau, along with Charlotte Bourke, are the first recipients of the new Women in Politics scholarship at Dalhousie.

Belliveau is in her fourth year at Dalhousie, studying political science and law, justice and society. She has been involved in politics since she was 18, working for Environment Minister Tim Halman. Belliveau is the community outreach co-ordinator at Halman’s constituency office.

Being a young woman in politics has not always been easy for Belliveau. She recalls instances where people questioned her abilities due to her age and times when male peers would take credit for her ideas.

Despite these challenges, Belliveau has found support among other women in the field. One thing she found interesting was how women in politics support each other despite party alliance.

“It’s so nice to see how much these women want to see other women succeed, in a male dominated field,” she said.

Belliveau would like to pursue a career in government as an analyst, contributing to policy development in education and the environment.

Bourke is also a fourth-year political science student with an interest in environmental politics. Her main research interests are social and environmental policies and she is studying ways to create fairer climate adaptation plans.

Bourke is unsure about her plans after graduation, but she knows it will involve politics, social issues and the environment.

Charlotte Bourke walks up the steps to the Henry Hicks Building, where the political science department is located, on Nov. 13, 2021.   Gabrielle Brunette

The scholarship serves to encourage, support and inspire young women in their political aspirations. It was established by Grace Evans and Sarah Dobson, co-authors of On Their Shoulders: The Women who Paved the Way in Nova Scotia Politics.

The book addresses the gender gap by showcasing the first and only 50 women at the time, to have served as MLAs in the province. The book highlights the importance of female representation in municipal politics and all proceeds go towards funding the new scholarship.

In 2021, women and gender-diverse people make up only 36 per cent of the legislative assembly in Nova Scotia.

Of 55 MLAs, 19 are women, one is gender-diverse and 35 are men.

“People often don’t want to enter a realm where they can’t see themselves reflected. I think it’s hard for young women to become interested in politics if they don’t see their peers there,” Evans said.

The scholarship will run for as long as there is funding. Every year, two students will be awarded $1,000 each.

“There’s not a lot of scholarships, to my knowledge, geared specifically towards poli sci students, let alone women in poli sci,” Bourke said.

Evans said they are looking to expand the scholarship beyond funding to create a network of people. She and Dobson have been working in politics for a few years and have made many connections they would like to share with the recipients.

Receiving the scholarship was rewarding for Bourke, who felt like all her hard work was being acknowledged.

“It’s kind of just like a relief and a push forward to be like, oh wow I am being recognized, this is really cool, people actually think that I’m good enough, or they actually want me here. It feels sort of welcoming,” she said.

Charlotte Bourke is a fourth-year political science student, minoring in environmental studies.   Gabrielle Brunette

Belliveau was honoured to receive a scholarship designed to encourage women, like herself, who want a career in politics.

“It was just really motivating, especially from Sarah and Grace, knowing how much they care about young women in politics, knowing how much they care about the history and seeing more young women join the field,” she said.

“They’re acknowledging how important it is to have those voices at the table.”

For both women, winning the scholarship has given them a boost of confidence.

Belliveau said it has pushed her to apply for other opportunities, something she hopes other young women in politics will be encouraged to do as well.

“Apply for every scholarship, apply for fellowships, apply for the jobs you don’t think you qualify for because … men are doing it and they get them all the time, so why shouldn’t you?” she said.

“So, take advantage of everything you can and just enjoy the ride, stand your ground and don’t be afraid to speak up.”

Gabrielle Brunette

Gabrielle is a journalist for the Signal at the University of King’s College. She completed her BAH in political studies at Queen’s University.

Have a story idea? Let us know

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading