Bearing Witness to Good News February 2021

It’s hard to beat the refreshingly different, good news from last month that started coming from Washington DC  but there is still plenty much to be thankful for this month.

New COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths due to the devastating third wave are quickly falling across the US and world. Nearly 50 million people in the US have now received at least one vaccination shot as the rate exceeds 2 million shots a day. A third vaccine from J&J has been approved by the FDA, and is especially good news as it only requires one shot and does not need extra cold storage and distribution. Read more in this month’s Bearing Witness to the Pandemic.

In his first visit to the State Department to help rebuild morale wrecked by Trump and his several Secretary of States, President Biden condemned Russian President Putin for cracking down on protestors and jailing opposition leader Alexei Novalny. More important is that Biden announced a halt in the US support for Saudi Arabia’s five-year military action against Yemen which has created a humanitarian crises and numerous deaths at the end of US-made planes and bombs. The President ordered an end to the sale of arms used by Saudi military against one of the poorest country in the Middle East.  Biden said “this war has to end.”

The Biden Administration announced plans to increase the limits in admissions to the US by refugees escaping violence and oppression. It had been only 15,000 under former President Trump, but will now rise to 125,000. Most refugees admitted to the US have been victims of wars, famine, disasters, and violence in their home countries.

Biden spoke frankly with the American people about a new security threat when he indicated former President Trump should not continue to receive classified intelligence briefings now that he is out of office. Does anyone believe Trump could be trusted with what he learns and not leverage it for his own personal benefit? Especially given his cozy relationship with Russia, combined with a business debt estimated at $400 million.

House Democrats voted to strip controversial Representative Marjorie Taylor Green of her committee assignments. The new Congresswomen had previously supported QAnon conspiracies, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic attacks, threatening violence against other House members including Speaker Pelosi, and went so far to question 9/11 and school shootings like Parkland.

Biden announced he was stopping the withdrawal of 15,000 troops from our NATO bases in Germany as part of his effort to bolster NATO and our European relationships harmed during the Trump years.

In a remarkable feat of technology and optimism, NASA landed the Perseverance spacecraft and rover on the Martian surface after a 300 million mile voyage to the red planet. Science, engineering, facts, and truth prevailed without a hitch. Did we ever need something positive to remind us of what the best and brightest of America can accomplish!

The Supreme Court said it would not halt the turnover of former President Trump’s tax records to a prosecutor in New York State investigating the ex-president for tax fraud.

New unemployment claims in the US are finally falling; declining by over 100,000 from the previous month. The economy was said to have grown by over 4% in the final quarter of 2020.

The House passed a $1.9 trillion relief package to keep the economic recovery going as well as funding a war-time like effort, the vaccination program.

The ACA Healthcare market for subsidized insurance reopened for new enrollments. This could help out as many as 33 million people who remain uninsured, many of them due to loss of employment because of the pandemic economy. The administration said it will place extra emphasis on reaching out to Black and Hispanic communities.

President Biden has launched a new era of telephone diplomacy to build stronger alliances with our friends and put our adversaries on notice. Formal briefings to prepare for the calls are now being routinely held, unlike in the Trump administration which disdained preparation, as the results prove.

On the third anniversary of the Parkland Florida school shooting, President Biden released  a statement honoring the 17 victims. And instead of offering hollow prayers and thoughts, he proposed tougher new gun laws including background checks on all gun sales and banning assault weapons.

The President declared an end to the Trumped-up national emergency at the southern border. This has the affect of redirecting defense dollars back to the Pentagon and away from wall construction.

The new administration said it would reengage the UN Human Rights Council that the former president had withdrawn the US from three years ago.

Biden has indicated his support to create a commission that would study possible reparations to Black Americans. The merits of such an study have become more obvious after the recent years of brutality by police against mostly innocent Blacks as well as racial disparities exposed by the COVID crisis.

The administration lifted the freeze on issuance of new green cards that was put into place by Trump. The new president also unveiled his vision on how to reform US immigration policies and undo some 1,000 measures the Trump administration had undertaken to make it more difficult. It proposes to open up a legal path to citizenship for several million undocumented immigrants already in the US. The plan would provide green cards to Dreamers; children who came to the US with their parents and feared deportation under the Trump administration. Biden had previously removed a ban which targeted mostly Muslims from Africa.

To help poor countries combat the pandemic, the administration announced it would start releasing $4 billion of aid to help with international purchases and distribution of vaccines. Biden also said the us would begin participating in the WHO COVAX initiative to improve vaccine access; another program Trump withdrew the US from.

The administration announced it was ready to reenter into negotiations with Iran on the 2015 nuclear deal which Trump has trashed.

The White House announced said it was seeking to close the US base in Guantanamo, Cuba. The base has held suspected terrorists for nearly two decades, ironically, in a communist nation and legal no-mans land where the laws and human rights protections of any country, including those of the US, could not reach.

The White House said it would begin reviewing the deportations of military veterans and their families who served our country but were not yet naturalized citizens. During the Trump administration some veterans had their applications rejected due to stricter enforcement of immigration policies.

In an ever so refreshing change, Biden’s first thirty days in office ends without any turmoil, meltdowns, disparaging tweets, resignations, firings, lying, scandals, bullying, criminal behavior, bad breaking news, or new crises. Our evening network news has returned to covering mundane and uneventful news like the weather and car crashes. Weekends around Washington as well as the rest of American are said to be tranquil and relaxing for everyone.

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.

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