10 things you need to know today: January 28, 2021
Biden signs sweeping climate orders promising job creation, Homeland Security warns of extremist threat, and more
Biden signs climate orders, promising job creation
President Biden on Wednesday signed several executive orders focused on confronting "the existential threat of climate change" while promoting job creation and fighting racial inequity. "We've already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis. We can't wait any longer," Biden said. The orders called for halting new oil-drilling leases on federal land, and using the federal government's enormous purchasing power to buy zero-emission vehicles, which Biden said would "mean one million new jobs in the American automobile industry." Biden's international climate envoy, John Kerry, said the United States would host an international climate change summit on Earth Day, April 22, to ensure "that 2021 is going to be the year that really makes up for the lost time of the last four years."
Homeland Security warns of threat from violent extremists
The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday warned that there is a rising threat of attacks by "ideologically-motivated violent extremists" emboldened by the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol attack. DHS said the right-wing extremists are motivated by "perceived grievances fueled by false narratives" and agitation over President Biden's inauguration. The agency said in a statement that the threat of violence is expected to "persist in the coming weeks," which will include former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. "DHS does not have any information to indicate a specific, credible plot; however, violent riots have continued in recent days," the statement said. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for global action to counter neo-Nazism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism.
Democrats consider censuring Trump as conviction prospects dim
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) on Wednesday floated the possibility of a censure resolution against former President Donald Trump for his role fueling the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6. Democrats reportedly are looking for a way to hold Trump accountable as Senate Republicans rally behind Trump, signaling his likely acquittal in a Senate impeachment trial on the charge of inciting an insurrection. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the impeachment trial would proceed as scheduled starting Feb. 9, even though all but five Republican senators backed Trump in a vote on declaring the impeachment unconstitutional. The vote failed 55-45, but suggested it was highly unlikely that Trump's critics would muster the 67 votes needed to convict Trump and possibly bar him from holding public office again.
Alleged extremist pleads guilty in Whitmer kidnap plot
A 25-year-old Michigan man, Ty Garbin, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to participating in a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Garbin, an airline mechanic, agreed to "fully cooperate" with FBI investigators in exchange for leniency. He is one of 14 men who have been accused of conspiring to kidnap Whitmer because they were angry about her lockdown orders, which were designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The alleged plotters reportedly planned to abandon Whitmer in a boat or take her to another state for "trial," accusing her of being a "tyrant." Garbin has confessed to surveilling Whitmer's vacation home as part of the group's preparations for the kidnapping. He also said he participated in training exercises, and took night-vision binoculars to one of the sessions.
Report: Proud Boys leader worked undercover for law enforcement
Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio has served as an informant for the FBI and local police, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing a former prosecutor and a 2014 federal court transcript. Tarrio reportedly did undercover work for law enforcement agencies after his arrest in 2012. According to the transcript from a Miami court hearing, a federal prosecutor, an FBI agent, and Tarrio's lawyer described his work for police and federal agents that helped in the prosecution of more than a dozen people accused of gambling, human smuggling, and drug offenses. Tarrio denied serving as an informant. "I don't recall any of this," he told Reuters. Tarrio, 36, is one of the high-profile organizers of the Proud Boys, a right-wing group that was involved in the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
RNC chair says party will remain neutral in 2024 primary
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said Wednesday that the party would stay "neutral" in the 2024 presidential primary, regardless of whether former President Donald Trump makes another run for the White House. "The party has to stay neutral," McDaniel said. "I'm not telling anybody to run or not to run in 2024." The national GOP over the last four years focused on promoting Trump's 2020 re-election bid. McDaniel said she hoped the former president would "help us win back majorities" in the House and the Senate in the 2022 midterm elections. In an interview with The Associated Press, McDaniel said the pro-Trump conspiracy theory group QAnon, which helped fuel the pro-Trump mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, was "dangerous."
Polish court ruling restricting abortion takes effect
A Polish Constitutional Court ruling restricting access to abortion in the country took effect Wednesday. The decision, which the court announced three months ago, made it illegal to terminate pregnancies due to fetal defects, which had been the most common of the legal grounds that were left in the heavily Roman Catholic country. Now abortions will only be allowed in cases of rape, incest, or threats to the mother's life or health. The October decision sparked nationwide protests. Access to abortions already were declining as more doctors refused to perform the procedure on religious grounds. Opponents of the nationalist Law and Justice party accused it of influencing the ruling.
Fed vows to keep interest rates low through coronavirus recovery
Federal Reserve policy makers on Wednesday vowed to keep interest rates near zero to boost the economy even after it recovers from damage from the coronavirus pandemic. The Fed also said it planned to continue buying Treasury and mortgage bonds to pump more money into the economy. The U.S. central bank's leaders said at the end of their two-day policy meeting that the improvement in the economy and job market had slowed in recent months as COVID-19 cases surged. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the recovery largely hinges on getting Americans vaccinated quickly so that bars, restaurants, and other businesses can get back on track. "We have not won this yet," Powell said. "We need to stay focused on it as a country and get there."
Sanders uses viral inauguration photo to raise $1.8 million for charity
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) used a viral image of his sensible fashion statement at President Biden's inauguration to raise $1.8 million for charities in Vermont. Sanders wore a Burton Snowboards jacket and mittens made from recycled wool to the outdoor event. A photo showing him sitting in a folding chair, legs and arms crossed, resonated with the internet, and was soon made into a meme. His campaign put the image on sweatshirts, T-shirts, and stickers last Thursday, and the items immediately sold out; more products were released over the weekend, and those were snapped up by Monday morning. Sanders announced on Wednesday that in just five days, $1.8 million was raised for a variety of charities in Vermont, including Meals on Wheels and senior centers.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show star Cloris Leachman dies at 94
Cloris Leachman, the award-winning actress known for such roles as Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, has died at 94. Leachman died from natural causes at her home in California. The beloved actress rose to fame while portraying landlady Phyllis on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1970s. She won two of her eight Primetime Emmy Awards for the role, which she reprised in the spinoff, Phyllis, and she's tied with Julia Louis-Dreyfus for most acting honors at the Emmys. Leachman also won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1972 for her performance in The Last Picture Show. "Cloris Leachman was a comedy legend," the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tweeted Wednesday. "She will be missed."