PHOTOS: DNC, Gov. Murphy Kick Off Ice Cream Truck Tour in Trenton to Celebrate America Coming Back This July 4th

30 Jun
Today, the Democratic National Committee kicked off an Ice Cream Truck Tour ahead of the Fourth of July holiday with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to celebrate New Jerseyans coming back together after a year of hardship in the face of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

Thanks to the leadership of President Biden, Governor Murphy, and Democrats across New Jersey, nearly five million individuals who live, work, and study in the state have been fully vaccinated, COVID-19 metrics are decisively trending in the right direction, and families are reuniting to celebrate together this summer.

“After a year in which the pandemic disrupted nearly every facet of our lives, President Biden’s American Rescue plan is fueling New Jersey’s comeback and will help us emerge from the pandemic stronger, fairer, and more resilient than ever before,” said Governor Murphy. “With this funding, we’ll get more shots in arms, address learning loss in our educational communities, keep New Jerseyans in their homes, and provide additional relief to small businesses on Main Street. I’m incredibly grateful to President Biden and our congressional delegation for making bold investments in America’s future.”

Please see below for photos from the event: 
 

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The post PHOTOS: DNC, Gov. Murphy Kick Off Ice Cream Truck Tour in Trenton to Celebrate America Coming Back This July 4th appeared first on Democrats.

Department Press Briefing – June 30, 2021

30 Jun

2:00 p.m. EDT

MS PORTER:  Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you so much for joining today’s briefing.  I have two quick announcements to make at the top and then we’ll start taking your questions.

As the Secretary announced in a statement today, the department is beginning the process of updating its policies regarding gender markers on U.S. passports and consular reports of birth abroad to better serve all U.S. citizens, regardless of their gender.

Starting today, applicants seeking to change the gender marker on their passport will no longer be required to submit medical certification.  They will self-select their gender, and it does not need to match the gender listed on the applicant’s citizenship and identity documents or prior U.S. passports.

The department has also begun moving towards adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons, and will be evaluating the best approach to achieve this goal.

The process of adding a gender marker is complex and will take some time for extensive systems updates.  Nonetheless, we are committed to getting this right and express our enduring commitment for the LGBTQI+ community today and every day moving forward.

Next, as you’ve recently seen, the United States International Development Finance Corporation announced financing to support a 600 million euro loan for Aspen Pharma in South Africa.  Together with financing from DEG Germany, Proparco France, and the International Finance Corporation, DFC’s financing will expand capacity for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing to Africa.  This financing will help increase capacity to support Aspen’s effort to produce COVID-19 vaccines with Stringent Regulatory Authorization and/or World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing, including the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.   This investment in African ingenuity and resilience is the first announcement of several deals the DFC is pursuing to expand vaccine manufacturing globally.

Today’s announcement is another example of our leadership, in concert with our partners and international institutions, to lead the global response to this pandemic.  This effort also demonstrates U.S. work with partner nations and local manufacturers to create the kind of global vaccine production and manufacturing capacity and capabilities that not only can help the world beat this pandemic, but also help prepare the world to respond to future threats.

And with that, let’s go over to the line of Nike Ching.

QUESTION:  Hello, Jalina.  Thank you so much for the call, briefing.  On Afghanistan, Secretary Blinken has said the U.S. is, quote, “working to make good on our obligations to those who helped us with the Special Immigrant Visa program,” end of quote.  My question:  Can we please have an update on efforts to get Afghan interpreters, drivers, fixers, and others who helped the U.S. out of the country?  Also, on the evacuation and relocation efforts, can we please have a breakdown of evacuating the civilian or military aircraft?  And which third countries at least have agreed to take them in before they obtain the visas to enter into the U.S.?  Thank you.

MS PORTER:  Well, let me start off by saying that I certainly support and want to uplift what you mentioned about the Secretary and our commitment to this.  And I’ll just reiterate that we’re actively working on every way possible to make sure that we can help those who have helped us.  We’ve identified a group of SIV applicants who’ve served as interpreters and translators, as well as other individuals who have assisted us and that are at risk.  They and their families will have the option to be relocated outside of Afghanistan before we complete our military drawdown by September in order to complete their special immigrant processing.

At this time, we don’t have any further details to share or specific numbers.  We will provide additional information when we’re able to do so.  However, due to security constraints, we’ll be limited on how much we can share in terms of those numbers, locations, and timing of all these operations.

Let’s go to Michel Ghandour, please.

QUESTION:  Hi, Jalina.  Thank you for the conference call.  I asked you about the French, Saudi, and U.S. meeting yesterday in Italy on Lebanon.  And do you have anything today, any update on this, any readout?

MS PORTER:  Thank you, Michel.  I don’t have any update to share at this time.

Let’s go to Said Arikat.

QUESTION:  Thank you, Jalina.  I hope you can hear me well.  Jalina, there’s been some reports that the PA has given the Biden administration 30 objectives for negotiations with Israel.  So I wonder if you could confirm this or if there are any other discussions that are going underway.  And second, my second issue is that demolition in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan are ongoing, and I wonder if you – have you spoken with the Israelis?  Have you urged them not to demolish Palestinians’ homes and so on, and not to do any evictions?  Thank you, Jalina.

MS PORTER:  So to your first question on the 30 objectives, I’ll just say that we won’t discuss the content of any of our internal diplomatic discussions.  And to your second question, we’ve seen reports that some families made up of approximately 50 Palestinians have been ordered to demolish their homes, and we believe that it’s critical to refrain from any unilateral steps that increase tensions and that would make it more difficult to advance a negotiated two-state solution.  This obviously includes demolitions.

Let’s go to Pearl Matibe, please.

QUESTION:  Hi, Jalina.  I really appreciate your availability, so thank you so much for this.  My question is regarding the Kingdom of Eswatini.  What is the U.S. assessment or intelligence on the developments and reports that the government was losing control, that now military are abusing citizens, the internet has been shut down?  Have you got any readout on this absolute monarch, the only last monarch in Africa?  I don’t know, what is your – what is the Biden administration’s assessment of what is going on?

MS PORTER:  Thank you for your question and for calling in today, Pearl.  I’ll just start off by saying that we’re certainly following the situation in Eswatini, of course, where protesters are demanding political reform and they are clashing both with the police and the military.  That said, the situation is fluid and we urge the government to exercise restraint and also maintain the utmost respect for human rights.  Of course, as the situation continues to unfold, the United States urges all stakeholders in this situation to not only remain calm but also remain peaceful.  And it goes without saying that the United States strongly supports freedom of expression as well as freedom of peaceful assembly, and that we know an inclusive and peaceful dialogue is essential to progress moving forward.

Let’s go to Jiha Ham, please.

QUESTION:  Hi, Jalina.  Can you hear me?

MS PORTER:  Hey, yes, I can hear you.  How are you?

QUESTION:  Thank you.  I’m good, thanks.  The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un yesterday said that some officials there caused a crucial case of creating a great crisis related to COVID-19.  Do you have any comments on this, on the current COVID situation in North Korea?  Also, do you have any plans to share humanitarian assistance, including the vaccines?  We learned yesterday that North Korea is not on the list of countries that would get 80 million doses of vaccines that the U.S. will share globally.  Is there any reason – any reason that the U.S. administration excluded North Korea?  Thank you.

MS PORTER:  So to answer your first question, we’re certainly aware of reports of what Kim Jong-un has said, but we don’t have any comment from here.  And to your second question, just to reiterate, the Biden administration has taken a strong leadership position on being the leader with vaccine diplomacy, and we will continue to do so from here on out.

Let’s go to Michele Kelemen.

QUESTION:  Thanks.  I’d like to go back to your answer to Nike’s question at the top about Afghanistan.  You said that you’ve – that the State Department has identified those who will have the option to leave.  Have you informed those people that they have this option?  Do you have commitments from other countries willing to house them temporarily?  And can you confirm that it’s the State Department rather than the Defense Department in charge of this evacuation process?  Thanks.

MS PORTER:  Thanks, Michele.  I’ll just continue to reiterate we don’t have any specific details on numbers or on timing to preview from here, but of course as that information is made available, we’ll certainly share.  And most importantly, due to security restraints, we’re just limited on how much we can share in terms of those numbers and locations at this time.

Let’s go to Missy Ryan, please.

QUESTION:  Hi there.  Thanks for taking my question.  I’d like to actually just follow up on Michele’s question regarding the SIV transport and evacuation.  My understanding is that the U.S. military withdrawal is expected to be completed within the next few days barring any additional tasking for the military to be responsible for transporting the SIV applicants outside of Afghanistan.  And can you just address, is it safe to assume, then, that the administration is going to – that the military is not going to be transporting them out of the country, and that they’ll go by a commercial aircraft.  Is it – I mean, one of the confusing things, I think, has been when people are trying to understand what’s going on with the military withdrawal is whether or not the SIV process is going to lengthen the military presence in Afghanistan in these final weeks that they get really close to zero there.  Anything you could provide on that would be helpful, thanks.

MS PORTER:  Specific to the military drawdown, the President has made clear that we will complete that from Afghanistan by early September.  Any other specifics outside of that, I will have to refer you to the DOD.

Let’s go to Hiba Nasr.

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) Jalina, thanks for taking my question.  I – first I missed your answer on the demolition of the Palestinian homes, if you can repeat it.  And I want to ask two question, if I may.  First, if you have any comment on the trial of Entisar Al-Hammadi, the Yemeni model.  The trial is carried out by the – is carried by the Houthis.  And on the missile attack by the Houthis on Marib, and it killed three persons, including a child.  And also I have a question on Ethiopia.  Assistant secretary – acting assistant secretary for African Affairs said yesterday that if the government’s – the Ethiopian Government’s – announcement of a cessation of hostilities does not result in improvement in the situation and the situation continues to worsen, Ethiopia and Eritrea should anticipate further actions.  So are you going to impose more sanctions?  Can you elaborate on that, please?

MS PORTER:  So for that, I don’t have any sanctions to preview from here.  But can you repeat your other question?  I think you mentioned something about the Houthis.

QUESTION:  Yes.  First, if you have any comment on the trial of the Yemeni actress, Entisar Al-Hammadi.  And the missile attack carried by the Houthis on Marib.

MS PORTER:  I don’t have anything for you on that.  We’ll have to take that back from you today, but I believe you also asked me to repeat the question posed by Said.  And I’ll just quickly say that, again, we’ve seen the reports that seven families that are made up of about 50 Palestinians have been ordered for their homes to be demolished.  And we believe it’s critical to refrain from any unilateral steps that would increase tensions or make it more difficult to advance our two-state solution, and that would include demolition.

Let’s go to Abigail Williams.

QUESTION:  Hi, Jalina.  Nice to talk to you.  I wanted to follow up on Said’s line of questioning.  Does the State Department have any response to the decision reached on the West Bank outpost of Evyatar?  And are you concerned (inaudible) the confrontations between the Israeli police and demonstrators there that resulted in the death of four protesters?  And more broadly, can you provide the latest guidance on the State Department’s review of the previous administration’s decision to disavow the 1978 memo that described Israeli settlements as inconsistent with international law?

MS PORTER:  Thanks, Abbie.  For your second question, I’ll have to take that back for you.  But just to answer your first, again, I’ll continue to underscore that we believe it’s critical to refrain from any unilateral steps that would exacerbate tensions or undercut efforts to advance equal freedoms, security, and prosperity, as well as a negotiated two-state solution.  And this would include establishing outposts which are illegal even under Israeli law.

Let’s go to Joseph Haboush, please.

OPERATOR:  And Joseph, your line is open.

QUESTION:  Hi, Jalina.  I wanted to ask if you could provide any readout or more details of Secretary Blinken’s meeting yesterday with his Saudi and French counterparts, where he tweeted the need – tweeted about the need for Lebanon’s political leaders to implement overdue reforms.  And is there any – is there continued concern over the situation in Lebanon?  Thank you.

MS PORTER:  So we don’t have anything for you today, but happy to take this and answer this offline.

Let’s take one final question from Kristina Anderson.

QUESTION:  Hi, thank you for taking my question.  In Afghanistan, there’s an awful lot of worry over the degrading – what some people describe as a degrading situation as the military is withdrawing or retrograding.  Could you talk a little bit, please, about the hopeful situation ahead for diplomacy and political opportunities for peace in the country and reconciliation?  Is there a framework ahead?  Thank you.

MS PORTER:  Thank you for your question.  What I will say is that the United States is committed to our enduring partnership with Afghanistan as well as the Afghan people, and that would include everything from security, civilian, and humanitarian assistance.  And again, we agree that political unity is the way forward and diplomacy is the path of – the way forward.  I wouldn’t want to preview anything else beyond that, but just would underscore that we are committed to not only Afghanistan, and the people of Afghanistan as well.

That concludes today’s briefing.  Thank you all so much for joining today, and we hope you have a good week ahead.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:20 p.m.)

Secretary of State Blinken to Host the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report Launch Ceremony

30 Jun

Office of the Spokesperson

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will release the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) at 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, July 1, 2021, in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the U.S. Department of State.

As required by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the TIP Report assesses government efforts around the world to combat human trafficking and highlights strategies to address this crime and protect the victims. This year’s report, the 21st installment, includes narratives for 188 countries and territories, including the United States.

During the ceremony, Secretary Blinken will be joined by Acting Director Kari Johnstone of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, to virtually honor the 2021 TIP Report Heroes, individuals from around the world whose tireless efforts have made a lasting impact on the fight against human trafficking. Following the ceremony, the honorees will embark on a State Department-funded International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) virtual exchange program to gain professional development experience and connect with American communities and organizations committed to ending human trafficking.

This event will be pooled press coverage and livestreamed on www.state.gov.

Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Person Acting Director Kari Johnstone will also deliver remarks and take questions in the Briefing Room at the top of the Department Press Briefing.

Instructions for embargoed access to the report will be sent to members of the press on Thursday, July 1 at 9:00 a.m. EDT.

For more information, contact Mai Shiozaki in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at shiozakim@state.gov or 202-595-4473. Also, visit http://www.state.gov/j/tip/ or @JTIP_State  on Twitter. Follow #EndTrafficking for news and updates. For more information on the TIP Report Heroes IVLP program, contact ECA-Press@state.gov.

Mekong-U.S. Partnership Senior Officials’ Meeting

30 Jun

Office of the Spokesperson

On June 29, Senior Bureau Official for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kin Moy co-hosted with Cambodia the first annual Mekong-U.S. Partnership Senior Officials’ Meeting.  The ASEAN Secretariat joined the meeting as an observer.

Senior Bureau Official Moy emphasized that the United States is committed to a secure, prosperous, and open Mekong sub-region, which is vital to the health of ASEAN and its people.  He highlighted the importance of ASEAN centrality to the U.S. vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific and U.S. support for the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. The United States government has committed $4.3 billion in grant assistance to the Mekong sub-region since 2009.

The six Partnership countries discussed progress on improving COVID-19 response and health security; delivering sustainable infrastructure development, including through the Japan-U.S.-Mekong Power Partnership; empowering human capital and building the foundations for a Mekong digital economy; promoting women’s economic empowerment; advancing sustainable water, natural resource management, and environmental protection; and combating non-traditional security threats, including human, wildlife, timber, narcotics, and weapons trafficking.

Senior Bureau Official Moy urged partners to take immediate action to hold the Burmese military accountable to the ASEAN five-point consensus.  He called for joint action to press the Burmese military to end the violence, release those unjustly detained, and restore Burma to the path of democracy.

The Mekong-U.S. Partnership includes the United States, Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam.  Partners work closely on sustainable development with the Friends of the Mekong group, which in addition to the United States and Mekong countries includes Australia, the European Union, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and the Mekong River Commission Secretariat.

For more information, please visit MekongUSPartnership.org  and follow our Facebook page.

First Meeting of the Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics for Developing Countries

30 Jun

The Heads of the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund, World Health Organization, and World Trade Organization today convened for the first meeting of the Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics for Developing Countries. They issued the following joint statement:

“As many countries are struggling with new variants and a third wave of COVID-19 infections, accelerating access to vaccines becomes even more critical to ending the pandemic everywhere and achieving broad-based growth. We are deeply concerned about the limited vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and support for deliveries available to developing countries. Urgent action is needed now to arrest the rising human toll due to the pandemic, and to halt further divergence in the economic recovery between advanced economies and the rest.

We have formed a Task Force, as a “war room” to help track, coordinate and advance delivery of COVID-19 health tools to developing countries and to mobilize relevant stakeholders and national leaders to remove critical roadblocks—in support of the priorities set out by World Bank Group, IMF, WHO, and WTO including in the joint statements of June 1 and June 3, and in the IMF staff’s $50 billion proposal.

At today’s first meeting, we discussed the urgency of increasing supplies of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics for developing countries. We also looked at practical and effective ways to track, coordinate and advance delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries.

As an urgent first step, we are calling on G20 countries to (1) embrace the target of at least 40 percent in every country by end-2021, and at least 60 percent by the first half of 2022, (2) share more vaccine doses now, including by ensuring at least  1 billion doses are shared with developing countries in 2021 starting immediately, (3) provide financing, including grants and concessional financing, to close the residual gaps, including for the ACT-Accelerator, and (4) remove all barriers to export of inputs and finished vaccines, and other barriers to supply chain operations.

In addition, to enhance transparency we agreed to compile data on dose requests (by type and quantity), contracts, deliveries (including through donations), and deployments of COVID-19 vaccines to low and middle-income countries—and make it available as part of a shared country-level dashboard. We also agreed to take steps to address hesitancy, and to coordinate efforts to address gaps in readiness, so countries are positioned to receive, deploy and administer vaccines.” 

Joint Statement by the Heads of the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund, World Health Organization, and World Trade Organization on the First Meeting of the Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics for Developing Countries

30 Jun

The Heads of the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund, World Health Organization, and World Trade Organization today convened for the first meeting of the Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics for Developing Countries. They issued the following joint statement:

“As many countries are struggling with new variants and a third wave of COVID-19 infections, accelerating access to vaccines becomes even more critical to ending the pandemic everywhere and achieving broad-based growth. We are deeply concerned about the limited vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and support for deliveries available to developing countries. Urgent action is needed now to arrest the rising human toll due to the pandemic, and to halt further divergence in the economic recovery between advanced economies and the rest.

We have formed a Task Force, as a “war room” to help track, coordinate and advance delivery of COVID-19 health tools to developing countries and to mobilize relevant stakeholders and national leaders to remove critical roadblocks—in support of the priorities set out by World Bank Group, IMF, WHO, and WTO including in the joint statements of June 1 and June 3, and in the IMF staff’s $50 billion proposal.

At today’s first meeting, we discussed the urgency of increasing supplies of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics for developing countries. We also looked at practical and effective ways to track, coordinate and advance delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries.

As an urgent first step, we are calling on G20 countries to (1) embrace the target of at least 40 percent in every country by end-2021, and at least 60 percent by the first half of 2022, (2) share more vaccine doses now, including by ensuring at least  1 billion doses are shared with developing countries in 2021 starting immediately, (3) provide financing, including grants and concessional financing, to close the residual gaps, including for the ACT-Accelerator, and (4) remove all barriers to export of inputs and finished vaccines, and other barriers to supply chain operations.

In addition, to enhance transparency we agreed to compile data on dose requests (by type and quantity), contracts, deliveries (including through donations), and deployments of COVID-19 vaccines to low and middle-income countries—and make it available as part of a shared country-level dashboard. We also agreed to take steps to address hesitancy, and to coordinate efforts to address gaps in readiness, so countries are positioned to receive, deploy and administer vaccines.” 

ASEAN Regional Forum Senior Officials’ Meeting

30 Jun

Office of the Spokesperson

Senior Bureau Official for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kin Moy participated in a Senior Officials Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum (ARF) on June 28. Senior Bureau Official Moy emphasized the Biden-Harris administration’s priority to revitalize our multilateral partnerships to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values in the Indo-Pacific.  He highlighted ongoing U.S. support for ASEAN, the ARF, and the East Asia Summit, and underscored the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to ASEAN centrality and ASEAN’s essential role in the Indo-Pacific’s architecture. He noted that the administration is looking forward to sustained engagement with our partners and allies in ASEAN and throughout the region.

Senior Bureau Official Moy drew attention to U.S. efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including providing more than 500 million vaccine doses, and $2 billion to Gavi in support of COVAX to buy vaccines for the world.

Senior Bureau Official Moy called for greater transparency and support for the rules-based international order in the region, including in the South China Sea.  Moy also emphasized U.S. efforts to combat transnational crime in the Mekong sub-region through the Mekong-U.S. Partnership.

Senior Bureau Official Moy discussed important regional issues, including efforts to press the Burmese military to cease violence, adhere to ASEAN’s five-point consensus, and provide for a swift return to democracy; China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, its undermining of democracy in Hong Kong, and its destabilizing actions in the South China Sea and Mekong subregion; as well as our goal of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

DFC Announces Financing to Support COVID-19 Vaccine Manufacturing in South Africa

30 Jun

Ned Price, Department Spokesperson

Today, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) announced a joint financing package of €600 million for Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd., headquartered in South Africa, to expand local vaccine manufacturing capacity.  DFC is working together with DEG (Germany), Proparco (France), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to provide financing support.  The package will help increase capacity to support Aspen’s efforts to produce COVID-19 vaccines with Stringent Regulatory Authorization (SRA) and/or World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing, including the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccines will be primarily distributed to the African Union, South African Government, and COVAX.

This effort supports the Administration’s goal to scale vaccine production, invest in African ingenuity and resilience, and help the global community beat this COVID-19 pandemic.

DNC Launches New “America’s Coming Back” Ad in States Across the Country

30 Jun

Today, the Democratic National Committee announced that a new 60-second television ad titled “America’s Coming Back” will run in ten media markets around the country to highlight President Biden and Democrats’ success in bringing America back together after the worst public health crisis in a century. As we approach the Fourth of July holiday, the DNC is making sure that Americans know that families, friends, and neighbors can celebrate together once again because of President Biden and Democrats’ leadership.

Here’s a look at what voters from New Hampshire to Nevada are reading today…

In New Hampshire:

WMUR: NH Primary Source: NH among 10 states targeted by DNC in upbeat ‘America’s Coming Back’ TV ad

DNC AD: ‘AMERICA’S COMING BACK.’ The Democratic National Committee on Wednesday is launching a 60-second television ad in New Hampshire and nine other states that the party says focuses on President Joe Biden and Democrats’ success as the nation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

[…]

In the upbeat ad, which can be seen here and at the end of this report, a narrator says July 4 is “a celebration of freedom. And this year there’s more to celebrate.”

…“After 16 months of isolation and uncertainty, thanks to President Biden and Democrats, America is finally coming back together,” said Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison. “Because of the American Rescue Plan, shots are in arms, checks are in bank accounts, small businesses are reopening and our country is getting back on track.”

[…]

In Michigan:

MLive: As President Biden heads to Michigan, Dems push ad touting America’s coronavirus comeback
As Joe Biden makes an appearance in Traverse City over the Fourth of July weekend, a message touting a similar theme of a post-pandemic return to normal will play on TV screens across Metro Detroit.

A new, 60-second television ad from the Democratic National Committee features patriotic music and imagery, plus images of people celebrating that convey a sense of normalcy.

“July Fourth. The American holiday. A celebration of freedom. And this year, there’s more to celebrate,” a narrator says, as images of vaccination numbers and people playing sports, having dinners and hugging family members play across the screen.

[…]

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said in a statement, “We delivered Michigan for Joe Biden in November and now the DNC is making sure Michiganders know that President Biden delivers for us everyday.”

[…]

In Nevada:

The NV Indy: Ahead of VP Visit to Nevada, Democrats Launch Campaign Ads Promoting Vaccine Rates in Las Vegas

Ahead of the 4th of July weekend, the Democratic National Committee is launching a new television ad campaign in Las Vegas and nearly a dozen other states promoting “America’s Coming Back” under President Joe Biden.

[…]

The 60-second ad highlights the return to normalcy after the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, juxtaposing archived year-old newscast of the early days of the pandemic with a headline of rising vaccine rates — giving Americans the “freedom to hug a grandchild, to see a baseball game in person. To come back together, again.”

[…]

In Nebraska:

Associated Press: National Democrats Air Pandemic Recovery Ad in Omaha

National Democrats began airing a pandemic recovery ad in the Omaha area on Wednesday, signaling that they’re still willing to put resources into Nebraska’s competitive 2nd Congressional District even though the rest of the state is solidly Republican.

The 60-second ad in the Omaha television market highlights the nation’s efforts to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and return to normalcy.

The ad includes several shots of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who won the 2nd District in the 2020 election, marking only the second time in history that Nebraska has split its Electoral College votes.

[…]

In a statement, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee said the American Rescue Plan signed by Biden is helping to vaccinate Americans, reopen small businesses and provide financial assistance.

In New Jersey:

New Jersey Globe: DNC launches ad boosting Biden’s handling of pandemic in NJ markets

The Democratic National Committee launched a new ad boosting President Joe Biden’s handling of the pandemic on New Jersey airwaves Wednesday.

The 60-second spot begins with shots of an empty classroom, stadium and storefront before showing people congregating at stadiums and elsewhere while a narrator recounts the improved state of the pandemic ahead of July 4.

[…]

It’s part of a push to boost perceptions of Biden’s handling of the pandemic, of which voters already approve by a nearly two-to-one margin, according to polling averages compiled by FiveThirtyEight. That includes roughly 57% of independents.

[…]

In North Carolina:

Charlotte Observer: New NC ad features Biden, COVID recovery as Senate campaigns gear up

“The freedom to hug a grandchild — to see a baseball game in person.” These are some of the luxuries the Democratic National Committee highlights in its newest advertisement to voters in Charlotte.

The Independence Day-themed ad, released on Wednesday, focuses on the progress that has been made in the fight against COVID-19. Although the 60-second ad does not directly call people to the polls, it comes as the race for North Carolina’s open Senate seat heats up. It’s running in nine other TV markets.

“America: We’re coming back,” the ad concludes, with images of Fourth of July fireworks and American flags flashing across the screen and John Legends’ “In America” playing in the background.

[…]

The approval rating on [Biden’s] handling of the pandemic, meanwhile, has remained at about 62% since March. At the end of Trump’s presidency, fewer than 40% of Americans approved of Trump’s response to the pandemic, according to FiveThirtyEight.

[…]

In Pennsylvania:

Pittsburgh City Paper: New Democratic ad premieres in Pittsburgh market, highlights 4th of July

On Wed., June 30, a new ad from the Democratic National Committee hit Pittsburgh airwaves to highlight the progress the country has made getting Americans vaccinated and reopening businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a press release, the 60-second television spot “highlights President Biden and Democrats’ success in bringing America back together after the worst public health crisis in a century.” The ad starts with imagery from last year and the coronavirus shutdowns and rising case numbers, and ends by highlighting the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, with President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden watching fireworks.

 The country has vaccinated Americans at relatively high rates. 

[…]

In Virginia:

Virginia Scope: The DNC launches a new multi-state ad campaign highlighting Biden’s COVID-19 response

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is launching a multi-state ad campaign this week highlighting the Democratic response and policies to COVID-19 in 2021. The ad will be airing in the Richmond media market. 

The ad highlights the return to normalcy after the pandemic. “July Fourth.The American holiday. A celebration of freedom. And this year, there’s more to celebrate. The freedom to hug a grandchild. To see a baseball game in person. To come back together, again. America, leading the world out of a global pandemic, with honesty and compassion. America’s journey continues. Through fireworks and parades, to build a better future. A future that only we the people can make, together. America — we’re coming back.”

[…]

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Proposing Changes to the Department’s Policies on Gender on U.S. Passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad

30 Jun

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

The Department of State is committed to promoting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all people – including LGBTQI+ persons.  Since assuming office, President Biden has taken several executive actions demonstrating this administration’s commitment to human rights and has directed agencies across the U.S. government to take concrete actions to promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world.  Today, I am pleased to announce that the Department will be taking further steps toward ensuring the fair treatment of LGBTQI+ U.S. citizens, regardless of their gender or sex, by beginning the process of updating our procedures for the issuance of U.S. Passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA).

Most immediately, we will be updating our procedures to allow applicants to self-select their gender as “M” or “F” and will no longer require medical certification if an applicant’s self-selected gender does not match the gender on their other citizenship or identity documents.  The Department has begun moving towards adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons applying for a passport or CRBA.  We are evaluating the best approach to achieve this goal.  The process of adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons to these documents is technologically complex and will take time for extensive systems updates.  The Department will also be working closely with its interagency partners to ensure as smooth a travel experience as possible for the passport holder.  As we work towards this longer-term goal of making available a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons seeking a passport or CRBA, the Department will provide updates on the process and any interim solutions via our website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/need-passport/selecting-your-gender-marker.html.

In line with the Administration’s commitment to re-engage with allies and partners, the Department is taking these steps after considerable consultation with like-minded governments who have undertaken similar changes.  We also value our continued engagement with the LGBTQI+ community, which will inform our approach and positions moving forward.  With this action, I express our enduring commitment to the LGBTQI+ community today and moving forward.