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‘Such straits’: congested Texas hospitals meet dialysis needs

AUSTIN, Texas – Some hospitals, running out of heat or water, have rushed to move their most seriously ill patients elsewhere. Other hospitals were teeming with patients injured or sick in the winter storm, dragging them into the hallways. In one hospital, the pipes burst, sending water spray into the emergency room, while in another, patients were told to clean themselves with hand sanitizer and stop showering in the hospital. the desperate goal of saving water.

Chaotic scenes unfolded across Texas on Thursday as hospitals faced an onslaught of issues related to the brutal storm: wintry indoor temperatures, shortages of generators, acute water shortages and an increase in emergency room visits by doctors. patients in desperate need of dialysis treatment and oxygen tanks.

“We carry water on trucks in order to flush the toilet,” said Roberta L. Schwartz, executive vice president and chief innovation officer at Houston Methodist, which operates seven hospitals around the fourth largest city in the country. Water, she said, was so scarce that health workers used bottled water for chemotherapy treatments.

“We actually had a rain storm after the ice storm, so we collected the rainwater because we needed it,” added Ms. Schwartz.

The uproar comes at an already difficult time for Texas hospitals, nearly a year after the start of a pandemic that has pushed many to their limits. As new coronavirus cases in Texas have fallen sharply from an average of more than 20,000 a day a month ago to less than half in recent days, much of the state is struggling as the virus continues to spread and vaccine distribution has been slowed by storms this week.

The Odessa, Eagle Pass and Huntsville areas have reported new cases of the virus at some of the highest rates in the country. And state officials have warned that the number of cases this week is likely to be artificially low due to gaps in reporting during the storm. In Travis County, which includes Austin, officials had not provided new case data since last Friday and said they did not expect to do so again until the weekend, citing the effects of the storm on their staff.

Hospitals such as St. David’s South Austin Medical Center have said they are transferring some patients to other facilities as they desperately try to conserve resources. In a statement, David Huffstutler, the general manager of St. David’s HealthCare, said the hospital was working to get tankers and portable toilets as quickly as possible.

In Dallas, parts of the ceiling collapsed at Baylor University Medical Center after a hose burst, spraying water directly into the emergency room. Julie Smith, a spokesperson for the hospital, said workers made initial repairs that allowed patients to continue being treated there.

The scenes took place in a state where healthcare workers have struggled with repeated crises in recent years: hurricanes. Floods. Tropical storms. Blackouts. Pandemic outbreaks.

Austin hospital emergency room doctor Dr. Sarah Olstyn Martinez bluntly described the situation on Facebook: “There’s nowhere to put anyone.”

“I don’t want to incite panic, but I also want people to understand the gravity of the situation in the hope that people will stay at home,” wrote Dr Martinez, adding, “We are accommodating 2 patients. in a room and lodge them. in the hallways. “

“I have never seen a city medical system in such a dire situation as Austin is right now,” continued Dr. Martinez. “The COVID spikes were nothing compared to the current situation.”

In a telephone interview, Dr Martinez said his hospital was operated with a small staff. Doctors and nurses, she said, stayed in some hospitals, “sleeping in every open nook and cranny.”

Some of the challenges facing Texas hospitals relate to issues that have rippled through the state’s beleaguered healthcare system since the storm and power grid crisis. An influx of dialysis patients, for example, is putting stress on hospital emergency rooms as many dialysis centers – which need electricity, heat and large amounts of filtered water to provide care properly – are temporarily closed.

At one of Houston’s Methodist hospitals, medics turned a former intensive care unit into a makeshift dialysis unit, moving 42 patients out of the cramped emergency room on Wednesday. And in parts of east Texas, healthcare workers are increasingly alarmed that patients have not been treated with dialysis in the past week that they are asking police departments. premises to carry out social checks.

“It can be a death sentence for some of our patients,” said Kara McClure, a social worker from the Tyler area. She said dialysis clinics in Tyler, Athens and Palestine were closed due to a lack of water and a clinic in Jacksonville was closed because staff members could not reach the site. Even hospitals in the area have struggled with water shortages that could complicate dialysis treatments.

“This is a large-scale system failure, and it’s overwhelming,” Ms. McClure said. “I’m afraid people are dying.”

Federal officials pledged aid Thursday. Liz Sherwood-Randall, President Biden’s homeland security adviser, told reporters that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing 60 generators to critical sites like hospitals and water facilities, and sending 729,000 liters of water and 50,000 cotton blankets to the state.

Still, some Texas doctors have warned the situation could worsen, noting the possibility of increased risks from Covid-19 as the state tries to recover from the storm. About 7,600 coronavirus patients were hospitalized statewide on Wednesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, up from around 14,000 at the peak in mid-January.

Although Texas avoided the worst of the pandemic last spring, the state has struggled often since then. The number of cases increased last summer and again in the fall and early winter. The regions of Eagle Pass, Lubbock and Laredo are among the five metropolitan areas in the country with the highest rates of cases known during the pandemic.

About 10.6% of Texans had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine as of Thursday and about 4.3% were fully vaccinated, placing the state below the national average in both measures, but not among the less efficient.

In Laredo, on the border with Mexico, Dr Ricardo Cigarroa, a cardiologist who turned to treating coronavirus patients during the pandemic, said vaccine distribution was delayed by about a week in due to problems related to the power grid failure.

The storm had also brought additional risks. Lots of people found comfort, he said, as they huddled together for warmth. “But Covid loves it,” Dr Cigarroa said.

David Montgomery reported from Austin, and Simon romero Albuquerque. Reporting was contributed by Mitch smith from Chicago, James dobbins from San Antonio, and Marina Trahan Martinez and Richard Webner of Austin. Sheelagh McNeill contributed to the research.

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Meet Elizabeth Ann, the first cloned black-footed ferret

Last year, Ben Novak crossed the country to spend New Years Eve with a black-footed ferret. Elizabeth Ann was just 21 days old – surely a milestone for any ferret, but a particularly significant milestone for Elizabeth Ann, the first endangered animal species in North America to be cloned.

Mr Novak, the senior scientist at biotech nonprofit Revive & Restore, bought a trailer to drive his wife and identical twin children from North Carolina to the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center near Fort Collins , Colorado (They made a pit stop in Texas to see Kurt, Przewalski’s first cloned horse.)

Mr Novak spent less than 15 minutes with Elizabeth Ann, whose black mask, feet and tail were just beginning to show through her fluffy white fur. “It was as if time had stood still,” Mr. Novak said.

Fortunately, time has not stood still for Elizabeth Ann, who now looks fatter, darker and much more like a ferret. Its successful cloning is the culmination of a multi-year collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Revive & Restore, for-profit company ViaGen Pets & Equine, the San Diego Global Zoo, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. .

Cloned siblings are on the way and potential (cloned) partners are already lined up. If successful, the project could provide the genetic diversity necessary for threatened species. And it marks another promising step forward in the broader effort to use cloning to recover ever-growing numbers of species on the brink of extinction.

The blacklegged ferret, the first species to be reintroduced into ancient habitats using artificial insemination, has long been a model species for new conservation technologies. It is therefore fitting that ferrets have become the second species to be cloned for this type of genetic rescue. (Elizabeth Ann follows in Kurt the horse’s footsteps.)

“Pinch me,” joked Oliver Ryder, director of conservation genetics at the San Diego Global Zoo, during a Zoom call. “The cells of this animal banked in 1988 became an animal.”

In the early 1900s, black-footed ferrets dug all over the American West, according to Pete Gober, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s national black-footed ferret recovery coordinator. But ferrets became extinct after their main food source, prairie dogs, was nearly wiped out by poisoning, plague and loss of habitat. “We thought they were gone,” Dr Gober said.

The species was thought to be extinct in the wild until 1981, when a ranch dog named Shep dropped a dead black-footed ferret on a porch near Meeteetse, Wyo. The breeder’s wife took the dead ferret to a local taxidermist, who realized he was holding a freshly killed extinct species and alerted the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

The newly discovered population thrived for a few years but was nearly extinguished by distemper and sylvatic plague, a disease of the same bacteria that causes bubonic plague in humans. The Fish and Wildlife Service captured the remaining 18 ferrets, but only seven passed on their genes, leaving behind a population with limited genetic diversity that is vulnerable to pathogens or health disorders caused by inbreeding. All black-footed ferrets alive today are essentially half-siblings – with the exception of Elizabeth Ann.

The path to cloning a black-footed ferret began in the 1980s, at a conference on conservation biology. Dr Ryder, the geneticist at the San Diego Zoo, sat at a banquet table with Tom Thorne, who worked at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Seizing the moment, Dr Ryder asked Dr Thorne if he was considering sending skin biopsies of blacklegged ferrets to the frozen zoo, a growing collection of cryopreserved animal tissue samples. “I told him we didn’t know what they could be used for,” Dr. Ryder said. “I don’t remember a resounding yes.”

On October 23, 1985, Dr. Ryder unexpectedly received a box from Wyoming. “Well, hot dog, we have black footed ferret individuals,” he recalls, saying.

Dr Ryder’s lab received more samples in 1988, one from a ferret named Willa that was captured in the wild. Willa had offspring but they were dead; by black-footed ferret standards, she was overflowing with potential genetic diversity. The Frozen Zoo established a cell culture from Willa and stored it in its massive freezer, which cradles the cells of 1,100 different species of animals, including an extinct Hawaiian creeper and the vaquita, a highly endangered species of porpoise. , at minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit.

In 2013, the Fish and Wildlife Service approached Revive & Restore to explore how biotechnology, which the nonprofit is developing to combat species extinction, could help increase the genetic diversity of blacklegged ferrets. The following year, Revive & Restore sequenced the genomes of four blacklegged ferrets.

First there was Balboa, born by artificial insemination using cryopreserved and genetically diverse sperm. The second was Cheerio, who was born naturally and shares the ancestry of the Seven Founders; Novak calls it an “all ferrets”. The last two ferrets were from tissue samples at the Frozen Zoo, a male named “Studbook number 2” and a female named Willa. “When we looked at Balboa, we saw empirically that much of the genetic diversity had been saved going back in time,” Mr. Novak said.

Revive & Restore designed a proposal and submitted it to Fish and Wildlife. In 2018, the non-profit organization received the very first research permit into the cloning of an endangered species. Revive & Restore has partnered with the commercial cloning company ViaGen Pets & Equine to design the cloning process.

The first trial started around Halloween. The Frozen Zoo sent Willa’s cryogenic cell line to ViaGen’s lab in New York City. ViaGen created embryos and implanted them in a domestic ferret surrogate. On day 14, an ultrasound confirmed the heartbeat.

The surrogate was rushed to the conservation center and was monitored around the clock for signs of labor. On December 10, Elizabeth Ann was delivered by Caesarean. “Our beautiful little clone,” Mr. Novak said.

On the 65th day of Elizabeth Ann’s life, technicians drew her blood, rubbed her cheek, and sent the samples to Samantha Wisdom, a conservation geneticist at the University of Florida, who confirmed that Elizabeth Ann was actually a black-footed ferret.

Elizabeth Ann will live out her days at the Conservation Center, soon joined by sisters (other Willa clones) and potential mates (Studbook number 2 clones). Researchers will monitor their health and watch them grow and roam the artificial burrows inside their cages, Dr Gober said. When the clones reach sexual maturity, they will reproduce, and then their offspring will be mated with wild black-legged ferrets to ensure that no more mitochondrial DNA remains from the surrogate mother.

“It will be a slow and methodical process,” said Dr Wisdom, who is working on an article on the bioethics of cloning the species. “We have to make absolutely sure that we do not endanger the genetic line of blacklegged ferrets by presenting this individual.”

The pandemic could slow things down, Dr Ryder said. But if all goes according to plan, the clone’s diverse genome could help protect blacklegged ferrets from their own pandemics: not only distemper and sylvatic plague, but also SARS-CoV-2, which is very contagious in mink, close relatives. ferrets. In the fall, 120 blacklegged ferrets received an experimental Covid-19 vaccine.

Revive & Restore is still working on its moonshot projects, which include the resurrection of the passenger pigeon and the woolly mammoth. Restoring these more chimerical species would be a much more expensive, complicated, and controversial endeavor. Some conservationists argue that funding de-extinction would waste resources in an underfunded area amid an accelerated extinction crisis. In Novak’s eyes, any technology that could help bring a mammoth back to life is technology that could aid in the recovery of already endangered species.

In the frozen zoo, the cells of long-dead creatures are biding their time to come to life, as it were. “If the technologies are developed in the future but no one has saved any cells, this would be an opportunity that would be lost,” said Dr Ryder. “The time has come to save these cells.” Dr. Ryder’s lab has already regrown and refrozen other Willa cells, replacing the ones that became Elizabeth Ann.

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Video: Biden to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu ‘soon’

First of all let me say about Israel, I know there have been questions about when the president will speak with Prime Minister Netanyahu, which was, I think, the root of this question or how the question started. So let me first confirm to you that his first call with a leader in the region will be with Prime Minister Netanyahu. It will be soon. I don’t have an exact date for you, but it’s soon. Stay tuned. Israel is, of course, an ally. Israel is a country in which we have important strategic security relations and our team is fully engaged. And on Saudi Arabia, I would say, you know, we made it clear from the start that we were going to recalibrate our relationship. The president’s counterpart is King Salman. And I expect that when the time comes, he will have a conversation with him. I don’t have a timeline prediction on this. But I will also say that, you know, Saudi Arabia is in a position where it is defending itself against threats from the region. You know, they have critical self-defense needs. And we will continue to work with them on these issues while clarifying the areas where we have disagreements and where we have concerns. And it is certainly a change from the approach of the previous administration.

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Two Biden priorities, climate and inequality, meet on black-owned farms

Sedrick Rowe was a running back for Fort Valley State University in Georgia when he stumbled upon an unexpected oasis: an organic farm on historically black school grounds.

He now grows organic peanuts on two tiny plots in southwest Georgia, one of the few African American farmers in a state that has lost more than 98% of its black farmers over the past century.

“It weighs on my mind,” he said of the history of discrimination and violence that drove so many of his predecessors to leave their farms. “Growing our own food seems like the first step in getting more African Americans back into farming.”

Two of the Biden administration’s biggest priorities – tackling racial inequality and tackling climate change – converge in the lives of farmers like Mr Rowe.

The administration has pledged to make agriculture the cornerstone of its ambitious climate agenda, asking farmers to adopt farming methods that could keep the warming carbon dioxide locked in the ground and out of the earth. atmosphere. At the same time, President Biden pledged to fight the legacy of discrimination that has driven generations of black Americans from their farms, by taking steps to improve access for black farmers and other farmers. from minorities to land, loans and other forms of assistance, including “climate-smart”. production.

African-American-run farms represent less than 2 percent of all farms in the country today, up from 14 percent in 1920, due to decades of racial violence and unfair lending and land ownership policies.

Mr Biden’s promises follow a year in which demands for racial justice have erupted across America and a deadly pandemic has revealed serious health disparities. Mr Biden is also seeking to reverse the dismantling of environmental regulations by former President Donald J. Trump.

Land trusts and other local groups, many of them in the South, have long sought to bring more black Americans back to farming. Mr Rowe acquired 30 acres of farmland outside of Albany, Georgia, after training at a land trust called New Communities, one of the few in the country to have sought to help more African farmers – Americans earn a living by cultivating the land.

Many of these trusts have also placed sustainability at the heart of their work with local farmers, drawing on the legacy of black scientists like George Washington Carver. His work on cover crops, which are planted to help nourish the soil, sought to reverse the damage caused by the cotton monoculture in the South, carried out at the expense of slaves.

Between planting and harvest, Mr. Rowe is pursuing a doctorate. in soil health, looking for ways to retain nutrients, reduce pesticides and sequester more carbon in the soil.

“There is so much knowledge out there, both what was altered by our African ancestors and what was created in the South.,Said Mr. Jahi Chappell, who heads the Southeastern African-American Farmers Organic Network, a group of black farmers committed to environmentally sustainable agriculture. But for a long time, he said, “the voices of African-American farmers have not really been heard.. “

It’s a difficult story to overcome.

For a brief period after emancipation, free black communities spread across the rural south, growing all kinds of agricultural products: pecans, peanuts, pork. In 1920, there were 925,000 black farmers, a quarter of whom were able to secure their own land.

The Jim Crow era sparked a backlash from white landowners, and black farmers and sharecroppers became targets of intimidation, bombings, and other attacks. Racist discrimination and violence drove many black farmers to flee the North, often to cities, as part of the Great Migration.

Disparities in access to loans and aid, as well as well-documented discrimination at the Agriculture Ministry, have also led black farmers to leave their land. Even as the civil rights era began to bring black Americans to equal rights before the law, the rural exodus accelerated as councils of white Southern citizens, wary of a surge in numbers. of black voters, explicitly targeted black farmers to kick them out of their communities.

“We waited year after year. We fought for change, ”said Shirley Sherrod, former Georgia state director for rural development at the Department of Agriculture and co-founder of New Communities, the land trust. “Now this agency, and this country, really needs to figure out how to do the right thing for black people.”

Today, there are fewer than 35,000 black farmers left, according to the latest agricultural census. (And some experts say the number is even lower.) According to the Land Loss and Reparations Project, land owned by black farmers has shrunk by about 90% from the peak of the early 20th century, even as area belonging to whites fell only 2 percent.

Black farmers who lost their land lost more than the property itself; they also lost the ability to use it for things like guaranteeing loans, for example, to send kids to college. A first estimate of the overall economic damage to black Americans from the historic loss of rural land, calculated by researchers including Thomas W. Mitchell, professor of law at Texas A&M University, is $ 350 billion.

“These are the economic consequences of this massive and precipitous loss of land which resulted in a significant way from systemic racial discrimination,” he said.

Efforts to remedy the loss have so far been comparatively small. Beginning in the 1990s, a series of regulations paid an estimated $ 2 billion, in total, to a handful of farmers who could prove direct discrimination.

Black farmers continue to face discrimination. As recently as 2015, black farmers obtained only about $ 11 million in microloans for smallholder farmers in 2015, less than 0.2% of the roughly $ 5.7 billion in loans administered or guaranteed by the Department of Agriculture that year, according to researchers Nathan Rosenberg and Bryce. Wilson Stucki.

The most recent agricultural census, from 2017, found that farms operated by black people tend to be disproportionately smaller, and only 7% of these farms had an income of over $ 50,000, compared to 25% of all farms.

Efforts to address past injustices are gaining momentum.

A Senate bill, sponsored by Democrats Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, would allow black farmers to reclaim up to 160 acres each through federal land grants. The House agriculture committee is expected to welcome its first black chair, Congressman David Scott from Georgia, who plans to invite black farmers to testify about racial discrimination in federal aid. And this week, a wave of executive climate action led the agency to explore ways to encourage “climate smart” farming practices while creating new sources of income for rural Americans.

Yet Tom Vilsack, who, if confirmed, will head the Agriculture Department and return to a post he held under former President Barack Obama, has drawn criticism from some groups for his record on the matter. anti-discrimination campaign at the agency. During its previous stint with the department, critics say, the agency promoted misleading data to portray a revival of black agriculture, even as black farmers continued to struggle for federal aid or attention for them. civil rights.

“There is a very systemic civil rights issue at USDA, and Tom Vilsack is not the one to tackle it and fix it,” said Lawrence Lucas, a former agency official who heads the Justice for Black Farmers group. “He had been there for eight years and didn’t fix it. So what makes us think he’s going to fix it now?

Late last month, Mr. Vilsack met with civil rights groups, pledging to provide assistance and “a seat at the table” to black farmers. And the Biden administration has appointed Jewel H. Bronaugh, Virginia’s commissioner for agriculture and consumer services, as Mr. Vilsack’s deputy. If confirmed, Dr Bronaugh would be the first woman of color to serve as the USDA Assistant Secretary.

In an interview, Matt Herrick, the agency’s senior spokesperson, acknowledged a legacy of discrimination in federal farm policy.

“The reality is that there are barriers and hereditary practices that have prevented black farmers and other socially disadvantaged producers from accessing Department of Agriculture programs,” Herrick said. “We will do all we can – the secretary has pledged to do so – to remove these obstacles.

These concerns threaten to eclipse the Biden administration’s rollout of agricultural policies that put farmers at the forefront of the fight against climate change.

One of the early ideas of Biden’s transition team is a federal soil “carbon bank” that would offer credits to farmers for the carbon they sequester in the soil through sustainable farming methods. The plan would allocate $ 1 billion to buy carbon credits from farmers at $ 20 per tonne of carbon they trap in the soil. Biden’s transition team claimed it could reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 50 megatonnes, which is equivalent to the emissions of more than 10 million cars driven for a year.

Scientists warn that uncertainties remain about the ability of farmers to sequester carbon in their soil. Yet such a policy could, in theory, benefit farmers like Mr. Rowe. Recent studies have shown that organic farming, in particular, can help retain carbon in the soil.

For Mr. Rowe, organic farming is practical on his modest 30 acres are also an economic imperative: its harvest reaches several times the price of standard peanuts on the market. This helps him compete in a business landscape dominated by predominantly white farmers who enjoy huge economies of scale and subsidies.

“It’s a good start,” Rowe said of Mr. Biden’s plan. “You take care of your soil, the soil takes care of you.”

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McCarthy will meet with Trump after a split over his claim that the former president “ bears responsibility ” for the attack on Capitol Hill.

Donald J. Trump is due to meet with Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader on Thursday, weeks after Mr. Trump erupted after Mr. McCarthy told the House that the former president was responsible for the violent rampage on Capitol Hill on January. 6.

The two are to meet at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club in Florida, according to a person briefed on the plan. Mr. McCarthy, Republican from California, was not making a special trip for the meeting; he was in Palm Beach, Florida, raising money for the party’s efforts to try to regain a majority in the House in 2022, the person said.

Mr Trump had been furious with Mr McCarthy and, according to people close to the former president, referred to him privately with vulgarity commonly used to describe a coward after his speech during the House debate on the impeachment of the former president for “inciting insurgency.”

“The President bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” McCarthy said in his speech before joining a vast majority of Republicans in opposition to the prosecution. “He should have immediately reported the crowd when he saw what was going on. These facts call for immediate action on President Trump’s part: accept his share of the blame, calm the brewing unrest, and ensure that President-elect Biden is able to start his term well.

Mr. Trump did none of the above, but Mr. McCarthy has since tempered his criticism. He told reporters last week that he didn’t think Mr. Trump had “provoked” the crowd. In an interview aired on Sunday, he said that while the former president bore “some responsibility” for the assault on Capitol Hill, “I also think everyone across this country has some responsibility.”

Some Trump advisers have tried to stamp out the idea that Mr. Trump has lingering hostility to the House leader, and both men’s aides hoped the meeting would help ease tensions.

He came amid mounting evidence that most Republicans – far from repudiating Mr. Trump, as it seemed they might after the deadly siege – strongly rallied around him ahead of his impeachment trial. All but five Senate Republicans voted Tuesday to dismiss the lawsuit as unconstitutional before it could begin.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and leader of the minority, joined a large majority of his party in doing so, although he said he believed Mr. Trump had “provoked” the mob that attacked the Capitol and privately concluded that the former president had committed unforeseeable offenses.

Mr McConnell, who had previously said he would wait to hear arguments at trial before deciding to convict Mr Trump, told reporters on Wednesday he was still open-minded about a procedure that has failed still really started.

“I intend to participate in it and listen to the evidence,” he said.

Mr McConnell has not spoken to Mr Trump since mid-December, when he called the White House to inform them that he planned to recognize President Biden’s victory after the Electoral College certified the results .

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Biden’s virus plans meet reality

Fauci returns without muzzling, while the Senate is stuck in slow motion. It’s Friday, and here is your political advice sheet. register here to get On Politics delivered to your inbox every day of the week.

Biden yesterday signed executive orders on his administration’s response to the coronavirus in front of Vice President Kamala Harris and Dr Fauci.


Imagine, if you will, a president who cuts taxes for the rich, presides over a booming stock market, and relaxes the regulation of businesses of all kinds – but is so enthralled with his ability to sow conflict that he alienates even the greatest business leaders in the country. . This roughly describes Donald Trump, who by the end of his tumultuous presidency had lost the support of typical Republican pillars like the American Chamber of Commerce.

But does the exhaustion of the business world with Trump mean he will enthusiastically welcome Biden’s far-reaching proposals, which include raising taxes on high-income Americans and tightening various regulations?

As far as Biden will be enjoying any sort of honeymoon period, he is there right now. And the response of business leaders to his first executive actions has been largely positive. He has drawn praise from figures like Bill Gates and Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet, for pledging to join the Paris climate agreement, to protect the “dreamers” from deportation and to step up Covid relief.

But as a journalist David Gelles Writes in a new article, there has already been movement against corporate opposition, particularly around his order to stop construction on the Keystone XL pipeline. In a statement, the Chamber of Commerce called the move “politically motivated” and said it “would put thousands of building Americans out of work.”

The biggest fights are expected to come when Biden Shepherds legislation passes through Congress, particularly around environmental regulations and corporate taxation. But some political and economic observers say they might be willing to accept a little more taxation in exchange for less volatility.

“Markets are relieved to be on the other side of all the uproar and uncertainty that was Donald Trump,” Brad Karp, president of law firm Paul Weiss, told David. “You woke up in the morning and saw the president impose tariffs, close borders or fight back against a company. Businesses need predictability and certainty. “

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Do you think we are missing something? Do you want to see more? We would love to hear from you. Write to us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.

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Meet the House’s GOP freshmen emerging as some of the party’s sharpest critics

WASHINGTON – Three days after Representative Peter Meijer was sworn in, faced with a mob of violent rioters and a constitutional test, he broke with his party leaders and a majority of his fellow Republicans and voted to certify the President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr Victory.

Now, less than a week later, Mr. Meijer, a new Michigan lawmaker, plans to shatter what has been his party’s guiding orthodoxy – loyalty to President Trump – and vote to impeach his leader.

“What we saw on Wednesday left the president unfit for office,” Meijer said.

Most of Mr Meijer’s freshman Republican class colleagues voted last week to quash the election results, and some of his loudest cohort rushed to embrace and elevate the incendiary politics of the president and his conspiratorial impulses. But just over a week into his tenure, Meijer is among the handful of Republican newcomers who have emerged as prominent voices calling for a party-wide account after the riot. murder provoked by Mr. Trump, even as most leaders in their own conference hesitate. such a speech.

The brutal and repressing language of Mr. Meijer and his fellow freshman, South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace, in particular, dramatized in a freshman class the vast rift between the dueling wings of a fractured conference by the outgoing president’s demand for total loyalty.

Ten freshman Republicans, most from swing districts, banded together to support the election from a cohort of more than 40 lawmakers. On Wednesday, some, like Rep. Ashley Hinson of Iowa, took to Twitter to urge Mr. Trump to address the nation “And call for an end to this violence and the disruption of our democratic process.”

On Tuesday, as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican recruit from Georgia supporting QAnon, thanked his followers on Twitter for sending “AMAZING amounts of support to me for firmly supporting my objection on behalf of Republican voters who believe the election is bad,” his colleagues condemned the campaign and urged the party to end such demands.

“We need to take a cold and serious look at ourselves and recognize that this is a real problem for our party,” Ms. Mace said in an interview. “We reap what we sow. We have seen and heard the fierce rhetoric of the rally and are watching what ended up happening.

In an appeal by members of the Republican House on Monday, Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado, a far-right freshman, suggested some United States Capitol Police officers were participating in the riot. Ms Mace retorted that she was disappointed the party was run by conspiracy theorists, a glance at the endorsing comments from Ms Boebert and others at the previously held QAnon talk.

Last week provided a nightmarish orientation for the Republican freshman class. They have, both publicly and privately, expressed their anger at their colleagues for encouraging rioters with belligerent language – and for following through on their promise to reject millions of legally cast ballots even after the insurgents stormed the Capitol. Some are now threatened themselves, and Mr Meijer said in a Detroit News op-ed that he regretted not bringing his gun to Washington.

Rep. Tony Gonzales, Republican of Texas and former Navy officer who voted to keep the election, told a local TV station how he and other freshmen tried to barricade the doors to the chamber of the House as the crowd moved closer to reach them.

“Wow, that wouldn’t be something,” Mr. Gonzales remembered having thought. “I am fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan just to be killed in the House of Representatives.”

“I was so upset and distressed,” Ms. Mace said in an interview the day after the riot. “I woke up more heartbroken today than I was yesterday. More shocked, but also more angry than before. I am pissed off that we allowed this to happen.

In an interview, Mr Meijer recalled a conversation he had with a Republican colleague who thought voting to certify the election was the right thing to do, but feared that such a move would endanger the safety of citizens. family members. Mr Meijer said he saw the lawmaker glued to a spot in the House for minutes, voting card in hand, pondering what to do. The legislature ultimately voted to annul the election.

“It broke my heart,” Mr. Meijer said.

The vote, he said, immediately drew a clear “dividing line” throughout the conference: between those who voted to keep the election and those who “knew which vote was most appropriate” .

This fault line extended across the conference leadership. Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third Republican, announced Tuesday that she would vote to impeach Mr. Trump, becoming the second Republican in the House to do so and the first member of the leadership to make such an announcement. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, and Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the minority whip, both voted to quash the election results.

“There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” Ms. Cheney said in a statement.

Ms. Cheney’s announcement will undoubtedly provide political cover for other Republicans in the conference to follow suit. In the days leading up to the vote, Ms Cheney circulated a 21-page memo warning Republicans that opposing the results “would set an exceptionally dangerous precedent,” and as the tear gas cleared last Wednesday, she explicitly accused Mr. Trump’s violence. in remarks that other Republicans, including Ms Mace and Mr Meijer, have started to echo.

“All of the president’s accomplishments over the past four years have been wiped out,” Ms. Mace told Fox News. “The result of the rally, part of the rhetoric, led to this violence.”

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As state legislatures aim to meet amid Covid, drive-in is attempted

DURHAM, NH – The New Hampshire House of Representatives met in a parking lot on Wednesday morning, lashed by an icy wind and drowned out by occasional passing freight trains, in a legislative improvisation worthy of Rube Goldberg.

It was a democracy behind the wheel: three hundred and fifty-seven state officials sat in idling cars, listening to a shared radio frequency. When members expressed a desire to speak, via text, House staff roamed the course in golf carts with microphones attached to long poles, to stick to their car windows.

“If you are having difficulty with the vote, please turn on your hazard lights,” said House Clerk Paul C. Smith, who stood on a platform, under a stream of traffic. “What’s going to happen now,” he said later, “is that the staff will retreat behind me into the tunnel and count the ballots out of the wind.”

State legislatures across the country are looking for ways to operate despite restrictions on indoor gatherings due to the coronavirus. Few solutions could be more elaborate than that of New Hampshire, where the Republican House leadership, by far the nation’s largest state legislature, has resisted Democratic calls to meet virtually for security reasons.

That insistence was unaffected by the death last month of newly elected Republican President Richard Hinch, 71, from the coronavirus. He died a week after taking the oath.

In interviews, Republican officials dismissed complaints from colleagues about the safety of the in-person rally.

“If you didn’t feel ready to take risks with your health, you shouldn’t have run,” said Rep. Melissa Blasek, 32, a music teacher who said she was drawn into politics this spring. when she joined protests against coronavirus restrictions ordered by Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican.

She said she was opposed to being called via Zoom – the option favored by the Democratic caucus – because “a lot can be done that isn’t honest when you’re not in person.”

“I think being distant is the fastest way to be a secret government,” she said. “You don’t know who’s in the background. All you know is the person directly in front of the camera. “

Mr Hinch’s death cast a shadow over Wednesday’s legislative session, which began with a moment of silence in his memory. But some Republicans have openly questioned whether Mr Hinch actually died from the coronavirus, as the state medical examiner concluded.

“He didn’t,” said Rep. John Potucek, 73. “He had Covid germs. I mean, if someone dies and you’re 98 and you have pneumonia and they have Covid germs, they call it Covid, but they died from pneumonia.

He added, “Dick was a big guy, he had heart problems.”

Other Republicans, such as Representative Kurt Wuelper, 73, said Mr. Hinch knowingly accepted the possibility of contracting the virus as part of his political office.

“He took that risk and it killed him,” he said.

He said he and his fellow Republicans were prepared to take the same risk in the service of the government’s intrusion resistance principle.

“It’s something that transcends us,” he says. “It’s not about me or Dick Hinch. It is a question of knowing, do we have inalienable rights? Do we have any freedom?

Many state legislatures already meet virtually or by conference call – including the legislatures of Vermont and Massachusetts and the New Hampshire State Senate.

Twenty-eight states, along with Guam, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have changed legislative rules since the spring to allow remote meetings, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Rep. Steven Smith, a member of the Republican House leadership team, said it was not possible for New Hampshire to do the same due to a technical issue: he said he did not There was still no way for the president to verify the identity of each member or to securely record a quorum on a zoom or conference call of 400 people.

“We’re working on solutions to get there, we’re just not there yet,” he said.

The new Speaker of the House, Rep. Sherman Packard, who was elected on Wednesday to replace Mr Hinch, offered a slightly different explanation: He said the technology needed to create a secure voting system would cost the lender $ 300,000. ‘State.

But the Democratic House leader, Representative Renny Cushing, rejects both explanations, describing the obstacle as being political in nature.

An intransigent faction within the Republican Party, galvanized against the governor’s coronavirus restrictions, has grown stronger, he said, and House leaders are eager to welcome them.

“We have asked people to forgo degrees and family reunions, but the Legislature will meet, as a handful of anti-masks tell the Republican majority what to do, and Republicans accept it “, did he declare. “It’s the minority that dictates.”

House leaders have also suggested that a rule change could allow for a remote rally, but that is unlikely: the House on Wednesday voted 187-149 against such a change.

New Hampshire has always had a conservative strain; it is one of five states without sales tax and one of two whose governors serve two years.

This indigenous conservatism was spurred by an experiment called the Free State Project, which recruited libertarian-minded people to step up to the state and run for office. More than 25 current members of the state House of Representatives are Free Staters, who moved to New Hampshire as part of the project, said its founder, Jason Sorens.

They were joined by newcomers like Ms Blasek, who was drawn into politics by her opposition to Governor Sununu’s coronavirus restrictions. She was among a group of 80 Republicans who refused to wear masks during an outdoor legislative session in December.

Their enthusiasm helped Republicans regain control of the House in November, and she said she hoped her faction could pressure Mr. Sununu to lift restrictions.

“The reality is that we have a voting bloc,” she said. “I think he is aware in a lot of ways, with the Republican majority he has more perspective than with the Democratic majority.”

Rep. Laurel Stavis, a Democrat from Grafton, said in hall rallies last fall that unmasked Republicans were “quite intimidating,” taunting and poking fun at Democrats trying to keep their distance.

“I’ve lived in New Hampshire for 25 years and I don’t remember anything like it, it’s just such a wide chasm, in your face it feels like this rift is opening up and people are falling in it “she said. . “It’s like a force of nature or something.

But for Mr Potucek, a Republican, the sight of the vast parking lot on Wednesday was a triumph: his colleagues had managed to gather again in person.

“This is the New Hampshire story that is happening right now,” he said. “Hey, it’s live free or die.”

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Congress set to meet overnight as Republicans try to overturn election

The House and Senate will meet Wednesday afternoon for a remarkable joint session to formalize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the Electoral College, with President Trump and his allies plotting to turn the counting session into a last futile attempt to overthrow. The results.

Biparty majorities from both houses are ready to meet late into the night to push back the challenges and confirm that Mr Biden is the winner. But by using what is generally a ceremonial procedure as a forum to attempt to subvert a democratic election, Mr. Trump and his allies are going where no party has since the era of 19th-century reconstruction, when the Congress negotiated the presidency.

Its implications, for future elections and the Republican Party, could be significant.

At least four Republican Senators – Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama – have agreed to join members of the House in contesting the results of three battlefield states won by Mr. Biden: Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania. . Senators still wondered whether they should join members of the House in similarly challenging the result in Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin.

In each case, their objections will force the House and Senate to debate baseless allegations of Mr. Trump’s electoral fraud for up to two hours, then vote to accept or reject the state-certified results. A process that typically consists of less than an hour of glorified paperwork can take anywhere from nine to 24 hours, starting at 1 p.m. EST.

Before it even began, the session was already driving sharp divisions in the Republican Party, which threatened to permanently damage its cohesion, as lawmakers decided to cast their spell with Mr. Trump or the Constitution. The main party leaders in the House and Senate appeared to be heading for a high-profile split. And while only a dozen senators were expected to vote to reject the result in key states, up to 70% of House Republicans could join the effort, fueling the dangerous belief of tens of millions of voters according to which Mr. Biden was illegally elected. .

Vice President Mike Pence, whose status and tradition dictates, must ultimately declare Mr. Biden the winner. Mr Trump is pressuring him to become a thug and rejecting voters in the major battlefield states he has lost, giving them a second term.

The demand ensures that Mr. Pence must also choose between the Constitution and his loyalty to Mr. Trump. The answer could shape its own political future.

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Travel News

Congress set to meet overnight as Republicans try to overturn election

The House and Senate will meet Wednesday afternoon for a remarkable joint session to formalize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the Electoral College, with President Trump and his allies plotting to turn the counting session into a last futile attempt to overthrow. The results.

Biparty majorities from both houses are ready to meet late into the night to push back the challenges and confirm that Mr Biden is the winner. But by using what is generally a ceremonial procedure as a forum to attempt to subvert a democratic election, Mr. Trump and his allies are going where no party has since the era of 19th-century reconstruction, when the Congress negotiated the presidency.

Its implications, for future elections and the Republican Party, could be significant.

At least four Republican Senators – Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama – have agreed to join members of the House in contesting the results of three battlefield states won by Mr. Biden: Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania. . Senators still wondered whether they should join members of the House in similarly challenging the result in Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin.

In each case, their objections will force the House and Senate to debate baseless allegations of Mr. Trump’s electoral fraud for up to two hours, then vote to accept or reject the state-certified results. A process that typically consists of less than an hour of glorified paperwork can take anywhere from nine to 24 hours, starting at 1 p.m. EST.

Before it even began, the session was already driving sharp divisions in the Republican Party, which threatened to permanently damage its cohesion, as lawmakers decided to cast their spell with Mr. Trump or the Constitution. The main party leaders in the House and Senate appeared to be heading for a high-profile split. And while only a dozen senators were expected to vote to reject the result in key states, up to 70% of House Republicans could join the effort, fueling the dangerous belief of tens of millions of voters according to which Mr. Biden was illegally elected. .

Vice President Mike Pence, whose status and tradition dictates, must ultimately declare Mr. Biden the winner. Mr Trump is pressuring him to become a thug and rejecting voters in the major battlefield states he has lost, giving them a second term.

The demand ensures that Mr. Pence must also choose between the Constitution and his loyalty to Mr. Trump. The answer could shape its own political future.