Displaying items by tag: Joe Biden
From business and strategic perspectives, Joe Biden's recent visits to Vietnam and India will likely be seen as bolstering ties with countries that can help Washington to counter China’s growing might. But for rights advocates, Biden's travels are a huge disappointment, given his administration's vow to prioritise human rights when taking office in 2021. Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the government's Hindu majoritarian ideology is reflected in bias in the justice system, and authorities have intensified efforts to silence activists and journalists through politically motivated charges. Meanwhile, Vietnam is holding at least 159 political prisoners - people imprisoned for peacefully exercising basic civil and political rights - and at least 22 others were in detention pending eventual trial before a court controlled by the ruling Communist Party. In the first eight months of 2023 alone, HRW said, courts have sentenced at least fifteen people to long prison terms in violation of their rights to a fair trial. Reporters asked Biden in Vietnam if he was putting US strategic interests above rights and replied: ‘I’ve raised it (human rights) with every person I met with’.
But HRW said talking in private was not enough.
President Biden's son, Hunter, has been criminally charged with three counts of lying when buying a firearm, after a proposed plea deal collapsed. This is the first time the child of a sitting president has been criminally prosecuted. All three counts relate to Mr Biden allegedly lying on forms while buying a firearm when he was a drug user. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, the justice department said in a statement. The younger Mr Biden's legal woes have become a political lightning rod as his father seeks re-election. Earlier this week, Republicans in the House of Representatives announced an impeachment inquiry into President Biden: among the accusations being levelled against him are that he lied about his involvement in his son's business dealings while serving as vice-president. Two Internal Revenue Service investigators have also claimed that the justice department stymied their investigation into Hunter Biden's tax return.
The shift in tone and mood was unmistakable as US president Joe Biden visited the Republic of Ireland, having spent a short time in Northern Ireland. Baseball cap on, and into a pub. ‘It feels like I'm coming home,’ he said in Dundalk, County Louth. The NI politics tightrope negotiated, it seems it is now time to unwind a little. His sister and son were in tow: it was not diplomacy but a return to family roots and a sense of belonging. 30 million Americans also have Irish ancestry, and Biden hopes for a political dividend the year before a presidential election. Meanwhile his visit to Northern Ireland, although talked about for months, only lasted 17 hours. There is no such thing as a low-key trip for an American president, but this came close. Quick, short, with Rishi Sunak's input minimal, not even appearing at Biden's only public appearance - raising some eyebrows in government.
Joe Biden will visit Israel and Saudi Arabia from 13 to 16 July. The 16th is a Jewish fast day in remembrance of Jerusalem's walls being breached. On that day the president will visit Saudi Arabia where Washington has been brokering talks to transfer a pair of Red Sea islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, in a deal that would see Riyadh take small steps toward formal diplomatic ties with Jerusalem. It is also believed that Biden’s visit to the Gulf kingdom is to seek an increase in its oil production and coordinate with regional partners on Iran. The president’s schedule of two days in Jerusalem and Bethlehem indicates Washington also aims to solidify the two-pronged ties with Jerusalem while assuring the Palestinians that his administration is still proactively committed to the two-state solution.
A left-wing group that supported Joe Biden in 2020 announced it is going to work against him with a public pressure campaign to block his renomination as the Democratic candidate in 2024. The group has an email list of 1.2 million people and will spend six figures on a #DontRunJoe campaign with digital ads starting in early nominating states the day after the midterm elections. They have already created the website DontRunJoe.org, with a petition asking him not to run. It includes recent media headlines outlining his many public gaffes to bolster its argument. They said, ‘Having Joe Biden as the Democratic Party's standard-bearer in 2024 would be a tragic mistake.’ The question of his advanced age and cognitive ability were frequently questioned during the 2020 election and have also been under scrutiny during his time in office by political pundits, lawmakers, and the media. 38 Republican members have asked Biden to take a cognitive test.
On 24 May, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos entered Robb Elementary School in Texas, armed with a handgun and a rifle. He killed nineteen pupils and two teachers before he himself was shot dead. This was the deadliest school attack for a decade. Amid the outpouring of shock and grief, Joe Biden asked, ‘Why do we keep letting this happen? Why are we willing to live with this carnage?’ This tragedy has reignited the debate about guns, particularly since there had already been 27 other school shootings this year. Since his election, the president has made a number of pledges to tighten legislation, but he faces an uphill battle to convert any of them into action, given the fierce opposition from the Republicans and the powerful gun lobby.
On 25 May North Korea test-fired at least two ballistic missiles, just a day after Joe Biden left the region. One flew about 300 km, the other 750 km: they were the latest in a flurry of such launches in 2022. Japan’s defence minister said they were ‘unacceptable’, and South Korea called them ‘a grave provocation’.' Mr Biden visited both those countries, and agreed with the South Korean president to hold bigger military drills and deploy more US strategic assets if necessary, to deter North Korea’s intensifying weapons test.' He said that the USA was ‘prepared for anything North Korea does’.
Joe Biden's first formal State of the Union speech came as only 40.6% of Americans are happy with his job performance. After describing his foreign policies on the invasion of Ukraine, Mr Biden confronted a host of domestic troubles dogging his presidency, from the enduring pandemic to soaring consumer prices, a wave of violent crime, and inflation hitting a 40-year high even though the jobless rate has sunk to 4%. The president sought to empathise with hard-pressed working families, saying ‘I get it.’ He promised a plan for ‘building a better America’ by boosting domestic production of cars and semiconductors, as well as rebuilding the nation’s roads and bridges. Republican response to the speech portrayed a presidency reflecting the late '70s ‘when runaway inflation hammered families, a violent crime wave crushed cities, and the Soviet army was trying to redraw the world map’.
Republicans have questioned Biden's cognitive abilities since before he was elected in 2020. Biden's doctor said, after November’s physical, that he was healthy, vigorous and fit for office. Republican senator Roger Marshall, also a physician, expressed interest in having the president take an annual cognitive test, much like he has an annual physical examination - citing concern for his health. Marshall said he feels there has been a ‘deterioration’ in Biden's ‘mental capacity’ over the past year: ‘I think we're all very concerned about his health, and it is a national security issue.’ On 15 February, 38 Republicans sent a letter to the president requesting he take a cognitive test. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Marshall's comments or the letter. Biden is 79, the oldest person ever to be elected president.
3,000 additional American troops will aid in defending NATO allies in Eastern Europe. A recent satellite image shows Russia has an entire new housing area, established in the past ten days, next to the existing military vehicles in Russia-occupied Crimea. Russia now has 130,000 troops encircling the Ukrainian border, increasing the threat to the region’s stability. The USA said its moves are designed to respond to the current security environment. Moreover, its troops are not going to fight in Ukr; they are there to ensure the robust defence of NATO allies. A thousand US soldiers will reposition from Germany to Romania in the coming days, adding to the 900 currently there. 2,000 additional troops are being moved from the USA to Europe. The 82nd Airborne Division is deploying an infantry brigade combat team and key enablers to Poland. 8,500 US troops remain ready to move if called.