Posts tagged with "CNN"

USA will re-open Canadian and Mexican borders to fully vaccinated visitors

October 14, 2021

The United States plans to ease restrictions on travel for fully vaccinated visitors from Canada and Mexico starting in early November, relaxing bans that have been in place for more than 18 months, according to senior administration officials, reports CNN.

The new rules—which are similar to those announced for international air passengers—will be rolled out in a phased approach:

  • The first phase, kicking off in early November, will allow fully vaccinated visitors traveling for nonessential reasons, like visiting friends or for tourism, to cross U.S. land borders.
  • The second phase, starting in early January 2022, will apply the vaccination requirement to all inbound foreign travelers, whether traveling for essential or nonessential reasons.

“These new vaccination requirements deploy the best tool we have in our arsenal to keep people safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 and will create a consistent, stringent protocol for all foreign nationals traveling into the United States whether by land or air,” a senior administration official told reporters.

The United States has been limiting nonessential travel on the ground along its borders with Canada and Mexico since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and extending those restrictions on a monthly basis. Air travel between the US and those countries has been possible. The restrictions don’t apply to cross-border trade, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, or to people traveling for medical purposes or to attend school, among others.

The latest set of restrictions is due to expire on October 21. Senior administration officials said the limits on cross-border travel will remain in effect until a soon-to-be-disclosed date in November.

A Trump-era public health order that’s allowed for the swift expulsion of more than 958,000 migrants also will stay in effect. Those restrictions, while also based on public health, are necessary because of concerns over migrants in congregate settings when undergoing processing, officials said.

The travel restrictions had come under heavy scrutiny by lobbyists, lawmakers and border mayors who implored the Biden administration to adjust limits to meet the evolving landscape.

Research contact: @CNN

 

Biden: It’s ‘inappropriate’ to use executive privilege to shield Trump documents from January 6 probe

September 28, 2021

President Joe Biden generally does not expect to assert executive privilege to shield Trump-era records from being seen by a congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection attempt, the White House said on Friday, September 24, according to a report by CNN.

“We take this matter incredibly seriously,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a Friday press briefing. “The President has already concluded that it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege.”

“We will respond promptly to these questions as they arise,” Psaki added. “And certainly as they come up from Congress—and certainly we have been working closely with congressional committees and others as they work to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6, an incredibly dark day in our democracy.”

Later, Psaki said Biden was taking an “eye toward not asserting executive privilege,” but that requests would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The White House later attempted to clarify Psaki’s initial comment about exerting executive privilege being inappropriate. They say Psaki was referring to a previous decision by the administration not to assert executive privilege in the committee’s attempt to have former Justice Department officials testify about an attempt to oust then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.

“The Administration believes strongly in the vital role this Committee is playing and will continue to work closely with it moving forward. Jen was referring to the Administration’s previous decision not to assert executive privilege in the matter of certain former DOJ officials who had been called to testify before Congress,” an administration official said. “The Administration will determine any future questions of executive privilege involving documents and testimony on a case-by-case basis, as Jen noted.”

Late last month, Trump threatened to invoke executive privilege in an effort to block the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot from obtaining a massive tranche of documents it’s demanding from several US government agencies—despite his successor having the ultimate say over whether the information can be shared.

Research contact: @CNN

White House warns states of potentially dire effects if government defaults

September 20, 2021

The White House is warning states that a default caused by failing to raise the federal debt limit could result in drastic cutbacks to disaster relief, Medicaid reimbursement, school funding, and other programs, reports CNN.

“If the US defaults and can no longer pay its obligations, billions of dollars in state aid and state-run but federal funded programs could be halted,” the White House warns in a fact sheet for local and state officials.

Preident Joe Biden has demanded that Republicans join Democrats in raising the debt ceiling, but so far, GOP lawmakers have resisted. The memo comes as Democratic leaders are seriously considering adding a debt limit increase to the stopgap funding bill.

A final decision on whether to make that move must come by Monday, September 20, when the House Rules Committee is slated to take up the short-term continuing resolution, or CR, to keep the government open past September 30. If Democrats add the debt limit hike to the CR, it will set up a showdown vote days before the shutdown deadline, since Senate Republicans are vowing to block it.

According to CNN, the U.S. Treasury has said extraordinary measures to avoid default will run out by October.

The memo outlines several key programs that would be halted if Congress fails to the Children’s Health Insurance Program, infrastructure funding, education, public healthcare, and child nutrition.

The memo also warned that “hitting the debt ceiling could cause a recession,” suggesting, “Economic growth would falter, unemployment would rise, and the labor market could lose millions of jobs.”

“If the U.S. defaults on its debt, cities and states could experience a double-whammy: falling revenues and no federal aid as long as Congress refuses to raise or suspend the debt limit. This means critical state services will be at risk for budget cuts, from education to healthcare to pensions,” the White House said.

It also warns that capital market volatility “could affect state assets,” which could impact state pension payout obligations.

The White House expressed confidence the matter would be resolved, but declined to say how.

“We have seen this done in a bipartisan way consistently. And the best way to do this is without a lot of drama, without a lot of self-inflicted harm to the economy and to our country. And that’s what we’re going to do, you know, there’s a lot of posturing on this issue, but we’re confident at the end of the day we’ll get this done,” National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said Friday, September 17, on MSNBC.

Research contact: @CNN

Ex-FBI official says law enforcement needs to take Sept. 18 right-wing rally in DC ‘very seriously’

September 8, 2021

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said on Monday evening, September 6,  that law enforcement needs to take the upcoming right-wing rally in support of jailed January 6 rioters “very seriously” as concerns mount about more potential violence on Capitol Hill, CNN reports.

“I think they should take it very seriously. In fact, they should take it more seriously than they took the same sort of intelligence that they likely saw on January 5,” McCabe, now a CNN contributor, told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on “Erin Burnett OutFront.”

Law enforcement members in Washington are steeling themselves against possible unrest at the “Justice for J6″ rally—planned for September 18—which aims to support the insurrectionists charged in the riot.

The event, organized by a former Trump campaign staffer, has prompted security concerns on Capitol Hill, and some precautionary measures will be in place. However, it’s unclear how many protesters plan to attend. The rally is also taking place on a Saturday, when the House will be on recess, so far fewer lawmakers or staff will be around.

A law enforcement source previously told CNN that the Metropolitan Police Department will be fully activated, which includes canceling days off for sworn officers and putting Civil Disturbance Units on standby. The source said the department will monitor open source information—like online chatter and travel —to gauge the potential crowds.

Homeland Security Intelligence Chief John Cohen told CNN last month that online extremist rhetoric is strikingly similar to the buildup to the January 6 attack, with increasing calls for violence linked to conspiracy theories and false narratives.

The security preparations for September 18 underscore the tense environment on Capitol Hill following the January 6 attack. In August, a man critical of Democrats was arrested after an hours-long standoff near the Capitol during which he claimed to have an explosive device; the event ended without incident but still sent a chill through Capitol Hill and provided law enforcement with yet another example of the risks of a toxic political climate. In April, a Capitol Police officer was killed after a man rammed a vehicle into a police barricade.

The charged environment has led lawmakers to invest in body armor and security systems, while the U.S. Capitol Police is opening field offices in cities around the country.

Still, McCabe—who served as the FBI’s deputy director from 2016 to 2018, including a period as acting director—said Monday that law enforcement has “a few factors leaning in their favor” this time. “You don’t have a sitting President actively fanning the flames and trying to get people to attend the rally,” he said.

McCabe continued: “And on the other hand, it looks like, from all indications, our law enforcement partners are well prepared for this one. They seem to be taking the intelligence very seriously, which raises a question as to whether or not they did on January 6, but that’s another issue.”

Research contact: @CNN

Progressives led by AOC call for Biden to replace Fed Chair Powell

September 1, 2021

Progressive Democrats, including New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are calling on President Joe Biden to give the Federal Reserve a sweeping makeover by replacing Jerome Powell as chairman, CNN reports.

“We urge President Biden to reimagine a Federal Reserve focused on eliminating climate risk and advancing racial and economic justice,” the lawmakers said in a statement released on Tuesday morning, August 31.

In addition to Ocasio-Cortez, the statement was issued Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Mondaire Jones of New York, and Chuy Garcia of Illinois—all members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Powell, a Republican and former investment banker, was nominated to lead the powerful Federal Reserve by former President Donald Trump in 2017, who later sharply criticized his handpicked chairman.

Powell’s term as chair expires in February, and the White House has not said whether he will be reappointed.

According to CNN, under Powell, the Fed wasted little time responding forcefully to the economic fallout from the pandemic in March 2020. Economists have credited the Fed’s historic actions with helping to prevent a full-blown depression and financial crisis in the United States.

The Fed is tasked by Congress to maximize the number of American jobs while keeping inflation low. Although the Democrats in the statement credited the Powell-led Fed with making changes to how it approaches its goal of full employment, they voiced concern over his track record on the climate crisis and regulation.

“Under his leadership, the Federal Reserve has taken very little action to mitigate the risk climate change poses to our financial system,” the lawmakers said in the statement.

However, the Fed did join an international network of global financial regulators focused on climate change in late 2020. In June, Powell warned that the climate crisis poses “profound challenges for the global economy and certainly the financial system.”

The AOC-led statement also criticized the Fed for “weakening” financial regulations enacted after the Great Recession, including capital and liquidity requirements, stress tests and the Volcker Rule. Powell has previously disputed the argument that the Fed has weakened regulations.

The Fed chair is appointed by the president. The term lasts four years. Looking for continuity, former Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama reappointed Fed chairs that were appointed by previous presidents, both of whom were Republicans. But Trump did not reappoint Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who was appointed by Obama.

A White House official told CNN on Tuesday that when it comes to appointing Fed officials, Biden “will appoint the candidates who[m] he thinks will be the most effective in implementing monetary policy.”

The Federal Reserve declined to comment.

Research contact: @CNN

House approves $3.5 trillion budget plan

August 26, 2021

On Tuesday, August 24, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a budget framework that will pave the way for Democrats to spend up to $3.5 trillion on a sweeping economic package to expand the social safety net that President Joe Biden has made a signature agenda item, reports CNN

.The House vote came after painstaking negotiations between progressive Democratic leaders and a group of moderates yielded a compromise that paved the way for passage.

Based on that compromise, the House voted on a rule to advance both the budget deal and a separate $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. Due to a procedural maneuver, passage of the rule also approved the budget resolution, bypassing a separate vote. In a concession to moderates, the rule also directs the House to take up the bipartisan bill by September 27.

“I’m sorry that we couldn’t land the plane [Monday] night, and that you all had to wait,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her caucus on Tuesday morning, according to a Democratic aide in the room. “But that’s just part of the legislative progress … I think we’re close to landing the plane.”

The Senate approved the budget resolution earlier this month. Budget resolutions do not become law and are not signed by the President, but the framework will act as an important policy blueprint. Both chambers must adopt the resolution for Democrats to use a process known as budget reconciliation to later pass legislation addressing the climate crisis, aid for families, health care and more that cannot be defeated by a GOP filibuster in the Senate.

The budget resolution includes a set of instructions for House and Senate committees that will allow them to write reconciliation legislation with a total price tag of as much as $3.5 trillion. The final reconciliation package, once it is drafted, is expected to be considered in the fall.

With regard to the $3.5 trillion topline number for this package, the President has been clear: this is the number that will honor his vision to Build Back Better,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter to House Democrats over the weekend. “This is the number that has been agreed to in the Senate and is now before us in the House. Accordingly, we will write a reconciliation bill with the Senate that is consistent with that topline.”

Representative Henry Cuellar, a moderate Democrat from Texas, told CNN on Tuesday that “good progress” has been made when asked if moderates have reached a deal with leadership.

In a clear signal of the high stakes moment, Biden himself joined members of his senior team in making calls to some of the holdout moderates, according to a White House official. Biden’s senior aides and top legislative affairs officials have been in regular touch with the moderate group for several weeks and publicly backed Pelosi’s approach. But several House Democrats had quietly voiced desire for Biden himself to weigh in—something Biden did with some members Monday.

The optimistic tone Tuesday morning stood in stark contrast to the heated division on display Monday evening, when tension in the Democratic caucus came to a boiling point in a heated, expletive-laden meeting. Multiple sources confirmed that lawmakers grew visibly angry when Pelosi emphasized lawmakers shouldn’t “squander” the opportunity to pass these bills with their majority in the House.

Democrats have ambitious goals for the legislative package, which opens the door for them to implement key priorities across a wide range of policy issues. Republicans are steadfastly opposed to the effort and have denounced it as a reckless partisan tax and spending spree.

According to a summary of the budget resolution released after Democrats formally unveiled the measure the measure seeks to establish universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds and make community college tuition-free for two years. Among other provisions, it calls for the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps; adds new dental, vision and hearing benefits to Medicare coverage; and would make an “historic level” of investment in affordable housing.

The budget resolution sets a target date of September 15 for committees to submit their reconciliation legislation.

Democrats will ultimately be subject to constraints on what they can include under the budget reconciliation process. Provisions have to directly impact the budget, and the Senate parliamentarian may rule that certain priorities cannot be included as a result. The parliamentarian is responsible for advising the chamber on how its rules, protocols and precedents operate.

Research contact: @CNN

Polls find that Americans agree: War in Afghanistan wasn’t worth it

August 24, 2021

As corporate media amplify pro-war voices to cover developing events in Afghanistan, two polls out Sunday, as well as one from the week before, found that the U.S. public has little appetite for continuing the 20-year war, reports Raw Story.

CBS News/YouGov survey, conducted August 18-20, found that 63% of respondents nationwide approve of President Joe Biden’s decision to pull troops out of Afghanistan, and just 37% disapprove. Just 47%, however, approve of the way Biden is handling the troop withdrawal.

Separate polling from NBC News, conducted August 14-17asked if the war in Afghanistan was worth it. Sixty-one percent said it was not, compared to 29% who said it was. The last time the poll asked the question was in June of 2014 when similar percentages were found. At that time, 65% said the war wasn’t worth it, compared to 27% who said it was.

Those findings mirror a poll out last week from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Conducted leading up to and after the Taliban entered Kabul on Sunday, August 15, the survey found 62% of U.S. adults believed the war in Afghanistan wasn’t worth fighting.

The surveys were released amid still emerging and chaotic scenes of Afghan civilians trying to flee Taliban takeover of the country, Raw Story reported. The British military said Sunday that seven people were killed as a result of a crowd crush at the Kabul airport.

Rightwing media have responded to the scenes of those trying to flee with fear-mongering about the possible influx of Afghan refugees into the U.S. Human rights advocates, meanwhile, are calling on the Biden administration to “urgently do more” to help evacuate those most at risk of harm, including those who worked with U.S. and NATO forces, journalists, and women’s rights activists.

Specific actions that should be taken, the groups, including Amnesty International USA and Human Rights Watch, said in Friday, August 20,  letter  to Biden, are working with allies to ensure those fleeing get to the Kabul airport safely and increasing the administration’s stated goal of evacuating 5,000-9,000 people per day.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday, August 22, that in the last 24 hours, the United States helped secure the evacuation of nearly 8,000 civilians, with 3,900 people on U.S. military aircraft and another 3,900 on partners’ aircraft.

Research contact: @RawStory

The play’s the thing: Toys ‘R’ Us is back with a little help from Macy’s

August 23, 2021

Toys “R” Us is getting a new lease on life, thanks to Macy’s. The two companies are partnering to sell toys on Macy’s website. The brands are also opening Toys “R” Us shop-in-shops at 400 department stores next year.

It’s the second attempt to revitalize the Toys “R” Us brand within three years, according to a report by CNN.

This relaunch is new owner WHP Global’s first significant strategy shift for the toy store. The New York-based brand management company bought the storied retailer in March with plans to build a “global network and digital platform” for Toys “R” Us.

For Macy’s, using the recognizable name could grow its toy business to compete against Target and Walmart. The department store said its toys sales have grown “exponentially” in the past year as parents try to entertain their homebound kids during the pandemic.

“Toys “R” Us is a globally recognized leader in children’s toys and our partnership allows Macy’s to significantly expand our footprint in that category, while creating more occasions for customers to shop with us across their lifestyles,” said Macy’s Chief Merchandising Officer Nata Dvir in a press release.

WHP Global bought Toys “R” Us from Tru Kids, which bought the failed brand in a 2018 liquidation sale. Tru Kids had big plans to open about a dozen standalone stores across US malls, but only opened two in New Jersey and Texas. Both later closed with the company blaming COVID-19.

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The store-within-a-store concept has been growing in popularity, with big chains like Target and Nordstrom looking for ways to keep shoppers coming back to their stores. Target is opening mini Apple shops and Ulta makeup shops at dozens of its locations and Kohl’s has partnered with Sephora to open 70 shops.

Research contact: @CNN

Washington Post publisher asks White House to help evacuate 204 journalists, staff, families from Kabul

August 18, 2021

Three top U.S. newspapers—The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal— are seeking help from the Biden Administration in getting their staffs and their families out of Kabul following the Taliban’s takeover of the capital of Afghanistan, CNN reports.

The Washington Post Publisher Fred Ryan emailed White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday, August 16, with an “urgent request on behalf of” his paper, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

Ryan asked to have the publications’ “204 journalists, support staff and families transported by U.S. Military from the civilian side of the Kabul airport to the military side of the airport where they can be safe as they await evacuation flights.”

“They are currently in danger and need the US government to get them to safety,” Ryan wrote. “Please advise as to how best to proceed.”

Later in the day, The Times published a separate group statement—signed by the publishers of each of the three papers and addressed specifically to Biden. The statement asks the President for protected access for their Afghan colleagues to a US-controlled airport, safe passage through a protected access gate and facilitated air movement out of Afghanistan.

Satellite images have shown significant crowds of people and traffic jams near the Kabul International Airport and at the tarmac. Witnesses at Hamid Karzai International Airport told CNN that thousands of people were there hoping to board flights out of the country.

Almar Latour, CEO of Dow Jones and Company and publisher of The Journal, echoed the urgency of Ryan’s plea for help in a statement to CNN.

“We can’t overemphasize the urgency of the situation,” Latour said. “Right now we are focused on seeking safe passage for our Afghan colleagues and their families who even now are bearing witness to events on the ground. We need the immediate support of the US government in bringing them to safety.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists’ Executive Director Joel Simon recently made a case for helping the Afghan journalists “who do the lion’s share of the reporting for international news organizations, which have shrunk their bureaus as the American presence has diminished.”

“[U]nless the U.S. government intervenes to bring them to safety, an entire generation of reporters will be lost,” Simon wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post last week.

Last month, the CPJ and US media organizations asked the Biden Administration for humanitarian assistance and emergency visas for Afghan journalists. Signers of that July 20 letter included The Post, The Journal’s parent company Dow Jones; and The Times, as well as CNN.

The National Security Council and the White House did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comment. Biden said in a speech from the White House East Room Monday that the United States is “expanding refugee access to cover other vulnerable Afghans who worked for our embassy, US non-government agencies, or US non-governmental organizations and Afghans who otherwise are at great risk in US news agencies.

Research contact: @CNN

Education Department writes to Texas and Florida governors—backing schools amid mask mandate fight

August 17, 2021

On Friday, August 13, the U.S. Department of Education sent letters Friday to the Republican governors of Texas and Florida, as well as Florida school administrators, amid an escalating battle between the White House and state officials over school mask guidance as the Delta variant of COVID-19 surges, reports CNN.

In the latest letters to Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona stressed that their respective states’ school mask policies go against “science-based strategies for preventing the spread of COVID-19” and sharply voiced the Biden administration’s support for the states’ educators.

Cardona wrote to DeSantis that he is “deeply concerned” by the governor’s executive order, issued last month, directing health and education departments to leave it to parents to decide if students wear masks. Cardona also took aim at the recent threat from the governor’s office that the state board of education could move to withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who disregard his executive order, which effectively prohibits mask mandates.

“The Department recognizes that several school districts in your State have already moved to adopt such policies in line with guidance from the CDC for the reopening and operation of school facilities despite the State level prohibitions. The Department stands with these dedicated educators who are working to safely reopen schools and maintain safe in-person instruction,” Cardona wrote in the letter, which was also addressed to Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

In Texas, Abbott prohibits mask mandatesbut two judges there have issued restraining orders temporarily blocking the enforcement of his order. Cardona sent a similar warning to Abbott and the state’s education commissioner, Mike Morath, underscoring that “Texas’s recent actions to block school districts from voluntarily adopting science-based strategies for preventing the spread of COVID-19 that are aligned with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts these goals at risk and may infringe upon a school district’s authority to adopt policies to protect students and educators as they develop their safe return to in-person instruction plans required by Federal law.”

Cardona’s direct messages come as President Joe Biden and members of his administration have specifically targeted the governors of Florida and Texas for standing in the way of mask and vaccine requirements—pointing to the extraordinary number of COVID cases and hospitalizations in their states.

CNN’s requests for comment from the offices of both governors and state education commissioners were not immediately returned Friday.

In Friday’s letter to DeSantis and Corcoran, Cardona pointed to how Florida school districts can use funds from federal COVID relief for educators’ salaries, noting that “any threat by Florida to withhold salaries from superintendents and school board members who are working to protect students and educators (or to levy other financial penalties) can be addressed using ESSER funds at the sole and complete discretion of Florida school districts.”

In the letter to the Florida Association of School Administrators on Friday, Cardona further emphasized the administration’s support for the state’s educators: “I want you to know that the U.S. Department of Education stands with you. Your decisions are vital to safely reopen schools and maintain safe in-person instruction, and they are undoubtedly in the best interest of your students.”

Research contact: @CNN