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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.

Climate Change

Australia places honeybees in lockdown

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Honeybees in Australia are in lockdown after a deadly parasite was discovered in Sydney

A parasite has been found to weaken and kill bee colonies, which could threaten the already-scarce bee population.

Australian bees have been into lockdown, which means beekeepers are not allowed to move hives, bees or honeycombs until further notice from biosecurity.

Local authorities say swift measures are being taken to contain the disease.

“We have immediately launched an eradication plan which involved setting up a biosecurity zone, containing the infected hives and euthanising the bees.”

NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders

Until now, Australia is one of a few continents who did not have the varroa destructor, which can attach itself to the body of a bee and weaken its fat.

Nearly one-third of Australia’s food production relies on bee pollination. But the outbreak could cost the honey industry millions of dollars.

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Crypto

North Korea bears the brunt of the crypto market crash

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The crypto market crash is impacting North Korea’s weapons programme

The recent crypto market crash has made its way to North Korea, where hackers are bearing the brunt.

The isolated country relies on stolen crypto to fund part of their weapons program.

But as crypto holdings drop by millions of dollars, the nation is reportedly scrambling to find new ways to fund Pyongyang’s missile plans.

KCNA

North Korea has ramped up its stolen crypto assets in recent times leading to one of the largest cryptocurrency heists on record earlier this year.

Hackers allegedly stole $615 million worth of crypto prompting the U.S. tplace a warning about potential workers who are hiding their identities to find jobs abroad.

Meanwhile, crypto holdings have decreased in value with the market sliding below $1 trillion for the first time since January 2021.

Katerina Kostakos contributed to this report

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Ukraine Crisis

Sean Penn visits President Zelensky in Kyiv

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Sean Penn is the latest celebrity to travel to Ukraine and meet with President Zelensky

Actor Sean Penn is reportedly creating a documentary on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He is seeking to visit the war-torn areas where Russian troops have allegedly committed war crimes.

The leader thanked Penn for his support during the meeting. It comes a week after Zelensky met with Hollywood star Ben Stiller, who was visiting for humanitarian reasons.

“The whole world will soon be able to see the whole truth about the war thanks to his film. Sean, thank you for the support of our state and our people.”

UKRAINE’S PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY

Meanwhile, fresh vision has emerged of a Russian missile strike on a crowded shopping mall in the country’s east.

It’s understood 18 people are dead, and dozens are still missing. Moscow says it struck a nearby arms depot and is claiming the mall was empty at the time.

The blast sent shockwaves around surrounding areas, where people can be seen running away from the areas of impact.

Meanwhile, President Zelensky is calling Russia a terrorist state. He urged his U.N. counterparts to stand up and pay their respects, as he dialled in for urgent talks.

“Who of you does not agree that this is terrorism?”

UKRAINE’S PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY

Zelensky named victims of the war, including a three-month-old. He also drew on the U.N. Charter for maintaining international peace and security.

Meanwhile, Russia’s representatives expressed concern about President Zelensky’s speech. Dmitry Polyanskiy says he did not receive any consultation beforehand.

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