Biden’s first acts reverse Trump, tackle COVID. What’s next in Trump World? Trapped Chinese miners: at least 15 more days to rescue. That and more below.
Biden’s first acts reverse Trump, tackle COVID
After much worry, President Biden’s inauguration went off without incident yesterday. His first acts in office were a flurry of executive orders, reversing his predecessor’s policies on a number of issues. These include: ending the “Muslim” ban; ending US withdrawal from the WHO; re-entry to the Paris climate accords; and halting leases of Arctic lands for oil and gas exploration.
The next major item on the execute order agenda will redirect the US fight against the COVID pandemic. Today, Biden will be signing orders that hope to restore public faith in government efforts to combat the pandemic itself and its economic fallout. These will include a mandate requiring the public to wear masks on federal property and on trains, planes and passenger ships. Biden will also be reaching out to state and local governments to boost testing vaccine roll-out efforts. One of the initiatives would set up vaccination centers at stadiums, gyms and conference centers. Mobile vaccination units will also be introduced to serve rural communities.
Biden’s orders will also reverse the current policy of holding back a significant number of doses in reserve. This will mean that instead of holding back second doses for those who have already received their first, more Americans will be receiving their first dose more quickly.
The orders will also direct federal agencies like FEMA to reimburse states and schools for COVID safety expenses. Biden also plans to invoke the Defense Production Act to address production shortages for personal protective equipment.
What’s next in Trump World?
According to the White House, President Trump left incoming President Joe Biden a “very generous” letter. Outgoing presidents customarily leave a letter of well-wishes for their successors.
Unlike past ex-presidents, Donald Trump’s transition back into private life is unlikely to be a quiet one, nor is he likely to see any respite from legal controversies that dogged his presidency. Firstly, Democrats are hoping to move ahead with his Senate trial over the Capitol insurrection by the end of this week. Despite a number of public GOP defections, it remains unclear what the outcome of this trial will be. If convicted, Trump will be banned from seeking public office again.
Even if the trial exonerates Trump, he will have an uphill battle if he hopes to run again in 2024, as he has privately vowed to do. He is unlikely to find much support for a second run among GOP insiders, despite his continued popularity among much of the Republican base.
Extremist core turns back on Trump
He may also have to do without the support of some of his most militant fans, who have apparently lost faith in Trump just weeks after spearheading the attack on the Capitol to support his unfounded claims of election fraud. The militant right-wing extremist group Proud Boys, who have seen several members arrested for their role in the insurrection, has now turned on Trump, labeling him “a total failure”.
The same is true for adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Members of these groups were disappointed when the off-the-wall prophecies of the mysterious “Q” went unfulfilled. At the beginning of Trump’s presidency, Q published cryptic posts on social media site 4Chan, claiming Trump was working behind the scenes to take down a powerful global cabal of Satan-worshipping child molesters. The posts asserted a wave of mass arrests of Democrats and prominent public figures (termed “The Storm”) would take place before Trump left office. When this failed to materialize, it left the theories adherents feeling betrayed.
Trump’s legal troubles will not end with the Senate hearing. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stated in an interview that Trump may be an “accessory to murder” due to his role in provoking the deadly attack on the Capitol. If the Senate trial finds him culpable, this could open Trump up to further criminal charges.
Attorney Roberta Kaplan is also hoping to depose Trump in connection with three civil cases. Kaplan is representing Trump rape accuser E. Jean Carroll in a defamation suit against Trump, who said Carroll was “totally lying” when she went public with her accusation. Carroll and her attorney are also hoping to obtain a DNA sample from Trump to compare to genetic material evidence from the attack.
Kaplan’s second client is Trump’s niece Mary Trump, who published a tell-all book about the President. While in office, Trump publicly slammed his niece and her accusations and attempted to halt publication of her book. Investors in ACN, a marketing company promoted by Trump and his three eldest children, have also secured Kaplan’s services. The investors are suing for losses after the Trumps misrepresented its promise as an investment opportunity.
Trapped Chinese miners: at least 15 more days to rescue
Twelve gold miners already trapped underground for 11 days will have to wait at least two more weeks for rescue, according to experts. The 12 men and ten others became trapped after an explosion blocked exits from the mine. Ten days later, rescuers were able to make contact with the 12, but the fate of their colleagues remain unknown. Rescuers have been able to deliver food and medical supplies. The miners thanked the rescuers for the supplies they sent down, but also requested rice porridge and sausages.
Some of the miners are weak and injured, with one having lapsed into a coma after a head injury. The rock around the shaft where the men are is solid granite, which is slowing rescue efforts.
Baghdad market blast kills 28
Two suicide bombs have ripped through a market in the heart of the Iraqi capital, killing at least 28 people. This is the first deadly suicide bombing to hit Baghdad in nearly 3 years. The attack illustrates recent declines in Iraq’s security situation. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but blame will likely fall on ISIS. Both US and Iraqi forces in the country have recently refocused their efforts on fighting Iran-backed militias active in the country. Rocket attacks on US targets, including the US embassy and a military base have been publicly blamed on the Iranian militias, despite internal Iraqi security assessments that placed ISIS as the most likely culprits. It can hardly be a coincidence that the attack happened one day after President Biden took office. The jihadists may be hoping that Biden will reverse Trump’s gradual drawdown of US troops in the country to give them more high-value targets.
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