US Politics

Regional News • Americas • United States
Andrew Cuomo addresses allegations of sexual harassment, says he's "truly sorry" for "unwanted flirtation"
Cuomo in 2019
Cuomo in 2019 Credit: Delta News Hub, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the two allegations of sexual harassment against him for the first time on Sunday, saying he was "truly sorry" to those who might have "misinterpreted" his remarks "as an unwanted flirtation."

"I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that," so Cuomo.

Regional News • Americas • United States
FDA grants emergency approval for Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine
FDA grants emergency approval for Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency approval for the preparation on Saturday (local time). US President Joe Biden spoke of "inspiring news for all Americans and an encouraging development in our efforts to end the crisis". There is "light at the end of the tunnel", but no reason to sound the all-clear, he warned on Saturday evening (local time).

Regional News • Americas • United States
USA counts over 500,000 Covid-19 deaths
USA counts over 500,000 Covid-19 deaths
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

On Monday, the USA crossed the sad threshold of half a million Covid-19 deaths. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there were 500,071 deaths after infection - more than in any other country in the world.

"Today I ask all Americans to remember. Remember those we lost and remember those we left behind," President Biden said.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Trump to make a public appearance at CPAC in Florida
Donald Trump at a previous CPAC edition
Donald Trump at a previous CPAC edition Credit: Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Former President Donald Trump will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, on February 28th. Trump is set to speak about the future of the Republican party and attack President Biden's migration policies.

The speaking engagement would mark Trump's first public appearance following his departure from the White House last month.

The lineup of speakers at the event so far consists of vocal Trump allies, including Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says he went to Mexico amidst crisis because he wanted to be "a good dad"
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says he went to Mexico amidst crisis because he wanted to be "a good dad"
Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Cruz said in an earlier statement Thursday that he accompanied his family to Cancun a day earlier after his daughters asked to go on a trip with friends, given that school was cancelled for the week.

"Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon," Cruz wrote.

"My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas," he continued. "We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm."

Cruz told reporters Thursday night that he returned to the U.S. because he realized he needed to be in Texas. He said he had originally been scheduled to stay in Mexico through the weekend.

Regional News • Europe • France
Ted Cruz flies to Mexico as millions of Texans freeze in the dark
Ted Cruz flies to Mexico as millions of Texans freeze in the dark
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter / Mauricio

At least 37 people have died in the US state of Texas due to a severe winter onset, and hundreds of thousands of people are cut off from electricity after heavy storms. The information has now surfaced that Republican Senator Ted Cruz travelled to Cancún, Mexico, for a holiday. Cruz himself did not initially comment on the trip and did not respond to numerous media enquiries.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Rush Limbaugh, conservative media icon, dead at 70
Rush Limbaugh speaking with attendees at the 2019 Student Action Summit
Rush Limbaugh speaking with attendees at the 2019 Student Action Summit Credit: Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Rush Limbaugh died Wednesday after a battle with cancer. He was 70 years old.

Limbaugh, a conservative media icon who for decades used his perch as the king of talk-radio to shape both the Republican Party and nation's politics, had been diagnosed in February 2020 with advanced lung cancer. He continued to host his show while undergoing treatment, and he told listeners that he remained hopeful he would defeat the disease.

Regional News • Americas • United States
US Senate declares impeachment proceedings against Trump constitutional
US Senate declares impeachment proceedings against Trump constitutional
Credit: Martin Falbisoner / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

US senators have declared the impeachment process against former President Donald Trump constitutional. In a vote on Tuesday, 44 senators voted against continuing the process. Fifty-six senators declared the process constitutional in the vote. This means that debate on impeachment can begin on Wednesday, which is expected to drag on for several days.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Virginia's Senate votes to end the death penalty
Virginia's Senate votes to end the death penalty
Credit: By Martin Kraft - Own work / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Virginia is one of the US states with the most executions, but that could soon come to an end. The Virginia Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would end the death penalty.

Twenty-one senators voted in favor of the bill, 17 senators against, which is in line with the majority of the Democrat-controlled Senate. Now the House of Representatives is also expected to confirm the bill, where the Democrats also have a majority over the Republicans. Democratic Governor Ralph Northam has also said he supports the bill.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Senate confirms Alejandro Mayorkas as Homeland Security secretary

The US Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the first Latino and immigrant to lead the department. Mayorkas will play a central role in the Biden administration's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, national security threats and immigration policies.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Senate confirms Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary
Senate confirms Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary
Credit: Pete For America / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The US Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary on Tuesday, making him the first Senate-confirmed LGBTQ secretary. Buttigieg will oversee aviation safety, railroads, transit, highways and other transportation fields.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Janet Yellen to become first female Treasury Secretary in U.S. history
Janet Yellen to become first female Treasury Secretary in U.S. history
Credit: Federalreserve / via Wikimedia Commons

Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will be Treasury Secretary in the new U.S. administration. The Senate confirmed the economist on Monday with 84 to 15 votes.

For the first time in the history of the United States, the influential ministry is thus led by a woman. Yellen had also easily cleared the first hurdle last week when her nomination was unanimously approved in the Senate Finance Committee.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Biden signs 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations on his first day in office
Biden signs 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations on his first day in office
Credit: The White House, via Twitter (Public Domain)

President Joe Biden has signed 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations shortly after his inauguration, including revoking Trump's Muslim ban, rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, extending federal eviction moratorium, rescinding Census orders to exclude non-citizens, preserving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and a federal mask mandate.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Biden proclaims National Day of Unity
Biden proclaims National Day of Unity
Credit: Courtesy of The White House

The newly inaugurated President Joe Biden has proclaimed January 20, 2021, as a National Day of Unity and stated that he calls "upon the people of our Nation to join together and write the next story of our democracy — an American story of decency and dignity, of love and of healing, and of greatness and of goodness."

Regional News • Middle East
US ‘terrorist’ designation of Yemen’s Houthis comes into effect

Just days before the now-former President Donald Trump was set to leave office, his administration announced plans to label the Houthis a “foreign terrorist organization” – effectively barring US citizens and entities from interacting financially with the group.

The designation came into effect on Tuesday, just as the US Treasury Department released details of limited licensing exemptions to the restrictions. For months, international aid groups providing much-needed aid to civilians hard hit by a devastating conflict in Yemen have warned that their work could be disrupted by the US designation of the Houthis – and urged the Trump administration not to do it. But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on January 10 said the measure aimed “to hold Ansarallah accountable for its terrorist acts, including cross-border attacks threatening civilian populations, infrastructure, and commercial shipping”.

Human rights and humanitarian groups, as well as US lawmakers, are also urging the recently inaugurated US President Joe Biden to rescind the designation. The United Nations’ humanitarian chief last week called for the US to reverse the decision, saying it could lead to “large-scale famine on a scale that we have not seen for nearly 40 years”.

Biden’s incoming national security adviser also recently criticized the move.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Trump has handed out last minute series of 143 pardons
Trump has handed out last minute series of 143 pardons

United States President Donald Trump has handed out 143 pardons shortly before leaving office. The list includes former advisor Steve Bannon, rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black (illegal gun possession), Kwame Kilpatrick the former mayor of Detroit (corruption), Elliott Broidy the ex-Vice-Chairman of the Republican Party (illegal lobbying for Malaysia), Solomon Melgen a prominent ophthalmologist and Trump's neighbour from Palm Beach, Florida (health insurance fraud against senior citizens) and Paul Erickson, conservative activist and ex-boyfriend of alleged Russian spy Maria Butina (money laundering).

Regional News • Americas • United States
Biden plans to make masks mandatory nationwide
Biden plans to make masks mandatory nationwide
Credit: unsplash.com/Anton

President-elect Joe Biden's first executive order will be a nationwide mask mandate, not as a "political statement" but for the "health of our families, and economic recovery of our country."

"This executive action will direct the agencies to take action to require compliance with CDC guidance on mask wearing and physical distancing in federal buildings, on federal lands, and by federal employees and contractors," Biden’s counselor and Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said. "And the President will call on governors, public health officials, mayors, business leaders and others to implement masking, physical distancing and other public measures to control Covid-19."

Regional News • Americas • United States
FBI is vetting National Guard ahead of Biden's inauguration amid fears of insider attack
FBI is vetting National Guard ahead of Biden's inauguration amid fears of insider attack
Credit: Georgia National Guard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

All 25,000 National Guard troops tasked with securing the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on January 20 are being vetted by the Pentagon and the FBI amid fears of a coordinated insider attack.

"This type of vetting often takes place by law enforcement for significant security events. However, in this case the scope of military participation is unique. The DC National Guard is also providing additional training to service members as they arrive in DC that if they see or hear something that is not appropriate, they should report it to their chain of command," so Christopher Miller, the acting defence secretary.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Biden announces that United States will re-join the Paris climate agreement

Immediately after his inauguration, future U.S. President Joe Biden plans to implement about a dozen measures that also represent his promised departure from Donald Trump's course. Among other things, Biden will reverse Trump's entry ban on citizens from several predominantly Muslim countries on Wednesday and lead the U.S. back into the Paris climate agreement, future White House chief of staff Ronald Klain said Saturday.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Kamala Harris to resign as senator on Monday
Kamala Harris to resign as senator on Monday
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Harris plans to leave her post as senator on Monday, two days before she is to be sworn in as the new vice president in Washington. That was announced by staff in her office. She is to be succeeded in office by California Democrat Alex Padilla.

Padilla will be California's first senator with Latino roots. He will take Harris' post for the remaining two years