Condoleezza Rice was sworn into office as US secretary of state late on Wednesday following her Senate approval and after blistering Democratic attacks over Iraq that herald a fierce partisan debate on foreign policy in the coming years. \nRice, a former national security adviser to President George W. Bush and one of his closest aides, was cleared just hours earlier by the Senate to replace Colin Powell as chief US diplomat by a vote of 85 to 13, with two abstentions. \nThe 50-year-old Rice was sworn in by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card in a short ceremony, immediately making Rice the new top US diplomat and allowing her to get to work at her new State Department desk yesterday. Bush will attend an official ceremony for Rice today, according to White House spokesman Scott McClellan. \nRice is the second woman, and first black woman, to assume the post of chief US diplomat. But the 13 "no" votes cast by Democrats were the most for a secretary of state since World War II, highlighting the party's divisions with the administration over Iraq and the handling of the war on terror. \nDemocrats used Rice's confirmation hearings last week and eight hours of debate in the full Senate to signal their determined opposition to the policies she helped craft. Senator Edward Kennedy railed against her role in a war he described as a "catastrophic failure, a quagmire," and Senator Robert Byrd said flatly that her record did not merit a promotion. \n"Her confirmation will almost certainly be viewed as another endorsement of the administration's unconstitutional doctrine of pre-emptive strikes ... and its callous rejection of our long-standing allies," Byrd said.
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged