President Joe Biden signs his first executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House on January 20 in Washington, DC. (AP)
President Joe Biden signs his first executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House on January 20 in Washington, DC. (AP)

On day one, Biden takes US back to Paris climate accord, World Health Organization

Biden signed 15 executive orders in all. The first — of the three he signed in the presence of reporters — mandated masks on federal property and inter-state transportation, launching a “100 Day Masking Challenge”, reaffirming the highest property he is according to combating the Covid-19 epidemic.
By Yashwant Raj , edited by Vinod Janardhanan
UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 11:18 AM IST

On his first day in office on Wednesday, President Joe Biden signed executive orders that returned the US to the Paris Agreement on climate crisis and the World Health Organization, and ended the Muslim travel ban, reversing some of his predecessor Donald Trump’s most controversial decisions.

Biden signed 15 executive orders in all. The first — of the three he signed in the presence of reporters — mandated masks on federal property and interstate transportation, launching a “100 Day Masking Challenge”, reaffirming the highest property he is according to combating the Covid-19 pandemic.

The White House had earlier announced an immigration legislation — of particular interest to Indian aspirants for Green Cards, the permanent residency that are a stepping stone to citizenship — that allows H-1B dependents to work and protects their children from “aging out” of their parents’ visas when they turn 21, and “improves access” for foreign students of advanced STEM degrees to Green Cards, which allows permanent residency as a mandatory next step to citizenship.

“I thought, with the state of the nation today, there’s no time to waste, get to work immediately,” President Biden said before signing the orders, picking them up from a pile of folders — each of them containing an order — on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.

Biden returned the US to the Paris Agreement that his former boss, President Barack Obama, had helped forge. But his predecessor, Trump, had pulled the US out of it claiming, wrongly, it favoured India and China at the expense of the US.

Biden’s decision to rejoin the WHO was also a significant move, recognising the importance of the global body in the middle of the deadliest pandemic the world had seen in more than 100 years. Trump had ordered the pullout to shift blame for his own mishandling of the epidemic on to the WHO, accusing it of covering up for China.

In her first daily news briefing, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US epidemiologist who was reviled by Trump and was sent death threats by the former president’s supporters, will lead the US delegation to the world body in America’s renewed engagement with the world body.

President Biden also told reporters Trump had left him a “generous” note but refused to share its content saying it was a private matter. He said he must speak first about it with Trump. But a spokesperson said there were no plans for him to call his predecessor.

Trump and Melania Trump had left the White House without waiting to receive their successor, violating one of the many rituals of transfer of power. They had also not attended Biden’s inauguration and Melania Trump had not given First Lady Jill Biden a customary tour of the White House.

The Bidens’ first day in the White House marked the return of a familiar style and manner of American politics and governance that had been overshadowed by Trump’s unpredictable and irascible brand of governance.

Nothing signified the change more than Biden’s instructions to nearly a thousand political appointees he swore in on web video call: “If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treated another colleague with disrespect — talk down to someone — I promise I will fire you on the spot. On the spot...Everybody is entitled to be treated with decency.”

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China claims the entire Indian state as part of south Tibet and has been rapidly developing infrastructure in the remote area of Nyingchi, which, like the rest of TAR, is not accessible to foreign journalists and diplomats.(Reuters)
China claims the entire Indian state as part of south Tibet and has been rapidly developing infrastructure in the remote area of Nyingchi, which, like the rest of TAR, is not accessible to foreign journalists and diplomats.(Reuters)

China’s bullet train could become strategic concern for New Delhi

By Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 03:06 AM IST
  • The new high-speed rail connection is part of China’s ambitious plan of expanding connectivity across TAR, especially along border areas with India. Nyingchi is located less than 50km from the border with Arunachal Pradesh.
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The Central Council of Muslims in Switzerland called the vote a dark day for the community.(REUTERS FILE PHOTO)
The Central Council of Muslims in Switzerland called the vote a dark day for the community.(REUTERS FILE PHOTO)

Swiss agree to outlaw facial coverings in "burqa ban" vote

Reuters, Zurich
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 11:18 PM IST
The measure to amend the Swiss constitution passed by a 51.2-48.8% margin, provisional official results showed.
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In this photo made available Sunday March 7, 2021, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II poses for a photo while signing her annual Commonwealth Day Message inside St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, England, Friday March 5, 2021. (Steve Parsons/Pool via AP)(AP)
In this photo made available Sunday March 7, 2021, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II poses for a photo while signing her annual Commonwealth Day Message inside St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, England, Friday March 5, 2021. (Steve Parsons/Pool via AP)(AP)

Queen Elizabeth II stresses importance of friends, family during Covid pandemic

AP, London
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 11:15 PM IST
The queen also paid tribute to the front-line workers helping in the fight against Covid-19 in Commonwealth nations.
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Wang reiterated the point he made to Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar during a phone conversation last week that the border dispute is not the entirety of the India-China ties.
Wang reiterated the point he made to Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar during a phone conversation last week that the border dispute is not the entirety of the India-China ties.

Rights and wrongs of the LAC conflict clear: China

By Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 01:02 AM IST
India has consistently denied China’s allegation of provoking friction along the LAC in eastern Ladakh and has said that Chinese border troops were the first to trespass across the contested boundary, triggering the faceoff and deaths of border troops on both sides.
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"We're going in the right direction. We just need to hang in there a bit longer," Fauci told CBS.(REUTERS)
"We're going in the right direction. We just need to hang in there a bit longer," Fauci told CBS.(REUTERS)

Fauci upbeat on vaccinations for US teens by autumn, younger children next year

Posted by Kunal Gaurav | Reuters, Washington
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2021 10:57 PM IST
The decline in cases had begun to plateau at 60,000 to 70,000 new infections per day, which Fauci said was not acceptable.
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"She must be released permanently so she can return to her family in the UK, and we continue to do all we can to achieve this," Johnson said. (via Reuters)
"She must be released permanently so she can return to her family in the UK, and we continue to do all we can to achieve this," Johnson said. (via Reuters)

Britain will do all it can to secure permanent release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe: PM

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 10:52 PM IST
"Pleased to see the removal of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ankle tag, but her continued confinement remains totally unacceptable," Johnson said on Twitter.
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Monika Ruegsegger-Hurschler, National Councillor SVP, gives an interview at the meeting place of the supporters of the initiative to ban face coverings.(AP)
Monika Ruegsegger-Hurschler, National Councillor SVP, gives an interview at the meeting place of the supporters of the initiative to ban face coverings.(AP)

Swiss agree to outlaw facial coverings in 'burqa ban' vote

Posted by Kunal Gaurav | Reuters, Zurich
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 10:49 PM IST
The measure to amend the Swiss constitution passed by a 51.2-48.8% margin, provisional official results showed.
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In this file photo, a P-3C patrol plane of Japanese maritime self defense force flying over the disputed islets known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China in the East China Sea. (AFP Photo)
In this file photo, a P-3C patrol plane of Japanese maritime self defense force flying over the disputed islets known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China in the East China Sea. (AFP Photo)

Report says Japan planning to send armed forces to East China Sea

ANI, Tokyo
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 10:44 PM IST
The Chinese Coast Guard has expanded its presence in the contested water near the Diaoyu Islands, known in Japan as the Senkakus.
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Needing to vaccinate 200,000 people a day to reach its targets, it's not clear whether the government will get enough doses to have a quick enough impact to avoid a new lockdown.( REUTERS)
Needing to vaccinate 200,000 people a day to reach its targets, it's not clear whether the government will get enough doses to have a quick enough impact to avoid a new lockdown.( REUTERS)

France ramps up weekend Covid-19 vaccinations after slow start

Posted by Harshit Sabarwal | Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 10:29 PM IST
French authorities have come under criticism for the slow vaccination rollout, which has so far targeted the most vulnerable only. About 3.58 million people of France's 67 million population have received a first jab compared to neighbouring Britain, which is nearing 23 million.
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Jury selection begins March 8, 2021, for Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder and manslaughter in George Floyd's death.(AP / File Photo)
Jury selection begins March 8, 2021, for Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder and manslaughter in George Floyd's death.(AP / File Photo)

Key players in trial of ex-officer charged in George Floyd's death

Posted by Kunal Gaurav | AP, Minneapolis
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 10:24 PM IST
  • Chauvin's trial, one of the highest-profile criminal cases in Minnesota history, is taking place during a global pandemic that has had a dramatic impact.
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China's State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The foreign ministry said that anti-China politicians in the US have "undermined China's interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-US relations".(REUTERS)
China's State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The foreign ministry said that anti-China politicians in the US have "undermined China's interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-US relations".(REUTERS)

India, China friends, but ‘rights and wrongs’ of border friction clear: Wang Yi

By Sutirtho Patranobis
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 09:55 PM IST
  • India has consistently denied China’s allegation of provoking friction along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh and have said that Chinese border troops were the first to trespass across the disputed boundary, triggering the faceoff and deaths of border troops on both sides.
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Moderna said it expected to reach a separate deal with the Philippines government and private sector to supply an additional 7 million doses.(Reuters file photo)
Moderna said it expected to reach a separate deal with the Philippines government and private sector to supply an additional 7 million doses.(Reuters file photo)

Moderna reaches supply deal with Philippines for 13 million vaccine doses

Bloomberg
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2021 10:16 PM IST
The schedule refers to the 160 million doses procured by the EU in November, before a deal last month to buy an additional 150 million shots both this year and next.
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The bloc is slated to receive 10 million of the shots in the January-March period, with deliveries set to accelerate later in the year, the data show.(Reuters)
The bloc is slated to receive 10 million of the shots in the January-March period, with deliveries set to accelerate later in the year, the data show.(Reuters)

EU nations got a third of Moderna Covid-19 shots so far, data show

Posted by Srivatsan K C | Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 09:38 PM IST
Gergely Gulyas, the cabinet minister to Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Hungary’s government, published the schedule in defense of a decision to opt out of additional purchases.
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Migrants who travelled to northern Mexico seeking asylum in the US are seen carrying empty water jugs at a migrant encampment in Matamoros.(REUTERS)
Migrants who travelled to northern Mexico seeking asylum in the US are seen carrying empty water jugs at a migrant encampment in Matamoros.(REUTERS)

Mexican camp that was symbol of migrant misery empties out under Biden

Posted by Kunal Gaurav | Reuters, Matamoros, Mexico
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 09:32 PM IST
President Joe Biden last month rolled back the program - known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) - that had forced asylum seekers to wait in Mexico.
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An elderly homeless man is inoculated with the CoronaVac vaccine, developed by China's Sinovac laboratory, against the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, at the Samaritano de la Calle Foundation in Cali, Colombia, on March 3, 2021. (Photo by Luis ROBAYO / AFP)(AFP)
An elderly homeless man is inoculated with the CoronaVac vaccine, developed by China's Sinovac laboratory, against the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, at the Samaritano de la Calle Foundation in Cali, Colombia, on March 3, 2021. (Photo by Luis ROBAYO / AFP)(AFP)

Hong Kong: 4 people fall ill after receiving China's Sinovac Covid vaccine jabs

ANI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 09:29 PM IST
This means a total of 15 people have sought medical attention after receiving the vaccines over the past week, according to the government. Some 83,400 people had been vaccinated with the mainland-produced jabs as of Saturday, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.
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