With Trump finally out of office and the Democrats in control of both chambers in Congress, good things and good news are happening at a breathtaking pace. That is, when you are brave enough to look for and see the light – as Poet Amanda Gorman challenged us to do in the inauguration ceremonies – and at least for a moment ignore the darkness of the COVID pandemic, economic recession, climate change, racial injustice, growing inequality, erosion of democracy, and other crises. Here’s a few good news items from January 2021.
Democracy prevailed with the inauguration of President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, despite the numerous corrupt and illegal attempts of a deluded aspiring autocrat and his unpatriotic sycophants who did everything possible to subvert his election loss.
Both liberal and conservative media applauded President Biden for one of the best inauguration addresses in over a century; one which called for unity, truth, and healing.
A young Black poet, Amanda Gorman, warmed the hearts and souls of a distressed nation when she recited her magnificent poem “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration. The whole ceremony, held on the steps of the same Capitol Building that was attacked exactly two weeks before, was one of great dignity, civility and respect by all sides.
Senator Kamala Harris became the first female Vice President and the first person of Asian and African descent to sit in such a high office. She represents what makes America truly remarkable in that the daughter of a South Asian immigrant single mother could rise to become Vice President of the United States.
Former President Trump was finally silenced as he left the White House, left Washington DC and was removed from Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets for inciting violence. The evening news cycle no longer begins with what outrageous things Trump said or did or lied about. My four years and 208 weeks of chronicling his sickening term in office in Bearing Witness to Trump is finally over.
Pet dogs have returned to the White House after four years. The Biden’s have brought two German Shepherds, Major and Champ, one a very lucky rescue, into their new home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Daily press briefings have resumed in the White House, led by a highly credible Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who pledged to restore trust in the office which was eroded by the constant lying of the previous White House. Regular briefings have also resumed at the State Department and by the Pandemic Task Force where statesmen and scientists alike now feel free to level with the truth to the American people The press is no longer considered to be and treated like the enemy of the people by the White House and federal government.
The ban on transgender individuals from serving in the US military was reversed by the new administration.
Biden ended Trump’s 1776 Commission which distorted the history of slavery in the US. He also ordered that federal agencies root out systemic racism and discrimination based on LGBT gender identification.
The new president ordered protection for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals at the border, and that a path path to citizenship be provided for dreamers, the children of undocumented immigrants. He also ordered a halt to the construction of the ineffective southern border wall.
There is a widespread decline in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from the Coronavirus pandemic. And vaccination rates are finally rapidly accelerating with Biden promising 100 million in the first 100 days.
The President ordered that masks be worn by the public in transportation, and by all people at federal facilities across the country.
As part of the pandemic relief, a moratorium was placed on evictions of renters, foreclosures on federally guaranteed home mortgages, and on federal student loan interest and payments.
The President had the ACA/Obamacare health insurance exchange markets reopened for enrollment by the millions who have suffered during the recession and pandemic. Biden previously said he would work to restore all the features of ACA which were under constant attack for four years by the Trump administration.
The President rescinded a policy that barred domestic and international nonprofit welfare and humanitarian aid organizations from receiving any federal aide or funding if they provided abortion counseling or referrals.
The White House directed Federal Agencies to review policies and rules that discouraged support of Medicaid state programs for the poor.
President Biden had a long overdue frank phone call with Russian President Putin where he was said to pressure the Russians on a number of concerns including election interference, security cyber hacks, Ukraine, and treatment of Russian dissidents like Alexie Navalny. Biden and Putin also came to agreement to extend the New Start nuclear arms control agreement which Trump had vowed to let expire and which could have unleashed another arms race.
President Biden asked the Dept. of Justice to end the use of private for-profit prisons. He also instructed the DOJ to seek out and remedy housing discrimination against minorities.
The second impeachment of Donald J. Trump for inciting an insurrection is headed to the Senate after passing out of the House.
The FBI has now rounded up several hundred violent protesters, rioters, and insurrectionists from one of the saddest and most embarrassing days in American history. Many who now claim as their defense that they came to Washington, marched to the Capitol and fought to take their country back because President Trump told them to do so.
The DOJ Inspector General has launched an investigation into whether its own staff members had any role in attempting to overturn or subvert the 2020 election results.
The proposed $1.9 trillion COVID financial aid relief package includes help for small businesses, the unemployed, schools, health care workers, and for vaccine distribution. It also includes help for an estimated 17 million low-wage workers, many who are in essential jobs, by raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15.
The President continues to build out his cabinet with senior personnel who actually have relevant experience, unlike most of their predecessors appointed by Trump. The new Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who served as deputy secretary of state under Obama, said he was going to rebuild the foreign services and restore the role of diplomacy and the US global standing.
Biden said he would restore relations with the Palestinians and renew aid to refugees who had been ignored by the Trump administration in its pandering to Israel.
Slavery abolitionist Harriet Tubman will soon be the first Black person on the face of American currency, the $20 bill.
The Defense Department has ordered that special operation forces create oversight programs to ensure that they are following legal rules of combat engagement, and do not commit war crimes such as those that were celebrated and granted clemency by Trump.
On the first day of his administration, Biden had the US rejoined the Paris Climate Accord after Trump removed us from last year. The new administration has issued a number of executive orders to help combat climate change including a moratorium on new oil and gas leases and permits on federal lands, and killing the Keystone XL pipeline.
These actions created the space and timing for General Motors to announce it was going all in on zero carbon electric vehicles by phasing out production of fossil-fuel burning cars and trucks by 2035.
All this was just the one month of January, 2021! What a relief it is to finally have adults back in leadership positions. Exhale.
The above news items have been taken from a number of local, regional, national and international news media including print, broadcast, and digital sources, but no social media. Additional editorial opinions and comments about these news items are those of this author.