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US congress passes President Biden’s $1 trillion “Build Back Better”infrastructure bill

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US congress passes President Bidens 1 trillion Build Back Betterinfrastructure bill

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On Friday the US Congress finally passed President Joe Biden’s $1 Trillion bill that aims at building better infrastructure. The bill which has been a topic of concern for several months was passed with a 226-208 vote. The bill is now on the way to President Biden to be signed as a law.

This is considered to be a monumental achievement for the Democrats as there has been a steady decline in Biden’s approval rate and with the midterm elections around the corner there were fears of the Democrats losing the majority vote.

While 13 Republicans voted in favour of the bill which promised a huge chunk of Biden’s domestic plans, “The Squad” or otherwise known as the Liberal Democrats of the Congress voted against the Bill that includes Jamaal Bowman (NY), Cori Bush (MO), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (MN), Ayanna Pressley (MA), and Rashida Tlaib (MI). Whereas a more ambitious social spending bill favoured by them was put on hold. 

However, the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said that they would not support this infrastructure bill until they had voted on a separate social welfare bill that allocates $1.75 trillion for healthcare, education and climate change initiatives that was promised by the Biden administration. 

The bill that was passed recently, which is also known as the “Build Back Better” Infrastructure bill, aims to develop and improve on US infrastructure over the period of next eight years. It promises to upgrade all of America’s roads, railways and other transportation infrastructure in a generation. President Biden has also promised to create more jobs for a thriving economy and boost the US competitiveness. The bill also sets aside the funding for clean drinking water, high speed internet, and a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging points.

With a smile on his face Biden was happy to announce about the infrastructure week which was one of the key highlights of his election campaign. “This is a blue collar blueprint to rebuilding America,” he mentioned in his White House remarks.

The signing of the bill seems to be the start of Biden’s tour in the coming weeks along with his cabinet to reinforce and to spread the message of the infrastructure bill to Americans and to show how it will help them to better their lives. The tour is set to include visits to “red states, blue states, big cities, small towns, rural areas, Tribal communities and more”, a White House official said on Saturday.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

Rwanda: How does the UK’s immigration policy compare to others? 

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According to the new British immigration policy, asylum seekers will be sent to Rwanda. In exchange the British government will pay £120 million to Rwanda. This plan has received a lot of criticism by many and has been accused of being cruel and unethical. Other countries, such as Australia, Israel or Denmark also have similar plans regarding immigration. 

The new plan involves sending immigrants seeking asylum, 6400 kilometres away to Rwanda, instead of allowing them to apply for asylum in the UK. When having arrived in the Central African country, Rwandan immigration rules will apply to migrants, and they will not have the right to return to the UK. In case of a deportation, immigrants will either be sent to the first “safe” country, or they will be sent back to their country of origin.

Despite the current international outrage regarding this new deal, the UK isn’t the first country that Rwanda has signed such a deal with. 

In 2015 the former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu introduced a similar policy, the “voluntary” deportation programme policy. This new policy gave rejected asylum seekers the opportunity to either return to their country of origin, accept a payment of $3500 and a plane ticket to an unnamed country, which were reportedly Rwanda or Uganda, or lastly, go to Israeli jail in the case that they stayed in Israel. 

Three years later, almost 30% of immigrants, that had entered Israel illegally, had left the country.  

Just like the UK, the voluntary deportation programme was heavily criticised. A report from 2015 by the International Refugee Rights Initiative said, “Contrary to the Israeli authorities’ rhetoric, departures from Israel are neither voluntary, nor do they ensure the safety of those leaving the country. While Israel presents Rwanda and Uganda as safe destinations, in reality they are often the starting point for a dangerous journey that not all asylum seekers survive.” 

In 2021, Denmark too passed legislation allowing refugees to be sent, having made similar deals with Rwanda, Tunisia and/or Ethiopia, in regard to achieve “zero” asylum seekers. Before that, talks about achieving zero asylum seekers had already been happening and were also announced by the Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen in 2020.

According to Zachary Whyte, an Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen, “The Danish plans involve an initial screening of asylum seekers for vulnerability, before they are transferred to a third world country, which could be Rwanda. Their asylum cases will be processed there. If they are recognised as refugees, they will be settled there. If not, their possible deportation will be the responsibility of that third country.” 

As of today, Denmark has been successful in achieving this goal: in 2020 only 1,547 people sought asylum in Denmark. Compared to previous years, this has been the lowest number registered. 

Unlike Denmark and Israel, Australia’s immigration policy consists of sending immigrants to pacific countries, to centers in Papua New Guinea and the Republic of Nauru. Australia has been using their “Pacific Solution” since 2001, making it one of the first countries to use offshore detention centers

Refugees entering Australia were either brought to Nauru or Papua New Guinea, where the processes of becoming permanent citizens started.

As of today the Republic of Nauru still houses 112 refugees, but centers in Papua New Guinea, which housed 120 refugees, were closed after the Papuan Supreme Court ruled the centers, ”illegal”. 

In March this year, another three-year deal was announced this time with New Zealand. According to the new deal 450 refugees will be sent to New Zealand. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

India playing the “All religions matter” card in the UN

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In a recent event that marked the first anniversary of the International Day of Countering Hate Speech, Ambassador Tirumurti from India urged the UN that fighting religiophobia should not be a “selective exercise” that involves only one or two religions but one that should be applied equally to phobias against non-Abrahamic religions as well. He had also addressed terrorism concerns that have been plaguing India due to the cross-border tensions that are on the rise.

It is ironic that such statements were made during an event whose sole purpose is to counter hate in a country where religiophobia against people practising Abrahamic religions is at an all-time high. Last week, India was in the news for all the wrong reasons due to comments made against the Prophet Muhammad (saw) by the official spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), one of India’s major political parties. Clashes erupted around the country in retaliation and houses that belonged to Muslim activists were bulldozed and razed to the ground simply because they had raised objections against the ruling party for the hateful comments made. Even though the cause for all that is happening in India is predominantly Islamaphobia, it is surprising how the religion of Islam was not mentioned anywhere in the list of Abrahamic religions given by Mr Tirumurti[1] . Leaving out the religion of Islam takes us back to the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and The National Register of Citizens (NRC) bill that was passed but not implemented yet required Muslims living in India to submit documents showing that they are indeed the citizens of India.

Mr Tirumurti also mentioned that India follows pluralism as it was recognised by the UAE and Egypt to promote fraternity on the International Day of Fraternity[2] . He defines Pluralism as “where every religion is respected, is a sine qua non of tolerance and harmony,”. However, what happened in India a few days prior is a stark contrast to the definition that he read out during the event.

“Till this is done, such international days will never achieve their objectives. There cannot be double standards on religiophobia,” stated the Ambassador. His remarks on how all religions must be treated equally to combat religiophobia are similar in nature to the “All Lives Matter” slogan created for the sole purpose of undermining the ‘Black Lives Matter movement. India needs to look back at itself to understand the definition of double standards as the country itself has become the epitome of the word by denying the extremist allegations while executing the same on minorities.[3] 

Regarding the statement given by Mr Tirumurti in the UN, Mahmooda, a Muslim citizen of India, living in Chennai said, “This is yet another flag of insignificance being pinned upon the Muslims”. This is a testament to the fact on how the government of India and the majority is still undermining and undervaluing the lives of Muslims who have made India their home for several decades now. 

“Fascism is always denied when it’s being perpetrated. Furthermore, there’s a convenient narrative orchestrated through different avenues to justify the hostility against the persecuted” remarked Aslam who is a 35 year old non-residential Indian living in the UAE.

Safura, a Muslim in her mid-20’s said that she understands that all religions must be considered equal in the religiophobia narrative and that “one cannot value one’s human life more than the other”, but it baffled her that Islam was left out of the conversation in an event that strives to fight against religiophobia despite the fact that Muslims are the most persecuted around the world. 

This makes us wonder if India believes that Muslims are the reason why religiophobia still exists and hence all the other religions must be saved from it? Unfortunately, the answer to this question can be provided by Mr Tirumurti alone.


All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Trump Knew His Supporters Were Armed in Jan. 6 Capitol Riots

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  • Former White House aid, Cassidy Hutchinson, stated that former US President Donald Trump was aware that rioters were armed on January 6th, 2021 when they stormed the US Capitol, but he did not want to stop them.
  • Hutchinson worked as a top advisor to Mr Trump’s chief of staff, and testified at a hearing to a select House committee that was in charge of investigating the Jan 6th riot at the US Capitol.
  • Hutchinson recounted how Mr. Trump said that rioters were “not here to hurt me” and that security should “let them in.” She also stated that he lunged at the driver of the limousine in a rage when he was told he could not be taken to the Capitol.
  • Mr Trump denied several parts of Hutchinson’s testimony, stating, “I didn’t want or request that we make room for people with guns to watch my speech.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

At Least 23 Migrants Dead in Attempt to Cross Morocco-Melilla Border 

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At least 23 migrants from Morocco died trying to cross the border with neighboring Melilla, one of Spain’s two autonomous cities, highlighting the desperate plight of many Africans.

Around 2,000 people attempted to make the crossing, resulting in a violent skirmish at the border on Friday (June 24). About 58 migrants and 140 border security officers were also injured, according to Morocco’s Interior Ministry. 

Crossing the border from Morocco into Melilla is one of the most accessible routes for Africans to enter Europe, since Melilla is located in North Africa but is also part of the European Union. Migrants seek increased opportunities and economic stability in Europe, as well as freedom from unsafe conditions in their home countries. 

Those trying to cross into Melilla could be injured at the border, forced to remain in Morocco, or sent back to their homes by Moroccan officials. 

Refugee advocacy and human rights groups have expressed serious concern at what they see as an excessive use of force against already vulnerable people at the Morocco-Melilla border.

“Although the migrants may have acted violently in their attempt to enter Melilla, when it comes to border control, not everything goes,” Esteban Beltran, the director of Amnesty International Spain, said in a statement. “The human rights of migrants and refugees must be respected and situations like that seen cannot happen again.”

Friday’s deadly incident at the border is likely to spur further tensions between Spain and Morocco.

In May 2021, over 10,000 people attempted to cross into Cueta, the second Spanish territory in North Africa. The mass migration shocked Spain and took place during a diplomatic standoff between the nations over Western Sahara, which has long sought independence from Morocco. 

Looking ahead, Spanish authorities could respond by increasing security measures at the border and obstruct many Africans from crossing. Morocco may then have to accommodate an influx of refugees from sub-Saharan Africa, and the country may limit immigrants too. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Russian Missile Sets Ukraine Shopping Center on Fire

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  • A busy shopping center in Ukraine was set on fire by Russian missiles on Monday, killing at least thirteen people and injuring dozens. The total number of casualties is still unknown.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that “The number of victims is impossible to imagine” and that there could have been up to 1,000 people in the mall.
  • The attack came during the G7 summit, where world leaders condemned recent atrocities and promised to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes” in a joint statement. President Zelensky spoke to the leaders at the summit and stated that he wants the war to end before winter.
  • NATO has decided to increase the number of troops in its rapid reaction force from 40,000 to 300,000, more than eightfold. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated this move is part of the “biggest overhaul of collective defense and deterrence since the Cold War.”
  • The United States has announced that it will provide Ukraine with advanced medium and long-range air defense capabilities.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Politics

Albanian Prime Minister expressed discontent over membership delays for the European Union

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On June 23rd, the leaders of the European Union had a meeting with six Western Balkan Countries. These countries, consisting of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia, have all applied to become part of the EU for years now. 

This time they met to further their integration into the EU. 

The meeting took place amidst tensions between the countries, as Bulgaria’s veto on accession talk with North Macedonia.Bulgaria refuses to recognize Macedonia as a separate country and this veto also put Albanian negotiations on hold. 

Before the summit took place the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, criticised EU leader for their delay. 

“You are a mess guys, you are a big mess and you are a disgrace and I think it’s a shame that a NATO country kidnaps two other NATO countries while in the backyard of Europe there is a hot war and of course, it’s not good to see that 26 other countries sit still in a scary show of impotence,” Rama said.

This frustration came to be due to the long wait of being able to join the European Union. The longest-standing nation dates back to 2005, when North Macedonia applied for EU membership. 

While the Western Balkan country has been applying and waiting for years now, countries like Ukraine and Moldovia are moving in record speed to be granted the candidate status. Which furthers the frustration Western Balkans leaders feel. 

The German Chancellor Olaf Scholz responded:

“The most important [thing] is that the states from Western Balkans will have a good opportunity to become really members of the European Union,” adding “they’ve worked so hard, so it’s our common task this something that will happen.”

Bulgaria seemed to make progress until their opposition appeared to be wanting to advance with opening accession negotiations. Despite the hope it did not further any progress, due to dispute in the parliament. 

The Bulgarian Prime Minister called the opposition leader “most dishonest person I know.”

The European Council President Charles Michel stated that he was watching the development in Bulgaria closely and that starting the negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia were his top priority. 

By the end of the meeting Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama posted on Twitter:

“Nice place nice people nice words nice pictures and just imagine how much nicer could be if nice promises were followed by nice delivery. 
But we Albanians are not as nice as to give up nicely! So, we will keep going and working even harder to make Albania a nice EU member”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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