US elections

HIGHLIGHTS: Road to Joe Biden’s inauguration as US president

DEVELOPING / UPDATED
HIGHLIGHTS: Road to Joe Biden’s inauguration as US president

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Just one last formality, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will become the next president and vice-president of the United States.

However, the road to their inauguration on January 20 is a rocky one, with rival Donald Trump stubbornly refusing to admit defeat – and his supporters storming the US Capitol on January 6.

What developments will occur as America winds its way to a brand-new Commander-in-Chief?

LATEST UPDATES

Acting Pentagon chief: No indication of insider threat before inauguration

The acting Pentagon chief said on Monday, January 18, the FBI is assisting the US military in vetting more than 25,000 National Guard troops being deployed to assist in protecting the US Capitol around President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration for potential security concerns.

After the January 6 Capitol assault by supporters of President Donald Trump that resulted in 5 deaths and sent lawmakers into hiding, the US government has imposed unprecedented security surrounding the Capitol, including non-scalable fences rimmed with razor wire and a large security zone that the public is barred from.

Read more.

Reuters

[OPINION] Libertarianism in extremis

Will Trumpism eventually break up? Perhaps, but then, perhaps not. At the risk of resorting to pedantry, I propose that folded therein lurks “Kierkegaard/Nietszchean despair” (Subjectivity is truth/the crowd is untruth/God is dead) caused by belief in personal freedom — a libertarianism so excessive it cancels out community and the common good. This is “rugged individualism,” the cherished trope of the “Wild West,” refreshed with the help of a new mythology created in social media — now believed to be the “Voice of the Voiceless!” — so that what results is psychological validation of serial/performative notoriety achieved (championed!) by disembodied “likes!” in Twitter/Facebook etc., which, rightly or wrongly, become construed as populist approval—a compelling alternate/“post-truth” reality which at bottom rejects “facticity” and is pervasive falsehood constituting a “big lie.”

Add religious dogmatism and evangelism to the mix and we get weakened moral safeguards, the self-defeating destruction of previously held (ethical) values — a refashioning/recreation of the archetypal Jungian “Self” dissociated from culture and the common good — a dialectic leading towards the ultimate affirmation that indeed, “God is dead!”

With post-truth comes a perverse energy — righteous anger, a holy war, a crusade, so to speak, pushing for the defeat of mainstream, established, and the now-hated/“treacherous” order which must be replaced with a new order imposed by force, and once imposed, maintained through more force and violence of an abiding tyranny!

The organizational structure of the house of Trump may fall readily. Democracy’s revival is contingent on that dismantling. But the urge within the human condition that created Trumpism may not be so easily reckoned with. It will rise again, as history has shown, in the guise of populist authoritarians born and reared in updated dialectics of the human existential dilemma — to which only democratic institutions, founded on truth continually refreshed and strengthened by communal affirmation, can offer respite and transcendence.

Tyranny is not a legacy. Trumpism is not an honorific to be claimed by Donald Trump. It is a pernicious tendency captured in Shakespeare’s words: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings…”

Renato L. Santos

Departing EXIM chief urges Biden team to counter Chinese lending dominance

The head of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) on Monday, January 18, urged the Biden administration to keep pushing to neutralize Chinese export subsidies and help US companies compete, building on gains made under Donald Trump.

Read more.

Reuters

Trump lifting COVID-19 travel restrictions on Europe, Brazil

US President Donald Trump on Monday, January 18, rescinded entry bans imposed because of the coronavirus on most non-US citizens arriving from Brazil and much of Europe effective January 26, two officials briefed on the matter told Reuters.

Reuters first reported in November that the administration had been considering lifting the restrictions, imposed early last year in response to the pandemic, after winning support from coronavirus task force members and public health officials.

Read more.

Reuters

US Capitol shut down temporarily out of caution over fire nearby

Reuters

Biden taps Chopra as consumer financial regulator, Gensler as SEC chairman

US President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Gary Gensler to serve as the commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Trade Commission member Rohit Chopra to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the campaign said in a statement on Monday, January 18.

Reuters

Pro-gun demonstration set for Virginia capital in wake of Capitol siege

Gun rights activists will converge on the Virginia state capital on Monday, January 18, for an annual demonstration that falls at an especially tense time this year, after the Jan. 6 siege of the US Capitol and two days before the presidential inauguration.

“Lobby Day” has authorities on alert in Richmond, about 110 miles (175 km) south of Washington, D.C., where Democratic President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in on Wednesday, replacing Republican President Donald Trump.

Lobby Day takes place in a highly polarized climate, following a year in which anti-racist and white nationalist demonstrators clashed across the United States, and as strident Trump supporters cling to hope he can remain in power.

Nationwide pro-Trump demonstrations scheduled for Sunday, January 17, largely fizzled after the FBI issued warnings and several states deployed the National Guard.

“We’re showing up to remind them that we’re still here,” a gun rights activist, who identified himself only as Trevor, told Reuters outside the Virginia statehouse on Sunday evening, walking the perimeter to help plan the protest.

Virginians traditionally petition their lawmakers on Lobby Day at the start of the state’s General Assembly session, with the pro-gun Virginia Citizens Defense League taking a leading role in recent years.

Other groups including the anti-government “boogaloo” movement will attend Monday, as could liberal demonstrators. Lobby Day always falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday honoring the civil rights leader assassinated in 1968.

Boogaloo boys also walked the perimeter of the statehouse on Sunday, striking poses with semiautomatic rifles for photographers.

Philip Van Cleave, leader of the defense league, said demonstrators would come from as far away as New York and Texas. The group says it plans to petition state lawmakers to loosen gun curbs, as it has done during many Lobby Days in the past.

“We’ve been doing this for 25 years,” Van Cleve added. “We’ve never had a single problem. No arrests, nothing.”

Police estimated last year’s crowd at 22,000.

Reuters

Biden to cancel Keystone XL pipeline permit on first day in office

US President-elect Joe Biden is planning to cancel the permit for the $9 billion Keystone XL pipeline project via executive action on his first day in office this week, CBC News reported on Sunday, January 17, citing sources.

A briefing note from the Biden transition team was widely circulated over the weekend after being shared by the team with US stakeholders, the Canadian broadcaster reported.

Read more.

Reuters

‘It was a non-event’: US capitals see few protesters after bracing for violence

Law enforcement officers far outnumbered protesters at state capitol grounds on Sunday, January 17, as few Trump supporters who believe the president’s false claim that he won the 2020 election turned out for what authorities feared could be violent demonstrations.

More than a dozen states activated National Guard troops to help secure their capitol buildings following an FBI warning of armed demonstrations, with right-wing extremists emboldened by the deadly attack on the US Capitol in Washington on January 6.

Read more.

Reuters

Trump plans to depart Washington the morning of Inauguration Day January 20 – source

President Donald Trump now plans to leave Washington on the morning of Inauguration Day on January 20 after considering a departure on January 19, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday, January 15.

Trump, who had already announced plans not to attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, is planning a farewell event at Joint Base Andrews, the base outside Washington where Air Force One is headquartered, the source said.

He will then fly on to Palm Beach, Florida, to begin his post-presidency at his Mar-a-Lago club, the source told Reuters.

Reuters