Biden promised a foreign policy centered on human rights, but is continuing Trump-era policies and practices

Biden
President Joe Biden

  • Biden is upholding Trump-era policies on issues like refugee admissions and arms sales.
  • Progressives and advocacy groups say Biden is violating his pledge to prioritize human rights.
  • AOC called Biden’s decision to uphold Trump’s refugee cap “completely and utterly unacceptable.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden promised that his foreign policy would mark a major departure from former President Donald Trump, pledging to put human rights and democracy at the center of his approach to global affairs. But on issues ranging from US relations with Gulf states to refugees, Biden is continuing many of Trump’s most divisive and controversial policies and practices – and both progressives in Congress and advocacy groups are not happy.

Trump repeatedly demonized refugees, painting them as a threat to the US, and his administration set the lowest ever cap on refugee admissions for the 2021 fiscal year. On the campaign trail and in the early weeks of his presidency, Biden vowed to reverse that trend and lambasted Trump over his xenophobic refugee policy.

“We used to allow refugees – 125,000 refugees in the United States in a yearly basis,” Biden said during a CNN town hall in February. “It was as high as 250,000. Trump cut it to 5,000. Come with me into Sierra Leone. Come with me into parts of Lebanon. Come with me around the world and see people piled up in camps, kids dying, no way out, refugees fleeing from persecution. We, the United States, used to do our part. We were part of that. We were – and, you know, that’s – you know, ‘send me your huddled masses.’ Come on.”

But the president is now walking back on a promise to open America’s doors to 62,500 refugees this fiscal year, and is keeping Trump’s historically low cap of 15,000 in place, per a directive the president issued on Friday.

Biden is also moving to speed up admissions and change the regional allocation of refugees, ending a Trump policy that effectively disqualified most refugees from African and Muslim-majority countries.

The president’s decision-making on this has seemingly been influenced by Republican criticism over his administration’s handling of a historic number of migrant arrivals at the US-Mexico border in recent months. GOP leaders have referred to the surge as a “crisis,” blaming it on by Biden’s more welcoming immigration messaging.

Human rights groups, refugee advocates, and some congressional Democrats ripped into Biden’s decision to retain Trump’s refugee cap.

“Completely and utterly unacceptable,” said Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. “Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise. Upholding the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump admin, [including] the historically low + plummeted refugee cap, is flat out wrong. Keep your promise.”

Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state said Biden has “broken his promise to restore our humanity.”

“This is incredibly disappointing. The U.S. is the most powerful nation in the world and we can’t do better?” Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, tweeted on Friday.

Joanne Lin, the National Director of Advocacy and Government Relations at Amnesty International, in a statement said Biden is “turning his back on tens of thousands of refugees around the world who have been approved to come to the United States.”

“Biden had the opportunity to fulfill his campaign pledge and to deliver on his promises to protect the rights of and well-being of refugees, to place human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy, and to restore U.S. global leadership. He squandered that opportunity today,” Lin added.

Biden’s human rights problem

MBS Biden
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) and President Joe Biden (R.)

Beyond the decision on refugees, Biden already had a big week when it comes to foreign policy. The president announced he’s pulling all remaining US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, bringing an end to the longest conflict in US history. He slapped new sanctions on Russia and called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to deescalate tensions amid a massive troop buildup along Ukraine’s borders. Meanwhile, US officials participated in indirect talks with Iranian officials in Vienna aimed at restoring the Iran nuclear deal.

Less than 100 days into his presidency, Biden has already reversed or moved to roll-back many of Trump’s biggest foreign policy changes. But as evidenced by the decision on refugees, Biden is not pulling a complete 180 when it comes to international relations – and he’s facing growing accusations of talking big on human rights without fully backing it up.

On the campaign trail, Biden pledged to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But Biden did not sanction Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over Khashoggi’s killing, even after the release of a declassified intelligence report directly implicating the Saudi leader in the brutal murder.

“It is extremely problematic, in my view, if not dangerous, to acknowledge someone’s culpability and then to tell that someone, ‘But we won’t do anything, please proceed as if have we have said nothing’,” Agnes Callamard, the new chief of Amnesty International who spearheaded a UN inquiry into Khashoggi’s killing, said of Biden.

More recently, Biden decided to move forward with a Trump era arms deal with the UAE involving the transfer of roughly $23 billion worth of advanced weaponry – including F-35s and drones. The UAE has played an intricate role in the devastating war in Yemen, where US-made bombs have been used in operations leading to civilian deaths.

In February, Biden announced he’s moving to end to US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Critics say this arms deal doesn’t exactly jive with that move and Biden’s broader promise to prioritize human rights.

Afrah Nasser, Yemen researcher at Human Rights Watch, said that Biden’s advancement of Trump’s arm deal with the UAE means his administration “has backed out of its pledge” on Yemen and warned the US now risks complicity in future human rights violations.

“Trying to understand how a massive arms sale to a repressive authoritarian government that bankrolled regional anti-democratic counterrevolutions, backs a Libyan warlord, and helped rubble Yemen (a partial list) strengthens a rules-based international order,” Matt Duss, foreign policy advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders, said in a tweet.

Duss has praised Biden on other foreign policy moves, such as the president’s decision to tap Antony Blinken as Secretary of State. But his criticism of Biden on the UAE sale is emblematic of evolving discontentment among progressives and human rights groups when it comes to the president’s foreign policy.

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The UAE has announced Nora al-Matroushi as its first female astronaut

AP21100433899562
Mohammed al-Mulla, left, and Noura al-Matroushi, right.

  • The UAE revealed its first female astronaut, who will join the country’s space program.
  • Sheikh Mohammed posted on Twitter on Saturday to announce Nora al-Matroushi’s appointment.
  • At the same time, Mohammed al-Mulla was named as her male counterpart.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The United Arab Emirates on Saturday announced its first female astronaut.

Dubai ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, revealed the news on Twitter.

Nora al-Matroushi, 27, was selected alongside Mohammed al-Mulla. The two were chosen from more than 4,000 applicants in the UAE who applied for the program, Sheikh Mohammed said in a tweet.

“We congratulate the country. We count on them to raise the name of the UAE in the sky,” Sheikh Mohammed added.

The pair will work alongside Hazza Al Mansouri, the first Emirati astronaut to fly into space, and Sultan Al Neyadi, UAE’s reserve astronaut.

Al-Matroushi also took to Twitter. She wrote: “The nation gave me unforgettable moments today. I aim to work hard to script historical moments and achievements that will be etched forever in the memory of our people.”

The astronaut holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the United Arab Emirates University, Mohammed bin Rashin Space Centre shared in a video on Twitter.

She works as an engineer at the National Petroleum Construction Company.

Her love for space began at a young age, “as she enjoyed going to stargazing event,” the video added. The motto she upholds to live life by is: “Do what makes you happy.”

Al-Mulla is a commercial pilot. He works as an aeronaut for Dubai police where he is also the commander of their training division.

The announcement marks the progress being made by several space agencies to advance gender equality in the space industry, which has dominated by men since the 1960s, The National reported.

The pair will commence training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Assuming she takes part in a mission, she could become the first Arab woman in space, according to the UAE government.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A secretive SpaceX investor has scored a 75% stock gain in the past 3 weeks

elon musk spacex
Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX.

A SpaceX investor has seen its stock price surge 75% in the past three weeks for no apparent reason.

International Holdings’ market capitalization has soared to a record $43 billion as a result, surpassing the market value of First Abu Dhabi Bank – one of the region’s biggest lenders.

IHC owns or part-owns businesses across multiple industries including food packaging, military equipment, and air conditioning. Last year it purchased a 94% stake in Falcon CI IV LP, a private equity fund in the Cayman Islands that has invested in Elon Musk’s SpaceX, according to Reuters.

The holding company’s shares are closely held by Emiratis and no analysts cover the company, according to Bloomberg, making it tough to diagnose what’s behind the recent stock move.

Century Financial’s investment chief, Vijay Valecha, told Bloomberg that IHC’s investments are “audacious and sometimes baffling” but its bosses have “delivered the goods” so far.

IHC’s stock has climbed from 50 dirhams ( $13.60) on March 22 to 87.50 as of Thursday, after trading as high as 94 dirhams on Wednesday. It has more than doubled in price this year already, after more than doubling last year.

The company’s gains might reflect the fact that its more than tripled its revenue and more than doubled its net profit last year.

Its outperformance coincides with Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed al-Nahyan becoming the company’s president. The Sheikh is also a national security advisor to the UAE and is part of the country’s royalty – his brother is the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

Additionally, he holds leadership positions at IHC’s biggest (and only direct) shareholder, Royal Group, and at First Abu Dhabi Bank.

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Mars Rover, SpaceX launches, and the Hope Probe – these are some of 2021’s biggest space stories so far

perseverance rover mars navcam screengrab
A screengrab from a NASA press conference of the Perseverance rover.

  • NASA’s Mars Rover’s daring landing on Mars is among the key space stories of 2021.
  • The red planet is also an important destination for Elon Musk’s SpaceX, the UAE, and China.
  • Blue Origin and Zero 2 Infinity are among other space companies commanding attention. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The year has already got off to a winning start, with many key developments in the new space race.

The most notable is the impressive – and terrifying – landing of NASA’s Perseverance Rover on Mars. It successfully touched down on the red planet on February 18 and landed in a deep crater called Jezero. 

The result was deeply satisfying for those who have been tracking the progress of the rover, which had been travelling to its destination for nearly seven months. The rover has been continuing to beam back photos of its descent to Mars. 

Elsewhere, the UAE space agency released the first photo of Mars taken by its Hope Probe, while China’s Tianwen-1 mission successfully maneuvered into orbit around Mars earlier this month. 

Meanwhile, Spanish startup Zero 2 Infinity has big plans to send humans into space in giant helium balloons for a cost of $132,000.

The comparatively cheaper price may lure some prospective travellers away from SpaceX’s Mars mission, which aims to send humans to the planet by 2026. Some experts have called into question whether this will really happen, however. 

SpaceX has also been busy launching many more satellites. It recently sent 60 into orbit but the Falcon 9 rocket’s booster did not successfully complete its landing on February 16. 

The S.S. Katherine Johnson, a space supply ship carrying cargo to the International Space Station, blasted off from Virginia on February 20. The ship is named after the brilliant mathematician whose story was depicted in the 2016 film ‘Hidden Figures.’ It arrived at its destination on February 22. 

Finally, space fans can expect Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin to start commanding more attention. When the Amazon CEO announced he was stepping down from the role later this year, he said he planned to dedicate more time to the company.

Blue Origin’s website states: “We’re committed to building a road to space so our children can build the future.” 

 

Perseverance landed on Mars in dramatic style

perseverance mars rover landing photo
A photo of NASA’s Perseverance rover just feet above the Martian surface – part of a video several cameras recorded of the landing on February 18, 2021.

Perseverance’s first color photo

perseverance mars rover color image
The rover has been capturing stunning images like this since it touched down on Mars

The UAE Space Agency is also making Mars a priority

Mars from UAE Hope Probe.JPG
The UAE’s first photo of Mars taken by its Hope Probe.

Zero 2 Infinity …and beyond

Zero 2 Infinity
The company wants to eventually offer hours of flight time for space tourists who travel in the giant helium balloons

SpaceX’s Starlink launches

elon musk spacex starship sn8 serial number 8 steel rocket ship prototype boca chica south texas sunset sunrise getty 4x3
Elon Musk’s company successfully launched 60 satellites just before 11pm (EST) on Monday, February 16. A rocket booster was lost in the process, however.

Blue Origin’s bold vision

Jeff Bezos Blue Origin
Jeff Bezos announced plans to devote more time to his Blue Origin rocket company after he steps down as Amazon CEO.

China’s Tianwen-1 mission

china mars global remote sensing and small rover tianwen hx 1 martian mission spacecraft illustration rendering cas xinhua
China’s Tianwen-1 mission maneuvered into orbit around Mars earlier this month. This illustration shows it departing Earth. It’s the first mission that has ever tried to deliver an orbiter, lander, and rover all at the same time.

Read the original article on Business Insider

From the Mars Rover landing to SpaceX satellite launches, these are some of 2021’s biggest space stories so far

perseverance rover mars landing first images nasa
The first (left) and second (right) images that the Perseverance rover took seconds after landing on Mars, February 18, 2021.

  • Nasa’s Mars Rover’s daring landing on Mars is among the key space stories of 2021.
  • The red planet is also an important destination for Elon Musk’s SpaceX, the UAE, and China.
  • Blue Origin and Zero 2 Infinity are among other space companies commanding attention. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The year has already got off to a winning start, with many key developments in the new space race.

The most notable is the impressive – and terrifying – landing of NASA’s Perseverance Rover on Mars. It successfully touched down on the red planet on Thursday afternoon (EST) in a deep crater called Jezero.

The result was deeply satisfying for those who have been tracking the progress of the rover, which had been travelling to its destination for nearly seven months.

In other recent developments, the UAE space agency released the first photo of Mars taken by its Hope Probe, while China’s Tianwen-1 mission successfully manoeuvred into orbit around Mars earlier this month. 

Meanwhile, Spanish startup Zero 2 Infinity has big plans to send humans into space in giant helium balloons for a cost of $132,000.

The comparatively cheaper price may lure some prospective travellers away from SpaceX’s Mars mission, which aims to send humans to the planet by 2026. Some experts have called into question whether this will really happen, however. 

SpaceX has also been busy launching many more satellites. It recently sent 60 into orbit but the Falcon 9 rocket’s booster did not successfully complete its landing on February 16. 

Finally, space fans can expect Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin to start commanding more attention. When the Amazon CEO announced he was stepping down from the role later this year, he said he planned to dedicate more time to the company.

Blue Origin’s website states: “We’re committed to building a road to space so our children can build the future.” 

 

The Mars Rover’s first color photo

perseverance mars rover color image
Perseverance has been capturing stunning images like this since it touched down on Mars

The UAE Space Agency is also making Mars a priority

Mars from UAE Hope Probe.JPG
The UAE’s first photo of Mars taken by its Hope Probe.

Zero 2 Infinity …and beyond

Zero 2 Infinity
The company wants to eventually offer hours of flight time for space tourists who travel in the giant helium balloons

SpaceX’s Starlink launches

elon musk spacex starship sn8 serial number 8 steel rocket ship prototype boca chica south texas sunset sunrise getty 4x3
Elon Musk’s company successfully launched 60 satellites just before 11pm (EST) on Monday, February 16. A rocket booster was lost in the process, however.

Blue Origin’s bold vision

Jeff Bezos Blue Origin
Jeff Bezos announced plans to devote more time to his Blue Origin rocket company after he steps down as Amazon CEO.

China’s Tianwen-1 mission

china mars global remote sensing and small rover tianwen hx 1 martian mission spacecraft illustration rendering cas xinhua
China’s Tianwen-1 mission maneuvered into orbit around Mars earlier this month. This illustration shows it departing Earth. It’s the first mission that has ever tried to deliver an orbiter, lander, and rover all at the same time.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Israeli soccer team whose notorious fans chant ‘death to the Arabs’ set to be bought by sheikh from Abu Dhabi for $100m

Beitar Jerusalem fans chanting racist slogans in 2013
Beitar Jerusalem fans have a history of chanting anti-Arab slogans

  • A member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family is in advanced talks to buy Beitar Jerusalem.
  • The sheikh is reportedly set to invest $100 million in the soccer team.
  • The club has a long history of chanting anti-Arab abuse and targeting Muslim players.
  • Beitar Jerusalem’s owners have travelled to Dubai to try and bring negotiations to a close.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Nahyan, an Emirati royal, is set to buy a major stake in the Israeli soccer team Beitar Jerusalem. The team is infamous in Israel for having fans who have consistently targeted Muslim players and chanted anti-Arab abuse.

It is being reported that al Nahyan will purchase about a 50% stake in the club at a price of $100 million, according to Middle East Eye.

The club’s owner, Moshe Hogeg, traveled with Beit Jerusalem’s senior executives on Thursday to try and close the deal. Naum Koen, an Israeli businessman based in the United Arab Emirates, is responsible for brokering it.

Talks of a deal were first reported by Bloomberg in September. This was shortly before an agreement was signed in Washington which normalized ties between the UAE and Israel.

Hogeg is hoping to “close matters” during the trip to Dubai, he told Israeli website Walla.

In a statement on the club’s website, Hogeg confirmed that negotiations are going well and “seem to be progressing.”

He said: “I hope there will be something to announce shortly.”

In the statement, Hogeg also addressed the club’s reputation for having fans who hold an anti-Arab sentiment. He insisted that racist fans are only a “minority.”

He also added: “We do not do racism. Not in the Holy City and certainly not on my watch.”

The club’s controversial history might suggest otherwise.

Beitar Jerusalem is the only club in the Israeli Premier League to have never signed an Arab player.

In 2012, a violent group of fans – referred to as ‘La Familia’ – flooded into a mall in Jerusalem and chanted “death to Arabs.” That slogan has become commonplace at soccer games since then.

A year later, fans protested the signing of two Chechen Muslim players. Shortly after Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev were introduced into the team, members of La Familia set fire to one of the club’s offices.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who supports the club, condemned the acts as “racist.”

As recently as last year, CNN reported that Beitar Jerusalem fans demanded that Ali Mohamed – a Christian player from Niger – change his name to sound less Muslim.

In response, Hogeg threatened to sue the fans responsible for these demands.

Read the original article on Business Insider