Biden-Sanders Task Forces Unveil Joint Goals for Party Unity

Political task forces Joe Biden formed with onetime rival Bernie Sanders to solidify support among the Democratic Party’s progressive wing recommended Wednesday that the former vice president embrace major proposals to combat climate change and institutional racism while expanding health care coverage and rebuilding a coronavirus-ravaged economy.  But they stopped short of urging Biden’s full endorsement of policies that could prove too divisive for some swing voters in November, like universal health coverage under “Medicare for All” or the sweeping Green New Deal environmental plan.  The groups, formed in May to tackle health care, immigration, education, criminal justice reform, climate change and the economy, sought to hammer out a policy road map to best defeat President Donald Trump. Their 110 pages of recommendations should help shape the policy platform Democrats will adopt during their national convention next month — even though the entire party platform adopted in 2016 ran only about 50 pages.  Skeptical progressivesThe task forces sought to help Biden, a center-left establishment candidate, engage skeptical progressives who’d backed other 2020 candidates, especially Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is under consideration for Biden’s running mate. Biden hoped the groups would promote party unity and help him avoid a repeat of 2016, when many Sanders supporters remained disillusioned enough that they stayed home rather than support Hillary Clinton against Trump.  They recommend that Biden commit to moving the U.S. to being fully powered by renewable energy, and meeting other key environmental benchmarks, by 2035. That’s far more ambitious than the 2050 deadline he embraced during the primary. They also call for a 100-day moratorium on deportations and a series of steps to overhaul the economy in an effort to reduce economic and racial inequality. “While Joe Biden and I, and our supporters, have strong disagreements about some of the most important issues facing our country, we also understand that we must come together in order to defeat Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history,” Sanders, a Vermont senator, said in a statement. Biden thanked Sanders for “working together to unite our party, and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come.” Hydraulic fracturingStill, the recommendations don’t include a ban on hydraulic fracturing that could hurt Biden in the energy-producing swing state of Pennsylvania. There’s also no endorsement for Medicare for All, which dominated debate during the Democratic presidential primary but could alienate voters afraid of losing their current, employer-based private health coverage. Instead, the recommendations list ways to expand health insurance coverage by building on the Obama administration’s signature law.  “We still believe that Medicare for All is the right way to go and we’re still going to continue to fight for that,” said Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state, who co-led the health care task force. “But this was a situation where Joe Biden had already put a stake in the sand on the Affordable Care Act and it was part of his legacy with President Obama.” Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, served on the environmental advisory group and said she was encouraged by the finished product. She noted that it does not include specific recommendations on how many new jobs Biden hopes to create in the sector or spell out how much money he would commit to making his promises a reality. Also omitted is the Green New Deal, the comprehensive anti-climate change plan that Prakash’s group champions.  Still, Prakash said Biden making the recommendations a centerpiece of his campaign can help bolster his support among young people, Latinos and working class voters.  “If Joe Biden takes this plan that he has signed off on and campaigns really, really hard on it, if he understands the economic opportunity that exists in tackling the climate crisis, if he can speak to the level of urgency and the level of swift, scalable action that we need to be taking, he will appeal to so many of the voters that he needs to unite,” Prakash said. National reckoningTheir conclusions come as Biden and Democratic Party officials enter the main phase of writing the platform. The campaign’s and the party’s entire policy apparatus acquired added weight after the pandemic, resulting economic collapse and national reckoning on systemic racism spurred Biden to start talking in bolder tones about the need to “rewrite the economy.”  Biden plans to travel Thursday to Pennsylvania, where he will begin detailing an economic package that his aides pitch as a direct preview of the policies he would pursue should he win. Progressives who have been in contact with Biden’s campaign noted that he’s consulted with Sanders and Warren while devising it.  Biden is expected to emphasize American manufacturing and labor policies, including how government can aim its buying power to bolster U.S. manufacturing. That will likely include an emphasis on ratcheting up government purchases of medical supplies that would address the pandemic.  “This will be the largest mobilization of public investments in procurement, infrastructure and R&D (research and development) since World War II, and that’s just a part of the plan,” said senior adviser Jake Sullivan. 

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Oxfam: Pandemic Pushing Millions to Brink of Starvation

The coronavirus outbreak has worsened the hunger crisis in the world’s poorest corners, and up to 12,000 people could die each day from hunger linked to the social and economic effects of the pandemic, the humanitarian group Oxfam warned Thursday.Its report said mass unemployment, disruption to food production and declining aid as a result of the pandemic could push an estimated 122 million people to the brink of starvation this year.”The knock-on impacts of COVID-19 are far more widespread than the virus itself, pushing millions of the world’s poorest people deeper into hunger and poverty,” said the group’s chief executive, Danny Sriskandarajah. “It is vital governments contain the spread of this deadly disease, but they must also prevent it killing as many — if not more — people from hunger.”The charity said that in some of the world’s worst hunger “hot spots,” including Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria and South Sudan, the food crisis is worsening because of border and supply route closures or a huge drop in remittances as result of the pandemic. In middle-income countries like India, South Africa and Brazil, millions of people who had been “just about managing have been tipped over the edge.”Even in developed countries like Britain, the report said, up to 3.7 million adults sought charity food or used a food bank during the first weeks of lockdown restrictions.Oxfam cited the World Food Program in estimating that the number of people experiencing crisis-level hunger will rise to 270 million before the end of this year, a jump from 149 million in 2019.It said that women, and women-headed households, are more likely to go hungry because they make up a large proportion of hard-hit groups such as informal workers and also have borne the brunt of an increase in unpaid care work as a result of school closures and family illness. 

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At UN, Russia Fails to Push Through Syria Resolution Cutting Aid Access

Russia failed on Wednesday to push a draft U.N. resolution through the U.N. Security Council that would have cut aid access from Turkey into northwest Syria, leaving the humanitarian operation and millions of needy Syrians in limbo as the mandate’s expiration approaches on Friday.Moscow’s text, which proposed closing one of two remaining crossing points to humanitarians and only renewing the remaining one for six months, failed to win enough support in the 15-nation Security Council. Only four council members (Russia, China, Vietnam and South Africa) supported the measure, while seven opposed it and four abstained.It was the second vote in as many days. On Tuesday, Russia and China vetoed a text put forward by Belgium and Germany that all other council members supported. That draft called for the reauthorization of two crossing points for one year.In a joint statement after the vote, Belgium and Germany, who hold the Syrian humanitarian file on the council, said they voted against the Russian measure because it did not meet the basic requirements requested by the United Nations and aid groups.“One thing remains clear: Millions of people are counting on the Security Council to allow for as much humanitarian access as possible,” they said in a statement. “This council has a responsibility to the Syrian people and the humanitarian aid workers who support them.”The U.N. has also asked for more humanitarian access in Syria, requesting that a third crossing point between northern Iraq and Syria, which Russia and China forced the council to close in January, be reopened.Moscow, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has argued that all aid should go through Damascus to other parts of the country.“This text was not to support Syrians, who are suffering from nine years of war and chemical attacks,” said Estonia’s Ambassador Sven Jürgenson, who voted against the resolution. “Instead, Russia tried with this draft to arm-twist the Security Council members into enhancing Moscow’s political and military objectives.”There is still time to reach a consensus before Friday, when the operation’s authorization will expire. Otherwise, the six-year-old cross-border operation could be closed.In addition to the effects of conflict and COVID-19, Syria is facing its worst financial crisis of its nine-year conflict. The currency is in free fall, commodity prices are skyrocketing and many Syrians are struggling to afford food.“Cross-border aid is needed now more than ever, as Syrians face the threat of COVID-19,” said Oxfam Syria Director Moutaz Adham after the vote. “All available avenues for delivering aid will be critical in helping the more than 11 million people in need of assistance across Syria.”

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Poll: Most Americans Disagree with Trump’s Approach to Police Reform

A public opinion poll shows that most Americans disagree with U.S. President Donald Trump’s approach to police reform, a view that has gained momentum since May 25, when George Floyd, an African American man, died after being held down by a white police officer. Trump said when signing an executive order on policing last month he “strongly oppose(s) the radical and dangerous efforts to defund, dismantle and dissolve our police departments, especially now when we’ve achieved the lowest recorded crime rates in recent history.” He added: “Americans know the truth. Without police, there is chaos. Without law, there is anarchy. And without safety, there is catastrophe.” Milley Says He Was Wrong to Accompany Trump on Church WalkArmy Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says his presence ‘created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics’ A new poll conducted by Monmouth University found that more than three-quarters of American adults, 77%, want to “change the way police operate,” and 18% want to “get rid of police.” The Republican president’s reelection campaign is unveiling new ads attacking the defund-the-police movement and has tried to use it against presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Biden, however, is opposed to wholesale cuts to police department budgets. Biden said last month he favored linking federal money to essential changes within police agencies, including an adherence to a nationwide standard on police use of force and the disclosure of police misconduct information. Nearly two-thirds of Americans, 62%, believe Trump’s management of the recent protests on police reform has made the “current situation worse.” Twenty percent said he made the situation better. Monmouth University, based in the northeastern state of New Jersey, surveyed 867 adults in the U.S. over a four-day period ending June 30. The poll’s margin of error is about 3 percentage points in either direction.  

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Britain In Huawei Dilemma as China Relations Sour

There is growing speculation that Britain may be about to reverse course and ban the Chinese firm Huawei from its rollout of 5G mobile telecoms technology.  A move by the United States to ban U.S. companies from selling crucial microchips to Huawei appears to have changed the calculation in London. But as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, Beijing has warned Britain against what it calls ‘making China into an enemy.’Camera: Henry Ridgwell

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Serbian President Retracts COVID-19 Curfew After 60 Hurt in Violence

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has retracted his decision to reimpose a coronavirus curfew and has urged people to stop attending anti-government rallies after a violent clash between protesters and police.The president said Wednesday that new measures could still include shortened hours for nightclubs and penalties for those not wearing masks.On Tuesday, Vucic said at a news conference he would implement a curfew Friday, “probably” to run from 6 p.m. until 5 a.m. on July 13. The president added that gatherings would be restricted to five people starting Wednesday, citing a rising number of coronavirus cases in the country and hospitals running at full capacity.Vucic’s backtracking Wednesday came after a protest by thousands Tuesday night outside the parliament building in Belgrade. Police fired tear gas and beat demonstrators, while protesters retaliated by throwing stones and bottles at officers, some chanting for the resignation of the president.The clash left 17 protesters and 43 police injured and 23 protesters arrested, according to police director Vladmir Rebic. More protests were reported Wednesday.Vucic said foreign secret services were behind the protests by “right-wing and pro-fascist demonstrators.” He did not name specific intelligence agencies and stood by the police’s handling of the protests.”We will never allow the destabilization of Serbia from within and abroad,” he said.The president’s critics have accused him of lifting previous lockdown measures to hold parliamentary elections on June 21, which Vucic’s Progressive Party won by a landslide — accusations the president has denied.Critics also blame Vucic for the swell in infection rates, as the government permitted sports matches, religious festivities, parties and private gatherings to resume after lifting state of emergency restrictions on May 6.As of Wednesday afternoon EDT, Serbia had 17,076 reported cases of the coronavirus infection and 341 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics.

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На вокзалі у Києві планують вимірювати температуру тіла зі швидкістю 120 пасажирів за хвилину

В «Укрзалізниці» повідомили, що на вокзалах станції «Київ-Пасажирський» встановлять сучасні інфрачервоні системи скринінгу температури, які працюватимуть зі швидкістю до 120 відвідувачів за хвилину.

«Це значно зменшить ймовірність поширення інфекційних захворювань та допоможе швидко виявити потенційно хворих», — повідомив в.о. голови правління УЗ Іван Юрик.

Повідомляється, що пасажири з підозрою на захворювання не допускатимуться на вокзал, охорона рекомендуватиме їм звернутися до медпункту вокзалу.

«Наразі проводиться закупівля обладнання через Prozorro. Першу таку систему планується встановити у найближчі тижні», – повідомили в «Укрзалізниці».

З 1 червня «Укрзалізниця» частково почала відновлювати курсування поїздів в Україні, зупинене через карантин. Відтоді, як запевнили у відомстві, поїзди проходять посилену дезінфекційну обробку перед і після рейсу; для посадки в поїзд пасажири обов’язково повинні вдягти захисну маску, а також пройти температурний скринінг при вході на вокзал та при посадці до вагона.

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На ТКГ погоджено гарантії безпеки для ліквідації пожеж у Луганській області – Резніков

Звернення української делегації на черговому засіданні Тристоронньої контактної групи з проханням невідкладно встановити гарантії безпеки для польотів цивільних літаків з метою гасіння пожеж у Луганській області поблизу лінії зіткнення було повністю підтримане на засіданні ТКГ у середу. Про це агентству «Інтерфакс-Україна» повідомив віцепрем’єр, перший заступник голови української делегації в ТКГ Олексій Резніков.

«Це звернення гуманітарного характеру повністю підтримав координатор ТКГ – представник ОБСЄ і надалі погодили учасники засідання. Письмове підтвердження гарантій очікується найближчим часом», – повідомив він.

Раніше сьогодні Офіс президента повідомив, що українська сторона на черговому засіданні Тристоронньої контактної групи (Україна, Росія, ОБСЄ) з мирного врегулювання на Донбасі у форматі відеоконференції закликала до встановлення «повного та всеосяжного» режиму тиші у зв’язку з пожежами на Луганщині.

За останніми даними, внаслідок пожеж, що виникли на Луганщині 6 липня, загинули п’ятеро людей, 9 людей (з них 2 дітей) госпіталізовані. Вогнем знищено 23 та пошкоджено 36 житлових будинків в селі Смолянинове та знищено 80 дачних будинків.

За даними Луганської ОДА, вигоріло близько п’яти тисяч гектарів лісу.


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Supreme Court Backs Trump Administration Exemptions from Contraceptive Mandate

In a major victory for U.S. President Donald Trump, the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the administration’s plan to exempt employers with a religious or moral objection from a mandate requiring them to provide free birth control coverage to their employees. The ruling weakens a key contraceptive coverage provision of the Affordable Care Act which has otherwise largely survived repeated legal and political challenges since its enactment 10 years ago. The health insurance plan created by the law is commonly known as Obamacare. According to government estimates, between 70,000 and 126,000 women could lose free employer-provided contraceptive coverage as a result of the ruling. FILE – In this March 25, 2015, photo, protesters demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court, as the court heard arguments in the challenges to a US health care law requiring businesses to provide employees with insurance that includes contraceptives.In 2013, the Obama administration exempted churches and other houses of worship from the mandate and it gave religious non-profits the ability to opt out of the program. In 2017, the Trump administration expanded the exemptions, issuing interim rules that allowed private entities with “religious and moral objections” to the mandate to opt out of the program. The administration finalized the rules in 2018. The states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey then sued to block the rules. They argued that the rules violated both the Affordable Care Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, the law that governs federal administrative agencies.  A federal district court and appeals court sided with the states. The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Roman Catholic religious institute for women, and the Trump administration then appealed to the Supreme Court. This is the second time the Supreme Court has weighed in on the contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act. In 2014, the high court held that requiring family-owned companies to provide free contraceptive coverage violated a religious freedom law. 

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