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HeadlinesJanuary 26, 2021

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House Delivers Article of Impeachment to Senate, Triggering Trump’s Second Trial

Jan 26, 2021

House impeachment managers have delivered an article of impeachment to the Senate, charging Donald J. Trump with “incitement of insurrection.” On Monday evening, the nine impeachment managers walked the article through National Statuary Hall and the Capitol Rotunda to the Senate, where on January 6 a violent mob incited by President Trump attacked police officers, looted lawmakers’ offices and delayed the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. The violence left five people dead.

Maryland Congressmember Jamie Raskin, who will lead the prosecution against Trump, read the article of impeachment to the Senate.  

Rep. Jamie Raskin: “Donald John Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy of Vermont will preside over Trump’s impeachment trial — not John Roberts, the Supreme Court’s chief justice. The trial is set to begin on February 9.

Inspector General to Probe Whether DOJ Officials Worked with Trump to Overturn Election

Jan 26, 2021

The Justice Department’s inspector general has announced plans to investigate whether any current or former officials at the Justice Department worked with President Trump in his failed attempt to overturn the 2020 election. This comes just days after The New York Times revealed Trump considered replacing acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with another DOJ official, Jeffrey Clark, who embraced Trump’s conspiracy theories about the election.

Dominion Voting Systems Sues Rudy Giuliani for Lying About 2020 Election

Jan 26, 2021

In related news, Dominion Voting Systems has sued Trump’s lawyer Rudolph Giuliani for $1.3 billion, accusing the former New York mayor of manufacturing and disseminating conspiracy theories about the company’s voting machines.

President Biden Increases U.S. Vaccination Goal to 150 Million Shots in 100 Days

Jan 26, 2021

President Joe Biden said Monday his administration would increase its COVID-19 vaccination goal — from 100 million shots in the first 100 days to 150 million shots. That’s enough to vaccinate 75 million people, a little less than a quarter of the U.S. population.

Here in New York, health officials have delayed opening COVID-19 mass vaccination sites at the Yankees’ and Mets’ baseball stadiums and on Staten Island due to supply shortages.

California’s Governor Lifts Stay-at-Home Orders Even as Many ICUs Remain Full

Jan 26, 2021

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom has lifted strict stay-at-home orders put in place in December. California’s coronavirus cases are down from a massive surge over the holidays, but the state is still reporting over 25,000 new cases per day, and many intensive care units are at or near capacity.

Another 1,800 U.S. residents died of COVID-19 on Monday, pushing the U.S. death toll past 421,000.

President Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Monday that, under President Trump, efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus were devastated by anti-mask and anti-social-distancing rhetoric. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci: “When public health issues become politically charged, like wearing a mask or not becomes a political statement, you cannot imagine how destructive that is to any unified public health message.”

Moderna Prepares Modified COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Amid Concerns over New Variants

Jan 26, 2021

In more vaccine news, Moderna said Monday its COVID-19 vaccine is effective at preventing disease in people infected with new variants of the coronavirus. But Moderna warned the vaccine appears to be less potent against one variant, first discovered in South Africa. Moderna says it’s working on a modified booster shot in case it’s needed to combat the South African variant or other lineages that might evolve further resistance to human immune responses.

Meanwhile, drugmaker Merck has abandoned research into COVID-19 vaccines after two of its candidates failed to provoke a strong immune response in patients enrolled in clinical trials.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell Drops Demand to Preserve Filibuster

Jan 26, 2021

On Capitol Hill, Senator Mitch McConnell has dropped his demand that Democrats promise to preserve the filibuster, ending a standoff over a power-sharing deal between the two parties over how to run the divided chamber. McConnell made the announcement after two Democrats — West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema — expressed opposition to getting rid of the filibuster, which has been used over the years to uphold slavery and fight civil rights legislation.

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President Biden Reverses Trump’s Transgender Military Service Ban

Jan 26, 2021

President Biden has signed an executive order repealing the Trump administration’s ban on transgender people serving in the military. Biden also ordered the Pentagon to review the files of troops who were forced out because of the ban and to immediately halt discharges of transgender troops now serving. Lieutenant Colonel Bree Fram, vice president of the transgender military advocacy organization SPART*A, welcomed the news. 

Lt. Col. Bree Fram: “We believe, with four or eight more years of open service, looking back, you’ll see a military without transgender people just as unconscionable as one would be without other minorities that are serving today.”

Puerto Rico’s governor has declared a state of emergency over gender-based violence, following at least 60 incidents of femicide reported in 2020. Six of the murders were of trans women.

Meanwhile, right-wing state lawmakers in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota are pushing a number of new anti-trans bills. We’ll have more on the fight over trans rights after headlines with the ACLU’s Chase Strangio.

Senate Confirms Janet Yellen as Treasury Secretary

Jan 26, 2021

The Senate has voted to confirm Janet Yellen to be treasury secretary, making her the first woman to ever hold the post. During her confirmation hearing, the former Federal Reserve chair urged lawmakers to “act big” on the next COVID-19 relief package.

Janet Yellen: “The smartest thing we can do is act big. In the long run, I believe the benefits will far outweigh the costs, especially if we care about helping people who’ve been struggling for a very long time.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Backs Tony Blinken for Secretary of State

Jan 26, 2021

The Senate is also expected to confirm Tony Blinken to be secretary of state today, after he received the support of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday. During his confirmation hearing, Blinken backed the Trump administration’s hard-line approach on China and Venezuela, including recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s president.

Blinken also said the U.S. would move to end its support of the Saudi-led war in Yemen. During the Obama administration, Blinken traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2015 to expedite weapons deliveries shortly after Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen began.

As Yemenis Protest U.S. Blacklisting of Houthis, Canadians Act to Halt Saudi Arms Sales

Jan 26, 2021

In Yemen, tens of thousands of protesters marched in the capital Sana’a Monday, condemning former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s designation of Houthi rebels as a terrorist organization. Aid groups warn the designation will only exacerbate Yemen’s humanitarian crisis — already the worst in the world, with millions facing famine.

In Ontario, Canada, antiwar activists held a nonviolent civil disobedience protest Monday, sitting in the path of trucks carrying armored vehicles bound for Saudi Arabia. It was part of a global day of action against the war in Yemen. This is Rachel Small, an organizer with the group World Beyond War. 

Rachel Small: “We’re here today demanding that Canada cancel its arms trade to Saudi Arabia, that companies such as Paddock Transport International, who ships the arms, GDLS, who produces the tanks — we’re demanding that they immediately stop being complicit in arming Saudi Arabia and sending weapons to the worst humanitarian situation on the planet.”

Eritrean Soldiers in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region Accused of Murder, Looting and Sexual Assault

Jan 26, 2021

In Ethiopia, jarring witness accounts are emerging of the involvement of Eritrean soldiers in the deadly conflict in the northern Tigray region. Survivors told the Associated Press that Eritrean soldiers looted homes and broke into houses searching for and killing Tigrayan men and boys. They’re also accused of targeting thousands of refugees and sexually assaulting people. Thousands of Eritrean soldiers have fought on the side of Ethiopian armed forces in the bloody conflict that started in November.

Humanitarian aid workers warned earlier this month that hundreds of thousands of people in the Tigray region could “starve to death,” as shops were depleted of food weeks ago and nearly all of the region’s population — some 4.5 million people — need emergency food aid.

U.S. Plans Curbs to Oil and Gas Leasing as Satellite Data Show Massive Loss of Earth’s Ice Sheets

Jan 26, 2021

In climate news, a satellite survey by British researchers finds Earth’s ice sheets lost 28 trillion metric tons between 1994 and 2017 due to global heating from human activity. That’s enough to cover the state of Michigan with a sheet of ice 100 meters thick.

This comes as the White House is preparing to announce several executive actions Wednesday meant to mitigate the climate crisis, including a ban on some new oil and gas leases on federal land.

On Monday, U.S. climate ambassador John Kerry told world leaders at the United Nations Climate Adaptation Summit that he was proud the U.S. had rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement. Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the news.  

Ban Ki-moon: “This means the multilateralism which has been in disarray during the last four years is now back.”

U.N. Labor Body Says the Pandemic Cost Workers $3.7 Trillion in Lost Wages 

Jan 26, 2021

The International Labour Organization warns wages fell by $3.7 trillion in 2020, with the coronavirus pandemic eliminating the equivalent of more than a quarter-billion full-time jobs. Job losses around the world were four times worse last year than during the global financial crisis that began in 2007.

This comes as the International Chamber of Commerce is warning vaccine nationalism could cost the global economy $9.2 trillion if governments fail to provide poorer nations with access to COVID-19 vaccines. Nearly half of the losses would impact wealthier countries.

Lawmakers Call on President Biden to Commute Death Sentences of Federal Prisoners

Jan 26, 2021

At least three dozen lawmakers are appealing to President Biden to commute the sentences of the 50 people on federal death row. In a letter spearheaded by Congressmembers Cori Bush and Ayanna Pressley, the lawmakers write, “The legacy President Trump left behind is one of carnage and unrestrained violence that must be rectified immediately.” Biden vowed during his campaign to end capital punishment. Congressmember Pressley and Senator Dick Durbin have also introduced bills to ban the federal death penalty.

New York Times Denies It Fired Editor Lauren Wolfe “Over a Single Tweet” Favorable to Biden

Jan 26, 2021

In media news, The New York Times is facing mounting criticism for firing editor and award-winning journalist Lauren Wolfe allegedly after Wolfe tweeted she had “chills” while watching President Biden’s plane land at Joint Base Andrews on the eve of his inauguration.

The New York Times has disputed this, saying Wolfe was a freelancer and not a full-time employee, and that she wasn’t laid off “over a single tweet.” But the paper offered no other explanation for its decision to terminate Wolfe. Journalists from across the country condemned Wolfe’s firing.

Author Jillian York wrote on Twitter, “The fact that Tom Friedman can spout absolute warmongering nonsense about the Middle East for decades but NYT fires Lauren Wolfe over a single tweet tells you everything you need to know about the New York Times.”

Biden Restores Plan to Feature Abolitionist Harriet Tubman on $20 Bill

Jan 26, 2021

President Biden has revived efforts to place abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. The plan was announced by the Obama administration in 2016 but was delayed until 2028 by the Trump administration, citing “technical issues.” Tubman would be the first Black woman to be placed on U.S. currency, replacing former President Andrew Jackson, who enslaved over 100 people.

The move was met with mixed responses as racial justice advocates on social media argued the U.S. government should prioritize economic justice for the Black community. Screenwriter Kashana Cauley tweeted, “Unfortunately, due to the black women pay gap, if we put Harriet Tubman on the $20 it’ll only be worth $12.20.”

Indigenous Authors of “We Are Water Protectors” Win Caldecott Prize 

Jan 26, 2021

The American Library Association has awarded a Caldecott Medal to the children’s picture book “We Are Water Protectors” — marking the first time in history Indigenous people are recognized with the award. The book was illustrated by Tlingit artist Michaela Goade and written by Carole Lindstrom of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe. The book tells the story of a young woman resisting the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.     

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