Friday morning news – February 5, 2021

Biden delivers first foreign policy speech at State Dept. » President Biden delivered his first foreign policy speech at the State Department on Thursday.  

Biden again vowed to steer away from former President Trump’s America First approach and strengthen ties with U.S. allies.

BIDEN: American alliances are our greatest asset, and leading with diplomacy means standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies and key partners once again. 

Biden said he will halt the withdrawal of U.S. troops stationed in Germany. President Trump announced the plans last year to redeploy nearly 10,000 troops currently stationed there. 

He also said he will end support for Saudi Arabia’s military offensive in Yemen. 

The president saved some of his toughest words for Russia. 

BIDEN: The days of the United States rolling over the face of Russia’s aggressive actions, interfering with our elections, cyberattacks, poisoning its citizens are over.

President Biden also condemned the coup in Myanmar. And he called on military commanders to free the political leaders and activists it is now holding captive.

UN backs democracy in Myanmar » The U.N. Security Council also spoke out on the matter Thursday. 

The sitting president of the council, Barbara Woodward, said members strongly back a return to democracy in the country. 

WOODWARD: They stress the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes, refrain from violence, and fully respect human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law. 

The council also urged the Myanmar military to immediately release the country’s elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and other top officials. 

Meantime, citizens continue to protest the coup. Demonstrators banged on pots in pans in the streets of Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon. 

AUDIO: [Protest]

The military has blocked access to Facebook in an effort to prevent citizens from organizing protests. 

House votes to remove Rep. Greene from committees » Lawmakers on Capitol Hill voted last night to remove Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from all House committees. 

AUDIO: On this vote, the yeas are 230, the nays are 199. The resolution is adopted.  

The largely partyline vote came after hours of floor debate with Democrats arguing Greene is too radical to serve on House panels. They cited past controversial remarks and her online sharing of conspiracy theories. 

Greene pleaded her own case on the House floor, wearing a face mask emblazoned with the words “free speech.” 

GREENE: I never said any of these things since I have been elected for Congress. These were words of the past. And these things do not represent me. They do not represent my district, and they do not represent my values. 

But Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts fired back…

MCGOVERN: She continues to fundraise off this stuff. Read her social media. I’m sure you do. So, I mean, come on!

Republicans complained of a double standard, arguing that Democratic lawmakers weren’t kicked off of committees after controversial remarks. And they charged that removing Greene from House panels is thwarting the will of Georgia voters.

The 46-year-old lawmaker won election to Congress last November.

Unemployment claims dip unexpectedly » The number of Americans filing for jobless benefits has unexpectedly dipped to a two-month low. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Labor Department says just under 780,000 Americans filed unemployment claims last week. That was a drop of more than 30,000 from the week before. And it marks the third straight decline. 

While that number is still historically high, it’s the lowest it’s been since early December. 

The drop in jobless claims the past few weeks suggests that layoffs have eased slightly. Some states recently loosened coronavirus lockdowns as a surge in new cases dissipated. 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Judge halts Texas order blocking Planned Parenthood from Medicaid funds » A judge in Texas has blocked the state from booting Planned Parenthood out of its Medicaid program. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had issued an order withdrawing taxpayer dollars from the abortion giant. The order was supposed to kick in yesterday, but the group filed an emergency petition and hours later, Travis County Judge Maya Guerra Gamble issued a two-week restraining order.

The Democratic judge ruled that withholding funds from Planned Parenthood would cause “immediate and irreparable harm.” 

In his state of the state address this week, Gov. Abbott called for new legislation… 

ABBOTT: We need a law that ensures that the life of every child will be spared from the ravages of abortion. 

Republican state lawmakers have filed more than a dozen pro-life bills in the current legislative session.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, listen as President Joe Biden delivers a speech on foreign policy, at the State Department, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, in Washington.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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