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Boy who bonded with Biden over stuttering will write children’s book

They bonded nearly a year ago after Joseph R. Biden Jr. leaned in to greet Brayden Harrington, a 13-year-old boy who stutters, during a campaign stop in New Hampshire.

“Don’t let that define you,” Mr. Biden said, squeezing Brayden’s shoulder and looking him in the eye. “You are smart as hell.”

Months later, Brayden spoke at the Democratic National Convention, a remarkable display of courage and vulnerability that has been seen hundreds of thousands of times online.

Now, Brayden plans to tell her story in a picture book, “Brayden Speaks Up,” which will be released on August 10 by HarperCollins Children’s Books, the publishing house said.

The book will be illustrated by Betty C. Tang. Harper Collins said it was a two-pound deal and Brayden’s agent was David Vigliano at Vigliano Associates. Next year, Brayden plans to write a novel for children ages 8 to 12, HarperCollins said.

The announcement came as Brayden attended Mr. Biden’s inaugural celebration on Wednesday evening, reading aloud a famous passage from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address: “Don’t ask what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. “

“When I heard that I had the opportunity to speak at the Democratic National Convention, I was so nervous! Brayden said in a statement. “What got me through and motivated me was knowing that I could be a voice for other children who stutter as well as for anyone who faced challenges. I only hope that my story will give a little more support and motivation to those who need it.

Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation, said she was delighted that Brayden was considering writing a book. She said it showed how important it was to him and to others who stutter to have a role model in the White House.

“Being open is rule # 1, isn’t it?” Ms. Fraser said. “It’s the smartest thing you can do. Whether you’re a kid who stutters, an adult, or a politician running for office, being open about it takes all the pressure off.

Mr. Biden has spoken openly about the “terrible fear and frustration” he experienced from his stuttering. He said it had embarrassed him and made him question himself and his abilities. And he said he tells young people who stutter that, if they persevere, they can overcome the challenge and discover new skills and strengths.

“I promise you,” Mr Biden wrote in a letter to the Stuttering Foundation in 2015 when he was vice president, “you need not be ashamed, and you have every reason to be. proud.

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Video: Watch Live: Tom Hanks Hosts ‘Celebrating America’

TimesVideoWatch Live: Tom Hanks welcomes President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President Kamala Harris to “Celebrating America” ​​hosted by Tom Hanks in honor of the inauguration. By Reuters.

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Video: Biden swears in nominations in virtual ceremony

TimesVideoBiden Swears in Nominations in Virtual Ceremony From the White House, President Biden was sworn in to hundreds of administration appointees in a virtual ceremony consistent with coronavirus precautions.By The New York Times.

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Jen Psaki, Biden’s new press secretary, pledges to bring back “ truth and transparency. ”

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, led President Biden’s administration’s first press briefing on Wednesday and vowed to bring “truth and transparency to the briefing room.”

Ms Psaki’s appearance at the White House pulpit just hours after Mr Biden’s inauguration was designed to create a stark contrast to the previous administration, which had engaged in a verbal fight with reporters and had practically given up on briefings.

Unlike Sean Spicer, Mr. Trump’s first press secretary, who slammed the media and lied about the size of Mr. Trump’s inaugural crowd when he first appeared in the briefing room, Ms. Psaki spoke engaged in a largely civilian exchange of information with journalists.

“There will be times when we don’t agree, and there will definitely be days when we don’t agree for long parts of the briefing itself, maybe,” she told a dozen journalists in the room. “But we have a common goal, which is to share accurate information with the American people.”

Ms Psaki, originally from Connecticut, worked for a veteran of Capitol Hill, John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, and Mr. Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

During Mr. Obama’s second term, Ms. Psaki served as the State Department’s chief spokesperson, and was then a finalist for the White House press secretary when Jay Carney left the White House and was replaced by Josh Earnest in 2014. She was Mr. Obama’s communications director until the end of her tenure.

Ms Psaki, 42, was a surprise choice to become Mr Biden’s main spokesperson; she didn’t work on her campaign, but rather as a CNN commentator and for private PR clients. But Mr. Biden’s familiarity with her during the Obama administration outweighed any benefit to others that helped him win the election.

Ms Psaki began the briefing with an overview of the executive orders Mr Biden signed earlier in the evening. She then responded to a series of questions, including providing information about planned calls between Mr Biden and foreign leaders and answering a question about the government’s response to a recent cyber attack.

Ms Psaki asked Zeke Miller, an Associated Press reporter, to ask the first question. The move was a throwback to a briefing room tradition – allowing the telegram service to answer the first question – that the Trump administration had abandoned.

To reporters and others familiar with pre-Trump administration briefings, his briefing was extraordinarily normal.

“We reserve the right to respond at any time of our choosing to any cyberattack,” Ms. Psaki said. “But our team is, of course, just in the field today, they’re just getting on their computers. So I don’t have anything for you to read or preview for you at the moment. “

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When she was born, women could not vote. At 103, she saw a black woman as she became vice president.

January 20 was a big day for Laura Franklin, and not just because it was her 103rd birthday. Ms Franklin, who was born a year before American women won the vote, saw Kamala Harris, a black woman like her, sworn in as the Vice President of the United States.

“Best birthday ever!” said her daughter, Kathleen Leonard, 68. They celebrated together on Wednesday, Ms. Franklin toasting Ms. Harris on the television screen of her home in Houston, along with her birthday present: a bottle of Corona beer.

Ms Franklin was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, more than a year before Congress passed the 19th Amendment on June 4, 1919, and more than two years before it was ratified by the states, enshrining the right of vote of women in the Constitution. She faced discrimination on a daily basis based on her race and gender as she made her way into a career as a lab technician at the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital.

When she became an educator, she recalls, women had to quit teaching when they got pregnant. Getting a credit card required her husband’s signature, she said, even though she was a professional, most notably as an assistant principal at a Chicago public high school.

“So much has happened, and a lot of wonderful things have happened,” since the time of her birth, Franklin said Wednesday. “By getting the vote, women could be independent, that women could control their own lives,” she said. “Before, they depended on their husband or a male figure to tell them what to do.”

She said she had misty eyes when Ms Harris was sworn in, and laughed at the term of Ms Harris’ husband, Douglas Emhoff, now the second gentleman: “That’s kinda cute,” she said.

Growing up without black women in positions of power as role models, Ms. Franklin said, made it impossible for her to conceive of such a woman being elected to a national office. “I don’t know if I ever really thought it would happen, I’m so glad it happened and I’m so glad she was here,” Ms. Franklin said. “It never occurred to me, because things had been so difficult years ago.

For her daughter, Mrs. Harris’ ascendancy was not a victory after a long road, but a start that would ensure her grandchildren, and her mother’s great-grandchildren, these role models to admire. .

“They will never know there was no black president, and they will never know there was no female vice president and black vice president,” Ms. Leonard said. “Someone who looks like them; it’s so huge.

Completing her birthday beer, Ms. Franklin joined in: “It’s one of those things dreams are made of,” she said.

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Washington breathes a sigh of worried relief

“It’s a great nation. We’re good people, ”Biden said, speaking with simple goals, sometimes sounding almost plaintive in his 21-minute speech. “We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors.” He called on a nation of citizens to renew their vows for dignity, respect and common purpose.

“We can join forces, stop the screaming and lower the temperature,” Biden said.

Mr. Biden’s words didn’t sound so triumphant as to evoke a sense of respite. The center had held up and the system had survived, at least this time. “On this sacred ground where, just a few days ago, violence sought to shake the very foundations of the capital,” said the new president, “we come together as one nation under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have over two centuries. “

Shorter version: “Phew.”

The ceremony was lively both in temperature and in rhythm. No one feared the discord of the recent past. It would have been impossible anyway as the remnants of the assault were everywhere: broken windows, dislodged panels and closed corridors inside the Capitol.

Eugene Goodman, a Capitol Hill police officer known to have deflected Senate rioters, was presented to a grim standing ovation from the socially aloof crowd after escorting new Vice President Kamala Harris to the inaugural stage.

After Lady Gaga performed “The Star-Spangled Banner,” she and the new president shared a hesitant greeting, both seemingly unsure of the proper way to approach other eminences in these uncertain times.

“This is the first grand opening in American history where J. Lo was the warm-up act for Chief Justice Roberts,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, who was the master. de facto ceremonies.

The observance elicited some relief that democracy had indeed triumphed, but not without some anxious moments. There have been tributes to the “peaceful transfer of power” as well as ever-present reminders that it hardly ever was.

“We have learned again that democracy is precious,” Biden said. “Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.

Even without Mr. Trump’s presence, perhaps the most striking mark of his legacy has been the tired capital he left to his successor. Mr. Biden’s inauguration was the strongest rally in Washington history.

The helicopters flying around the city are never a reassuring sign. Neither the black fences, nor the concrete barriers, nor the growing ranks of National Guard troops that have proliferated in the city in recent days – some 25,000 in total, five times the number of US forces stationed in Iraq and the United States. Afghanistan.

The few who ventured near the Capitol were mostly gloomy, as if they were attending a vigil. “To be honest, it sounds a bit post-apocalyptic,” said Betsy Brightman, who flew to Washington from Philadelphia this weekend, “just to see this for myself.

And to top it off: there was another indictment just a week ago. A second Senate impeachment trial could begin as early as next week and will almost certainly ensure that the grudge of the Trump years will spill over into the new administration.

Washington has never been under such tension. “There really is no historical precursor,” said presidential historian Michael Beschloss. The city has seen tense times before, particularly in the days following the September 11, 2001 attacks. “But we’ve never had a situation where you have a grand opening two weeks after a terrorist attack – and in the same place “, he added. “It just has never happened before.”

Even after Wednesday, it’s hard to imagine that the division and suspicion of the past four years will dissipate. Mr. Trump may be leaving town, but he’s leaving behind an army of defiant and determined supporters, many in Congress. Large majorities of Republicans across the country continue to overwhelmingly support the incumbent president. They continue to accept his false claims that the election was “stolen,” a drumbeat that only eased slightly after January 6.

If January 6 was Mr. Trump’s culminating disruption, January 20 was Mr. Biden’s attempt to restore order. Everything about the new president’s demeanor and words reflected a desire to get things done, to end the “American carnage” his predecessor spoke of during his own inauguration four years ago. More so, Mr Biden seemed determined to mend a breach in the fabric of the country, which resulted in an actual violation of the Capitol in this very spot.

“We will move forward with speed and urgency,” Biden said in his address. “Because we have a lot to do in this winter of perils and possibilities. Much to repair. Lots to restore. Much to heal. “

There is always a tendency to want to move on to the next chapter of the story, especially when the last one was so exhausting. It is a natural impulse, undeniably American, to want to seize the next one.

Yet a recurring message around the Capitol in recent days has been the importance of remembering what the country has just experienced.

At the Capitol Visitor Center on Monday afternoon, Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, was waiting to receive a coronavirus test so he could attend the inauguration. He said he spoke to a historian that morning about the urgency of saving for posterity some of the physical damage caused by the Jan.6 attack.

“I don’t know if it’s broken glass or broken glass or something like that,” Mr. Romney said. “But it’s important that we have artefacts to remember that. It is important not to forget so quickly.

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Video: On day one, Biden signs wave of executive orders

new video loaded: On day one, Biden signs a flurry of decrees



On day one, Biden signs a flurry of decrees

President Biden on Wednesday signed 17 decrees, memoranda and proclamations from the Oval Office, including the return of the Paris climate accords and the putting up of masks on federal property.

“I thought that with the state of the nation, there is no time to waste today. Get to work immediately. As we indicated earlier, we will be signing a number of Orders in Council over the next few days, the week. And I’m going to start today with the aggravated Covid crisis, Covid-19, with the economic crisis that followed, and the climate crisis, issues of racial equity. “And the first order I’m going to sign here is for Covid. And that requires, as I’ve said all the time, where I have authority, the obligation to wear masks, to maintain social distancing on federal property and interstate commerce, etc. This is the first I sign. “The second one I’m signing off here is support for underserved communities with regards to how we treat people in health care and other things that you can, we’ll give you copies of these decrees. And the third one that I’m going to sign, and the one that we will do while you are all here, is the commitment I made to join the Paris climate agreement today.

Recent episodes of United States and politics


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Biden’s calls for unity are already being tested in Congress

Perhaps more than any recent president, Mr. Biden has staked his reputation and the fortunes of his administration on his ability to work with a polarized Congress where Democrats have only the narrowest margins of control. Despite the recent history of legislative inertia and toxic politics, Mr Biden has made it clear that he believes he can use his 36 years of experience and connections on Capitol Hill to work on the other side. off the aisle and make the breakthroughs necessary to get the nation through its multiple crises – that “rare and difficult hour,” as he put it.

He immediately set about trying to strengthen his ties with Republicans, inviting Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader who waited a month to recognize him as president, and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the most top House Republican who supported the overthrow of his victory, to attend mass with him Wednesday morning before the inauguration.

Mr McConnell, in a lighter moment after the inauguration that recalled the Washington club circles in which the president has long been at home, claimed that Mr Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were “sons. and daughter ”of the Senate because of their service there, while ironically pointing out that neither had ever been a member of the House, House Senators love to mock as a humble body. Ms Harris received a bipartisan standing ovation in the Senate when she first stepped into the presidency following her swearing in as vice president.

In his speech, Biden also reminded members of the House and Senate in attendance that he was one of them.

“Listen, folks,” he said, using one of his favorite expressions, “all my colleagues that I have served with in the House and the Senate here – we all understand the world is watching, is watching us all today.

But it will take more than flashback and the good nature of Mr. Biden to break the lingering deadlock in Congress. Already, Republicans are increasingly challenging his cabinet candidates, and Mr Biden has almost become the first president since at least Jimmy Carter to fail to secure confirmation of a cabinet candidate in his early hours. function. At the last minute, Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas dropped his objection to April D. Haines confirming his role as director of national intelligence. Yet candidates for other national security posts that are usually approved immediately after a president takes office have remained stranded.

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Photos of an inauguration day like no other

The threat of the coronavirus pandemic and fears of a recurrence of violence that rocked Capitol Hill two weeks ago have combined to make President Biden’s swearing-in on Wednesday look and feel like no previous inauguration.

Instead of a crowd of well-wishers celebrating the Capitol and adjacent areas, the grounds were cut off by what was to be the most intense security ever for the event. Streets were barricaded for blocks in all directions, thousands of National Guard soldiers flooded the Capitol grounds for added protection, and military vehicles were clearly visible.

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, planners for Biden’s inauguration imposed strict testing and social distancing requirements for the ceremony. As a result, the inaugural platform, usually crowded, was reserved for the main participants themselves. Lawmakers and other dignitaries were relegated to carefully spaced seats in front of the platform.

But Mr Biden and his entourage felt it was essential that the ceremony take place as usual outside the Western Front of the Capitol – an area overrun by a violent mob two weeks earlier – to show the American public and to the world that democracy would. endure even the most strident attempts to overthrow it.


President Donald J. Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, left the White House early in the morning. Aides came out with boxes and a moving truck was parked on the lot. Mr. Trump gave a farewell speech at Joint Base Andrews in Md. Before flying to Florida on Air Force One for the last time, saying in pre-flight remarks, “Good life. We will see you again soon. “

Mr. Biden attended a mass at St. Matthew the Apostle’s Cathedral in Washington before the dedication ceremony, with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader; President Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders. The National Mall has been closed to visitors for security reasons.

Mr. Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their families were greeted by Senators Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, and Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota. They went up the stairs to the eastern front flanked by the Capitol Police.

11:36 a.m.

The inauguration ceremony was filled with performances. Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks sang the national anthem and “This Land is Your Land”. Amanda Gorman, 22, the youngest inaugural poet in US history, read her poem “The Hill We Climb”.

11:47 a.m.

Ms Harris was first sworn in, using a Bible belonging to Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights lawyer who became the first African-American to hold a seat on the Supreme Court. Mr. Biden, standing with his wife, Jill Biden, and children Ashley and Hunter, used a Bible with a Celtic cross that has been in his family since 1893.

Mr. Biden proclaimed that “democracy prevailed” and called for unity in his inaugural address. “We must end this uncivil war – red against blue, rural against urban, conservative against liberal,” he said.

The traditional parade on Pennsylvania Avenue had to be redesigned for the pandemic and was a largely virtual event. With no supporters able to attend, Mr Biden and Ms Harris each walked a short distance past the heavily secured path to the White House.

Mr Biden signed 17 executive orders, memoranda and proclamations during his first hours in office, aiming to reverse some of the Trump administration’s actions on immigration, climate change, the pandemic and racial equality , among others.

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ASL interpreter who gave updates on coronavirus dies of complications from Covid-19

Patty Sakal, an American sign language interpreter who has translated coronavirus updates for deaf Hawaiians, died of complications from Covid-19 on Friday. She was 62 years old.

Ms Sakal, who lived in Honolulu, died at the Alvarado Hospital Medical Center in San Diego, where she visited last month to visit one of her daughters, according to Ms Sakal’s sister Lorna. Sheep Riff.

Ms Sakal, who worked as an ASL interpreter for nearly four decades in various settings, had become a mainstay of coronavirus briefings in Hawaii, working with both former Honolulu mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Governor David Y. Ige to interpret the news for the deaf community.

In a statement, Isle Interpreter, a performer organization that included Ms. Sakal, called Ms. Sakal “Hawaii’s performer royalty.”

This was in part because Ms. Sakal understood Hawaiian Sign Language, a version of American Sign Language developed by deaf elders that she had been exposed to growing up.

“She was used a lot and much wanted by deaf people in the community because they could understand her so well and she could understand them,” said Tamar Lani, president of Isle Interpreter.

Ms. Sakal was born on February 24, 1958 in Honolulu to Hershel Mouton and Georgia Morikawa, both deaf. Her father was the first deaf teacher at the Hawaii School of the Deaf and Blind in Honolulu, and her mother was a prominent political activist on behalf of the Deaf community, including helping to draft the U.S. Deaf Law. disabled, Mrs. Riff said.

“We grew up in a time when there were no interpreters,” Ms. Riff said, “so if you were a child of deaf parents, you automatically became your parents’ interpreter.

Ms. Sakal turned this experience into a career as a professional ASL interpreter. During her work, she has performed in all kinds of settings, including theater, law, medicine and education, according to Isle Interpreter. She was a member of the board of directors of a nonprofit group that aims to open a center for the deaf, the Georgia E. Morikawa Center, named after her mother.

Ms Lani said Ms Sakal was also committed to being a mentor for novice performers and did so for her. Before her death, Ms. Sakal was working as a mentor in a year-long national initiative to increase the number of performers in Hawaii, according to Isle Interpreter.

“Patty has always been so generous with her time and knowledge, and she has always been very welcoming to new performers,” Ms. Lani said. “She really sees everyone’s potential.”

In an interview with Hawaii News Now, Mr. Caldwell, whose second term as Honolulu mayor ended this month, praised Ms. Sakal for “really putting herself on the front lines.”

“It was there, a pandemic and he wasn’t sure to go, but she got out and she helped do a job that was essential for people who needed this information,” Caldwell told Hawaii News Now. Neither he nor Mr Ige could be reached immediately for comment on Wednesday.

Outside of work, Ms Riff said, her sister had a number of creative outlets. She wrote poetry and painted. She learned to play guitar and drums and was a singer.

In addition to her sister, Ms. Sakal is survived by three daughters, Aisha Sakal, Amanda Sakal and Andrea McFadden; one brother, Byron Morikawa; and two grandchildren.

Ms Riff said her family were “always very proud of Patty because she picked up this torch, the legacy our mother had, and carried it.