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April 29, 2021: Biden Promises Jobs, Family Care; Air Pollution Disproportionately Harms POC; Feds Search Giuliani's Home, Office

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For the first time last night, and just short of his hundredth day in office, President Joe Biden addressed a joint session of Congress. He said America is on the move again, and back to stay – got it, Jack?

Meanwhile, three new studies reveal the plague of environmental racism. Lung-damaging air pollution harms Black Americans at rates more than twenty percent above the average.

And lastly, the feds raided the home and office of Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. The warrant was apparently held up until Merrick Garland became Attorney General.


It’s a wonk’s delight. The Biden administration yesterday detailed a $1.8 trillion policy plan to expand access to education, reduce the cost of child care and support women in the work force, according to the New York Times. The American Families Plan, as the White House calls it, includes $1 trillion in new spending and $800 billion in tax credits, much of which is aimed at expanding access to education and child care. The package includes financing for universal prekindergarten, a federal paid leave program, efforts to make child care more affordable, free community college for all, aid for students at colleges that historically serve nonwhite communities, expanded subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and an extension of new federal efforts to fight poverty. It’s to be financed by additional taxes on high earners. Biden presented the details to a joint session of Congress last night.

Biden spoke to a House chamber that was sparsely populated but fully masked. He listed some accomplishments from his first hundred days, including progress against the pandemic and campaigns against hunger, opioid addiction, and child poverty. He laid out what his plans could yet accomplish, such as creating jobs to replace hazardous lead pipes and providing child and elder care for hundreds of thousands of families. And he pushed back against skepticism that democracies can’t compete against autocracies in the twenty first century, by showing what government can do to meet people’s needs. He praised labor unions and criticized greedy CEOs. Biden said, "trickle down economics has never worked, and it’s time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out."

Air Pollution Disproportionately Harms POC

Racism is in the air we breathe. Nearly every source of the nation’s most pervasive and deadly air pollutant disproportionately affects Americans of color, regardless of their location or income level, the Washington Post reports. The news comes from a study published yesterday in the journal Science Advances, authored by researchers from five universities. The analysis of fine-particle matter, which includes soot, shows how decisions made decades ago about where to build highways and industrial plants continue to harm the health of Black, Latino and Asian Americans today. The particles studied have diameters of no more than two point five micrometers – one-thirtieth the width of a human hair – and can become embedded in the lungs. Known as Particulate Matter Two Point Five, they account for up to two hundred thousand premature US deaths each year.

The Post says the new paper, coupled with two other analyses also released yesterday, bolsters the argument that environmental advocates have made for years that Black, Latino, Asian and Native Americans bear a heavier burden. And this growing body of research is showing the full scope of the problem. Joshua Apte, one of the authors, said, "The deck is stacked against people of color, for almost every emission source."

The study found that Black people are exposed to twenty one percent more fine-particle pollution compared to average Americans, the Post reports. Exposure was eighteen percent greater for Asian Americans and eleven percent more for Hispanics. White Americans, by contrast, have eight percent less pollution exposure than the average. This is yet another urgent reason the country needs a Green New Deal.

Feds Search Giuliani's Home, Office

This isn’t how you want to wake up on a weekday. The New York Times reports that federal investigators in Manhattan executed search warrants early yesterday at the home and office of Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who became Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, stepping up a criminal investigation into Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine. The investigators seized Giuliani’s electronic devices and searched his Madison Avenue apartment and his Park Avenue office at about 6 am.Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, called the searches unnecessary, according to the Times. Costello said, "What they did today was legal thuggery."

FBI agents on yesterday morning also executed a search warrant at the Washington-area home of Victoria Toensing, a lawyer close to Giuliani who had dealings with several Ukrainians involved in seeking negative information on the Bidens. Toensing, a former federal prosecutor and senior Justice Department official, has also represented Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch under indictment in the United States whose help Giuliani sought. The federal authorities have focused on whether Giuliani illegally lobbied the Trump administration in 2019 on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs, who were helping Giuliani search for damaging information on Trump’s political rivals, including Joe Biden.

The Times reports that the US attorney’s office in Manhattan and the FBI had sought for months to secure search warrants for Giuliani’s phones and electronic devices. Under Trump, political appointees in the Justice Department repeatedly sought to block such a warrant. After Merrick Garland was confirmed as Biden’s attorney general, the Justice Department lifted its objection to the search. Funny how that works.


The city of Alameda, California yesterday identified three police officers who were placed on administrative leave in connection to the death of twenty six-year-old Mario Gonzalez, the San-Jose Mercury News reports. The officers are James Fisher, Cameron Leahy and Eric McKinley. Body camera footage shows officers pinned Gonzalez on the ground for about five minutes, attempting to arrest him. Gonzalez’s family says the footage shows the officers murdered him. After George Floyd, who can deny their outrage?

The Guardian reports crematoriums in Delhi have become so overloaded by Covid-19 deaths that they are being forced to build makeshift funeral pyres on spare patches of land. And the BBC reports that police in India are prosecuting a man who used Twitter to try to find oxygen for his dying grandfather. Officers in Uttar Pradesh state charged Shashank Yadav with spreading a rumour over oxygen shortages. That’s one way to deal with the problem.

Connecticut will no longer allow a religious exemption from childhood immunization requirements for schools, colleges and day care facilities, the Associated Press reports. It becomes the sixth state to end that policy, after California, New York, West Virginia, Mississippi and Maine. More than two thousand opponents rallied outside the state Capitol building, arguing the legislation infringes on their religious liberties and parental rights. Ah yes, the god-given right to let your children contract preventable illnesses, and infect others...

Workers trying to block the sale of a Renault car parts factory held seven managers against their will for twelve hours in the latest boss-napping to hit French industry, the Guardian reports. A union rep said the union had decided to release the managers because, " they still didn’t want to have a dialogue." Well, at least they tried.


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