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Biden Moves To Have U.S. Rejoin Climate Accord

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 7:51pm
Updated 5:45pm Eastern Time In one of his first acts in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to have the United States rejoin the Paris climate agreement, the largest international effort to curb global warming. The U.S. officially withdrew from the accord to limit climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions late last year, after President Donald Trump began the process in 2017. It is the only country of the nearly 200 signatories that has withdrawn. Biden vowed to sign on Inauguration Day the documents needed to rejoin the agreement. The U.S. played a large role in creating the 2015 agreement. It aims to avoid the most catastrophic climate change scenarios by keeping average global temperatures from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably less than 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100, compared to pre-industrial times. Global temperatures have already increased by a little more than one degree Celsius. "The window for meaningful action is now very narrow –

Senate Confirms Avril Haines As Director Of National Intelligence

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 7:45pm
The Senate has voted to confirm Avril Haines to be director of national intelligence, making her President Biden's first Cabinet-level official to receive Senate confirmation. The vote was 84-10. Her confirmation comes after Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., briefly held up the process, asking for a written response from her about a question during her confirmation hearing a day earlier. "I no longer object," Cotton said Wednesday evening, noting that Haines had provided him with a response. "In her open session yesterday, she gave an answer in response to Sen. [Ron] Wyden that suggested the intelligence community might reopen investigations into detention interrogation programs from 2001 to 2006," Cotton said. "She clarified in the private setting that she had no intention to open up those investigations and expose operations officers inside the CIA to criminal prosecution, or adverse employment action, or even holding it against them in potential future promotions or placements." Sen. Marco

Los Angeles Voters On Their Hopes For New Administration

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 7:31pm
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST: This afternoon, Vice President Harris and President Biden visited Arlington National Cemetery, where they laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And not long after, President Biden headed to the White House for his first day as its new resident. For more on today's events, we are joined by White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez, congressional correspondent Kelsey Snell and political correspondent Mara Liasson. Welcome to all three of you. FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hello. KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Good evening. MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Happy to be here. KELLY: Mara, we just heard there a bit of Biden's speech earlier today. What was his overall inaugural message? LIASSON: The message had two parts. One was familiar. It's what he ran on; the country needs to unify and heal. He said, we have to put an end to this uncivil war. He asked people to lower the temperature and listen to each other. He said politics doesn't have

What Europe Expects From The Biden Administration

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 7:31pm
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST: Joe Biden assumes the presidency at a time of historic domestic challenges - international challenges too, as the president addressed this afternoon. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again not to meet yesterday's challenges but today's and tomorrow's challenges. KELLY: The Biden administration will have a lot of work ahead to repair alliances, particularly in Europe, where President Trump viewed some fellow NATO members as freeloaders. And he called the European Union, the EU, a foe. Well, for more on the view from Europe, let's go to London, which is where we find our London correspondent, Frank Langfitt. Hey, Frank. FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Hi, Mary Louise. KELLY: Are Europeans paying very close attention to... LANGFITT: Oh, yeah. KELLY: ...Today's events? Yeah, what's been the reaction? LANGFITT: (Laughter) Absolutely. And they've been

Pandemic Drastically Cut Emissions From Cars. The Lone Exception? SUVs

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 7:00pm
Last year, as pandemic lockdowns put travel on hold, wealthy countries reduced their environmentally-harmful emissions in almost every sector of their economies. There was one exception ... one big, road-hogging, gas-guzzling exception. According to a recent report from International Energy Agency , carbon emissions from SUVs increased by 0.5% in 2020, even though the world's energy-related emissions overall fell by 7%. SUVs are less fuel efficient than smaller, lighter and more aerodynamic cars. They're also highly profitable for automakers and highly popular with consumers. The combined force of buyer preference and manufacturer incentives has led to a huge boom in the bigger vehicles — and sales stayed surprisingly strong in 2020. The result? Rising emissions from SUVs. The increase in the number of SUVs on the road was so dramatic that — even though lockdowns caused the number of miles driven per vehicle, on average, to go down — the total consumption of oil by SUVs still went up,

China Slaps Sanctions On 28 Trump Administration Officials, Including Mike Pompeo

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 6:48pm
China imposed sanctions Wednesday on 28 former Trump administration officials, including outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In a statement released just minutes after President Biden took office, China's foreign ministry said it had decided to sanction those "who have seriously violated China's sovereignty and who have been mainly responsible for such U.S. moves on China-related issues." The list of names features former Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar; former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro; former national security adviser Robert O'Brien; Kelly Craft, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and Matthew Pottinger, who recently resigned as deputy national security adviser. Former national security adviser John Bolton and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon were also included. The sanctions prohibit those individuals and their immediate family members from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao. They are also restricted from doing

Toxic Pesticide Faces New Scrutiny From Biden Administration

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 6:33pm
President Biden's initial wave of planned executive actions includes an order to reexamine one controversial, but widely used, pesticide called chlorpyrifos. The Trump administration had stepped in to keep the chemical on the market after Obama-era officials tried to ban it. It's just one in a long list of science-related Trump administration actions that the incoming Biden team will now revisit. In a statement, Biden promised to take a close look at all policies "that were harmful to public health, damaging to the environment, unsupported by the best available science, or otherwise not in the national interest." Farmers use chlorpyrifos to control insects on a wide variety of crops, including corn, apples, and vegetables. It is among the most toxic pesticides. Workers exposed to it can experience dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Most indoor uses of the pesticide were halted in 2001. More recently, however, researchers at Columbia University studied health records from women who'd

Brown Girls Book Club Comes Together To Celebrate And Watch Historic Inauguration

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:34pm
They gathered long distance via Zoom, garlanded with pearls in homage to Kamala Harris's signature neckwear, and with champagne bottles ready to pop. Eight Black women, who for the past 25 years have belonged to what they call the Brown Girls Book Club, could not miss the opportunity to join together for this historic moment: the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, who becomes the first woman, first African American, and first Asian American vice president. "I need this moment for me," said Vivian Wallace-Llodra, 50, a senior content strategist with JP Morgan Chase in New York, who sported a T-shirt reading "Kamala and Joe" (because "first, her!" she explained) and a cobalt blue pantsuit in tribute to Hillary Clinton. "What's that song, 'It's been a long time coming?' " Wallace-Llodra asked. "Change gonna come! " chimed in Rachel Giordani, 49, an instructional coach in New York, proudly decked out in a red Howard University sweatshirt. Many of those in the group are alumnae of

Man Charged With Assault On Officer, As Seen In Viral Video From Capitol Riot

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:30pm
A Connecticut man has been charged with assaulting an officer during the breach of the U.S. Capitol in an incident captured on video and shared widely on social media. Patrick Edward McCaughey III was charged on Tuesday with assaulting an officer, civil disorder, entering restricted grounds and disorderly conduct, the Justice Department said in a press release . The department said he would be presented in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Wednesday before appearing in Washington, D.C., where he was charged. Prosecutors say McCaughey pinned D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges to the Capitol building's lower west terrace door as a mob of rioters tried to gain entry. Video showing Hodges being crushed against the door, crying out in pain and bleeding from the mouth quickly went viral. "Even after days of seeing so many shocking and horrific scenes from the siege on the U.S. Capitol, the savage beating of [Officer Hodges] stands out for the

The QAnon 'Storm' Never Struck. Some Supporters Are Wavering, Others Steadfast

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:30pm
Former President Donald Trump did not declare martial law in his final minutes in office; nor did he reveal a secret plan to remain in power forever. President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were not sent to Guantánamo Bay. The military did not rise up and arrest Democratic leaders en masse. Instead, Biden took the oath of office and became the 46th U.S. president on Wednesday. For some supporters of QAnon, this was an earth-shattering turn of events. Or rather, nonevents. QAnon is less a baseless conspiracy theory than an umbrella of many baseless conspiracy theories, but it centers on a belief that there is a shadowy cabal of pedophilic, satanic world leaders. For years, a mysterious figure called Q has issued promises that this cabal is on the verge of being exposed and defeated by Trump in a cataclysmic event that QAnon calls "the Storm." The baseless, often bizarre claims have gained a shocking amount of traction with the public. A recent NPR/Ipsos poll found that 17% of

As President Biden Awaits Cabinet Confirmation, White House Announces Interim Leaders

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:29pm
President Joe Biden has picked a slate of nearly two dozen acting officials to temporarily lead agencies as he waits for Congress to confirm his Cabinet . According to a list of officials issued by the White House on Wednesday, most of the temporary leaders are career civil servants. Still, the 46th president entered the White House on Inauguration Day with no Cabinet members yet confirmed by the Senate, making him the first president in recent history to take charge of the nation without key advisors in place. Here's a full list of those who will be assisting in the next phase of the transition of government: Central Intelligence Agency, David Cohen Department of Defense, David Norquist Department of Energy, David Huizenga Department of Health and Human Services, Norris Cochran Department of Homeland Security, David Pekoske Department of Justice, Monty Wilkinson Department of Labor, Al Stewart Department of State, Dan Smith Department of Treasury, Andy Baukol Office of the Director of

Defined By Scandal At Voice of America, CEO Resigns At Biden's Request

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:25pm
Updated at 9:37 p.m. ET Michael Pack resigned Wednesday as the CEO of the federal agency over the Voice of America and other federally funded international broadcasters after a turbulent seven-month tenure. He leaves the U.S. Agency for Global Media with a Trumpian legacy of ideological strife, lawsuits and scandal, his departure effective just two hours after the swearing-in of President Biden, who requested him to leave. Biden has named senior VOA news executive Kelu Chao as acting CEO. Pack came to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media with the support of former President Donald Trump; his appointment was delayed more than two years in the U.S. Senate by lawmakers who feared he was too ideological and also who questioned his finances. The soft-spoken conservative documentary maker proved to be an ideological warrior in the mold of his patron , taking to one conservative news outlet after another to denounce his own staff, all in the name of fairness. In his resignation letter, Pack

Massachusetts Voters Share Their Hopes For New Administration

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:23pm
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST: Well, I don't need to tell you that in this divided nation, there are widely divergent emotions around today's transition of power. NPR's Tovia Smith has been out speaking to voters in Massachusetts. She joins us now. Hey, Tovia. TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: Hi there. KELLY: Where were you exactly? SMITH: I was in deep blue Cambridge, a liberal bastion, as you may know, that basically tied for Biden's biggest vote in Massachusetts - around 92%. So as you can imagine, I encountered many elated self-described lefties here. I started at a Harvard Square institution, a restaurant called Grendel's, where they had a big Biden banner hanging and a big screen set up to watch the ceremony. I talked to owner Kari Kuelzer and server Abby Taylor (ph). They were serving up what they advertised as cups of Joe to warm your insides like the president, they said, and to celebrate as they watched. And they said they were surprised, even themselves,

Biden Becomes 46th U.S. President In Inauguration Ceremony Unlike Any Other

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:23pm
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST: Today, Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States in an inauguration ceremony unlike any other in this country's history. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We've learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: During a pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans, after a year of protests crying out against police brutality and systemic racism and just two weeks after violent rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol trying to overturn the election, President Biden focused on healing and unity. He asked Americans to join together to address the nation's challenges. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) BIDEN: If we do this, then when our days are through, our children and our children's children will say of us, they gave their best. They did their duty. They healed a broken land. KELLY: Today's ceremony

With New Georgia Senators Sworn In, Democrats Officially Control The Senate

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:07pm
Updated at 5:06 p.m. ET Democrats officially took control of the Senate as Georgia's two new Democratic senators-elect were sworn in Wednesday afternoon, cementing a 50-50 split, with Vice President Harris serving as the tiebreaking vote in her new role as president of the the Senate. Harris administered the oath of office to Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff hours after her own swearing-in. The pair of Democratic victories in the Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections gave the party control of both the White House and Congress, with the thinnest of majorities in the upper chamber. Loading... Harris also swore in Democrat Alex Padilla, the former California secretary of state, to fill Harris' own Senate seat. He was appointed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat. "The chair lays before the Senate ... a certificate of appointment to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California," she said, laughing, before adding, "Yeah, that was very weird." With

Biden To Move Quickly On Climate Change, Reversing Trump Rollbacks

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 5:05pm
President Biden is moving quickly on climate change on his first day in office, saying he plans to sign a sweeping executive order to undo many of the Trump administration's environmental rollbacks. Biden's pledge to rejoin the international Paris climate accord tops his list of immediate steps. Former President Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the landmark agreement in 2017, which was completed in November . The Trump administration also weakened or undid other, lesser-known climate and environmental policies that Biden has vowed to restore. Biden will instruct federal agencies to review more than 100 policies, many crucial to curbing heat-trapping emissions, including fuel economy standards for cars and pollution limits on the oil and gas industry . "A cry for survival comes from the planet itself, a cry that can't be any more desperate or any more clear," Biden said in his inaugural address Wednesday. The Trump administration systematically loosened Obama-era

Cuomo says President Biden sets a new tone, and it matters 

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 4:37pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a close ally of President Joe Biden, said it’s a “new day” with Wednesday’s inauguration of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.But Cuomo said he remains concerned about the slow manufacture of vaccines that could finally end the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuomo said he’s thrilled to be able to say “President Biden,” and he believes the new president will bring a more loving and healing presence to the nation’s leadership. The governor, who frequently sparred with former President Donald Trump, said the message of resiliency in Biden’s speech matters. “The president is not just another person on Twitter, normally,” said Cuomo. “The president is a leader, a tone-setter.” Cuomo said he chose not to attend the inauguration because he didn’t want to leave Albany when there were threats of potentially violent pro-Trump protests at all 50 state Capitols. The security at New York’s Capitol has been hardened in recent days, with street closures, chain-link fences and concrete

363 new COVID-19 cases in Monroe County; 39 new deaths since Dec. 3

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 4:36pm
The latest data from the Monroe County Department of Public Health shows another 363 cases of COVID-19. The information released on Wednesday also reported 39 new deaths. They occurred between Dec. 3, 2020 and Jan. 14, 2021. The total number of deaths to date is 841. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 434 new cases per day. The seven-day rolling average positivity rate for Monroe County is 6.3%. There are 741 people in the Finger Lakes Region hospitalized; 171 of them are in ICU. The percentage of total hospital beds available in the Finger Lakes region on a seven-day rolling average is 34%. The percentage of ICU Beds available in the Finger Lakes region on a seven-day rolling average is 22%. Here is the age breakdown of the latest COVID-19 cases in Monroe County:

'We've Got A Steep Road Ahead': Americans Focus On The Future

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 4:20pm
Updated at 5:40 p.m. ET As President Joe Biden took the oath of office on Jan. 20 with his history-making vice president , Kamala Harris, people across the nation seemed cautiously optimistic. Biden and Harris take office in the wake of a violent and deadly attempt by supporters of President Donald Trump to block Congress from certifying Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. In the two weeks since the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, federal law enforcement officers have made arrests and charged people from across the nation with participation in the riot. On Wednesday, as Biden told Americans that democracy had prevailed and called for a day of renewal and resolve, people across the country talked about a return to normalcy. "I'm happy if he can do his agenda," Kay, a 57-year-old Trump supporter told KCUR reporter Frank Morris. "I mean, he seems like he's a level-headed guy, and I hope that's the truth. I hope that that's what he follows. Cause then America would be better, but I'm