A White House official says President Joe Biden will nominate a longtime aide who once worked for the first lady to represent the United States at the United Nations agency devoted to education, science and culture. Courtney O'Donnell is Biden's choice to become the U.S. permanent representative to the Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO. O'Donnell would have the rank of ambassador. O'Donnell is a longtime Biden aide who once worked for Jill Biden. She currently is acting chief of staff for second gentleman Doug Emhoff. The U.S. recently rejoined UNESCO after a five-year absence.
The Biden administration has approved a new $500 million arms sale to Taiwan as it ramps up military assistance to the island despite fervent objections from China. The State Department said Wednesday it had signed off on the sale of infrared search tracking systems along with related equipment for advanced F-16 fighter jets. Although the deal is modest in comparison to previous weapons sales, the move is likely to draw fierce criticism from Beijing, which regards self-governing Taiwan as a renegade province and refuses to rule out the use of force to reunify it with the mainland. The announcement came just hours after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen renewed a pledge to strengthen Taiwan’s self-defense as she visited a war memorial from the last time Taiwan and China battled.
Officials say the United States has given its approval for the Netherlands and Denmark to deliver F-16s to Ukraine. The defense ministers of those two NATO countries announced the decision Friday. It is a major gain for Kyiv even though the fighter jets won’t have an impact any time soon on the almost 18-month war. It was not immediately clear when the first F-16s might enter the conflict. Denmark says it will hand over some of its F-16s only after receiving its new F-35 jet fighters, which are due to start arriving on Oct. 1. Officials have previously said that Ukrainian pilots will need six to eight months of training on the F-16s.
The U.S. military is considering putting armed personnel on commercial ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, in what would be an unheard of action aimed at stopping Iran from seizing and harassing civilian vessels. That's what five American officials told The Associated Press on Thursday. If implemented, it would be an extraordinary step by the Pentagon as it grapples with a renewed effort by Iran to harass and seize ships traveling in the strait, through which 20% of all the world’s crude oil passes. Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the AP about the U.S. proposal.
The Pentagon is pulling 1,100 troops from the U.S.-Mexico border that it had deployed in response to a surge in migrant crossings. A defense official, on the condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press on Tuesday the details ahead of an announcement. The active duty troops were sent to the border in May amid fears that the end of COVID-19 immigration restrictions was going to result in a crush of migrants attempting to cross into the United States. But immediately after Title 42 expired, the number of encounters dropped sharply, and have stayed low, according to Customs and Border Protection data.
The U.S. is sending additional fighter jets and a warship to the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman to increase security in the wake of Iranian attempts to seize commercial ships there. The Pentagon says the USS Thomas Hudner, a destroyer, and a number of F-35 fighter jets will be heading to the region. Defense officials last week announced the deployment of F-16s to the area over the past weekend and there have been A-10 attack aircraft there for nearly two weeks in response to the Iranian activity. The latest deployments come after Iran tried to seize two oil tankers near the strait early this month, opening fire on one of them.
U.S. officials say state-backed Chinese hackers foiled Microsoft’s cloud-based security and hacked the email of officials at multiple U.S. agencies that deal with China ahead of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Beijing last month. The surgical, targeted espionage accessed the mailboxes of a small number of individuals at an unspecified number of U.S. agencies and was discovered by the State Department. Officials said none of the breached systems were classified. The hack was disclosed late Tuesday by Microsoft, which said email accounts were haced at about 25 organizations globally beginning in mid-May. A U.S. official said the number of U.S. organizations impacted was in the single digits.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy is suddenly confronting a new threat to his power. Angry hard-right conservatives have brought the House chamber to a halt, reviving their displeasure over the debt ceiling deal struck with President Joe Biden. McCarthy brushed off the disruption as healthy political debate — not too different from the 15-vote spectacle it took in January for him to finally convince his colleagues to elect him as speaker. But it's a foreshadowing of the next budget fight as Congress tries to fund the government at the levels agreed to, or risk a federal shutdown in fall.
The debt ceiling deal has come with just days to spare before a potential first-ever government default. On Sunday, President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached a final agreement and they are urging Congress to quickly pass it. Biden pronounced the development “good news” in remarks at the White House announcing the agreement. This followed a tentative compromise announced late Saturday. The deal risks angering some Democratic and Republican lawmakers as they begin to unpack the concessions, which include spending cuts. McCarthy and Biden spoke Sunday evening as negotiators drafted legislative text. They face a June 5 deadline when Treasury says the U.S. would risk a debt default.
In today's Federal Newscast: The Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has a hankering to hold Secretary of State Blinken in contempt of Congress. Ground forces: check. But GAO said the readiness of U.S. sea forces has declined. And HUD employee attrition blamed on a dearth of telework opportunities.
The United States and the Philippines have announced plans to expand America's military presence in the Southeast Asian nation, with access to four more bases as they seek to deter China’s increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan and in the disputed South China Sea. The agreement was reached as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was in the country for talks about deploying U.S. forces and weapons in more Philippine military camps. In a joint announcement Thursday by the Philippines and the U.S., the two said they had decided to accelerate the full implementation of their so-called Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which aims to support combined training, exercises and interoperability.
The ongoing aggression by Vladimir Putin and his Russian armed forces has provoked a nearly all-of-government response from the United States, no less than nations geographically closer to Ukraine. That includes the State Department.
The State Department has named a new coordinator for its investigation into cases of so-called Havana Syndrome
The acting Navy secretary, Thomas Modly, has resigned after having upbraided the former captain of the coronavirus-stricken USS Theodore Roosevelt