US: Biden signs order to protect travel for abortion | News | DW

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed another executive order to protect abortion rights, this time in regards to out of state travel for the procedure.

It’s the latest bid by the Biden administration to ensure access to abortions after the Supreme Court ruled in June to end the nationwide constitutional right to abortion.

What does the order do?

The order will allow states which have not banned abortion to apply for Medicaid funds. This money can then be used to support women who travel from out of state, and facilitate their access to an abortion. 

The application of the order could be tricky, as Medicaid funds are not to be used for abortion services unless the woman’s life is in jeopardy or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.  

The order also urges healthcare providers to comply with federal non-discrimination laws in regards to medical care.

The latest executive order on abortion by Biden comes amid Republican-led efforts across the country to outlaw and restrict access to the procedure. The recent Supreme Court reversal on Roe v. Wade struck down the constitutional right to an abortion, leaving it up to the states to decide whether it should be legal.

Biden hails Kansas abortion vote 

Biden on Wednesday also touted a major pro-choice victory in Kansas.

Kansans a day earlier voted against amending the state constitution to say there is no right to an abortion. The vote is unusual in a state that leans highly conservative.

“Last night in the American heartland, the people of Kansas sent an unmistakable message to the Republican extremists,” Biden said. “If it’s going to happen in Kansas, it’s going to happen in a whole lot of states.”      

In other parts of the country, abortion rights are still under attack, however. In several weeks, the western state of Idaho will enact a near-total ban on abortion, with the Biden administration suing over the measure.

The Midwestern state of Indiana also recently advanced a near-total ban in the state Senate, with the legislation now headed for debate in the state’s House of Representatives this week. 

wd/rs (Reuters, AP)

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Biden Administration Seeks To Expand Authorized Travel To Cuba

Following a long review of U.S.-Cuba relations, the White House is reportedly working on a plan to make it easier for Americans to visit their friends and relatives in Cuba.

Such policy changes would partially reverse some of the former Trump administration’s harsh policies implemented against the island nation, easing travel restrictions that are presently in place.


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President Joe Biden.

Part of the plan would include expanding flights to Cuba, enabling travelers to fly into locations other than the single airport in Havana that had been sanctioned under the Trump administration rules. New regulations would allow airports beyond the capital city to open themselves to charter flights, Travel Noire reported.

“The measures today again are practical steps that we are taking to address the humanitarian situation and to respond to the needs of the Cuban people,” a senior administration official told NPR. “President Biden is also fulfilling his commitment to the Cuban-American community and their family members in Cuba by announcing measures in four key areas which we plan to implement in the coming weeks.”

A senior administration official also told NPR that the White House’s impending moves are intended to help the Cuban people.

One of the aims of this policy overhaul is to expand authorized travel between the U.S. and Cuba. However, the loosening of some restrictions doesn’t mean that the communist-led Caribbean country would be fully open to U.S. tourists.

Only groups that plan on going to Cuba for educational or work purposes will be permitted to travel under the group ‘People to People’ authorized travel category, although the Biden administration’s announcement didn’t offer any details about how this travel exception would be implemented.

Mark Feierstein, a former senior adviser at the U.S. Agency for International Development under President Biden, called the upcoming policy revision “a big change” and said that it’s “tilting back” toward Obama-era policies.

Spotlight on Havana
Havana, Cuba. (Photo via Collette Vacations)

As part of these policy changes, the U.S. government will be bolstering its consular services, increasing support for Cuban entrepreneurs and lifting a $1,000 limit on family remittance payments (the transfer of money between people in the U.S. and their family members in Cuba).

It will also reinstate the ‘Cuba Family Reunification Parole Program’, which allows certain eligible U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to apply to bring their family members from Cuba without waiting for their immigrant visas to become available.

However, the intended changes fall short of previous policies toward Cuba that existed under the Obama administration. For example, the individual ‘People to People’ educational travel category that was in place under President Obama will not be reinstated.

Under the Obama-era individual exception, travelers were permitted to use a self-certification of their own compliance with the rules to travel independently to Cuba, which past opponents saw as, “a means for individuals to engage in prohibited tourist travel to Cuba,” according to the legal offices of Holland & Knight.

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Biden says he will travel to Texas to visit families of school shooting victims ‘in the coming days’

“Jill and I will be traveling to Texas in the coming days to meet with the families and let them know we have a sense of their pain, and hopefully bring some little comfort to a community in shock, in grief and in trauma,” Biden said at the White House during a signing event for an executive order on police reform.

“As a nation, I think we all must be for them. Everyone,” he added. “And we must ask: When in God’s name will we do what needs to be done to, if not completely stop, fundamentally change the amount of the carnage that goes on in this country?”

Echoing remarks he made Tuesday night in a national address, Biden said he was “sick and tired of what’s going on.”

He said “common sense” gun reform wouldn’t “prevent every tragedy,” but would still “have significant impact, and have no negative impact on the Second Amendment.”

“The Second Amendment is not absolute,” Biden said. “When it was passed you couldn’t own a cannon. You couldn’t own certain kinds of weapons. There’s just always been limitations.”

“The idea an 18-year-old can buy weapons of war designed and marketed to kill is, I think, just wrong. It just violates common sense,” the President continued.

“Where’s the backbone?” he asked. “Where’s the courage to stand up to a very powerful lobby?”

The President said on Wednesday that “one modest step” Congress could take immediately would be to confirm his nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Steve Dettelbach, who vowed earlier Wednesday at a Senate confirmation hearing that he would not be influenced by political considerations if he secures the job.

“The Senate should confirm him without delay, without excuse,” Biden said. “Send the nomination to my desk. It’s time for action.”

With 21 dead and 17 others injured, the attack at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde was the deadliest school shooting in almost a decade, shaking a nation still reeling from a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, just 10 days ago.

Details about how the shooting unfolded have continued to be released by law enforcement officials on Wednesday as more is learned about the crime. The suspect shot his grandmother, drove to the nearby school, forced his way inside adjoining classrooms and opened fire at a group of kids and faculty. Officers eventually forced their way into the barricaded room and a Border Patrol officer fatally shot him.

Tuesday’s massacre is the second-deadliest school shooting since 2012, when 26 children and adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, and it was at least the 30th shooting at a K-12 school in 2022, according to a CNN tally.

Biden, in his national address Tuesday night, recalled the Sandy Hook shooting, which happened when he was vice president.

“I had hoped when I became President I would not have to do this again,” he said. “How many scores of little children who witnessed what happened — see their friends die as if they’re in a battlefield, for God’s sake? They’ll live with it the rest of their lives.”

Biden signs executive order on police reform

Biden’s comments on Wednesday took place during a ceremony for the signing of an executive order aimed at federal policing reforms.

The order, signed on the second anniversary of the police killing of George Floyd, is more limited than the sweeping legislation that has been blocked by Republican opposition in Congress.

Members of Floyd’s family, the families of other individuals killed by police, members of Congress, members of the law enforcement community and members of the Cabinet were also present.

Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the families in the room at the ceremony, saying that though the order to address police reform will not take away their pain, the new action is “a long overdue, critical step forward.”

The order takes several actions that will be applied to federal officers, including efforts that ban chokeholds, expand the use of body-worn cameras and restrict no-knock warrants.

The order also mandates that the Justice Department create a new national database of police misconduct, which will be used by all federal law enforcement agencies and required for federal personnel screenings. The database will also be used to screen state and local officers who participate in federal joint task forces.

Biden’s order also brings back and enhances Obama-era limitations on the transfer of military equipment to local police departments, which had been rolled back by the Trump administration.

During his speech on Wednesday, Biden again promised to do “everything” in his power to pass police reform and again urged Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

“George’s name is not just going to be a hashtag, your daddy’s name is going to be known for a long time. As a nation, we’re going to ensure his legacy and the legacy of so many others remembered today. It’s not about their death, but what we do in their memory, that matters. Purpose,” Biden said, addressing Floyd’s daughter, Gianna.

After signing the order, Biden invited Gianna to sit at the signing desk.

Harris, who had received the pen Biden used to sign the order moments earlier, then leaned over and gifted it to her.

The President then told the crowd: “You know what she told me when I saw her? … Seriously, she pulled me aside and said, ‘My daddy’s going to change the world.'”

This story has been updated with additional developments on Wednesday.

CNN’s Sam Fossum contributed to this report.

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Biden Says He Will Travel to Texas in Coming Days | Top News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Texas in coming days to meet families of the young shooting victims killed at an elementary school.

Biden also urged the Senate to quickly confirm his nominee to head the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency, Steven Dettelbach.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Steve Holland; Editing by Chris Reese)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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Russia bans Biden but not Trump, on list of Americans travel-barred

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, July 16, 2018. 

Grigory Dukor | Reuters

President Joe Biden made Russia’s “blacklist” but former President Donald Trump didn’t.

Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry on Saturday released an updated list of nearly 1,000 Americans permanently barred from entering the country, a largely symbolic slap in response to harsh sanctions imposed by Western countries for its brutal invasion of Ukraine in February.

Biden since mid-March had already been banned from visiting Russia, as were Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

But the updated list now includes Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as Biden’s scandal-plagued son Hunter Biden, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and first lady.

The actor Morgan Freeman and billionaire investor George Soros also made the list. Soros’ philanthropic support of liberal causes, and groups in the former Soviet bloc, have made him a boogeyman for both Russia and right-wing conspiracy theorists.

Jen Psaki, who until this month served as Biden’s White House press secretary, posted a sarcastic tweet about the list Saturday evening: “I guess we will have to cancel our August family trip to Moscow…”

Trump was not on the list of 963 banned Americans.

Over the years, Trump has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and criticized investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election that ended with Trump’s victory over Democratic rival Clinton.

Trump was impeached in 2019 for withholding congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine while pressuring that country’s then-newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to announce investigations into Joe Biden, who at the time was the leading Democratic candidate for the White House.

Trump was acquitted after a trial in the Senate.

On Saturday morning, in an interview with Fox News, Trump griped about the Russia probe again.

“This is one of the greatest political scandals in history,” Trump said. “Where do I get my reputation back?”

A spokeswoman for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his omission from Russia’s travel-ban list.

Former President Barack Obama and Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, also are not on the list, but Pence’s brother, Rep. Greg Pence, R-Ind., is banned.

So are 211 of Greg Pence’s fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate — along with 224 Democratic members of both congressional chambers.

The GOP House members on the banned list included two hard-core, Republican Trump supporters, Matt Gaetz of Florida and Arizona’s Paul Gosar.

Also making the list are two Democratic House members whose strongly progressive policy stances are anathema to Trump World: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Minnesota’s Rep. Ilhan Omar.

So is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who this week also was banned from receiving communion by the archbishop of the San Francisco Roman Catholic Archdiocese because of her support for abortion rights.

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In a statement published by Russia’s state news agency RIA, the Foreign Ministry said, “Russian counter-sanctions are of a forced nature and are aimed at forcing the ruling American regime to change its behavior” and recognize “new geopolitical realities.”

The ministry also accused the U.S. of trying to impose a neo-colonial “rules-based world order” on the rest of the world.

The ministry said “hostile actions” taken by the U.S. government “boomerang back to hit the United States itself” and “will continue to receive proper rebuffs.”

Russia also has barred entry to the country to hundreds of Canadians, among them Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, and hundreds of members of the United Kingdom’s Parliament.

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Biden eases restrictions on Cuban travel and remittances – Nation & World News


Holding a sign reading "No negotiation with terrorists," Cuba supporters protest in Miami ahead of bilateral talks between the U.S. and Cuba in Washington in April.

The White House plans to make it easier for families to visit relatives in Cuba and increase visa processing on the island, reversing some of former President Trump’s policies.

(Image credit: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

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