‘I say enough’, Biden announces ‘use it or lose it’ policy for oil leases on federal land
President Joe Biden has ordered the release of up 1 million barrels of oil per day from the strategic petroleum reserve for the next six months in a bid to control prices that have spiked since the US and its allies imposed strict sanctions on Russia.
The announcement comes after both the White House and the Pentagon said that they believe Vladimir Putin is being misinformed about progress in the war by his senior advisers and warned that Russian troops being pulled back from areas near Kyiv may just be being repositioned for further fighting.
Meanwhile, the president is marking the Transgender Day of Visibility, which declared in order to “celebrate the activism and determination that have fueled the fight for transgender equality” and “acknowledge the adversity and discrimination that the transgender community continues to face across our Nation and around the world” – this as various Republican-led states pass laws directly targeting non-gender-conforming people, including children.
On Wednesday, Mr Biden also gave a speech on the state of the coronavirus pandemic, announcing the launch of a central website for resources, before receiving his second booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine. The CIA director is the latest person in the administration to test positive for the virus and he met with the president a day ago – though they were distanced and masked.
Jen Psaki criticizes ‘extreme and harmful’ laws targeting trans people and abortion
White House press secretary Jen Psaki criticized four bills signed into law in Arizona and Oklahoma this week targeting transgender young people and restricting abortion care, among dozens of bills filed by Republican legislators this year aimed at LGBT+ Americans and abortion rights.
Oliver O’Connell1 April 2022 04:45
Biden: Putin appears to be ‘self-isolating’ from advisers as war on Ukraine stalls
President Joe Biden claimed on Thursday that Vladimir Putin appears to be “self-isolating” from his closest advisers including his top intelligence officials as his invasion of Ukraine appears to be largely stalled across the country.
In an address announcing efforts to lower gas prices, which the US have blamed on the efforts to divest from Russian oil as well as inflation, the president explained that he didn’t “want to put too much stock” in the reports but essentially confirmed reporting that has for weeks indicated that a major rift exists between Mr Putin and his top aides and strategists.
Oliver O’Connell1 April 2022 04:00
The next Jen Psaki?
Kate Bedingfield’s debut in the White House press briefing room this week came under unlikely circumstances — the benching of two of her colleagues due to Covid-19 — but could lead to greater visibility for Joe Biden’s longtime comms director.
“I know I am not the redhead you’re accustomed to seeing at this podium, but I hope you will hang with me nonetheless,” Ms Bedingfield, 40, joked to reporters at her first briefing on Tuesday.
John Bowden reports from Washington, DC.
Oliver O’Connell1 April 2022 03:15
Biden calls for ‘use it or lose it’ policy for oil leases on federal land: ‘I say, enough’
President Joe Biden on Thursday slammed oil companies for refusing to increase production to make up shortfalls caused by the removal of Russian oil from US markets.
Calling the crisis stemming from Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine “a moment of crisis and peril for the world and pain at the pump for American families,” Mr Biden said the spike in oil and gas prices brought on by the US ban on Russian oil could be “a moment of patriotism” for domestic oil producers.
Andrew Feinberg has the latest for The Independent from Washington DC.
Oliver O’Connell1 April 2022 02:30
ICYMI: Biden on new Covid funding: “It’s not partisan, it’s medicine”
Congress recently declined to provide billions of dollars in new funding for the government’s Covid-19 response effort, and Joe Biden warned yesterday that if the money isn’t forthcoming soon, the consequences could be severe.
Andrew Feinberg has the story.
Oliver O’Connell1 April 2022 01:30
Pelosi: Ginni Thomas a ‘proud contributor to a coup’
Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a withering condemnation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Thursday as it becomes clear that the highest court’s ethical standards and practices are facing historic scrutiny.
At her weekly press briefing, the House Democratic leader told reporters that she never believed that Mr Thomas should have joined the Court in the first place, and added that his wife had been revealed as a “admitted and proud contributor to a coup of our country “
The remarks were some of the sharpest criticism issued so far by a high ranking Democratic leader as the fallout over text messages Ginni Thomas sent to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows both prior to and following the January 6 attack continues.
John Bowden reports from Washington, DC.
Oliver O’Connell1 April 2022 00:45
As gas and food prices soar, a key inflation gauge sets 40-year high
An inflation gauge closely monitored by the Federal Reserve jumped 6.4% in February compared with a year ago, with sharply higher prices for food, gasoline and other necessities squeezing Americans’ finances.
The figure reported Thursday by the Commerce Department was the largest year-over-year rise since January 1982. Excluding volatile prices for food and energy, so-called core inflation increased 5.4% in February from 12 months earlier.
Oliver O’Connell1 April 2022 00:00
Citing race, judge strikes down parts of Florida election law
A federal judge struck down portions of a Florida election law passed last year, saying in a ruling Thursday that the Republican-led government was using subtle tactics to suppress Black voters.
The law tightened rules on mailed ballots, drop boxes and other popular election methods — changes that made it more difficult for Black voters who, overall, have more socioeconomic disadvantages than white voters, US District Judge Mark Walker wrote in his ruling.
Oliver O’Connell31 March 2022 23:30
Activists celebrate as Biden announces gender X for US passports and neutral airport scanners
The Human Rights Campaign has praised the White House’s transgender initiatives, saying that LGBT+ people have “an ally in the White House”.
“News of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to policy reforms that will improve the lives of transgender and non-binary people in this country is a wonderful way to kick off this year’s International Transgender Day of Visibility,” the campaign’s interim president, Joni Madison said in a statement.
President Joe Biden will announce a new gender X marker on applications for US passports on Thursday, as well as gender-neutral airport scanners, in addition to other measures aimed at making the federal government more inclusive for transgender people.
Gustaf Kilander reports from Washington, DC.
Oliver O’Connell31 March 2022 22:45
Secretary of Energy statement on response to gas price hike
US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm released the following statement on President Joe Biden’s historic response to soaring gas prices as Russia’s war in Ukraine continues.
The Department of Energy will execute President Biden’s authorization of an immediate release of one million barrels per day for six months from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and we are coordinating with our international allies and partners to join us in releasing additional oil from strategic reserves. This historic action is the latest move by the Biden-Harris administration to lower energy costs for working families, including yesterday’s DOE announcement of nearly $3.2 billion for home weatherization through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The Department of Energy also supports President Biden’s decision to use the Defense Production Act to boost American production of critical minerals that are key to building up our clean energy supply chains. Putin’s actions in Ukraine and the resulting disruptions to global energy markets have demonstrated the urgent need to accelerate our clean energy transition, which will make our country more energy independent and much less vulnerable to the whims of dictators. The Department of Energy and this administration are aggressively investing in a wide range of clean energy technologies, which will grow our economy, create good-paying jobs, lower costs for American families, and combat the climate crisis.
Oliver O’Connell31 March 2022 22:33