National News, Thursday, Jan. 21 – President Biden Moves With Executive Orders On His Busy First Day in Office

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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Biden Moves to Jump-Start Covid Fight With A Long List of Executive Orders on day one in the White House

Under new commands, face masks are required in airports and certain public transportation, including many trains, ships, intercity buses and airplanes per President Biden.

WASHINGTON D.C. —President Joe Biden was busy signing 10 executive orders on his first full day in office to combat the Coronavirus and jump-start the response to the pandemic while warning it will take “many months to get where we need to be.”

 His plan is to ramp up vaccinations and attempt to curb the spread of the virus through mask wearing, testing data and treatments, and includes the executive orders and directives signed Thursday.

One order directs agencies to use their authority, including the Defense Production Act, to meet shortfalls in supplies such as masks, while another establishes a pandemic testing board to expand testing supply and access.

Another order requires masks in airports and in certain types of public transportation such as many trains, ships, intercity buses and airplanes.

Mr. Biden says he will expand health coverage and overhauling immigration laws while at the same time, fighting the pandemic.

“We’re in a dark winter of this pandemic,” said Mr. Biden, warning that the situation will get worse before it gets better. He said he expected the U.S. death toll to top 500,000 next month.  Still, he promised, “Help is on the way.”

Health experts both inside and outside the new administration agree that while accelerating vaccinations will help restore normalcy and spur momentum of his agenda, that failing to slow the spread of Covid-19 could overshadow his presidency.

Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard University, said, “Dealing with Covid and the economic recovery is the thing that will make the presidency in the next two years and into the 2024 election.” He added, “If it doesn’t get better, people are going to hold the administration accountable.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Mr. Biden’s top medical adviser on Covid-19, said Thursday the new administration was ramping up the federal response to the pandemic while also building on steps taken by the Trump administration.

“We certainly are not starting from scratch,” Dr. Fauci said at a briefing alongside White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “We’re coming in with fresh ideas, but also some ideas that were not bad ideas with the previous administration.”

Mr. Biden’s national strategy announced includes quick action to curb the virus in his first 100 days, including a federal mask mandate, the administration of 100 million vaccines, the establishment of 100 federally supported vaccination centers, and reopening of most kindergarten-through-eighth-grade schools.

For households, the Biden plan calls for a round of $1,400-per-person direct payments to most Americans, a $400-a-week unemployment insurance supplement through September, expanded paid leave and increases in the child tax credit.

The budget package would include $50 billion to increase coronavirus testing, including at schools, as well as federal funds for states, a national vaccination program, disaster relief, expansion of the public-health workforce.

The virus has spawned more transmissible variants that could further strain hospitals. More than 24 million people in the U.S. have been infected with Covid-19 and 402,400 have died as of Jan. 20, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 16.5 million vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S. so far.

“The most important challenge and one Biden campaigned on is he’s going to try and unify us around a common national goal,” according to a senior administration official.

Mr. Biden wants Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion economic relief plan against a backdrop of an already large federal deficit.  Some Republicans have already dismissed the spending plan, and Mr. Biden will need bipartisan support in the evenly divided Senate, where legislation must clear a 60-vote threshold.

“Blasting out another $2 trillion in borrowed or printed money—when the ink on December’s $1 trillion aid bill is barely dry and much of the money is not yet spent—would be a colossal waste and economically harmful,” said GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

President Biden To Rejoin Paris Climate Accord.

President Biden’s move to rejoin the Paris climate accord within hours of his inauguration was welcomed by world leaders, but meeting the U.S.’s commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions promises to be challenging.

Mr. Biden has pledged to take significant steps to address what he has described as a climate-change crisis. He proposed to limit power plants’ emissions in the short term and set the industry on the path to becoming carbon free by 2035.

On his first day, he took steps to limit the oil-and-gas industry’s methane emissions and he has vowed to boost electric-vehicle adoption by adding 500,000 new charging outlets by 2030.

Those actions could face judicial challenges and pushback from industry groups that represent certain fossil-fuel interests.  Pursuing his agenda also will require Mr. Biden to obtain, in some cases, congressional approval or changes to tax law. His infrastructure package also could help re-establish the U.S. as a leader on climate initiatives, but enacting this ambitious legislation could be difficult after asking Congress to approve considerable expenditures to fight Covid-19.

In the latest act of an inauguration-during-a-pandemic weirdness, President Joe Biden on Wednesday swore in nearly 1,000 new appointees to his administration during a giant Zoom call, complete with a big workplace warning.

The president told his new administration — including White House staff and agency workers — that anyone caught being disrespectful to a colleague would be immediately fired. “I’m not joking when I say this. If you are ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, [or] talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot. “No ifs, ands, or buts. Everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity…”

… President Biden added: “People don’t work for us, we work for the people.”

Wednesday night’s Powerball was $730 million. Friday night’s Mega Millions is worth $970 million.

A red kangaroo born at a New York zoo is drawing attention for a highly unusual feature. The Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville said the joey born recently to parents Rosie and Boomer was removed from its mother’s pouch for a medical inspection late last week, and zookeepers were shocked to see its fur was completely white. The zoo said the coloration was the result of by a rare mutation called leucism, which causes a partial loss of pigmentation.

The zoo said the baby’s eyes have black pigmentation, meaning the animal is leucistic rather than albino. • IMAGE

The word “friend” has always had a tricky meaning. We love to make others believe we have lots of friends. Then we sit at home on a Saturday night, staring at our phones and wondering why we have nowhere to go. How many of your Facebook friends would, though, come through if you needed, you know, a real friend?

Robin Dunbar, emeritus professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University, thought he’d find out. He wondered whether services such as Facebook really did allow humans to maintain much larger social networks. His conclusion: We might have 150 or even 5,000 Facebook friends, but our true relationship with the majority of these people is essentially insignificant. In his study, the average number of Facebook friends possessed by subjects was around 150. When asked how many of these Facebook friends they could depend on during an emotional or social crisis, the respondents said the number was four.

Almost half of adults have been left red-faced on a date, with forgetting the other person’s name, spilling a drink and bumping into an ex among the most cringe-worthy moments. And with face-to-face dating taking a backseat during the pandemic, more than a tenth of adults have even experienced a humiliating moment on a virtual date.

… The survey revealed adults’ most embarrassing dating moments. The top ten: Awkward silences; forgetting their name; mistiming a hug or kiss; falling down/tripping; spilling a drink on your clothes; spilling food on yourself; bumping into an ex; calling them the wrong name; telling a joke but it not landing; farting.

The National Football League announced its officiating crew for Super Bowl 55 and Sarah Thomas is set to make history when kickoff takes place on February 7. She will serve as the game’s down judge, making her the first female to officiate the NFL Championship in the league’s history. Thomas, a 47-year-old from Pascagoula, Mississippi, has served in her position for the last four years.

A California man has pled guilty to the charge of hitting a Police Helicopter with his drone. The crime of unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft carries up to one year in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

… Andrew Hernandez is accused of flying his drone into a police helicopter after launching the gadget in an attempt to see a crime scene near his Hollywood home in September of last year. According to the plea agreement, he flew the drone into the path of a police helicopter that was in the process of responding to a burglary and hit its fuselage, forcing it to make an emergency landing.

Why do we miss tapping away on our laptops in a public setting? Why, when things settle down, would we bother going back out to work in places like coffee shops only to isolate ourselves with our heads down and headphones on?

… Scientists have known for years that background noise can benefit our creative thinking. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research showed that a low-to-moderate level of ambient noise in a place like a coffee shop can actually boost your creative output. The idea is that if you’re very slightly distracted from the task at hand by ambient stimuli, it boosts your abstract thinking ability, which can lead to more creative idea generation.

… Another study from 2019, which had similar findings, zeroes in on what’s called “stochastic resonance”: originally observed in animals, it’s the phenomenon in which just the right amount of noise benefits our senses. And while that ‘Goldilocks’ level of noise is different for everyone, audio stimuli in the background also help us improve decision making.

… And while the stereotypical coffee-shop user might be a lone worker struggling with a creative project, experts say these café settings can also benefit work groups who are brainstorming and building camaraderie. There is an implied formality when gathering on digital meeting platforms. By contrast, there is an air of informality when meeting up at a bar or café.

The average unemployed job seeker has unsuccessfully applied for 16 different jobs during the pandemic. A survey of 2,000 employed and unemployed adults currently looking for a job found eight in 10 have attributed a downturn in their mental well-being to the search for a new role. Of these, 45 percent feel their motivation has been damaged by the process, while 38 percent said their self-esteem and morale were hit as a result. And another 44 percent have also seen their confidence levels nosedive thanks to their search for a new job.

The dampening in confidence has resulted in 28 percent lying to friends or family members about how many roles they have applied for.

People size you up in seconds, but what exactly are they evaluating? A Harvard Business School professor (Amy Cuddy) studied first impressions and found patterns in these interactions. In her book, Presence, Cuddy says people quickly answer two questions when they first meet you:

• Can I trust this person?
• Can I respect this person?

… Psychologists refer to these dimensions as warmth and competence respectively, and ideally you want to be perceived as having both.

… Cuddy says MBA interns are often so concerned about coming across as smart and competent that it can lead them to skip social events, not ask for help, and generally come off as unapproachable. These overachievers are in for a rude awakening when they don’t get the job offer because nobody got to know and trust them as people.

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