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Biden says doctors and preachers would have more impact promoting Covid vaccines than Trump – live

biden-says-doctors-and-preachers-would-have-more-impact-promoting-covid-vaccines-than-trump-–-live

Cuomo’s office released a new statement seemingly in response to This Washington Post story reporting that the governor’s “vaccine czar” was calling around to local officials to gauge their support.

The Post story is here.

Daniel Strauss
(@DanielStrauss4)

Cuomo’s office released a new statement saying his vaccine czar didn’t “link political support to public health decisions.”

Comes after this Post story saying Schwartz “phoned county officials in the past two weeks in attempts to gauge their loyalty” (https://t.co/UsGzAM5Lt4) pic.twitter.com/ycFySRCEQq

March 15, 2021

The Post story over the weekend reported that Larry Schwartz’s “calls to county officials could fuel questions about an intermingling of politics with the state’s public health operation. The conversations came in advance of a March 8 announcement by the governor’s office that the state plans to open 10 new mass vaccination sites around New York — distribution hubs that have been keenly sought by local officials.”

The lawyer for one of the women who are accusing Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York of sexual harassment released a new statement detailing her interview with investigators:

Maggie Haberman
(@maggieNYT)

Statement from lawyer Debra Katz, representing Charlotte Bennett, who has accused Gov. Cuomo of harassment: pic.twitter.com/vWGMYeStjF

March 15, 2021

The Alaska Republican party is going a step further than other Republican state parties looking to punish their lawmakers who voted to impeach Donald Trump – they’re actively looking to prop up a primary challenge to Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Here’s the Alaska Daily News’ writeup:


The Alaska Republican Party has voted to censure U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and will recruit a challenger to run against her in next year’s election.

The Republican State Central Committee voted in favor of the censure during a meeting Saturday in Anchorage after district-level officials passed a series of similar resolutions.

Under party rules, a resolution of censure is just “an official rebuke and disapproval,” but a picture of Saturday’s resolution, posted online, explicitly states that the party “will hereby recruit a Republican Party challenger to oppose and prohibit Senator Murkowski from being a candidate in any Republican primary to the extent legally permissible.”

“We’re looking for somebody else to be our U.S. Senator in 2022, and somebody who will be more in line with the Republican philosophy,” said Kris Warren, who wrote Saturday’s resolution and serves as the chairman of the Republican Party in an Anchorage House district.

As it happens, Murkowski is no stranger to both being at odds with her party and running against a primary challenger. In 2010 after losing the Republican primary contest to a Tea Party-backed primary challenge she ended up winning reelection as a write-in candidate.

Updated

Governor Gavin Newsom of California is taking a publicly defiant tone to efforts to recall him from office:


California’s governor on Monday launched a political committee to raise money to defend his seat in a potential recall election, the strongest acknowledgment to date that he expects to be on the ballot this year.

“I won’t be distracted by this partisan, Republican recall – but I will fight it,” Gavin Newsom said in a tweet. “There is too much at stake,” he added.

Organizers of the recall face a deadline on Wednesday to submit the 1.5m petition signatures necessary to place the election on the ballot. They say they have collected over 2m signatures far, though hundreds of thousands must still be validated by election officials.

But Newsom’s new fundraising arm could soon send a powerful message to his possible rivals: under state rules, the governor alone is allowed to raise money in unlimited amounts, while other candidates must adhere to contribution limits.

It’s likely Newsom will soon receive a flood of cash from his familiar Democratic constituency, including powerful public worker unions that spent millions of dollars helping install him in office in 2018.

The perimeter around the Capitol is being scaled back, according to a new report in The Washington Post:


U.S. Capitol Police will reduce the security perimeter erected after the breach of the Capitol, having determined that “there does not exist a known, credible threat against Congress,” according to a security memo sent to U.S. lawmakers on Monday.

Over the course of this week, Acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett said, security officials will begin “repositioning” inner-perimeter fencing closer to the Capitol to allow some pedestrian access to the grounds. The complex has been surrounded by the 7-foot black metal fences topped with razor wire since just after the Jan. 6 riot, in which hundreds of supporters of then-President Donald Trump violently stormed the Capitol to try to disrupt the certification of the electoral college vote.

Blodgett’s memo said that while the Capitol Police and National Guard will maintain their “increased security posture,” he expects the National Guard to ease its presence at the complex “in the coming weeks.”

Charles Booker, the former state representative from Kentucky who ran a longshot campaign to face Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, is mulling another bid for Senate. This time it would be against Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, also a Republican.

Charles Booker
(@Booker4KY)

I am strongly considering a run for United States Senate in 2022.

Good morning.

March 15, 2021

Booker’s campaign gained some traction as a liberal alternative to frontrunner Democrat Amy McGrath’s but Booker still lost in the primary. In the end McConnell easily won reelection.

Biden: local doctors and preachers would have more impact promoting vaccines than Trump

Joe Biden does not think it would help more if Donald Trump publicly urged his supporters to take a Covid vaccine. Rather, the president said, it would be more helpful for local doctors and community figures to encourage taking the vaccine.

Biden made the remarks at an event this afternoon.

Geoff Bennett
(@GeoffRBennett)

Biden to @edokeefe Q about Trump and vaccine hesitancy within GOP: “I discussed it with my team, and they say the thing that has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks is what the local doctor, the local preacher, the local people in the community would say.”

March 15, 2021

Kayla Tausche
(@kaylatausche)

NEW: Pres. Biden says he’s discussed politically motivated vaccine reluctance with his team and says opinions of local doctors and priests would have “more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks.”

March 15, 2021

Updated

An enduring question of the Biden administration so far is what will Kamala Harris’s portfolio be? Bloomberg’s Jordan Fabian reports that questioning hangs over the vice-president’s first official trip to promote the Biden administration’s $1.9tn stimulus package:


Kamala Harris embarked Monday on her first official trip as vice-president to promote the just-signed $1.9tn stimulus law, a two-day swing that doubles as a chance to boost her own profile.

She’s traveling to Nevada and Colorado, both important presidential election states where Democratic senators are defending seats in next year’s midterms. The trip is part of a cross-country blitz planned by President Joe Biden and top administration officials to sell the relief package and ensure Democrats get credit for it from voters.

Since taking office in January, Harris has been under scrutiny as she carves out a role for herself as vice-president – an office with few specific responsibilities that a former occupant, John Nance Garner, once called “a spare tire on the automobile of government”. Gaining important duties will be crucial for Harris, 56, should she choose to run for president again in the future.

With this week’s trip, Harris is developing a role as a key promoter for the stimulus, the first major legislation Biden signed into law. The White House views the plan as central to defeating the pandemic and engineering a strong economic recovery. Much of Harris’s focus has been on how the rescue package could help small businesses and women in the workforce.

A White House official downplayed the notion that the trip is intended to build Harris’s profile. The vice-president sees it as a chance to encourage Americans to get a Covid-19 vaccine, the official said, especially people of color who are more likely to be hesitant.

Updated

Back in Ohio, as the primary fields form major donors are lining up as well. Peter Thiel, the libertarian conservative venture capitalist, pumped money into a super Pac supporting JD Vance.

Separately, the Republican megadonor Mercer family is also putting money behind Vance as well.

Jessie Balmert
(@jbalmert)

Update: The Mercers also made a “significant contribution.”

Big boost for Mr. Vance in what’s expected to be a crowded GOP field in Ohio to replace Sen. Rob Portman. https://t.co/ba6ATlJIRm

March 15, 2021

Again, not every candidate who will run has formally jumped into the race so support from a few big name donors could end up deciding who the nominee is.

Henry J. Gomez
(@HenryJGomez)

New #OHSen development: Mike Gibbons, an investment banker from the Cleveland area who ran relatively strong for an unknown despite losing the 2018 primary, launches a listening tour as a prelude to likely GOP bid in 2022. https://t.co/BhWuhlwmYA

March 15, 2021

Updated

Speaking of Andrew Cuomo, a new Siena College poll released on Monday, found that half of New York voters do not think he should resign (Cuomo himself has vowed to stay in office).

Here’s the key line:


The poll found voters by a margin of 50% to 35% believe Cuomo should not resign immediately. A similar margin, 48% to 34%, believe the governor can effectively continue his job as governor.

Cuomo also continues to draw support from his base: 61% of Democratic voters, 69% of Black voters and 47% of voters in union households do not think he should step down.

The results come as Cuomo is facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment, inappropriate behavior as well as claims of bullying behavior.

Updated

Psaki is now getting a series of questions about Andrew Cuomo’s role as the chairman of the National Governors Association, which involves leading phone calls among governors. That questioning comes in light of reports that Cuomo allies and staff have been calling around to gauge loyalty to the New York governor.

Psaki said it’s “up to the NGA” to decide whether to keep Cuomo as the lead on those calls or the chairmanship.

During the Trump administration the then vice-president, Mike Pence, usually lead those calls.

Updated

Psaki was asked if the president has spoken to Cuomo. She responded with an emphatic “no”. She was also said no one in the White House has spoken to the governor on Biden’s behalf. To that she said “no” as well.

Updated

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, is at the podium for the daily press briefing. She reiterated Joe Biden’s position that he wants to see a thorough investigation of Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York with an added line.

Jeff Mason
(@jeffmason1)

The president finds the developments with regard to @NYGovCuomo “troubling,” @PressSec says, adding the investigation into the allegations needs to be quick and thorough.

March 15, 2021

That’s in light of more allegations against Cuomo emerging. Nevertheless, Cuomo has said he will not resign, despite growing pressure from even some prominent Democrats in the state.

Updated

Adam Gabbatt

Carl Hiaasen, the venerated Miami Herald writer, has filed his last column for the Florida paper, a stark warning about the state of local journalism in America.

Across 35 years of opinion writing, Hiaasen has covered everything from corruption among Miami power brokers to scandal in the Florida state capital, Tallahassee, to the wanton environmental destruction of the Everglades and other natural areas, an issue close to his heart.

In his final column for the Herald, Hiaasen addressed the impact of the long-running crisis in local journalism, as US newspapers close in droves and journalists are laid off with depressing regularity.

“Retail corruption is now a breeze, since newspapers and other media can no longer afford enough reporters to cover all the key government meetings,” Hiaasen wrote.

“You wake up one day, and they’re bulldozing 20 acres of pines at the end of your block to put up a Costco. Your kids ask what’s going on, and you can’t tell them because you don’t have a clue.”

Note from a British editor always glad to see Americans enjoying pun-based newspaper headlines or columns – you need to read the following story about Carl Hiaasen’s column, all the way to the bottom…

Mark Berman
(@markberman)

this @DVNJr anecdote about Carl Hiaasen is part of why I do miss newsrooms right now pic.twitter.com/17M97PaBw9

March 14, 2021

Martin Pengelly

More from the Associated Press, this time on this morning’s report from the FBI about the dramatic Christmas Day explosion in Nashville, Tennessee


The man who blew himself up inside his recreational vehicle on Christmas Day in Nashville, Tennessee was grappling with paranoia and conspiracy theories but there are no indications he was motivated by social or political ideology, the FBI said on Monday.

An FBI statement set out to resolve some of the lingering mysteries of an explosion that perplexed investigators and the public because it appeared to lack an obvious motive. Though the blast damaged dozens of buildings, it took place early on a holiday well before streets would be busy and was preceded by a recorded announcement warning a bomb would detonate.

The FBI concluded that the bomber, Anthony Quinn Warner, chose the location and timing so that it would be impactful while minimizing the likelihood of “undue injury”.


Nashville explosion: police release footage of blast – video

The report found Warner acted alone and set off the bomb to kill himself, driven in part by conspiracy theories and paranoia. The report also found that stressors included “deteriorating interpersonal relationships”.

“The FBI’s analysis did not reveal indications of a broader ideological motive to use violence to bring about social or political change, nor does it reveal indications of a specific personal grievance focused on individuals or entities in and around the location of the explosion,” the statement said.

Investigators quickly settled on Warner, identifying him through DNA recovered from the blast site. They concluded early on that he acted alone.

Despite online speculation that Warner may have been motivated by conspiracy theories about 5G technology, given the proximity of the explosion to an AT&T building and the resulting havoc to cellphone service in the area, the FBI statement gives no indication that that is the case.

Law enforcement actions received scrutiny in the days after the bombing when it was revealed that in 2019 Nashville police visited Warner’s home after his girlfriend reported that he was building bombs. The police did not make contact with him or see inside his RV.

Warner took steps in the weeks leading up to the bombing that suggested he didn’t expect to survive. For instance, he gave away his car, telling the recipient he had cancer, and signed a document that transferred his home to a California woman for nothing in return. He told an employer he was retiring.

A neighbor who made small talk with Warner recalled that he said something to the effect of, “Oh, yeah, Nashville and the world is never going to forget me.”

Martin Pengelly

The Associated Press has more on the new arrests connected to the death of Brian Sicknick, the Capitol police officer who died as a result of the attack by Trump supporters on 6 January:


Investigators initially believed that Sicknick was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher … [but] investigators now believe Sicknick may have ingested a chemical substance, possibly bear spray, that may have contributed to his death, officials have said.

Julian Khater is the man in a video obtained by the FBI that showed him spraying Sicknick and others with bear spray, according to court papers. The act hasn’t been directly tied to Sicknick’s death.

“Give me that bear [expletive],” Khater said to George Tanios on the video, according to court papers. Sicknick and other officers were standing guard near metal bike racks, the papers say.

Khater then says “they just [expletive] sprayed me” as he’s seen holding a white can with a black top that prosecutors said “appears to be a can of chemical spray”.

…Sicknick collapsed later on and died at a hospital on 7 January. The justice department opened a federal murder investigation into his death, but prosecutors are still evaluating what specific charges could be brought in the case, the people said.

The medical examiner’s report on Sicknick’s death is incomplete. Capitol police have said they are awaiting toxicology results.

Two men charged in Sicknick death

Martin Pengelly

Two men have been charged in the death of Brian Sicknick, the police officer who died after Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on 6 January, in support of the former president’s attempt to overturn his election defeat by Joe Biden.

A portrait of Brian Sicknick.

A portrait of Brian Sicknick. Photograph: Carol Guzy/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

The Washington Post and other outlets report that Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania and George Pierre Tanios, 39 and from West Virginia, were arrested by the FBI on Sunday and expected to appear in federal court on Monday.

They are charged with assaulting Sicknick with bear spray, which Kater is reportedly alleged to be seen discharging into the officer’s face on footage of the riot.

Sicknick, 42 and one of five people to die as a direct result of the assault, died in hospital on 7 January. A police statement then said he “was injured while physically engaging with protesters” and “returned to his division office and collapsed”.

His body subsequently lay in state at the Capitol. The cause of his death has not been released – initial statements that he suffered blunt force trauma after being hit with a fire extinguisher were walked back.

According to the Be Bear Aware Campaign, humans exposed to the pepper-based spray, meant to be used against dangerous and charging bears, can experience “chest pain, cold sweat, or shallow breathing” while “asthma sufferers may experience acute stress”.

Cory Booker, a Democratic senator from New Jersey, paid tribute to Sicknick in remarks on the Senate floor, calling his death a “crime” that “demands the full attention of federal law enforcement.”.

“When white supremacists attacked our nation’s capital,” Booker said, “they took the life of one of our officers. They spilled his blood, they took a son away from his parents. They took a sibling away from their brothers.”

More than 300 people have been arrested for their part in the Capitol riot. Donald Trump was impeached for a second time for inciting the insurrection – and acquitted when only seven Republican senators decided he was guilty.

Updated

Afternoon summary

Here’s what happened today so far.

  • Former governor Eric Greitens of Missouri is eying a political comeback by running for the US Senate. Republicans aren’t happy about it.
  • Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is flexing his political muscle through his chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee.
  • The race for US Senate in Ohio is a perfect sample of some of the dynamics at play in both the Republican and Democratic primaries.
  • Senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas both have op-eds out on boycotting the Olympics in Beijing.

Updated

Fauci is stressing not to be fixated on the “elusive number of herd immunity” because it’s still a somewhat anomalous number. Rather, he said in closing out the conference that the country should be focused on getting as many people vaccinated as possible.

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Politics

National Archives won’t be allowed to restore Trump’s tweets on the platform

national-archives-won’t-be-allowed-to-restore-trump’s-tweets-on-the-platform

The National Archives will not be allowed to resurrect Donald Trump’s tweets on the social network, Twitter said on Wednesday, even in its official capacity as a record-keeping organization. However the archive is working to create a separate record of the former president’s tweets on his official library website.

The former president has been permanently banned from Twitter since January, when the company became the first major social media platform to eject Trump after his behavior during the Capitol insurrection.

The confirmation that Trump’s tweets cannot be revived for archival purposes, first reported by Politico, highlights the ongoing debate on what should become of Trump’s digital legacy. In the weeks and months after, many free speech advocates have argued there should be a public record of what the president has said – even if it is no longer allowed on the platforms where he frequently posted controversial and hateful rhetoric.

In the past the National Archives, an independent agency charged with preserving government and historical records, has maintained living records of other significant Twitter accounts by linking back to the accounts themselves from its presidential websites. That means users can interact with them, including retweeting and favoriting them.

For example, National Archives maintains the Twitter account of the former first lady Melania Trump, @flotus45, as well as the former Trump administration account @whitehouse45.

This will not be the case with Trump, according to the Politico report, though the National Archives is in the process of preserving tweets from the @realDonaldTrump “as is standard with any administration transition”, said Twitter spokesperson Trenton Kennedy, according to Politico.

“Given that we permanently suspended @realDonaldTrump, the content from the account will not appear on Twitter as it did previously or as archived administration accounts do currently, regardless of how Nara decides to display the data it has preserved,” Kennedy said. “Administration accounts that are archived on the service are accounts that were not in violation of the Twitter Rules.”

The National Archives will still be making Trump’s tweets visible, including those that Twitter has taken action against. It is working out the best way to do so, said the Nara spokesperson James Pritchett. It is possible the tweets could be saved by screenshot rather than by linking to a live account.

“Twitter is solely responsible for the decision of what content is available on their platform,” Pritchett said. “Nara works closely with Twitter and other social media platforms to maintain archived social accounts from each presidential administration, but ultimately the platform owners can decline to host these accounts. Nara preserves platform independent copies of social media records and is working to make that content available to the public.”

Facebook and YouTube also banned Trump after the Capitol attack. YouTube has said it would reinstate Trump after the “risk of violence has passed” and Facebook’s third-party review board is debating whether and when the former president can return.

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Politics

Biden condemns US gun violence as an ‘international embarrassment’ as he announces new actions – live

biden-condemns-us-gun-violence-as-an-‘international-embarrassment’-as-he-announces-new-actions-–-live

Summary

  • Joe Biden formally announced a series of executive orders aimed at ending gun violence in America. The president has called on the justice department to crack down on “ghost guns,” unregistered firearms assembled from kits, and gun accessories that can functionally transform pistols into rifles. Biden said in the Rose Garden today, “Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment.”
  • George Floyd died from a “low level of oxygen” caused by “shallow breathing,” an expert testified at Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. The expert’s analysis could undermine arguments from Chauvin’s defense team that Floyd died because of drug use and preexisting health conditions.
  • Joe Manchin said there was “no circumstance” where he would support ending the filibuster. In a Washington Post op-ed published last night, the Democratic senator wrote, “The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.” Manchin’s stance could hinder much of Biden’s legislative agenda, given the filibuster allows the Republican minority to block bills unless they have the support of 60 senators.
  • An associate of Matt Gaetz may cooperate with federal prosecutors, a potentially ominous sign for the Republican congressman as he faces allegations of sex-trafficking. According to the Washington Post, prosecutors have indicated the case against Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector for Seminole County, may end in a plea deal. That could mean Greenberg has agreed to cooperate with federal officials in exchange for a lesser sentence.
  • Dr Anthony Fauci acknowledged shortages of personal protective equipment likely contributed to coronavirus deaths among health workers in the US. “During the critical times when there were shortages was when people had to use whatever was available to them,” the president’s chief medical adviser said in an interview with the Guardian. “I’m sure that increased the risk of getting infected among healthcare providers.” According to the Guardian and Kaiser Health News’ Lost on the Frontline database, more than 3,600 US health workers have died of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.
  • One person has died, and four are in critical condition after a shooting in Bryan, Texas. The shooting occurred at around 3.50pm, according to local police – who say they are pursuing a suspect.
  • California leaders have announced a $536m plan to address the growing threat of wildfires across the state, as a drought threatens to bring on yet another destructive, deadly fire season. The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, along with the state’s senate and assembly leaders announced the new plan at a news conference Thursday near Shaver Lake – a small town at the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains that was devastated by the Creek fire last fall.

– Joan E Greve and Maanvi Singh

Can an assault weapons ban reduce killings if firearms last 100 years?

Mona Chalabi

Six days before a man shot and killed 10 people, he legally purchased the military-style firearm he used for the crime. The incident – one of three recent mass shootings – yet again renewed a public debate about banning assault weapons in the US and seems like a potential example of a shooting in which an assault weapon ban might have been effective in reducing the death toll of the attack. But would it?

When firearms are recovered by law enforcement because of their use or suspected use in a crime, the weapons are recorded in a database along with the date of their first retail sale. The amount of time between those two events is known as the “time to crime” and is published by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). While the suspect involved in the Boulder shooting waited just six days, the national average time to crime is 8.3 years, according to 2019 statistics from the ATF.

This dataset is much broader, since it includes a wide variety of crimes and suspected crimes, but the number still poses a significant problem for policymakers that are attempting to prevent future mass shootings. Even if a nationwide ban on sales were effectively implemented tomorrow, there would still be somewhere between 15m and 20m assault rifles in circulation out of the estimated 393m guns held in the US.

Averages can be misleading, though: the range here is pretty vast – guns can be recovered days or decades after purchase. But it is relevant to note that in only 7% of cases were the guns recovered less than three months since the purchase date. State differences are also huge. In Arizona, 12% of recovered firearms were purchased less than three months ago, while in Connecticut and Arkansas, it’s just 4%.

The fact that those weapons could continue to be used for years to come isn’t just a hypothetical given the lifespan of assault weapons. Firearms remain operational for a century or more, further complicating any path to reform in a country with the highest gun ownership rate per capita in the world.

Read more:

The shooting occurred not long after Joe Biden announced new executive actions to address gun violence.

Hours before the shooting, Abbott, a Republican, came out vehemently against the president’s gun control policies. “Biden is threatening our 2nd Amendment rights. He just announced a new liberal power grab to take away our guns. We will NOT allow this in TX,” he tweeted. “It’s time to get legislation making TX a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary State passed and to my desk for signing.’

Texas has seen 14 mass shootings so far this year.

One person has died and four in critical condition after Texas shooting

One person has died, and four are in critical condition after a shooting in Bryan, Texas.

The shooting occurred at around 3.50pm, according to local police – who say they are pursuing a suspect.

“The state will assist in any way needed to help prosecute the suspect,” said the Texas governor, Greg Abbott. “Cecilia [Abbott’s wife] and I are praying for the victims and their families and for the law enforcement officer injured while apprehending the suspect.”

Updated

New EPA chief Michael Regan relishes ‘clean slate’ after chaos of Trump era

Oliver Milman

Michael Regan has perhaps the most fiendishly challenging job within Joe Biden’s administration. As the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Regan not only has to grapple with the unfolding cataclysm of the climate crisis, he must do so at the helm of a traumatized, shrunken institution still reeling from the chaos of the Donald Trump era.

“I was deeply concerned as I watched the previous administration,” Regan told the Guardian. “We all witnessed a mass exodus of scientists and qualified people the agency needs. I was really concerned coming into the job as to how morale would be and how much of a setback it would be to tackle the challenges before us.”

Trump vowed to reduce the EPA to “little bits”, and although his plans to wildly slash the agency’s budget were largely rejected by Congress, the environmental regulator is now left with its fewest employees since the mid-1980s, during which time the US population has grown by nearly a third.

Scientists were routinely sidelined, with an average of three a week fleeing the agency during Trump’s term. “It was a sort of painful hell,” said one career official, who weighed up leaving but decided to stay.

There were plenty of sources for angst.

Trump’s EPA laid siege to dozens of environmental regulations – from limits on pollution from cars and trucks to rules designed to stop coal plants dumping toxins into rivers to a ban on a pesticide linked with brain damage in children – often contrary to scientific advice and sometimes shortly after meetings with industry lobbyists. Mentions of climate change were not only scrubbed from the EPA website, the Trump administration mulled holding a televised debate as to whether it existed at all.

Scientific panels were purged of various experts and replaced with industry representatives who appeared to hold sway. Andrew Wheeler, Regan’s predecessor, is a former coal lobbyist who said acting on climate change was merely “virtue signaling to foreign capitals”. Scott Pruitt, Trump’s first EPA chief, was embroiled in an extravaganza of scandals, including living in an apartment paid for by a lobbyist, using his position to get his wife a job at Chick-fil-A, spending agency funds on foreign trips and even deploying staff to obtain a cut-price mattress from Trump’s Washington hotel.

“It was incredibly frustrating,” is how Regan sums up watching the agency unravel. “I was incredibly frustrated.”

Regan, the first black man to lead the EPA in its half-century of existence, previously worked at the agency during Bill Clinton and George W Bush’s administrations. “I worked here for a decade and I knew the staff were not being utilized properly,” he said. “I know the people, I know the quality of work they can do.”

Read more:

California leaders unveil $536m plan to address growing fire threat

California leaders have announced a $536m plan to address the growing threat of wildfires across the state, as a drought threatens to bring on yet another destructive, deadly fire season.

The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, along with the state’s senate and assembly leaders announced the new plan at a news conference Thursday near Shaver Lake – a small town at the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains that was devastated by the Creek fire last fall.

Global heating is triggering hotter, drier conditions in California – and propelling bigger, more destructive blazes. “If you don’t believe in climate change; if you don’t believe in science, then believe in your own damn eyes,” the governor said.

The new plan will include more than $350m in funds to improve forest management efforts and thin out fire-fueling vegetation. Another $25m will fund grants to help homeowners make their properties more fire-resistant.

Newsom also referenced the importance of embracing prescribed burning techniques, which were practiced by California tribes for centuries before European settlers banned and eschewed the practice. Fire is a natural and necessary part of the state’s natural landscape – but for years, rather than embracing beneficial fires, California suppressed it. A build-up of overgrowth and vegetation has held fueled extreme mega-blazes. The Karuk Tribe, wildfire researchers, and environmental groups have been pushing the governor and state leaders to fund and elevate historic forest management practices.

“I can’t make up for 50 years,” Newsom said, but committed to changing course going forward.

Last year, the state saw one of the worst fire seasons on record; four of the five largest fires in state history scorched the state, even as it was reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. Some 4m acres burned, 31 people were killed and more than 10,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged.

Updated

White House expresses concern over Northern Ireland violence

Lisa O’Carroll, Rory Carroll and Rajeev Syal report:

The White House has expressed concern over a week of riots in Northern Ireland, with Joe Biden joining Boris Johnson and the Irish prime minister in calling for calm after what police described as the worst violence in Belfast for years.

It came as police used water cannon against nationalist youths in west Belfast, as unrest stirred again on the streets on Thursday evening.

In a statement, the US president’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, said: “We are concerned by the violence in Northern Ireland” and that Biden remained “steadfast” in his support for a “secure and prosperous Northern Ireland in which all communities have a voice and enjoy the gains of the hard-won peace”.

She spoke as the Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, called on political leaders across the spectrum to tone down their language to ease tensions.

Biden, who has Irish roots, has repeatedly expressed support for the peace process and last year waded into a row over UK plans to override parts of the Brexit deal, warning Boris Johnson that any trade deal was “contingent upon respect for the [peace] agreement and preventing the return of a hard border”.

Police said as many as 600 people had been involved in disturbances in Belfast on Wednesday, when a bus was petrol-bombed, rubber bullets were fired and missiles were hurled over a “peace wall”.

Read more:

Amazon challenges hundreds of ballots in Alabama workers’ union drive

Amazon has challenged hundreds of ballots in a vote to form a union at one of its warehouses in Alabama in a unionization drive seen as one of the most important labor fights in recent American history.

Some 3,215 votes were cast in the election out of more than 5,800 eligible employees. The election will determine if workers in Bessemer will form the first labor union at an Amazon warehouse in the US.

According to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, hundreds of ballots were challenged, mostly by Amazon. In the early vote the number of votes against forming a union moved into a lead of 439 versus 200 for shortly before 5pm EST. on Thursday. But many observers expect the huge amount of challenged ballots to lead to a delay in any formal announcement of a result.

“There remain hundreds of challenged ballots mostly by the employer that will need to be addressed after the public count. As the ballot envelopes are opened and the ballots are counted there’s a possibility that more issues could impact the final results,” the RWDSU said.

The unionization drive has sparked huge political interest and a roster of leftwing politicians – and even some Republicans – have spoken out in support of it or visited the state. The US labor movement sees it as a bellwether case for hopes of expanding its power, especially in areas of the economy – such as online retail – that are increasingly dominant.

Ballots in the vote can be challenged based on several factors, such as the eligibility of the voter in regards to job classification or dates of employment. The NLRB will probably hold a later hearing on the validity of the challenged ballots, after unchallenged ballots are tallied, if the number of challenged ballots could affect the outcome of the election.

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Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden formally announced a series of executive orders aimed at ending gun violence in America. The president has called on the justice department to crack down on “ghost guns,” unregistered firearms assembled from kits, and gun accessories that can functionally transform pistols into rifles. Biden said in the Rose Garden today, “Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment.”
  • George Floyd died from a “low level of oxygen” caused by “shallow breathing,” an expert testified at Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. The expert’s analysis could undermine arguments from Chauvin’s defense team that Floyd died because of drug use and preexisting health conditions.
  • Joe Manchin said there was “no circumstance” where he would support ending the filibuster. In a Washington Post op-ed published last night, the Democratic senator wrote, “The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.” Manchin’s stance could hinder much of Biden’s legislative agenda, given the filibuster allows the Republican minority to block bills unless they have the support of 60 senators.
  • An associate of Matt Gaetz may cooperate with federal prosecutors, a potentially ominous sign for the Republican congressman as he faces allegations of sex-trafficking. According to the Washington Post, prosecutors have indicated the case against Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector for Seminole County, may end in a plea deal. That could mean Greenberg has agreed to cooperate with federal officials in exchange for a lesser sentence.
  • Dr Anthony Fauci acknowledged shortages of personal protective equipment likely contributed to coronavirus deaths among health workers in the US. “During the critical times when there were shortages was when people had to use whatever was available to them,” the president’s chief medical adviser said in an interview with the Guardian. “I’m sure that increased the risk of getting infected among healthcare providers.” According to the Guardian and Kaiser Health News’ Lost on the Frontline database, more than 3,600 US health workers have died of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Amudalat Ajasa reports for the Guardian from Minneapolis:

Behind the Hennepin county courthouse in downtown Minneapolis, which is heavily fortified for the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, a small but determined core of seven protesters gathers every day.

Sometimes there are many more protesters, sometimes not so many. But always this group, there hoping to witness justice for George Floyd, who died under the knee of Chauvin in south Minneapolis last May.

Outside, the core group hold signs, amplify chants with a bullhorn and circle the courthouse with the aim of encouraging peaceful protest.

“I get up at 5am and I’m usually out here a little after 7am every day,” John Stewart Jr, 57, said, as his Black Lives Matter flag fluttered in the wind.

Stewart, an ordained pastor in the city, and the “core of seven” generally stay put in their chosen spot behind the courthouse for the entire length of an average work day: 9-5, or longer.

Donald Trump has endorsed two sitting Republican senators, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rand Paul of Kentucky, in new statements today.

“Rand Paul has done a fantastic job for our Country, and for the incredible people of Kentucky,” the former president said in a statement released by his political action committee, the Save America Pac. “He has my Complete and Total Endorsement for another term in the U.S. Senate. The Commonwealth of Kentucky has a true champion in Rand Paul.”

Trump praised Johnson as “brave” and “bold” and offered him his “complete and total endorsement” — even though the Wisconsin senator has not yet announced whether he will run again.

Johnson and Paul are both up for reelection next year, when Republicans hope to flip the Senate after Democrats took control with two wins in Georgia earlier this year.

David Smith

Joe Biden, under pressure to act after a slew of mass shootings, has announced his first steps to curb the “epidemic” and “international embarrassment” of gun violence in America.

The president has prioritised the coronavirus pandemic and economic recovery during the first two and half months of his presidency. But a series of recent shooting tragedies in Georgia, Colorado and California led to renewed calls for urgent action on guns.


Biden condemns US gun violence as ‘international embarrassment’ – video

About 316 people are shot every day in America and 106 of them die, he noted, “hitting Black and brown communities the hardest”. Gun violence is estimated to cost the nation $280bn a year, according to the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. “This is an epidemic, for God’s sake, and it has to stop,” an emotional Biden said.

The White House event included parents family members who have lost loved ones to the scourge. “They know what it’s like to bury a piece of their soul deep in the earth,” remarked Biden, who has endured his own measure of loss. “They understand that.”

Seeking to break a Washington paralysis that confounded former president Barack Obama, even after horrific mass shootings, Biden said he was announcing immediate concrete actions that he can take now without Congress. Republicans have long resisted fundamental reform, citing the second amendment to the constitution that protects the right to bear arms.

“Nothing I’m about to recommend in any way impinges on the second amendment,” Biden insisted. “They’re phony arguments, suggesting that these are second amendment rights at stake, what we’re talking about. But no amendment to the constitution is absolute. You can’t shout ‘Fire!’ in a crowded movie theatre and call it freedom of speech.”

Congresswoman Lucy McBath reflected on the loss of her son Jordan, who died in a 2012 shooting, as she celebrated Joe Biden’s new actions to address gun violence.

McBath, who was at the Rose Garden for Biden’s formal announcement of the executive orders earlier today, said on Twitter, “To my Jordan, This day. At the White House. In the Rose Garden. The President announced actions that will help keep families safe. Actions that will protect children across America. Children like you. My dear Jordan, this day is your day.”

Rep. Lucy McBath
(@RepLucyMcBath)

To my Jordan,

This day.

At the White House. In the Rose Garden.

The President announced actions that will help keep families safe. Actions that will protect children across America.

Children like you.

My dear Jordan, this day is your day. pic.twitter.com/6tmYmsciX8

April 8, 2021

In 2012, Jordan Davis was shot and killed by a man who confronted the 17-year-old about his music being too loud. The shooter tried to use Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law to defend his actions, but he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

After Davis’ death, McBath became a prominent advocate for gun control laws, eventually running for Congress in 2018 and flipping a Republican seat in Georgia.

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Politics

Biden announces US has administered 150m Covid vaccine doses – as it happened

biden-announces-us-has-administered-150m-covid-vaccine-doses-–-as-it-happened

Summary

  • Joe Biden announced the US has administered 150m vaccine doses since he took office in January. The president also announced all American adults will be eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine by 19 April, pushing up his earlier deadline of 1 May by about two weeks.
  • A shooting occurred at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, this morning. The US navy confirmed the shooter, who is now dead, was a naval hospital corpsman. The two victims of the shooting are in critical condition and were airlifted to a Baltimore hospital, Frederick police told reporters.

  • Derek Chauvin’s trial resumed in Minneapolis, where the former police officer is facing murder charges over the killing of George Floyd. A police trainer who instructed Chauvin in the use of force told the jury that placing a knee on a suspect’s neck when they are already subdued, as Chauvin did with Floyd, “is not authorized”.
  • The Democratic congressman Alcee Hastings died at 84. Hastings, who had pancreatic cancer for more than two years, was the longest-serving member of Florida’s House delegation.
  • US Capitol police officer William “Billy” Evans will lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda next week, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer. announced. Evans was killed in the car attack at the Capitol last week. In a statement released by USCP today, Evans’ family described him as “the best father, son, brother, and friend anyone could ever hope for”.

  • Arkansas lawmakers overrode their governor’s veto to enact the country’s first ban on gender-affirming treatment for transgender youth.The law, which has been opposed by medical groups and child welfare groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, would punish healthcare providers who offer treatments like hormone therapy and puberty blockers to trans children.
  • Caitlyn Jenner, the former reality star, is reportedly considering a run for California governor. According to an Axios report, Jenner is working with GOP fundraiser Caroline Wren, to explore running against California governor Gavin Newsom in an impending recall election.

  • Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, signed an order to “mitigate the impact of new voting restrictions imposed” by Georgia’s restrictive new voting laws. Civil rights groups and businesses have spoken out against Georgia Republicans’ sweeping voter restrictions, which will disproportionately affect Black voters’ ability to cast their ballots.

– Joan E Greve and Maanvi Singh

Updated

Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican congressman who is being investigated over child sex trafficking charges, and who reportedly shared nude pictures of women with colleagues, is speaking at former president Donald Trump’s resort in Doral, at a rally for a pro-Trump women’s group.

Politico reports:


Women for America First announced late Tuesday that Gaetz would be a speaker at the three-day “Save America Summit.” This is the same group that helped organize the “March for Trump” rally in Washington that took place just hours before the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead.

The organization praised Gaetz as one of the “few members of Congress” willing to “stand up & fight on behalf of President Trump & his America First agenda.” Women For America First says on its website that “We won’t be pushed around by bullies who tell us who we are ‘supposed’ to like. And we’re not going to keep quiet just because the Washington, D.C. power elites and mainstream media want us to!”

Gaetz on Twitter thanked the group for “the invitation to share my vision for our great nation.”

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Updated

Kamala Harris issued a statement on the death of Alcee Hastings:


Congressman Alcee Hastings welcomed me to the Congressional Black Caucus when I was still new to the Senate. He exuded the kind of warmth and good humor that not only put me at ease, but encouraged me to speak my mind. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of working with the Congressman on a number of issues, and learning from his collaborative and candid style of leadership.

Born in the Jim Crow South, Congressman Hastings understood our obligation to speak truth better than most. He began his career as a civil rights lawyer in the 1960s, channeling his passion for justice into the work of desegregating the public spaces of south Florida. As we mourn his death, I am comforted that his commitment to public service will serve as an example for generations to come.

The Democratic congressman of Florida was 84.

Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, signed an order to “mitigate the impact of new voting restrictions imposed” by Georgia’s restrictive new voting laws.

Civil rights groups and businesses have spoken out against Georgia Republicans’ sweeping voter restrictions, which will disproportionately affect Black voters’ ability to cast their ballots.

“The voting restrictions of SB 202 will disproportionately impact Atlanta residents – particularly in communities of color and other minority groups,” Bottoms said in a statement. “This Administrative Order is designed to do what those in the majority of the state legislature did not – expand access to our right to vote.”

My colleague Sam Levine wrote about the new voting law in Georgia:


It requires voters to submit ID information with both an absentee ballot request and the ballot itself. It limits the use of absentee ballot drop boxes, allows for unlimited challenges to a voter’s qualifications, cuts the runoff election period from nine to four weeks, and significantly shortens the amount of time voters have to request an absentee ballot.

The legislation also empowers the state legislature, currently dominated by Republicans, to appoint a majority of members on the five-person state election board. That provision would strip Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who stood up to Trump after the election, from his current role as chairman of the board. The bill creates a mechanism for the board to strip local election boards of their power.

Major League Baseball announced today it was moving its 2021 All-Star Game to Colorado over Georgia’s passage of the law.

Updated

How the far-right group ‘Oath Enforcers’ plans to harass political enemies

Jason Wilson

Revealed: online chats indicate some members are threatening to unleash harassment tactics on officials and government workers

A national online network of thousands of rightwing, self-described “Oath Enforcers” is threatening to unleash harassment tactics on elected officials and government workers around the country, the Guardian can reveal.

While the network’s founder insists that the group is neither violent nor a militia, internal chats indicate that some members are planning for confrontations with law enforcement and their perceived political enemies.

The chats also indicate that white supremacists and others connected with the militia movement are aiming to leverage the group’s success in recruiting disillusioned supporters of Donald Trump and the “QAnon” conspiracy movement, who are being exposed to a wide range of conspiracy theories, white nationalist material and rightwing legal theories inside the groups.

The group’s founder, who makes videos and organizes under the name Vince Edwards, lives off-grid in a remote corner of Costilla county, in Colorado’s high desert region. Arrest records from 2016 indicate that he has also used the name Christian Picolo, and other public records associate him with the name Vincent Edward Deluca.

Experts say that Edwards’ personal history reflects the potential danger in the spread of “sovereign citizen” ideology – along with voluminous online propaganda, that history includes an armed standoff with Costilla county sheriff’s deputies in 2016

Read more:

Arkansas lawmakers overrode their governor’s veto to enact the country’s first ban on gender-affirming treatment for transgender youth.

The law, which has been opposed by medical groups and child welfare groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, would punish healthcare providers who offer treatments like hormone therapy and puberty blockers to trans children. The treatments are part of a gradual process that can vastly improve mental health in young people, and can be life-saving, experts say.

Arkansas’ Republican-controlled legislature overrode Republican governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of the measure. Hutchinson held that the law went too far in interfering with parents’ decisions, and would cut off care for young people already receiving treatment.

Earlier, my colleague Sam Levin spoke to healthcare providers, families, and trans children affected by legislation banning affirming healthcare. Efforts to end gender-affirming care have cropped up not just in Arkansas, but across the country.


Corey Hyman, a 15-year-old boy from St Charles, Missouri, waited years to access the medical treatments that he said saved his life.

Corey said he had long known that he was a boy and came out to his mother as trans at age 12. She researched clinics that supported children like him, and after dozens of sessions with therapists and doctors over two years, Corey was approved to start taking testosterone hormones.

“I was being my true self and actually presenting as a male, and it just made me feel so much better,” said Corey, who previously struggled with severe psychological distress, including self-harm and suicidal thoughts. “Everyone told me that they could see me getting happier.”

The number of kids receiving gender-affirming care in the US is limited. Jules Gill-Peterson, professor of gender, sexuality and women’s studies at the University of Pittsburgh, said that access to the treatment is extremely restricted, given that there are few clinics that do this work and that families often need significant time and money to advocate for and get treatment.

“We’re facing the proposition of banning forms of healthcare that almost no trans kids even have access to,” she said. She noted that at a clinic in Pittsburgh, some families drive from five hours away to get care. “We’re talking about healthcare that at the moment is generally accessible only to upper-middle-class families.”

Read more:

Updated

Caitlyn Jenner, the former reality star, is reportedly considering a run for California governor.

According to an Axios report, Jenner is working with GOP fundraiser Caroline Wren, to explore running against California governor Gavin Newsom in an impending recall election.

The recall campaign against Newsom, a Democrat, is spearheaded by Republicans who opposed the governor’s pandemic-era business shutdowns, as well as his immigration and tax policies. Amid the previous coronavirus surge, and with the aid of funds from big business donors and a few Silicon Valley venture capitalists, the recall campaign amassed more than 2m signatures, its leaders say. If election officials are able to validate at least 1.5m signatures by the end of this month, the state will hold a recall election this year. Voters will choose first whether they want to recall Newsom and then who they would like to replace him.

The Republicans currently running against Newsom include San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer; conservative activist Mike Cernovich; and John Cox, who lost to Newsom in 2018 by 23 points. Strategists say that none of these candidates have an easy path to victory in a state that leans heavily Democratic. However, a big-name Republican like Jenner could change the dynamics of the race. In the 2003 recall of former California governor Gray Davis, it was actor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to run against Davis that helped energize the effort. Schwarzenegger ultimately replaced Davis.

Jenner, a former Olympic medalist who starred in Keeping Up with the Kardashians, has been critical of Donald Trump’s views on trans rights, but she has ultimately aligned with the Republican party on many major issues. Wren, who worked for Trump’s 2020 campaign fundraising committee and helped organize the rally that preceded the 6 January Capitol attack, connected with Jenner through a GOP nonprofit focused on LGBT issues, according to Axios.

Democrats in California and in DC have aligned themselves with Newsom. Progressive Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has thrown his support behind Newsom, and Kamala Harris – a longtime friend of the California governor – appeared alongside him Monday during her visit to the state and praised him as “a real champion in California and outside of California”.

The governor’s approval rating dropped from an early-pandemic peak, but it remains relatively strong in recent polls. A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found 56% of likely voters would oppose a recall.

Updated

California to lift most coronavirus-related restrictions June 15

Joan E Greve

California will lift most of its coronavirus-related restrictions starting June 15, Governor Gavin Newsom announced today.

The Democratic governor emphasized the statewide mask mandate will remain in effect, and restrictions will only be lifted if vaccinations continue to steadily increase and coronavirus hospitalizations stay low over the coming weeks.

Gavin Newsom
(@GavinNewsom)

BREAKING: CA has administered 20+ million vaccinations. We have the lowest positivity rate in the US. Stable hospitalizations.

Now, we’re looking forward.

We’re setting our eyes on fully reopening by June 15th — with commonsense measures like masking.

Mask up & get vaxed, CA.

April 6, 2021

“With more than 20 million vaccines administered across the state, it is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to fully reopen California’s economy,” Newsom said in a statement.

The announcement is hugely consequential, considering California was the first state to approve a statewide stay-at-home order last spring and Newsom has been generally hesitant to relax restrictions on businesses, due to concerns about a potential surge in cases.

But the governor is now moving forward with easing restrictions, as more than a third of Californians have received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose.

“We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic, Newsom said. “We will need to remain vigilant, and continue the practices that got us here – wearing masks and getting vaccinated – but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter.”

Updated

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague Maanvi Singh will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden announced the US has administered 150 million vaccine doses since he took office in January. The president also announced all American adults will be eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine by April 19, pushing up his earlier deadline of May 1 by about two weeks.
  • A shooting occurred at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, this morning. The US navy confirmed the shooter, who is now dead, was a naval hospital corpsman. The two victims of the shooting are in critical condition and were airlifted to a Baltimore hospital, Frederick police told reporters.

  • Derek Chauvin’s trial resumed in Minneapolis, where the former police officer is facing murder charges over the killing of George Floyd. A police trainer who instructed Chauvin in the use of force told the jury that placing a knee on a suspect’s neck when they are already subdued, as Chauvin did with Floyd, “is not authorized”.
  • Democratic congressman Alcee Hastings died at 84. Hastings, who had had pancreatic cancer for more than two years, was the longest-serving member of Florida’s House delegation.
  • US Capitol police officer William “Billy” Evans will lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda next week, House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer announced. Evans was killed in the car attack at the Capitol last week. In a statement released by USCP today, Evans’ family described him as “the best father, son, brother, and friend anyone could ever hope for”.

Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Updated

Joe Biden took a few questions from reporters after concluding his prepared remarks on his administration’s efforts to distribute coronavirus vaccines across the country.

One journalist asked whether the president believed the PGA should move the Masters golf tournament from Georgia due to the outcry over the state’s new law restricting voting access.

This Week
(@ThisWeekABC)

Pres. Biden says it’s “reassuring” to see corporations opposing Georgia’s sweeping voting law, but cautions businesses leaving the state could hurt workers.

“The best way to deal with this is for Georgia and other states to smarten up. Stop it. Stop it.” https://t.co/04o558mesk pic.twitter.com/lLh2pydIbX

April 6, 2021

“I think that’s up the Masters,” Biden said. “It’s reassuring to see that for-profit operations and businesses are speaking up about how these new Jim Crow laws are just antithetical to who we are.”

But the president acknowledged such decisions can be incredibly challenging because the ramifications of them often hurt “the people who need the help the most, people who are making hourly wages”.

“I think it’s a very tough decision for a corporation to make,” Biden said. “The best way to deal with it is for Georgia and other states to smarten up. Stop it. Stop it. It’s about getting people to vote.”

Biden’s comments come days after the Major League Baseball All-Star game was moved from Atlanta because of the Georgia voting law.

Updated

Joe Biden concluded his prepared remarks by once again encouraging Americans to continue taking precautions to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“This progress we’ve worked so hard to achieve can be reversed,” Biden said. “Now’s not the time to let down. Now’s not the time to celebrate.”

The president reiterated his hope that the country will be able to return to a sense of normality by July 4, when America celebrates Independence Day.

Biden said, “I want to have an Independence Day, an independence from the Covid.”

Biden urges seniors: ‘Get vaccinated now,’ before all adults become eligible on April 19

Joe Biden announced all American adults will be eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine by April 19, pushing up his earlier deadline of May 1 by about two weeks.

Every US state except for Hawaii had already announced it would make the vaccine available to all adult residents by that date, so Biden’s announcement is not necessarily shocking.

The president also made a point to urge older Americans to get their shots before vaccine eligibility expands and lines get longer.

“Seniors, it’s time for you to get vaccinated now,” Biden said.

The president noted his administration is ramping up transportation assistance to vaccination sites in order to help older Americans get their shots.

Updated

Biden celebrates 150 million shots administered but tells Americans to stay vigilant

Joe Biden is now speaking at the White House to deliver an update on his administration’s efforts to distribute coronavirus vaccines across the country.

The president noted he visited a vaccination site in Alexandria, Virginia, earlier today, and he described it as an “example of America at its finest”.

As expected, Biden announced the US has administered more than 150 million vaccine doses since he took office in January.

“Yesterday, we crossed 150 million shots in 75 days, the first 75 days of my administration,” Biden said.

President Biden
(@POTUS)

I’m proud to share that yesterday, we crossed 150 million shots in just 75 days of my Administration — on our way to hitting our goal of 200 million shots by my 100th day in office.

April 6, 2021

The president noted more than 4 million shots were administered on Saturday alone, and more than 75% of people over 65 have been vaccinated, an important milestone given that seniors account for 80% of all coronavirus deaths.

But Biden warned that, even as vaccinations increase, coronavirus variants are also spreading quickly. The president urged Americans to remain vigilant about wearing masks and practicing social-distancing to limit the spread of the virus.

“Let me be perfectly earnest with you: we aren’t at the finish line,” Biden said.

Updated

Joe Biden mourned the passing of Democratic congressman Alcee Hastings, who has died at the age of 84 after struggling with pancreatic cancer for over two years.

“I had the privilege of getting to know Alcee Hastings during the years when he served in the House of Representatives and I served in the United States Senate and later as Vice President. I greatly admired him for his singular sense of humor, and for always speaking the truth bluntly and without reservation,” the president said in a new statement.

Hastings was elected to Congress 15 times, and he was the longest-serving member of Florida’s House delegation when he died.

“Across his long career of public service, Alcee always stood up to fight for equality, and always showed up for the working people he represented. And even in his final battle with cancer, he simply never gave up,” Biden said.

“Jill and I are saddened to learn of his passing. May God bless Alcee Hastings and his family.”

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