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‘America is back’: Key takeaways from Joe Biden’s address

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As Joe Biden prepares to mark 100 days in office, the US President delivered his first joint address to Congress.

Making his way to the podium, Biden was ushered in with applause from the limited number of distinguished guests who were in attendance.

WOMEN IN POWER

Biden began his 1.5 hour address by thanking Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

“Madam speaker, madam vice president. No president has ever said those words from this podium. No president has ever said those words. And it’s about time.”

It is the first time in history that two women in leadership positions have stood behind a sitting President during a joint address.

PANDEMIC RESPONSE

Biden applauded his administration for its Covid-19 response, which includes having over 200 million vaccine doses administered to date.

He says “we are marshaling every federal resource. We’re getting vaccinations to nearly 40,000 pharmacies and over 700 community health centres where the poorest of the poor can be reached.” 

“Go get vaccinated, America. Go and get the vaccination. They’re available. You’re eligible now.”

The President spoke of inheriting “a nation in crisis” but the administration has already begun to turn it around and the country is “on the move again”.

CLIMATE ACTION & JOB CREATION

Speaking about his new American Jobs Plan, the President believes it will “put engineers and construction workers to work, allowing them to build more energy-efficient buildings and homes.” 

He says “the American Jobs Plan will help millions of people get back to their jobs and back to their careers.”

“Two million women have dropped out of the workforce during this pandemic… and too often, because they couldn’t get the care they needed to care for their child or care for an elderly parent who needs help.”

AMERICAN FAMILIES PLAN

On top of this, Biden has also confirmed details of his 1.8 trillion dollar federal investment in education, childcare and paid family leave.

The package is part two of an effort to kickstart the country’s economy back into action in the wake of Covid-19.

It aims to help families with the costs associated with childcare, make community college free, provide grants to students in need, allow paid medical leave and invest heavily in early childcare.

TAXING THE WEALTHY

In regards to taxes, the President promises “to not impose any tax increases on people making less than $400,000,” but the wealthiest have to pay their fair share.

“It’s time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1% of Americans to begin to pay their fair share.”

US, RUSSIA TENSIONS

Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin was also thrown into the spotlight, with Biden standing firm his stance against the nation.

Biden says he has “made it very clear to President Putin that the US doesn’t seek escalation… but their actions will have consequences if they turn out to be true, and they turned out to be true.”

This follows the administration imposing sweeping sanctions on a number of Moscow officials earlier this month, for their interference in the 2020 Presidential election.

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Biden is urging lawmakers to use the conviction of Derek Chauvin as a catalyst for change when it comes to reforming policing.

“We have all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black Americans. Now is our opportunity to make some real progress.”

He says “the vast majority of men and women in uniform wear their badge and serve their communities honorably. I know they want to help meet this moment as well.”

THE WAR ON IMMIGRATION

Biden wants America to end the country’s “exhausting war over immigration” and calls for lawmakers to stop talking about reform and finally act.

The administration has already moved to reverse many of the regulations and measures that were imposed by former President Trump.

Reports suggest backlogs at immigration centres are at least 50% higher than they were four years ago, with the Covid-19 pandemic also having an impact.

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Global Politics

Jab or jail: Duterte’s warning to Filipinos

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The President of the Phillipines is threatening his citizens with jail, if they don’t get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccine hesitancy is a serious problem in the Phillipines.

In a country where more than 23,000 people have died from COVID-19, a recent poll indicated only a third of Filipinos are willing to get inoculated.

The nation’s leader has threatened those who fail to do so.

In a televised address, Rodrigo Duterte warned: ‘You choose, Covid vaccine or I will have you jailed’.

He says that village leaders should “keep a list of those who refused to be vaccinated”.

“If you’re a person who’s not vaccinated and a potential carrier, to protect the people, I have to sequester you in jail.”

The comments put the hardline leader at odds with health officials who say vaccines are voluntary.

Last year the President ordered police and military to kill citizens who defied lockdown restrictions.

There have been more than 1.3 million cases of coronavirus in the country since the start of the pandemic.

“Don’t get me wrong, there is a crisis in this country,” Duterte told citizens in his address. “I’m just exasperated by Filipinos not heeding the government.”

“The first wave has really depleted the resources of government,” the President said. “Another one would be disastrous for this country.”

Duterte claims that is why “the stricter you are, the better”.

In response to his comments, the nation’s Justice Secretary says he believes the President “merely used strong words to drive home the need for us to get vaccinated and reach herd immunity as soon as possible”.

Menardo Guevarra added that there is currently no law that penalises people who refuse to get a COVID vaccine.

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Global Politics

Millions of American families are about to get cash in their pockets

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From next month, around 36 million American families are due to begin receiving payments totalling up to $1800 through to December this year.

Lawmakers have temporarily expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC) available to families with children in 2021.

Known as the enhanced Child Tax Credit, it was signed into law by President Joe Biden as part of the American Rescue plan.

The efforts will increase the previous $2,000 annual tax credit to $3,600 per child, with half being paid in cash instalments and the rest claimed on 2021 tax returns.

Families will get monthly payments of up to $300 for each child 6 years old and under and up to $250 for each child 6 to 18 years old.

These funds can help parents afford necessities like diapers, school supplies, and food. But this increase in the CTC payments has only been approved for 2021.

The Biden administration has also proposed to extend this new cash-back system for five years if successful.

An estimated 90 percent of children in the United States will automatically get the CTC. Even if a parent is making little to no income, they can still be eligible for the new CTC.

Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris says residents need to “spread the word”

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Global Politics

Fresh study reveals divide in the U.S

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A new poll has found that around one-third of Americans are convinced that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent.

The Monmouth University study found that 32 percent of respondents are of the impression that widespread voter fraud was the reason President Biden won the election.

In similar polls conducted by the university in November, January and March, this figure has remained steady.

The study’s director says “the continuing efforts to question the validity of last year’s election is deepening the partisan divide in ways that could have long-term consequences for America’s Democracy”.

Unsurprisingly, the research also found that the majority of those who believe in the voter fraud theory are either Republican or Republican-leaning.

The Monmouth poll surveyed 810 U.S. adults from June 9-14. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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