President-elect Joe Biden taps Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary for proposed economic team

President-elect Joe Biden taps Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary for proposed economic team
This combination of file pictures created on November 30, 2020 shows (L-R) Neera Tanden, former President of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Jared Bernstein, former Chief Economist and Economic Policy Adviser to US Vice President Joseph Biden, former Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Heather Boushey and former Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen.
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Updated 30 November 2020

President-elect Joe Biden taps Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary for proposed economic team

President-elect Joe Biden taps Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary for proposed economic team
  • US is struggling with a massive COVID-19 outbreak that’s caused tens of millions of layoffs

WASHINGTON: US President-elect Joe Biden on Monday formally tapped ex-Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen to lead the Treasury, as he named officials to try to revitalize the world’s largest economy.
The US is struggling with a massive COVID-19 outbreak that’s caused tens of millions of layoffs while sharply slowing annualized growth, and with cases surging again and Congress deadlocked over more aid.
If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen, 74, will be the first female Treasury head in its history, and likely be tasked with breaking the deadlock over aid in Washington, should lawmakers not come to an agreement before Biden’s January inauguration.
“We face great challenges as a country right now. To recover, we must restore the American dream — a society where each person can rise to their potential and dream even bigger for their children,” Yellen tweeted.
“As Treasury Secretary, I will work every day toward rebuilding that dream for all.”
Other officials announced on Monday include veterans of former president Barack Obama’s administration, several of which the Biden transition team noted would break racial barriers in their positions.
“As we get to work to control the virus, this is the team that will deliver immediate economic relief for the American people during this economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than ever,” Biden said in a statement.
Yellen’s nomination was first reported last week, and Biden and Vice president-elect Kamala Harris will formally unveil the nominees on Tuesday.
Biden’s other nominations include Neera Tanden, president of liberal think tank Center for American Progress, as head the Office of Management and Budget. If confirmed, she would be its first South Asian head.
Nigerian-born Wally Adeyemo, a former deputy national security adviser and current president of the Obama Foundation non-profit, will serve as deputy Treasury secretary, the statement said. He would be the first African American in that role.
Also tapped was Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs Cecilia Rouse as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), the first African American in that post.
Jared Bernstein, who previously advised Biden when he was vice president under Obama, will join the CEA, as will Washington Center for Equitable Growth President Heather Boushey.
Yellen would take over as Treasury secretary from Steven Mnuchin, who worked with Congress on passing the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March that expanded unemployment payments and offered loans and grants to small businesses.
Those measures were seen as key in keeping the US from an even worse economic slowdown, but they expired over the summer and, despite talks with Mnuchin, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been unable to agree on how much more to spend, and what to spend it on.
The deadlock raised fears the country’s tentative economic recovery could be reversed as the US struggles to quell COVID-19.


Philippine air force Blackhawk helicopter crashes, killing 6

Philippine air force Blackhawk helicopter crashes, killing 6
Updated 39 sec ago

Philippine air force Blackhawk helicopter crashes, killing 6

Philippine air force Blackhawk helicopter crashes, killing 6
  • Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said it was still unknown why the S-70i Blackhawk helicopter crashed Wednesday

MANILA, Philippines: A recently delivered Philippine assault helicopter crashed during a night training exercise north of Manila, killing all six air force personnel on board, officials said Thursday.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said it was still unknown why the S-70i Blackhawk helicopter carrying three pilots and three crewmen crashed Wednesday night near Clark Air Base, a former American military base that is now a bustling industrial and recreation complex.
“No survivors have been found,” air force spokesman Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano said, adding that similar Blackhawks have been grounded amid an investigation into the crash. “We grieve for the loss.”
The helicopter took off from Clark in Pampanga province for the two-hour training excercise but failed to return as scheduled. A search and rescue team later found the wreckage, Mariano said without elaborating.
The Defense Department finalized a deal to acquire 16 of the Blackhawks for $241 million in 2019 under a military program to modernize one of Asia’s most ill-equipped and underfunded militaries.
Aside from fighting decades-long communist and Muslim insurgencies, the military has been under pressure to acquire more equipment and weapons to defend its territories and claimed areas in the disputed South China Sea.
The helicopter that crashed was among six that were delivered in November. The rest of the Blackhawks will be received by the military within the year, Mariano said.


Canada finds hundreds of graves at former indigenous school: media

Canada finds hundreds of graves at former indigenous school: media
Updated 57 min 55 sec ago

Canada finds hundreds of graves at former indigenous school: media

Canada finds hundreds of graves at former indigenous school: media
  • The native Cowessess community said it had made “the horrific and shocking discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves” during excavations at former Marieval boarding school

MONTREAL: Hundreds of unmarked graves have been found near a former Catholic residential school for indigenous children in western Canada, local media reported late Wednesday.
Excavations at the site around the former school in Marieval, Saskatchewan began at the end of May.
They followed the discovery of the remains of 215 schoolchildren at another former indigenous residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, which sent shock waves through Canada.
The finds revived calls on the Pope and the Catholic church to apologize for the abuse and violence suffered by the students at these boarding schools, where they were forcibly assimilated into the dominant culture.
In a statement quoted by several Canadian media, including CBC and CTV, the native Cowessess community said it had made “the horrific and shocking discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves” during excavations at former Marieval boarding school.
“The number of unmarked graves will be the most significantly substantial to date in Canada,” the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) said in a statement.
Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said the news was “absolutely tragic, but not surprising. I urge all Canadians to stand with First Nations in this extremely difficult and emotional time.”
After the discovery of the Kamloops remains, excavations were undertaken near several former schools for indigenous children across Canada, with the assistance of government authorities.
The Marieval residential school in eastern Saskatchewan hosted indigenous children between 1899 and 1997 before being demolished and replaced by a day school.
Some 150,000 Native American, Metis and Inuit children were forcibly recruited up until the 1990s in 139 of these residential schools across Canada, where they were isolated from their families, their language and their culture.
Many were subjected to ill-treatment and sexual abuse, and more than 4,000 died in the schools, according to a commission of inquiry that concluded Canada had committed “cultural genocide” against the indigenous communities.


Former Philippine president Benigno Aquino dies at 61

Former Philippine president Benigno Aquino dies at 61
Updated 24 June 2021

Former Philippine president Benigno Aquino dies at 61

Former Philippine president Benigno Aquino dies at 61

MANILA: Former Philippine President Benigno Aquino, the son of two of the Southeast Asian country’s democracy icons, died on Thursday after being hospitalized in Manila.
The 61-year-old was president of the Philippines from 2010 to 2016.
“It is with profound sadness that I learned this morning of the passing of former Pres. Benigno Aquino,” Supreme Court justice Marvic Leonen, who was appointed by Aquino in 2012, said in a statement.
“It was an honor to have served with him. He will be missed,” the statement said.
Known popularly as Noynoy, he rode a wave of public support to the presidency after the 2009 death of his mother, the revered “People Power” leader Corazon Aquino, who was herself president from 1986 until 1992.
His namesake father, a senator who staunchly opposed the rule of strongman Ferdinand Marcos, was assassinated when he returned home from political exile in 1983.
The killing shocked the nation and helped propel Marcos out of office in the 1986 People Power revolution and ushered in his mother’s presidency.
Aquino was an only son and worked in the family sugar business before launching his political career in 1998.
He was a three-term member of the House of Representatives between 1998 and 2007, representing the sugar-growing Tarlac province north of Manila.
He still carried a bullet wound from a 1987 attempted military coup against his mother’s administration, during which he was shot five times and three of his bodyguards were killed.
Aquino’s six-year term as president was not free from crisis, including in his fifth year in office when 44 commandos were killed in a botched operation to capture a wanted Malaysian militant.
In November 2013, Aquino was also forced to deal with the devastation left by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded. The super typhoon that ravaged towns and villages in the central Philippines, killed more than 6,000 people.
Despite some gains in tackling corruption, his Mr.Clean image was tainted by scandals over the lawmakers’ misuse of public funds that same year. 


Canada’s Trudeau survives vote of no confidence

Canada’s Trudeau survives vote of no confidence
Updated 24 June 2021

Canada’s Trudeau survives vote of no confidence

Canada’s Trudeau survives vote of no confidence
  • The conservative opposition voted together against Trudeau, but he was able to hang with the support of three other smaller blocs in the lower chamber

OTTAWA, Canada: The minority government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau survived a parliamentary vote of no confidence Wednesday in a face-off over the proposed budget, eliminating the possibility of early elections this summer.
The House of Commons voted 211 to 121 in favor of approving the budget, which was proposed in April and contains a plan to spend CAN$101.4 billion (69 billion euros) over three years.
The conservative opposition voted together against Trudeau, who was able to hang on thanks to the support of three other smaller blocs in the lower chamber.
The 2021-2022 budget, which began April 1, must still be approved by the Senate — a formality expected Friday, ahead of the summer recess.
After clearing this hurdle — and with Canada’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign progressing rapidly — Trudeau, who enjoys a high approval rating, could be tempted to call for snap elections at the end of the summer in an effort to regain a parliamentary majority, which his Liberal party lost after October 2019’s general election.
The budget’s flagship provision is a CAN$30 billion investment over five years to establish a network of low-cost, high-quality public daycares to encourage the participation of women in the labor market.
Some CAN$17.6 billion are earmarked for green initiatives, including helping companies reduce their carbon footprints and supporting public transport projects in large cities.

 


Antivirus pioneer John McAfee found dead in Spanish prison

Antivirus pioneer John McAfee found dead in Spanish prison
In this Dec. 12, 2012, file photo, anti-virus software founder John McAfee answers questions to reporters as he walks on Ocean Drive, in the South Beach area of Miami Beach, Fla. (AP)
Updated 24 June 2021

Antivirus pioneer John McAfee found dead in Spanish prison

Antivirus pioneer John McAfee found dead in Spanish prison
  • McAfee twice made long-shot runs for the U.S. presidency and was a participant in Libertarian Party presidential debates in 2016
  • According to the US extradition request filed in November and quoted in the ruling, McAfee earned more than 10 million euros ($12 million) in 2014-18, but never filed a tax return

MADRID: John McAfee, the creator of McAfee antivirus software, was found dead in his jail cell near Barcelona in an apparent suicide Wednesday, hours after a Spanish court approved his extradition to the United States to face tax charges punishable by decades in prison, authorities said.
The eccentric cryptocurrency promoter and tax opponent whose history of legal troubles spanned from Tennessee to Central America to the Caribbean was discovered at the Brians 2 penitentiary in northeastern Spain. Security personnel tried to revive him, but the jail’s medical team finally certified his death, a statement from the regional Catalan government said.
“A judicial delegation has arrived to investigate the causes of death,” it said, adding that “everything points to death by suicide.”
The statement didn’t identify McAfee by name but said the dead man was a 75-year-old US citizen awaiting extradition to his country. A Catalan government official familiar with the case who was not authorized to be named in media reports confirmed to The Associated Press that it was McAfee.
Spain’s National Court on Monday ruled in favor of extraditing McAfee, 75, who had argued in a hearing earlier this month that the charges against him by prosecutors in Tennessee were politically motivated and that he would spend the rest of his life in prison if returned to the US
The court’s ruling was made public on Wednesday and was open for appeal, with any final extradition order also needing to get approval from the Spanish Cabinet.
McAfee was arrested last October at Barcelona’s international airport and had been in jail since then awaiting the outcome of extradition proceedings. The arrest followed charges the same month in Tennessee for evading taxes after failing to report income from promoting cryptocurrencies while he did consulting work, made speaking engagements and sold the rights to his life story for a documentary. The criminal charges carried a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
Nishay Sanan, the Chicago-based attorney defending him on those cases, said by phone that McAfee “will always be remembered as a fighter.”
“He tried to love this country but the US government made his existence impossible,” Sanan said. “They tried to erase him, but they failed.”
The lawyer said Spanish authorities have not given his legal team a cause of death, and he wants to know if there were video cameras in McAfee’s cell or in the prison.
The US Attorney’s Office in Memphis declined to comment.
Tennessee prosecutors had argued that McAfee owed the US government $4,214,105 in taxes before fines or interests for undeclared income in the five fiscal years from 2014 to 2018, according to a Spanish court document seen by AP. But in this week’s ruling, the National Court judge agreed to extradite him only to face charges from 2016 to 2018.
Born in England’s Gloucestershire in 1945 as John David McAfee, he started McAfee Associates in 1987 and led an eccentric life after selling his stake in the antivirus software company named after him in the early 1990s.
McAfee twice made long-shot runs for the US presidency and was a participant in Libertarian Party presidential debates in 2016. He dabbled in yoga, ultralight aircraft and producing herbal medications.
In 2012 he was wanted for questioning in connection with the death of Gregory Viant Faull, who was shot to death in early November 2012 on the Belize island where the men lived.
McAfee told AP at the time that he was being persecuted by the Belizean government. Belizean police denied that, saying they were simply investigating a crime about which McAfee may have had information. Then-Prime Minister Dean Barrow expressed doubts about McAfee’s mental state, saying, “I don’t want to be unkind to the gentleman, but I believe he is extremely paranoid, even bonkers.”
A Florida court ordered McAfee in 2019 to pay $25 million to Faull’s estate in a wrongful death claim.
In July of that year he was released from detention in the Dominican Republic after he and five others were suspected of traveling on a yacht carrying high-caliber weapons, ammunition and military-style gear.
McAfee told Wired Magazine in 2012 that his father, a heavy drinker and “very unhappy man,” shot himself when McAfee was 15. “Every day I wake up with him,” he told Wired.
He lived for a time in Lexington, Tennessee, a rural town of about 7,800 some 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Memphis. In a 2015 interview with WBBJ-TV, McAfee said he only felt comfortable when armed. The TV station reported that he chose to be interviewed with a loaded gun in each hand.
“Very little gives me a feeling of being safe and more secure other than being armed in my bedroom with the door locked,” McAfee told the station.
In one of his last known media interviews, with British newspaper The Independent last November, McAfee said his prison experience in Spain was a “fascinating adventure” and he planned never to return to the US
“I am constantly amused and sometimes moved,” he was quoted as saying. “The graffiti alone could fill a thousand-page thriller.”
He also told The Independent that prisoners and guards had recognized him and some asked for his autograph.
McAfee said his main point of contact outside the prison was his wife, Janice McAfee. The last post from his Twitter account was a retweet of a Father’s Day message from her.
“These eight months John has spent in prison in Spain have been especially hard on his overall health both mentally and physically, as well as financially, but he is undeterred from continuing to speak truth to power,” it said.
California chipmaker Intel, which bought McAfee’s company in 2011 for $7.68 billion, for a time sought to dissociate the brand from its controversial founder by folding it into its larger cybersecurity division. But the rebranding was short-lived, and Intel in 2016 spun out the cybersecurity unit into a new company called McAfee.
Jaime Le, a McAfee company spokesperson, said in a statement: “Although John McAfee founded the company, he has not been associated with our company in any capacity for over 25 years. That said, our thoughts go to his family and those close to him.”
A spokesperson with the US Embassy in Madrid said it was aware of the reports about McAfee’s death but would not comment for privacy reasons.