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Joe Biden Announces All-Female Media Team At His White House

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US President-elect Joe Biden has on Sunday announced an all-female senior White House communications team led by campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield who served as communications director for Biden while he was vice president.

Ahead of January 20 swearing-in, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have sought to inject diversity in their appointments and nominations so far.

The latest move to announce the first senior White House communications team comprised entirely of women in what the office called a first in the country’s history would see three veterans of the Obama administration take up key positions.

Jen Psaki served as a White House communications director and a spokesperson at the state department; and Neera Tanden served as a senior adviser to the-then health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius.

Biden said in a statement that “these qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better.”

Other appointees include Ashley Etienne as communications director for Harris and Symone Sanders as Harris’s senior adviser and chief spokesperson.

Pili Tobar was named deputy White House communications director and Karine Jean-Pierre will be principal deputy press secretary.

Elizabeth Alexander was named communications director for incoming First Lady Jill Biden.

Unlike most cabinet-level positions, these appointments do not require Senate confirmation.

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Iraq: At least 32 Dead As Twin Suicide Bombings Hit Central Baghdad

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At least 32 persons have been killed and 110 wounded on Thursday after twin suicide bombings ripped through a busy market in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

Iraqi officials said one of the two perpetrators lured a crowd of people towards him in a market in the central Tayaran Square by feigning illness, only to detonate his explosives.

Ministry of Defence Spokesperson Yahya Rasool told Al Jazeera a second bomber struck as people helped victims of the first attack.

The attack is the first twin bombing in Baghdad since January 2018, when 35 people were killed and 90 injured in the same square that was targeted on Thursday.

Iraq’s health minister Hassan Mohammed Al-Tamimi said at least 32 people were killed and 110 others were wounded in the attack. He said some of the wounded were in serious condition. Iraq’s military previously put the number of dead at 28.

Videos from Thursday’s attack show scenes of chaos, with people running for cover and bodies strewn across pavements and the road.

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Biden, Harris’ First Actions After Inauguration

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Joseph Biden, junior, now the forty-sixth president of the United States after being sworn-in on Wednesday, has promised to move the country forward in the path of unity.

In his inaugural address, number 46 said “democracy has prevailed.”  As he addressed the sober, no surprises inaugural event, Biden called on Americans to put aside the bitter divisions that have deepened over the past four years.

On his first day as president, Biden signed seventeen executive orders dismantling trump-era policies.  The action sweeps aside Trump’s pandemic response, reversed his environmental agenda, and tore down his anti-immigration policies.

Biden placed his hand on a five-inch thick Bible that has been in his family for one hundred twenty-eight years as he took the 35-word oath of office that was administered by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Vice-president Kamala Harris also jumped into action within an hour of being sworn-in. She returned to Capitol Hill to administer the oath of office to newly elected democratic senators including the two from Georgian.

Harris has made history as the first woman, the first African American, and the first person of South Asian descent to be elected vice-president.  She is now the highest-ranking woman in U.S. history.

 

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UN Chief Welcomes US Re-Entry Into Paris Agreement

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In that rash of executive orders, the United States has rejoined the Paris Climate Accord.  And the United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres wasted no time welcoming the U.S. back into the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.  Former president Donald Trump had withdrawn the country from the global pact last November.

Guterres warned in his statement there is still a very long way to go as the climate crisis continues to worsen with time running out to limit temperature rises to no more than one and a half degrees celsius, and to build more climate-resilient societies.

Executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, UNEP, also expressed on twitter, a warm welcome back for the U.S. re-entry into the agreement.

Just about every country in the world had agreed to the Paris Climate Accord in 2015 after lengthy negotiations.  The agreement aims to tackle climate change by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and sets a worldwide target of limiting the rise in average global temperatures no higher than two degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels.

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