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Is Biden’s infrastructure bill ‘running into a brick wall’?

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Biden seeks new coalition for infrastructure bill as talks with key GOP senators crumble

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says bipartisan negotiations on the infrastructure bill “seem to be running into a brick wall”.

In addition to bipartisan options, Biden also spoke to the top two Democrats on Tuesday. He gave them the go-ahead to begin crafting an infrastructure bill that can pass without any Republican votes.

Bi-partisan agreement

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said the President spoke to her about the infrastructure bill.

“I spoke with the president this afternoon, and he ended our infrastructure negotiations,” Capito said in a statement.

“Throughout our negotiations, we engaged respectfully, fully, and very candidly—delivering several serious counteroffers that each represented the largest infrastructure investment Republicans have put forth,” she said.

Republicans agree to increase investment

It comes as the Republicans agreed to increase their initial $928 billion investment in the infrastructure bill by $50 billion.

However, Biden believes this increase is not enough. The White House said, “the current offer does not meet objectives to grow the economy, tackle the climate crisis, and create new jobs”.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says perhaps the days of the two parties working together are over.

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North Korea tests new cruise missiles

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North Korea claims to have “successfully” test-fired new long-range cruise missiles, which hit their targets 1,500 km away

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency describes the missiles as a “strategic weapon of great significance”.

The tests took place over the weekend, just days after the reclusive nation celebrated the 73rd anniversary of its founding with a late night military parade.

State media says the missiles flew for 7,580 seconds along “oval and pattern-8 flight orbits” and landed in the nation’s territorial waters.

The missile tests are the first that Pyongyang has carried out since March. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un does not appear to have been in attendance for the launches.

Bruce Wolpe from the United States Studies Centre says North Korea wants to create some attention.

“When Kim engages in these acts, he’s essentially saying pay attention to me… don’t forget I’m here. And he rattles the cage,” Wolpe told Ticker News.

The Korean Central News Agency says the test provides “strategic significance of possessing another effective deterrence means for more reliably guaranteeing the security of our state and strongly containing the military manoeuvres of the hostile forces”.

“The development of the long-range cruise missiles, a strategic weapon … has been promoted according to the scientific and reliable weapon system development process over the past two years.”

north korea state media

STALLED NUCLEAR NEGOTIATIONS

The latest missile tests come amid a protracted standoff between North Korea and the United States.

Negotiations to get North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal have remained stalled since 2019.

Pyongyang says it won’t give up its nuclear weapons, while America pursues a “hostile” policy.

Bruce Wolpe believes U.S. President Joe Biden will see the missile tests as justification for his decision to pull troops out of Afghanistan.

“It affirms, at least in President Biden’s mind, the wisdom of the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan because there are other issues that need his attention and focus,” Bruce Wolpe says.

The U.S special envoy for North Korea, Sung Kim, is visiting Japan this week to meet with his counterparts from South Korea and Japan.

One of the pressing issues up for discussion is how to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula.

But as history shows, it’s no easy feat.

The Biden administration says the best way to address the nuclear threat is through diplomacy and dialogue.

The special envoy has even offered to meet his North Korean counterparts “anywhere, anytime without preconditions.”

But North Korea has not been willing to engage.

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Kamala Harris blasts China

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The Vice President has sharply criticised Beijing, accusing it of coercion and intimidation in the South China Sea

Kamala Harris made the remarks during a major foreign policy speech in Singapore, as part of her second overseas trip since taking office.

The Vice President accusing Beijing of continuing “to coerce, to intimidate and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea”.

“These unlawful claims have been rejected by the 2016 arbitral tribunal decision, and Beijing’s actions continue to undermine the rules based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations,” Harris says.

Harris says the U.S. stands with its allies and partners in the face of these threats.

At the same time, Harris is seeking to reassure nations in the region that the Biden administration won’t force them to choose between China and the U.S.

“I must be clear: Our engagement in Southeast Asia and Indo-Pacific is not against any one country, nor is it designed to make anyone choose between countries.”

KAMALA HARRIS

Harris says U.S. engagement is “about advancing an optimistic vision that we have for our participation and partnership in this region”.

The Vice President is using the trip to reassure Southeast Asia of the Biden administration’s commitment to the region.

The messy and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan has raised concerns about the credibility of the United States’ foreign policy commitments, making this task even more important.

Appearing alongside the Vice President at a media conference on Monday, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was asked about U.S. reliability, following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

“What will influence perceptions of US resolve and commitment to the region will be what the US does going forward – how it repositions itself in the region, how it engages its broad range of friends and partners and allies in the region, and how it continues the fight against terrorism.”

Lee Hsien Loong

Kamala Harris will also make a historic trip to Vietnam this week, becoming the first U.S. Vice President to visit the nation.

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Apple urged to abandon child safety features

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The tech giant is defending its new features, aimed at preventing the spread of child sexual abuse material, despite mounting pressure from privacy advocates.

Apple plans to scan iCloud photos for child sexual abuse images, and says its “method of detecting known CSAM (child sexual abuse material) is designed with user privacy in mind”.

The company has also announced a parental control option, which warns children and their parents when they are about to view or send sexually explicit photos in the Messages app.

But privacy groups claim the new features will “create new risks for children”.

Concerns have also been raised that the scanning software “could be used to censor speech and threaten the privacy and security of people around the world”.

A coalition of more than 90 rights groups has now written to Apple CEO Tim Cook, outlining their concerns, and urging the tech titan to abandon its plans to introduce the new features.

The signatories include civil rights, human rights and digital rights groups.


“Though these capabilities are intended to protect children and to reduce the spread of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), we are concerned that they will be used to censor protected speech, threaten the privacy and security of people around the world, and have disastrous consequences for many children.”

Letter sent to apple ceo tim cook

The coalition of rights groups has raised concerns that the scan and alert feature in Messages “could result in alerts that threaten the safety and wellbeing of some young people.

The groups say LGBTQ+ youths with unsympathetic parents are particularly at risk.

They also claim that once the “CSAM hash scanning for photos is built into Apple products, the company will face enormous pressure, and possibly legal requirements, from governments around the world to scan for all sorts of images that the governments find objectionable”.

Apple defends its child safety features

Apple has sought to allay concerns, pushing back against claims that the technology will be used for other purposes.

The trillion-dollar company insists it won’t give in to pressure from any government to use the technology for other surveillance purposes.

Apple says it “will refuse any such demands”

“Let us be clear, this technology is limited to detecting CSAM child sexual abuse material stored in iCloud and we will not accede to any government’s request to expand it.”

“We have faced demands to build and deploy government-mandated changes that degrade the privacy of users before, and have steadfastly refused those demands. We will continue to refuse them in the future,” Apple said in a recent FAQ.

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