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White House Does Damage Control After Biden Calls Japan and India “Xenophobic”

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Biden Administration Plans for Potential Presidential Transition

President Joe Biden has labeled Japan and India as “xenophobic” countries that do not welcome immigrants, lumping the two alongside enemies China and Russia as he attempted to explain their economic circumstances and contrasted the four with the United States on immigration.

The remarks, made at a campaign fundraiser Wednesday evening, came just three weeks after the White House hosted Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for a lavish official visit, during which the two leaders celebrated what Biden called a “unbreakable alliance,” particularly on global security issues.

The White House welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a state visit last summer.

Japan is a vital US ally. India, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, is an important partner in the Indo-Pacific, despite disparities on human rights.

 

AP According to Washington writer Sagar Meghani, President Biden has lumped together two critical allies and two rivals.

At a hotel event attended primarily by Asian Americans, Biden stated that the approaching presidential election was about “freedom, America, and democracy” and that the country’s economy was prospering “because of you and many others.”

“Why? “Because we welcome immigrants,” Biden explained. “Think about it. Why is China’s economy slowing so badly? Why is Japan facing trouble? Why is Russia? Why is India? Because they are xenophobic. “They do not want immigrants.”

The president continued, “Immigrants are what make us powerful. This is not a joke. That is not hyperbole; we have an influx of workers that want to be here and contribute.”

There was no quick response from the Japanese or Indian governments. White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Biden was making a broader statement about the United States’ immigration policy.

“Our allies and partners know well in tangible ways how President Biden values them, their friendship, their cooperation, and the capabilities that they bring across the spectrum on a range of issues, not just security-related,” Kirby said Thursday morning when asked about Biden’s “xenophobic” remarks. “They understand how much he completely and utterly values the idea of alliances and partnerships.”

Biden’s remarks occurred at the opening of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and he was introduced at the event by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., one of two senators of Asian American origin. She is the national co-chair for his reelection campaign.

Japan has acknowledged its demographic decline, as the number of newborns born in the country in 2023 declined for the eighth consecutive year, according to figures released in February.

Kishida has referred to Japan’s low birth rate as “the biggest crisis Japan faces,” and the country has long been recognized for taking a more closed-door approach to immigration, however Kishida’s government has recently modified its policy to make it easier for foreign workers to come to Japan.

Meanwhile, India’s population has grown to become the world’s largest, with the United Nations predicting it will reach 1.425 billion. Its population is also predominantly youthful.

Earlier this year, India passed a new citizenship law that expedited naturalization for Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Christians who fled Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. However, it excludes Muslims, who constitute the majority in all three countries. This is the first time India has established religious qualifications for citizenship.

John Kirby defended Biden’s remarks

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communication John Kirby defended Biden’s remarks: Getty Images

In a press briefing on Thursday, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communication John Kirby defended Biden’s remarks.

“Look, I think the broader point the president was making, and I think people all around the world recognize this, is that the United States is a nation of immigrants and it’s in our DNA,” Kirby told reporters at the White House. “We are stronger for it. We are not going to walk away from this. And that’s the larger point he was making.

When asked why the president singled out two ally nations to illustrate his point, Kirby declined, emphasizing that Biden’s intention was to commend the United States rather than disparage Japan or India.

“I am making a wider argument about our country, our country. “Our allies understand how much the president respects them, values their friendship, and appreciates their contributions,” Kirby answered. “And you don’t have to look honestly very far, very hard to see that bear out in the things that we’ve been doing in the Indo-Pacific with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines.”

Source: AP

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Canada Day Parade Cancelled in Montreal Due to Bureaucracy and Politics

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The organizer of Montreal’s Canada Day parade has cancelled this year’s event, blaming bureaucratic red tape and politics. Nick Cowen the main Organizer of the Montreal Canada Day Parade issued a press release stating that he has had increasing difficulty in obtaining permissions and funds, as well as approval from government officials.

“Despite honoring all conditions set forth, Cowen said in his press release that he had been met with rules that change at the last minute and requests that make putting on the parade virtually impossible, An event that is meant to inspire unity has been thwarted because of division.”

Cowen claimed that in 2023, he was compelled to fill out the same documentation many times and completely restructure the event to satisfy Montreal city regulators. He also stated that he was directed to find 148 volunteers at the last minute, in order to ensure that at least one person stood by the procession cars’ tires.

“Imagine you are in traffic and need four people, one at each tire, to make sure no one runs under the wheel of a normal car,” he stated in an email.

Government Bureaucracy

He added that the federal government “requested that parts of the parade be removed entirely,” including the cake to be presented at the end of the march. “The parade’s budget was also reduced to 2013 levels in another devastating blow to this cherished event,” the author said.

The city of Montreal and the federal heritage agency did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

The parade has taken place since the late 1970s, however it was canceled between 2020 and 2022 due of the COVID-19 epidemic.

The news comes as organizers in some communities have rethought their celebrations in recent years due to rising security and insurance costs, as well as funding issues.

Cowen told The Canadian Press that, while COVID-19 contributed to the event’s cancellation, he was also trying to meet mounting costs as federal financing failed to keep up with inflation.

Other Canada Day celebrations will take place in Montreal on July 1, including the customary Old Port celebration with games, face painting, cupcakes, and music.

Canada Day in Montreal

In Montreal, Canada Day is a vibrant celebration that oozes enthusiasm and pride throughout the city. People dress in their finest patriotic garb, and the streets are filled with red and white.

Typically, the day begins with a massive parade through the city center, complete with colorful floats, marching bands, and cultural performers. Local parks are wonderful picnic spots since they host family-friendly activities such as face painting, games, and live music.

Streetside food trucks bordering the avenues serve a variety of Canadian foods, including poutine and maple sugar. Fireworks over the Old Port brighten the sky as the sun sets, creating a fantastic atmosphere.

Concerts and other activities continue throughout the evening, emphasizing local talent and fostering a sense of community. It’s a day of celebration, togetherness, and deep appreciation for Canada’s rich history.

Both locals and foreigners should attend this event because of Montreal’s unique fusion of French and English cultures, which adds a unique flavor to the celebrations.

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U.K News

UK Conservative Party Candidates Investigated for Illegal Election Betting

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Conservative Party members under investigation: Reuters Image

The UK Sunday Times has reported a member of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party is currently under investigation by Britain’s gambling regulator on suspicion of having gambled on the general election date prior to its announcement.

Two Conservative candidates for office and the party’s head of campaigns are reportedly under investigation by Britain’s Gambling Commission for alleged wagers placed on the July 4 election.

The opposition Labour Party is currently polling considerably ahead of Sunak in the lead-up to the election, and the scandal’s expansion has only made matters worse.

The Conservative Party’s top data officer, Nick Mason, was named by the newspaper as the official. When asked for comment, Mason did not immediately answer. Mason disputed the allegations, according to the newspaper’s citation of a spokeswoman for him.

According to a statement from the Conservative Party, Mason has taken a leave of absence, according to the Sunday Times. Reuters reached out to the party, but they declined to corroborate the report.

“We are not permitted to discuss any matters related to any investigation with the subject or any other persons,” a spokesman for the Conservative Party said, following instructions from the Gambling Commission.

Conservative Party Director Takes Leave

No individuals have been named by the Gambling Commission as of yet. Commission officials have refused to comment on the Sunday Times story, citing confidentiality agreements on the investigation’s subjects.

An “incredibly angry” Sunak expressed his dismay at the accusations leveled against his party members on Thursday, describing them as a “really serious matter.”

The director of campaigns for the Conservative Party, Tony Lee, has taken a leave of absence, and one of the candidates implicated in the incident, Craig Williams, has previously expressed regret for a mistake.

Alleged wagers on the election day have led to the arrest of a special protection unit police officer as well.

Election betting in the UK has skyrocketed in popularity. People place wagers on everything from the overall winner to individual constituency results. It’s not just about predicting who’ll take the Prime Minister’s office.

Many bet on voter turnout, party performance, and even whether certain policies will pass. Betting companies provide detailed odds, helping punters make informed choices.

This betting trend reflects the UK public’s engagement with politics, adding an extra layer of excitement to election periods. It’s a fascinating blend of politics and gambling, drawing in seasoned bettors and curious newcomers alike.

Source: Reuters

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NATO Secretary-General Urges Trudeau to Honour Canada’s Spending Target

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: AP Image

Canada needs to meet NATO’s minimum defence spending target, and present a plan on how it will reach it as a way to show authoritarian regimes that Western allies are aligned, NATO alliance’s secretary general has said.

Numbers NATO released this week show Canada is expected to spend 1.37 per cent of its gross domestic product on defence this year, well below the two per cent target.

“Canada’s standing in NATO is strong, but at the same time of course we expect all allies to make good on the promise of investing two per cent,” Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO, said during an event hosted by the NATO Association of Canada in Ottawa.

Ahead of Stoltenberg’s remarks, Defence Minister Bill Blair promised the goal will eventually be reached, as Russia’s war in Ukraine raises a threat of expanded conflict in Europe.

Last year, members agreed that two per cent should be a minimum, a reflection of worries over Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Stoltenberg acknowledged it’s tough for politicians to prioritize defence over social services, but said a precondition of success in any Western country is preserving peace and investing in security.

Canada faces the same challenges as all the allied countries that have budgets, he said.

“They’re concerned about the fiscal balance. They want to spend money on health, education and on the other things,” he said.

But at the end of the day, if those countries aren’t able to prevent war, their efforts on health, education and climate change “will fail” he said.

NATO Association of Canada

His remarks on spending received enthusiastic applause from the NATO Association of Canada, including from former defence minister Anita Anand, who snuck in the back to listen to his remarks.

A handful of protesters gathered outside a building in the parliamentary precinct where Stoltenberg spoke.

On the sidewalk in front of the building, “Canada lagging behind our NATO allies” was written in chalk, along with “Trudeau and Blair laughing stocks of the world” and “Canadians are not laughing.”

Stoltenberg’s visit came the same day Russia and North Korea signed an agreement that pledges mutual aid if either country faces “aggression.”

Stoltenberg expressed concern that Russia could be providing support to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, and over China “propping up Russia’s war economy” by providing electronics that are being used in weapons and combat against Ukraine.

“So the answer is that when they are more and more aligned, all the authoritarian regimes like North Korea, China, Iran and Russia, then it’s even more important that we are aligned as countries believing in freedom and democracy,” he said.

Defence Spending

Defence spending across European allies and Canada was up nearly 18 per cent this year alone, Stoltenberg said during a speech at the White House on Monday — the biggest increase in decades.

Blair has said Canada’s defence spending will climb to at least 1.75 per cent of its GDP by 2029.

Additional spending on a new submarine fleet and integrated air defence and missile systems will probably push the figure past the two per cent mark, Blair said.

“Let me assure you that we’ve been doing a great deal of work within our Defence Department, with the government of Canada, but also with our NATO allies,” Blair said.

Allies were “very encouraged” by a defence policy update Canada released earlier this year, he said.

Defence spending will be among a number of topics Stoltenberg said he would raise with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who he had dinner with on Wednesday.

Defence spending delayed

The secretary general embraced Trudeau and Ottawa warmly, calling Canada like “home” and the prime minister “friend.” Stoltenberg also wants Canada to scale up its contribution in the North and maritime operations.

Both Blair and Anand, now treasury board president, acknowledged this week that defence spending is delayed because of a shortage of procurement workers. “We have the ability to accelerate spending. It does require an investment in people to get the job done,” Blair said.

The Liberal government has set aside $1.8 billion over 20 years to increase the number of workers who can purchase new equipment, recruit, train new soldiers and upgrade infrastructure.

NATO leaders are set to meet in Washington, D.C., next month for an annual summit and mark the alliance’s 75th anniversary.

Increasing funding for Ukraine will be an agenda priority, after Stoltenberg came forward with a proposal for all NATO allies to contribute 40 billion euros a year, Blair said.

At the White House on Monday, Stoltenberg said his expectation for next month’s meeting is to have allies agree “to step up financial and military support to Ukraine,” and reduce the burden on the U.S.

Source: The Canadian Press

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