United States President Joe Biden has on Wednesday night delivered his first address to a joint session of Congress assuring Americans that the country is “moving forward” again, as he touted his administration’s work to end the coronavirus crisis and urged lawmakers to work together to prove “that our government still works — and can deliver” for the American people.
In an address delivered on the eve of his 100th day in office, the 78-year-old president said “after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again. Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.”
The Democrat pitched some $4 trillion (£2.9tn) in spending after the coronavirus pandemic claimed hundreds of thousands of American lives and crippled the country’s economy.
Biden used his address to make the case for huge new investments and tax reforms to overhaul the U.S. economy and rebuild the middle class. The American Families Plan (AFP), the latest addition to the president’s economic recovery pitch, would dedicate $1.8 trillion to family care and education.
Biden touting his stimulus package for Americans, said that it has helped the country’s economy grow at a rate of more than six percent this year.
He also said that in the first 100 days of his office, his administration created more than 1.3 million new jobs – more than any president on record in their first 100 days in office.
He said “We guarantee that low- to middle-income families will pay no more than 7% of their income for high-quality care for children up to the age of 5. The most hard-pressed working families won’t have to spend a dime.”
Biden also discussed his efforts to create sustainable jobs for the middle class. The president said Vice President Harris would help lead initiatives under the American Jobs Plan, which he said would help millions of Americans, particularly women, re-enter the workforce and create jobs in clean energy and upgrading infrastructure.
In tackling the coronavirus pandemic, Biden said that after promising 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots in 100 days, his administration will have provided over 220 million COVID shots in his first 100 days in office, adding that the coronavirus vaccines are being made available to nearly 40,000 pharmacies and over 700 community health centres.
The administration’s work in vaccinating more than 140 million people in the U.S. with at least one dose, as well as distributing financial relief to households, are among what Biden views as his biggest achievements during his first 100 days in office.
Biden faces a deeply divided Congress to press his agenda. Issues of taxation and government spending are some of the biggest stumbling blocks he’ll face, particularly in the Senate, where the parties are divided 50 Republicans to 50 Democrats, with Democrats holding a slim, technical majority in the chamber.
India Tops 24 Million COVID-19 Cases As New Variant Spreads Across Globe
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi has raised an alarm over the rapid spread of the highly transmissible coronavirus mutant first detected in the country as the official tally of infections crossed 24 million, and 4,000 persons died for the third straight day.
Jairo Mendez, a World Health Organization infectious diseases expert said the Indian B.1.617 variant of the virus has been found in cases in eight countries of the Americas, including Canada and the United States.
Mendez said “These variants have a greater capacity for transmission, but so far we have not found any collateral consequences” adding that “the only worry is that they spread faster.”
People infected by the variant included travellers in Panama and Argentina who had arrived from India or Europe. In the Caribbean, cases of the Indian variant have been detected in Aruba, Dutch St Maarten and the French department of Guadeloupe.
The mutant strain has also been detected in Britain, as well as in Singapore.
According to health ministry data, India recorded 4,000 deaths and 343,144 infections in the last 24 hours.
Public Health England said the total number of confirmed cases of the variant had more than doubled in the past week to 1,313 across the United Kingdom.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said “We are anxious about it – it has been spreading,” adding that there would be meetings to discuss what to do. “We’re ruling nothing out.”
Israel Intensifies Attacks In Gaza As Conflict Enters Fifth Day
At least 119 Palestinians, including 31 children, have been killed and more than 830 wounded since hostilities flared up on Monday as Israel continued to bombard the Gaza Strip with air raids on Friday.
Israel stepped up the deployment of troops and tanks near the besieged Palestinian enclave as hundreds of Palestinian families have taken shelter in UN-run schools in northern Gaza to escape Israeli artillery fire.
Video from Gaza City showed the night sky lit up by explosions from Israeli artillery, gunboats and air strikes.
Meanwhile, Jewish and Israeli-Arab mobs have been fighting within Israel, prompting its president to warn of civil war.
Defence Minister Benny Gantz ordered a “massive reinforcement” of security forces to suppress the internal unrest that has seen more than 400 people arrested.
Police say Israeli Arabs have been responsible for most of the trouble and reject the accusation that they are standing by while gangs of Jewish youths target Arab homes.
Save the Children said that at least thirty-one schools attended by more than 24,000 children and a health facility in Gaza have been damaged by Israeli airstrikes.
In southern Israel, due to the violence impacting thousands of children, all schooling has been suspended.
Save the Children’s Gaza Field Manager, Ibrahim Abu Sobeih “We keep telling my young daughter and son that the heavy shelling is celebrations, fireworks, what a joke! We resort to different ways to distract their attention from this awful atmosphere but all are in vain.”
Israel Declares Emergency In Lod As Unrest Spreads
Israel has on Tuesday night declared a state of emergency in the central city of Lod after rioting by Israeli Arabs, after demonstrations by Israeli Arabs broke out and escalated to rioting, with protesters clashing with police.
Amid intensified conflict between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a state of emergency in Lod. Israeli border police have been brought in from the West Bank
Earlier in clashes Lod’s mayor likened to a civil war, cars were set alight while 12 persons were reported injured. A father and daughter – both Israeli Arabs – died when a rocket from Gaza hit their car.
Palestinian militants fired hundreds of rockets deep into Israel, while Israel carried out heavy airstrikes on Gaza.
At least 40 persons have died in some of the worst violence in years.
Israel’s military says it is targeting militants in Gaza in response to rocket attacks on Jerusalem and other areas.
The confrontation came after weeks of rising tensions that were stoked by violent confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at a site in Jerusalem that is holy to both, Muslims and Jews.
The Palestinian militants said they targeted the Israeli city of Tel Aviv after an Israeli air strike demolished a tower block in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday.
There have been calls for calm from all over the world following the escalation, which follows days of unrest in Jerusalem.
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