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In welcome terms to allies, Biden declares “America is back”

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In welcome terms to allies, Biden declares "America is back"

 

After four years of a Trump administration that flaunted its foreign policy through a “America First” lens, President Joe Biden used his first address before a global audience Friday to declare that “America is back, the transatlantic alliance is back.”

Biden virtually ticked through a daunting to-do list at the annual Munich Security Conference, salvaging the Iran nuclear deal, meeting China and Russia’s economic and security challenges, and repairing the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which he said would require close cooperation between the U.S. and its Western allies.

Biden mixed talk of a reinvigorated democratic alliance with a rebuke of his predecessor’s approach, a message warmly received by Western allies, without mentioning Donald Trump’s name once in his speech.

‘I know the transatlantic relationship has been strained and tested for the past few years,’ Biden said. “The United States is determined to reconnect with Europe, to consult with you, to restore our trusted leadership position.”

The president also attended a virtual meeting of the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations on Friday, where leaders succeeded in working on the campaign theme of Biden in their joint closing statement, vowing to “work together to beat COVID-19 and build back better.”

“Welcome back, America,” President Charles Michel of the European Council said, effectively summing up the mood of the Munich conference.

But while such happy talk conveyed the palpable sense of relief among allies at the full-throated dedication of Biden to mending frayed U.S.-Europe relations, over the last four years, much has changed in ways that create new challenges.
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As the U.S. has rethought long-held national security and economic interests embedded in the transatlantic alliance, China has cemented its position as a fierce economic rival on the continent. Populism has spread across most of Europe. And other Western countries, as America stepped back from the world stage, have at times tried to fill the void left.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted that there are still “complicated” differences between the U.S. and Europe. Europe sees China’s economic ambitions as less of an existential threat than the U.S. and has its own strategic and economic concerns that are also not always in sync with Russia’s Biden.

Still, Merkel, who had a strained relationship with Trump, did not hide her preference for Biden’s world view-informed American foreign policy.

“This year, things look a lot better for multilateralism than they did two years ago, and that has a lot to do with Joe Biden becoming President of the United States of America,” said Merkel. “His speech just now, but also the first announcements made by his administration, have convinced us that this is not just talk but action.”

Biden delivered his message to a global audience as his administration took action this week to undo core policies of the Trump administration.

He said the U.S. is prepared to rejoin negotiations on re-entering the Trump administration’s collapsed 2015 multilateral Iran nuclear agreement. The administration of Biden announced its intention to re-engage Iran on Thursday, and it took steps at the United Nations to return policy to what it was before Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018.

Biden also talked about the two-decade war in Afghanistan, where he faces a deadline of May 1 to withdraw the remaining 2,500 U.S. forces under a peace deal with the Taliban signed by the Trump administration. He also called for cooperation in addressing Russia and China’s economic and national security challenges and described cyberspace, artificial intelligence and biotechnology as highly competitive fields.

“Together, we must prepare for a long-term strategic competition with China,” Biden said.

The underlying point that democracies — not autocracies — are models of government that can better address the demands of the moment was based on his post. The President called on fellow world leaders to demonstrate together that “democracy can still deliver.”

Biden focused on what lies ahead for the international community as it strives to end the public health and economic crises generated by the coronavirus pandemic, administration officials said at the G-7. He declared that the U.S. would soon start releasing $4 billion for an international campaign to promote the procurement and distribution to developing nations of vaccines, an initiative that Trump declined to support.

When the U.S. formally rejoined the Paris climate agreement, the biggest international attempt to combat global warming, Biden’s turn on the world stage arrived. In June 2017, Trump announced he was pulling the U.S. out of the historic deal, claiming that the treaty would weaken the American economy.

On the first day of his presidency, Biden declared the U.S. intention of rejoining, but he had to wait 30 days for the move to take effect. He has said he would integrate climate change issues into any significant domestic and foreign policy decision that his administration faces.

“This is an existential global crisis,” Biden said.

Biden has urged G-7 partners to make good on their promises to COVAX, a World Health Organization programme to enhance access to vaccines, even as the U.S. spigot reopens.

Trump withdrew the U.S. from the WHO and declined to join the COVAX initiative for more than 190 nations. At the beginning of the public health crisis that unravelled a powerful U.S. economy, the Republican former president accused WHO of covering up China’s failures in controlling the virus.

Amid growing demands for his administration to export some U.S.-manufactured vaccine supplies overseas, Biden urged greater international cooperation on vaccine distribution.

French President Emmanuel Macron called on the U.S. and European nations to contribute to developing countries up to 5 percent of existing vaccine stocks, the kind of vaccine diplomacy that China and Russia are now deploying.

Biden, who reported last week that by the end of July the U.S. will have ample vaccine to inoculate 300 million people, remains focused for now on ensuring that every American is vaccinated, officials of the administration say. Macron pressed the U.S. and Europe again on Friday to do more.

“It is up to Europeans and Americans to allow access to vaccines as quickly as possible for all the poor and emerging countries in the world,” he said.

The allies listened closely to what Biden had to say about Iran’s impending crisis.

This week, Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that it would suspend a clause in the 2015 agreement that required the U.N. to voluntarily enforce it next week. Nuclear inspectors to perform short notice inspections of undeclared sites in Iran unless by Feb. 23 the U.S. rolled back penalties

“We must now ensure that there is no problem with who is taking the first step,” Merkel told reporters. “If everyone is convinced that we should once again give this agreement a chance, then ways should be found to make this agreement move again.”

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Longtime family-owned Stevinson Automotive sells to Georgia-based company

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Longtime family-owned Stevinson Automotive sells to Georgia-based company

The family-owned and operated Stevinson Automotive, in business in Colorado for 59 years, has sold its eight dealerships to Georgia-based Asbury Automotive Group.

Charles “Chuck” Stevinson took over a Chevrolet dealership in Golden and opened a Toyota dealership in 1970. The company opened the first Lexus dealership in Colorado in 1989  and a companion Lexus franchise in 2006.

Stevinson acquired the Hyundai franchise in Longmont in 2011.

“For a family business like ours with long-term roots in the Denver community, making the decision to sell, and identifying the right buyer, were critical to me and my brothers.” Kent Stevinson, the automotive group’s president, said in a statement.

Kerrigan Advisors represented Stevinson in the transaction and said the company is the largest privately owned dealership group based in Denver. Stevinson has more than 600 employees.

“The Denver market is one of the most economically vibrant in the U.S. and an ideal market for strong automotive brands, such as those represented by Stevinson Automotive,” said Ryan Kerrigan, managing director of Kerrigan Advisors.

Asbury, which operates 101 dealerships nationwide, said the acquisition will add $715 million in annualized revenue to the company.

“We are thrilled to add to our growing footprint in the dynamic and growing Denver area, especially through a well-respected and successful dealership group like Stevinson,” David Hult, Asbury president and CEO, said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Kent Stevinson was inducted into the inaugural Colorado Automotive Hall of Fame.  In 2020, Kent Stevinson, his brother, Greg Stevinson, and his father, Charles Stevinson, were named to the Colorado Business Hall of Fame.

Greg Stevinson assumed chief responsibility for the family’s real estate holdings.

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St. Louis radio station is playing Christmas music 24/7

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St. Louis radio station is playing Christmas music 24/7

ST. LOUIS – Those who love Christmas music will want to tune into 102.5 KEZK as the station is airing Christmas music 24/7 through the holiday.

The St. Louis radio station usually plays adult contemporary music, but changes to all Christmas music starting the second week of November.

Since 2003, 102.5 KEZK has been “St. Louis’ Official Christmas Station.”

Thirty-six hours of commercial-free Christmas music begins at noon Christmas Eve, ending at midnight Christmas Day.

During the first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic quarantines, KEZK played Christmas music, calling it “Christmas In March.”

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Four Powerball players split $50,000 prize from Des Peres ticket

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Four Powerball players split $50,000 prize from Des Peres ticket

DES PERES, Mo. – Four lucky Powerball players won $50,000 through the Double Play option. Three St. Louis County residents and one person from Illinois claimed the prize at the Missouri Lottery’s regional office in St. Louis on December 1.

The new Double Play option was launched in August. The drawings follow each regular drawing for a chance to win up to $10 million. Powerball players simply add Double Play to their ticket for an additional dollar.

The winning ticket was sold at the Circle K on Manchester Road in Des Peres for the November 17 drawing. The players matched four of the five white-ball numbers, plus the Powerball number, in the game’s separate Double Play drawing.

The estimated jackpot for the Wednesday, Dec. 8, drawing is $291 million. The chances of winning the jackpot is around one in 292,201,338.

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