Biden unveils details of $2T infrastructure plan – National & International News- WED 31Mar2021

The White House has released details of the first of two massive infrastructure proposals.

Details on $2T infrastructure plan. Capitol police officers sue Trump. WHO: lab leak theory needs further investigation. Myanmar: Ethnic militia attacks police outpost. 

NATIONAL NEWS

More details on $2T infrastructure plan

President Biden has released a more detailed initial proposal for $2 trillion in infrastructure spending over the next 15 years. This is the first of two proposals, which will total about $4 trillion in all. To pay for it, the plan would raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. The plan would also tighten tax regulations that currently allow companies to move profits overseas. The proposal would also end subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. It’s difficult to pin down how much the US spends on fossil fuel subsidies every year, but estimates in media outlets range from 10s to 100s of $billions every year.

Biden’s initial proposal includes $650 billion in spending on “traditional” infrastructure, including roads, rails and bridges. A further $650 would go to “home” infrastructure to upgrade the nation’s broadband network, water systems, electric grid, and housing. Among other things, this portion of the bill would replace the lead piping that still delivers water to about 10 million households nationwide.

$400 billion would go to the “care” economy, providing better housing and care facilities for the elderly and disabled. Last but not least, $580 billion is slated for manufacturing upgrades, research and training.

A new New Deal?

The prospects for bipartisan support in Congress are unclear. The White House has billed the plan as a vision to fundamentally reshape the US economy. With the spending for these prospective bills, along with the recent COVID stimulus, the federal government would take on its biggest role in the US economy since the New Deal. Democratic proponents say the projects will create jobs and boost economic output across the country.

While Republicans generally favor “traditional” infrastructure, many are suspicious of the expansion of social welfare spending. Garret Graves, the senior Republican on the House Select Committee on the climate crisis, says, “If they’re just going to encapsulate a cow pie in a candy shell, then I’m not there”.

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What’s in Biden’s plan?

 

Capitol police officers sue Trump

Two Capitol police officers have filed suit against former President Trump for “physical and emotional injuries caused by Trump’s wrongful conduct inciting a riot on January 6, 2021”. James Blassingame, a 17-year veteran of the force, and Sidney Hemby, an 11-year veteran, are seeking at least $75,000 each in damages. Their suit cites Trump’s conduct before and after November’s election, going back as far as his initial 2016 campaign. According to the suit: “During his 2016 campaign, and throughout his presidency, Trump had threatened violence towards his opponents, encouraged his followers to commit acts of violence, and condoned acts of violence by his followers, including white supremacists and far rightwing hate groups”.

As a result of the Jan. 6 attack, Blassingame suffered head and back injuries and has since experienced depression. Hemby suffered similar injuries as well as a chemical attack, and still receives physical therapy.

Recent reports have shed new light on the hopelessly chaotic and volatile situation faced by Capitol law enforcement on that day.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

WHO chief: Wuhan lab leak theory needs further investigation

Investigators from the World Health Organization recently published the findings of their probe of COVID’s origins in China. The report concluded that the virus was most likely transmitted to humans through an intermediate animal host. The investigators’ report called for further research of other potential sources, but dismissed the theory that the virus was leaked from a Wuhan lab as “extremely unlikely”.

Despite this published finding, it now emerges that the investigators voiced concerns that they had been unable to “access raw data” that would have allowed them to put the lab leak theory to bed once and for all. WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus shared these concerns publically after 14 countries, including the US, UK, Australia and Canada, released a joint statement raising concerns about the report’s reliability.

The joint statement accuses China of “withholding access to complete, original data and samples” from the WHO investigators. Ghebreyesus says that the lab leak theory needs further investigation.

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Myanmar: Ethnic militia attacks police outpost

Militias in Myanmar’s ethnic minority regions appear to have joined the fight against the country’s military junta in earnest. Today, Kachin guerrillas based in northern Myanmar attacked a local police outpost. The guerillas seized weapons and other supplies. This follows the seizure of an army outpost on Saturday by the Karen National Union, the main militia and political body of the Karen ethnic minority based in eastern Myanmar. The KNU attack triggered retaliation from the military junta, who shelled a nearby village, killing ten. Following the army assault, some 3000 people fled to safety into neighboring Thailand while others sought shelter in caves.

The leaders of the national protest movement have sought an anti-junta alliance with the country’s armed ethnic militias. The protesters want to join forces with the militias to form what they are calling a federal army to fight back against the military.

It’s unclear whether any such alliance has been formally struck. But several of the country’s major ethnic militias have denounced the coup and vowed to protect protesters in their respective regions.

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