News Headlines 1/28/21

ADMIN. BEGINS COVID BRIEFINGS, SAYS AS MANY AS 90,000 MORE WILL DIE IN NEXT FOUR WEEKS: The Biden administration yesterday (January 27th) held the first of what will be its regular coronavirus briefings three times a week, with participants projecting that as many as 90,000 more people will die in the U.S. in the next four weeks. The new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said, “I know this is not news we all want to hear, but this is something we must say so we are all aware. If we are united in action we can turn things around.” The briefing was held virtually, with officials appearing from separate locations on Zoom, speaking about the administration’s efforts to combat the coronavirus, including speeding up vaccines. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said there are concerns about the new virus mutations that are emerging and if the vaccine might not be as effective against them. But he said scientists can make adjustments to keep their effectiveness, saying the government is working with pharmaceutical companies on potential booster shots for the new variants.

BIDEN SIGNS CLIMATE-RELATED ORDERS, SAYS ‘CAN’T WAIT ANY LONGER’: President Biden signed several executive orders yesterday (January 27th) intended to help combat climate change, saying, “We can’t wait any longer” and calling the threat “existential.” Biden presented his approach as being one of job-creation, saying, “When I think of climate change and the answers to it, I think of jobs,” stating that his plans would create jobs in the automotive and renewable energy sectors, like solar and wind power, that would offset losses in oil, coal or natural gas jobs.

SECOND POLICE OFFICER DIED BY SUICIDE AFTER CAPITOL ATTACK: A second police officer who responded to the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol died by suicide in its aftermath, Acting Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee told a closed session of the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday evening (January 26th). Officer Jeffrey Smith was a Washington, D.C., police officer. A Capitol Police officer, Howard Liebengood, also took his own life in the wake of the attack, and another Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, died of injuries he suffered while trying to hold off the rioters. Meanwhile, the head of the union that represents Capitol Police, Gus Papathanasiou, described some of the injuries suffered by Capitol Police as well as members of Washington, D.C.’s police force, in a statement Wednesday (January 27th) saying nearly 140 had been injured. He said, “I have officers . . . who have sustained brain injuries. One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs. One officer is going to lose his eye, and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake.”

HOMELAND SECURITY DEPT. ISSUES NATIONAL TERRORISM WARNING: The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin yesterday (January 27th) about a remaining potential for violence after President Biden‘s inauguration by people motivated by anti-government sentiment. While not citing any specific plots, the bulletin suggested the U.S. Capitol attack may embolden extremists, and believes the heightened threat environment will continue for weeks after the inauguration. A statement that went out with the bulletin said the potential for violence from a, quote, “broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.”

PROUD BOYS LEADER WAS REPORTEDLY GOVERNMENT INFORMANT: The leader of the Proud Boys, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, was a government informant who worked undercover and cooperated with investigators after he was accused of fraud in 2012, Reuters first reported Wednesday (January 27th), with the information found in court documents. Tarrio denied to Reuters ever cooperating with authorities. The Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, was a major agitator during the Capitol riot, according to AP, however Tarrio was arrested in Washington shortly before the attack, accused of vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic Black church during an earlier protest in D.C.