US Secy Of State Blinken Refers To Taiwan As A Country

In a development that might irk China, United States Secretary of the state, Antony Blinken, has referred to Taiwan as “country”, the term so far avoided by US officials.

He made the remark during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday on the Biden administration’s foreign policy agenda. Blinken was responding to California Republican Representative Young Kim, who called on the US to include Taiwan in the upcoming Democracy Summit.

“I share your view that Taiwan is a strong democracy, a very strong technological power, and a country that can contribute to the world, not just to its own people. COVID is a very good example of that,” Sputnik quoted Blinken as saying.

The State Department used to have an unwritten policy to avoid using the word “country” when referring to the self-ruled island as part of the US commitment to Beijing’s so-called “One China Policy”, according to Sputnik.

Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.

Taipei, on the other hand, has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing.

In recent months, China has increased its military activities around Taiwan. According to China, it is responding to what it calls “collusion” between Taipei and Washington, Taiwan’s main international backer and weapons supplier, according to CNN.

In November, the US and Taiwan signed a blueprint for closer economic ties in Washington.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping has already made his intentions clear about Taiwan as he has vowed to never allow the island to become independent and has refused to rule out the use of force if necessary.

The previous US administration in January announced lifting restrictions governing official US contacts with the country.

Former Foreign Secretary Michael Pompeo had said that executive branch agencies should consider all “contact guidelines” regarding relations with Taiwan previously issued by the Department of State under authorities delegated to the Secretary of State to be ‘null and void’.

In February, Senator Rick Scott reintroduced the Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act, sponsored by Congressman Guy Reschenthaler in the US House of Representatives, to protect Taiwan from Communist China’s growing aggression. (ANI)

Trivendra Rawat Resigns As Uttarakhand Chief Minister

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on Tuesday submitted his resignation to Governor Baby Rani Maurya paving the way for leadership change in the state as the ruling BJP gears up for assembly elections next year.

Rawat announced his resignation at a press conference here.
He also said that ruling party MLAs will meet at the state BJP office on Wednesday at 10 am.

“I have submitted my resignation as CM to the Governor today. The party gave me a golden opportunity to serve this state for four years. I had never thought that I would get such an opportunity. The party has now decided that the opportunity to serve as CM should be given to someone else now. Nine days are left for the completion of four years of my government,” he said.

Rawat had met Bharatiya Janata Party president JP Nadda late on Monday amid speculations about a leadership change in the state.

Uttarakhand BJP in-charge Dushyant Kumar Gautam had earlier in the day played down speculation of leadership change in the state.

“He (Rawat) is doing good work. There is no allegation of corruption against him. It is not good to raise questions on his working style”, Gautam had said.

According to sources, several MLAs and some ministers had complained about the style of governance of the Chief Minister to the party leadership.

The party had sent its leader Raman Singh as an observer for the emergency core group meeting, which was also attended by Gautam. (ANI)

Let’s Talk Periods, Says Taapsee

Known for being vocal about her opinions on social causes, Bollywood actor Taapsee Pannu teased fans about her ‘elephant in the room’ on Monday.

The ‘Thappad’ star hopped on to her Instagram and shared a ruminative video that sees her addressing the taboo surrounding menstruation, which she referred to as ‘the elephant in the room’.

Taking to the captions, she wrote, “A sense of gratitude. A sense of giving back to nature and to her ….. Something new coming up… Something I have been longing to share with you all… But first …. ‘Let’s talk periods’, let’s talk about what is #GoodForHer and #GoodForEarth.”

The 33-year-old actor is reportedly looking forward to using her celeb power to talk about the taboo surrounding menstruation.

As per sources, she will soon be joining a Mumbai-based NGO that works in this space. The NGO is anticipated to be the one that earlier had the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle working with it.

Before the ‘Pink’ star, many celebrities from the industry including Akshay Kumar, Parineeti Chopra, Manushi Chillar have actively taken part in connection with the safe and healthy management of periods.

Meanwhile, on the work front, Taapsee is currently shooting for her upcoming sci-fi movie ‘Dobaaraa’. Being helmed by Anurag Kashyap, the movie marks the duo’s third collaboration after 2018’s hit ‘Manmarziyaan’ and biographical drama ‘Saand Ki Aankh’, which had Anurag on board as a producer.

The movie will be produced by Cult Movies – a division under Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms, along with Sunir Kheterpal’s ATHENA and Gaurav Bose’s The Vermillion World Production.

Besides that, Taapsee Pannu has a flurry of films in her kitty including ‘Shabaash Mithu’, ‘Haseen Dillruba’, ‘Rashmi Rocket’, and ‘Looop Lapeta’. (ANI)

Farmer Unions Postpone Feb 1 March To Parliament

A day after violence in Delhi during their tractor march, the farmer unions protesting against farm laws have postponed their proposed march to parliament on February 1.

The decision was announced at a joint press conference by members of Samyukt Kisan Morcha at Singhu border. The farmer unions also said their agitation against three farm laws will continue.

BKU leader Balbir S Rajewal said at the press conference that the proposed march had been postponed due to incidents in the national capital on Tuesday.

“On Martyrs’ Day, we’ll hold public rallies across India. We will also keep a one-day fast. Our March to the Parliament on February 1 stands postponed for now due to this (yesterday’s violence),” he said.

Union budget will be presented on February 1.

Rajewal, who is chief of BKU(R) also accused the central government of “planned conspiracy” to end the farmers’ protest.

“Despite attempts to break it, 99.9 per cent of farmers were peaceful. Some incidents took place. There was blockade for us, not for Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee,” he said.

Delhi witnessed violence and chaotic scenes during the tractor march by farmers on Republic Day to protest against three farm laws. The protestors violated the agreement about the route for the tractor march and entered central Delhi after forcibly removing barricades. The Police has said it will take action against those guilty of violence.

Several policemen were injured in the violence and vehicles were damaged. Delhi Police held a meeting on Wednesday to review the security situation in the national capital.

Farmers have been protesting at different borders of the national capital since November 26, 2020, against the farm laws – Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. (ANI)

Economy, Racial Equality Vital Issues, Says Exit Poll

Economic problems and racial inequality are the most important issues for US voters, while the COVID-19 pandemic comes only third, according to an exit poll in the ongoing US presidential election.

As many as one-third of respondents primarily focus on the economic situation, while one-fifth view racial inequality as the main issue of the presidential elections, CNN reported.

As per the poll, the COVID-19 pandemic is the foremost issue for only one out of six US citizens despite it being the worst-affected country with over 9,365,360 coronavirus cases and 232,484 deaths due to the virus.

Eleven per cent of respondents feel crime and safety, along with health care are a matter of concern.

According to the poll conducted by CNN, a total of 51 per cent of voters are negatively assessing the country’s efforts to fight the pandemic, whereas 48 per cent share the opposite outlook. Moreover, for 52 per cent of respondents, it is more important to stop the spread of the virus than to protect the economy.

A total of 46 per cent are confident that their votes will be accurately counted while only 12 per cent of respondents expressed doubts about the fairness of ballot count.

The poll was conducted among 7,774 voters at 115 polling locations as well as 4,919 early and absentee voters by phone.

Some 239 million people are eligible to vote this year. The mail-in ballots could take days to be counted – meaning a winner might not be declared in the hours after polls close on Tuesday. (ANI)

‘No Bias Towards Republican, Democrat States If Elected’

Amid the ongoing election day in the United States, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday promised that if he gets elected he would not differentiate between the Democrat and Republican states.

“I promise you this, as I’m running as a proud Democrat if you elect me, I’m going to be an American President, there will be no red states or blue states just the United States of America,” Biden said while addressing his supporters in Philadelphia.

Addressing the magnitude of the novel coronavirus, he assured people that the nation would overcome the pandemic by making “smart moves”.

“We have an enormous opportunity as a country. Not only we’re going to be able to overcome this virus by taking some smart moves but we’re going to rebuild the middle class. It built this country and Unions built the middle class,” he said.

Biden further said, “We are going to have more people vote in this election than at any time in US history.”

“The president [Donald Trump] is got a lot of things backwards. He thinks that he can decide that who gets to vote but guess what, the people are going to decide who gets to be president,” he added.

He urged the people of the US to choose hope over fear during the ongoing election day. “We have to remember who we are. This is the United States of America. Anybody who knows Donald Trump, we have to let him know who we are. We choose hope over fear, we choose truth over a lie, and we choose science over fiction.”

“When was the last time that you ever heard, when a US President shows up and the whole UN laughs at him. This has not happened before. Or when he appears at the NATO meeting, people make fun of him,” he added.

The Democratic nominee also promised to accept a mistake if he’ll commit one. “I promise you I am going to take responsibility. If I’ll make a mistake I’ll admit it.”

Over 100 million people have already voted and some states, such as Pennsylvania, will report the in-person vote count before moving through the absentee ballots.

Some 239 million people are eligible to vote this year. The mail-in ballots could take days to be counted – meaning a winner might not be declared in the hours after polls close on Tuesday. (ANI)

Surveillance Beefed Up At Streets Near White House

Crews of US law enforcement officers are monitoring the current situation on the streets surrounding the White House in Washington, which was fenced off ahead of the election day, a Sputnik correspondent at the scene reports.

Several dozen law enforcement officers have been dispatched to the streets adjacent to the White House. Many civilians, some with banners and posters, have taken to the streets of the US capital as voting in the presidential election continues.

The police crews have, at the present time, not intervened to break up any activity, according to the correspondent.

A large non-scalable fence was erected around the perimeter of the White House ahead of Election Day.

Parking restrictions were also brought into force in Washington, and the local authorities are prepared to temporarily close streets should protest break out.

Polling stations across the United States are set to close on Tuesday evening as Democratic candidate Joe Biden faces off against his Republican counterpart and incumbent president, Donald Trump.

Many retailers in downtown Washington have boarded up their premises, fearing that violence may break out in the city as the election results are announced. (ANI/Sputnik)

Bernie Calls For Reforms To Prevent Voter Suppression

US Senator Bernie Sanders on Tuesday called on US Congress to introduce reforms to prevent voters from being suppressed in future elections.

“If this campaign has shown us anything it is that Congress must pass real election reform. No more voter suppression. No more five-hour waiting lines to vote. No more threats to not count mail-in ballots. We must make it easier for people to vote, not harder,” Sanders wrote on Twitter.

Sanders’ comments come as over 100 million voters have voted in the 2020 presidential election.

His statement comes in the backdrop of US President Donald Trump’s criticism of the mail-in voting process, saying that it could be subject to fraudulent activity.

The Republican party in both Pennsylvania and Nevada launched attempts to interfere in the postal balloting process in the run-up to election day, Sputnik reported.

Moreover, a judge in the state of Nevada on Monday had denied a bid to temporarily halt the counting of mail-in ballots in Clark County.

Similarly, an attempt to eliminate the three-day deadline extension in Pennsylvania for the receipt of mail-in ballots was also denied, this time by the Supreme Court. (ANI)

Riddhima Remembers Father Rishi Kapoor On His Birthday

Almost four months after her superstar father Rishi Kapoor passed away, Riddhima Kapoor Sahni on Friday remembered him on his birth anniversary.

Riddhima shared some of her memorable pictures on Instagram with her father, family along with a long caption.

She began the note expressing how she has been living with a “broken heart” after losing her father.

“Papa, They say when you lose someone, you can’t live without – your heart will badly break! But I know you are living in this broken heart & will be there forever,” she wrote.

“I know you are watching over all of us & ensuring that we live by the value system you instilled in us! You gave me the gift of compassion -taught me the value of relationships & made me the person I am today,” the star-kid added.

She ended the note by wishing the departed actor on his birth anniversary and expressing that she misses him “each day.”

“I miss you each day & will always love you! Celebrating you today & always – Happy Birthday,” she wrote.

Rishi Kapoor passed away at the age of 67 on June 30, 2020, after a two-year-long battle with leukaemia.

He was last seen in the 2019 film ‘The Body’ alongside Emraan Hashmi and Shobita Sobhita Dhulipala. Often branded as Bollywood’s first chocolate boy, he touched heights of stardom in the film industry with iconic roles in blockbuster hits like ‘Bobby’, ‘Chandni’, ‘Karz’, and many others. (ANI)

Janaki Mata Temple in Ayodhya

Ram Temple Trust Invites PM To Lay Foundation Stone

With the highest single-day spike of 38,902 cases reported in the last 24 hours, India’s total COVID-19 tally on Sunday reached 10,77,618, informed the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry on Sunday.

The death toll has gone up to 26,816 with 543 fatalities reported in the last 24 hours.

The Health Ministry said the total number of cases includes 3,73,379 active cases and 6,77,423 patients have been cured/discharged/migrated.

Maharashtra remains the worst affected state with 3,00,937 cases reported until Saturday.

Meanwhile, as per the information provided by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 1,34,33,742 samples have been tested for COVID-19 till July 18, of these 3,61,024 samples were tested yesterday. (ANI)