10 issues to know right now: February 19, 2021


The Biden administration on Thursday despatched turbines, blankets and different provides to Texas to assist folks struggling with out electrical energy or operating water after a brutal explosion in excessive winter situations. President Biden additionally accredited statements for Oklahoma and Louisiana, two different states laborious hit by the storm, which has been charged with dozens of deaths. “Jill and I maintain Texas, Oklahoma and different affected states in our prayers,” Biden tweeted. “Please comply with the directions of native authorities and keep secure.” The Federal Emergency Administration Company has delivered 60 turbines to produce electrical energy to hospitals, water amenities and different important websites. Lots of of hundreds of individuals went with out energy in Texas for a 3rd day in a row, and nearly half of the state’s residents were left on boil water advisories or without running water one other storm hit the plains and the east coast on Thursday. [The Hill, CNN]


Thursday by NASA landed its Perseverance rover on Mars, giving new impetus to review the Pink Planet to find out if it ever supported life. The US area company has performed different missions to Mars, however the work of the brand new $ 2.7 billion robotic explorer offers America a brand new set of instruments with extra superior capabilities than america ever had on the planet. Perseverance, which is roughly the scale of a automotive, has refined cameras and lasers able to analyzing the chemical elements of rocks, in addition to a soil-penetrating radar able to figuring out fossilized microbial life within the rock. ‘a time when Mars had ample water. “It is an enormous endeavor forward of us, and it has monumental scientific potential to actually be transformative,” mentioned Kenneth Williford, an affiliate scientist on the mission mission. “The query is: ‘Was Mars ever a residing planet?'” [The New York Times]


The Biden administration mentioned on Thursday that america was able to start talks with Iran on relaunching the 2015 agreement to stop the nation from buying nuclear weapons. Former President Donald Trump withdrew america from the deal virtually three years in the past and reimposed sanctions. Iran lately resumed uranium enrichment in violation of the historic settlement. “If Iran returns in strict compliance with its commitments … america will do the identical and is able to enter into discussions with Iran to this finish,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned in an announcement. joint assertion together with his British and French. and their German counterparts. Iranian International Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded in a tweet, saying that “as an alternative of fallacies and imposing duty on Iran”, america and different world powers ought to respect their “personal commitments and demand an finish to Trump’s legacy of financial #Terrorism towards Iran. ” [Reuters]


Democrats Thursday introduced President Biden’s immigration overhaul to Capitol Hill. The proposal features a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants. “We’re right here right now as a result of final November 80 million Individuals voted towards Donald Trump and towards the whole lot he stood for,” mentioned Senator Bob Menendez (DN.J.). “They voted to revive frequent sense, compassion and competence in our authorities. And a part of that mandate is to repair our immigration system, which is the cornerstone of Trump’s hateful horror present.” Immigration reform, primarily based on a proposal Biden made on his first day in workplace, comes as Democrats additionally attempt to cross a brand new spherical of $ 1.9 trillion in coronavirus aid, which the White Home recognized as Biden’s prime precedence. [The New York Times]


Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) confronted an intense backlash Thursday after pictures that went viral confirmed him touring together with his household to Cancun, Mexico, as hundreds of thousands in his state struggled for days with out electrical energy or operating water attributable to a brutal winter. storm. Cruz returned to Texas after 11 a.m. in Cancun. He mentioned he went to Mexico as a result of after his household “misplaced warmth and electrical energy too” his daughters “requested to make a journey with associates,” and “eager to be a great father” , he accepted and accompanied them to Cancun. He ought to have returned on Saturday, however took a return flight Thursday after an outcry from many Democrats and a few Tories. The State Democratic Celebration tweeted: “Texans are dying and also you’re on a flight to Cancun. #TedCruzRESIGN.” [NBC News]


South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (proper) on Thursday signed restrictive invoice to ban “fetal heartbeat” abortion. Controversial laws, handed by State Home a day earlier, requires medical doctors to examine for a fetal heartbeat utilizing an ultrasound earlier than performing an abortion, and bans the process if discovered, with exceptions for pregnancies ensuing from rape or incest, or in instances the place the well being of the lady is in peril. Critics have argued that the legislation won’t give ladies sufficient time to resolve to have an abortion after discovering out they’re pregnant, blatantly branding the laws unconstitutional as a result of it denies the best to a untimely abortion. viability of the fetus, which happens at about 24 weeks being pregnant. The proper was established underneath the benchmark Roe vs. Wade Choice of the Supreme Courtroom of america. [The State]


President Biden plans to announce on Friday that he’s giving U.S. support for a global effort to distribute coronavirus vaccines more equitably. Biden is anticipated to pledge $ 4 billion on Friday at a Group of Seven assembly with different leaders of the world’s largest economies. An preliminary sum of $ 2 billion will go to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to be used by the Covax Facility, administration officers say. The USA will then present a further $ 2 billion over two years after different donors have honored their pledges. Former President Donald Trump’s administration declined to take part within the mission, partially attributable to Trump’s feud with the World Well being Group. The cash is anticipated to supply a big increase to the hassle, which has struggled to search out the funding it wants since its announcement final yr. [The Washington Post]


The USA formally joined the Paris climate agreement Friday, 107 days after former President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the landmark treaty took impact. Trump ordered the US withdrawal from the 2015 worldwide settlement in 2019, however his resolution didn’t take impact till November 4, 2020, the day after he misplaced his candidacy for re-election. President Biden instructed the United Nations that america desires to return to the settlement as quickly as he takes workplace. “A cry for survival comes from the planet itself,” Biden mentioned in his inaugural handle. “A cry that can’t be determined or clearer now.” Friday’s return was largely symbolic, however nonetheless important, mentioned former UN local weather chief Christiana Figueres. “That is the political message that’s being despatched,” mentioned Figueres, one of many leaders who helped form the greenhouse gasoline discount settlement. [The Associated Press]


Former Senator Bob Dole, who was the GOP presidential candidate in 1996, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. He’ll begin therapy subsequent week. “Whereas I definitely have some hurdles to leap via, I do know I be a part of hundreds of thousands of Individuals who face important well being challenges,” Dole, 97, mentioned in a tweet Thursday. Dole entered politics after getting back from World Conflict II, the place he misplaced most of the usage of his proper arm after being wounded in fight. In 1976, then-president Gerald Ford chosen Dole as his operating mate throughout his unsuccessful re-election marketing campaign. Dole went on to be the senior Senate Republican earlier than profitable the get together’s presidential nomination in 1996, however misplaced to then-President Invoice Clinton. Lately, he has championed causes such because the creation of the WWII Memorial on the Nationwide Mall. [The Wall Street Journal]


New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Affiliate Training Minister Jan Tinetti on Thursday introduced that colleges throughout the nation will provide free sanitation provides to college students from June. The coverage expands on a 2020 pilot mission to start out tackling what is called interval poverty as a part of the federal government’s efforts to deal with poverty and increase scholar attendance and well-being. . “Younger folks should not miss out on their schooling due to one thing that’s a part of the traditional lifetime of half the inhabitants,” Ardern mentioned. “Eradicating obstacles to wholesome and energetic college outcomes for youngsters and youth is a vital a part of the federal government’s technique for youth and well-being. [NPR]

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