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Bipartisan bill leaves out key climate, clean energy steps

The USD1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package unveiled by the Senate includes more than USD150 billion to boost clean energy and promote climate resilience by making schools, ports and other structures better able to withstand extreme weather events such as storms and wildfires. But the bill, headed for a Senate vote this week, falls far short of President Joe Biden’s pledge to transform the nation’s heavily fossil-fuel powered economy into a clean-burning one and stop climate-damaging emissions from U.S. power plants by 2035. Notably, the deal omits mention of a Clean…

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Masks encouraged in New York, but no city or state mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio strongly urged even vaccinated people to start wearing masks indoors. Governor Andrew Cuomo said unvaccinated transit employees in the metropolitan area would undergo weekly virus testing. But both Democrats on Monday resisted calls to impose new mask or vaccination requirements to counter a rapidly climbing number of new COVID-19 infections. De Blasio explained that the city’s overwhelming strategic thrust remains getting more people vaccinated. Cuomo said he lacks the legal authority to impose such local mandates on his own. The Legislature would have…

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Berlin protesters decry coronavirus measures; 600 detained

Thousands turned out in Berlin to protest the German government’s anti-coronavirus measures despite a ban on the gatherings, leading to clashes with police and the detention of some 600 protesters. Local authorities had banned several different protests this weekend, including one from the Stuttgart-based Querdenker movement, but protesters in Berlin defied the ban. Berlin’s police department deployed more than 2,000 officers to try and disperse the protests on Sunday, but it said officers who sought to redirect protesters or disband larger groups were harassed and attacked”. They tried to break…

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Mexico to hold referendum on accountability of ex-presidents

A referendum in Mexico on Sunday is going to cost Mexico about USD 25 million, few like the poorly written, yes-or-no question on the ballot, and the vote is being held in the middle of a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic. To top it off, critics say the referendum question is so obvious that it’s offensive to submit it to a vote. So why is Mexico holding a nationwide referendum on whether ex-presidents should be tried for any illegal acts they may have committed? Mexico has no formal amnesty…

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Israel’s NSO blocks some government clients from using its spyware over misuse claims: Report

Israeli cybersecurity company NSO Group, which is at the centre of the Pegasus snooping scandal, has temporarily blocked several government clients around the world from using its spyware technology as the firm probes its alleged abuses, according to a US media report. The alleged use of the Pegasus software to spy on journalists, human rights defenders, politicians and others in a number of countries, including India, triggered concerns over issues relating to privacy. The suspensions are in response to an investigation by the Pegasus Project, a consortium of media outlets…

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Philippine leader recalls decision to void US security pact

 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has retracted a decision to end a key defence pact with the United States, allowing large-scale combat exercises between US and Philippine forces that at times have alarmed China to proceed. Duterte’s decision was announced Friday by Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a joint news conference with visiting US counterpart Lloyd Austin in Manila. It was a step back from the Philippine leader’s stunning vow early in his term to distance himself from Washington as he tried to rebuild frayed ties with China over territorial rifts…

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Biden says US combat mission in Iraq to conclude by year end

 President Joe Biden said Monday the U.S. combat mission in Iraq will conclude by the end of the year, an announcement that reflects the reality on the ground more than a major shift in U.S. policy. Even before Biden took office, the main U.S. focus has been assisting Iraqi forces, not fighting on their behalf. And Biden did not say if he planned to reduce the number of troops in Iraq, now about 2,500. The announcement comes on the heels of Biden’s decision to withdraw fully from Afghanistan nearly 20…

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Europe’s summer tourism outlook dimmed by variants, rules

Chaos and confusion over travel rules and measures to contain new virus outbreaks are contributing to another cruel summer for Europe’s battered tourism industry. Popular destination countries are grappling with surging COVID-19 variants, but the patchwork and last-minute nature of the efforts as the peak season gets underway threatens to derail another summer. In France, the world’s most visited country, visitors to cultural and tourist sites were confronted this week with a new requirement for a special COVID-19 pass. To get the pass, which comes in paper or digital form,…

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Blinken to raise human rights with Indian officials during visit to New Delhi

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will raise issues of human rights and democracy with Indian officials during his first visit to New Delhi as the two nations have more values in common on those fronts than otherwise, according to a senior US official. Blinken is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi late on July 27. During his stay in the country, he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. The Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will…

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US carried out airstrikes in Afghanistan: Pentagon

The US carried out airstrikes across Afghanistan in the last several days as part of an effort to support the Afghan security forces fighting Taliban insurgents, the Pentagon has said. The news of US airstrikes in Afghanistan came a day after America’s most senior military officer admitted that the Taliban had gained strategic momentum, with their forces now controlling about half of Afghanistan’s more than 400 district centres. The Pentagon, however, refrained from giving any specifics of its airstrikes in Afghanistan. Without speaking to specifics, I can say that in…

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