Trump spends first night as a private citizen ‘looking for lawyers for his impeachment trial’

Trump spends first night as a private citizen ‘looking for lawyers for his impeachment trial’

Josie Ensor                        January 20, 2021
Outgoing US President Donald Trump waves after landing at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida - AFP
Outgoing US President Donald Trump waves after landing at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida – AFP

 

Donald Trump spent his first night as a private citizen settling into his new home at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where he has reportedly already begun preparing for his upcoming impeachment hearing.

Mr Trump’s final engagement in Washington DC as president was attending his farewell at Joint Base Andrews in DC, which was attended only by some 250 of his most loyal aides and supporters. Notably absent were close White House aides and his own vice president Mike Pence.

The former president then left for Florida as President Joe Biden was being sworn in, where he received a much warmer welcome.

Supporters lined Mr Trump’s route to Mar-a-Lago, waving “Trump 2020” flags and signs reading “welcome home!”, while others screamed “I love you” as his motorcade drove past. Some still refused to accept the results of the election.

Supporters of Donald Trump gather along the route of his motorcade on Southern Boulevard as he arrives in Florida - AFP
Supporters of Donald Trump gather along the route of his motorcade on Southern Boulevard as he arrives in Florida – AFP

“I am almost in denial,” Willie Guardiola, who had rallied people along the route, told NBC. “I don’t want to believe that this could be his last day.”

Mr Trump was said to have been surrounded by family on his first night back in Florida, where he has spent considerable time over the last few decades. He was joined by his eldest son Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, his other son Eric and his wife Lara.

Notably absent were daughter Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner, who were not on the Air Force One flight from DC. It was not immediately clear where the family would spend the coming days and weeks, but the couple has purchased a plot of land near Palm Beach to be closer to the former president.

One of Mr Trump’s first calls as a private citizen was reportedly to Lindsey Graham, South Carolina senator and staunch ally, according to the Huffington Post. “He says this is probably the second nicest place other than the White House,” Mr Graham says Mr Trump said of his new full-time residence.

Tiffany Trump with her finance, Michael Boulos, top, and Eric Trump and his wife Lara Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, bottom right, arrive at Palm Beach International Airport  - AP
Tiffany Trump with her finance, Michael Boulos, top, and Eric Trump and his wife Lara Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, bottom right, arrive at Palm Beach International Airport – AP

 

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary said Mr Trump was now “looking for some lawyers” for his impending impeachment trial. “He’s trying to put together a team,” Mr Graham told reporters.

Mr Trump will not be drawing on his usual litigators: Rudy Giuliani, his longtime personal lawyer, has stepped aside as he could be called as a witness in the case, while attorneys who represented him at the first impeachment hearing have reportedly declined.

He will likely spend the coming days preparing for any Senate trial, which could start as early as next week.

Mr Trump will of course no longer have access to White House staff who will now be working under the new administration, but he will still enjoy protection from the US Secret Service.

Before leaving office former President Trump ensured that his extended family would receive protection for the next six months, according to reports. The Secret Service will protect Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, along with their three children; Donald Trump Jr. and his five children; Eric Trump and wife Lara; and Tiffany Trump.

Palm Beach will become Donald Trump's new home - AP
Palm Beach will become Donald Trump’s new home – AP

The arrangement will come at no cost to the Trump family and is funded by taxpayers, the Washington Post reported.

His inner circle of confidences has narrowed significantly since Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6. If indicted in the Senate, Mr Trump will face a ban on ever holding office again.

It would put an end to his purported to plans he has to form a party, known as the Patriot Party, to continue his political career from Palm Beach.

“Isolated and shunned at the end,” tweeted Maggie Haberman, who has been covering the Trump presidency for the NYT for the last four years. “The former president will be waking up to a very different reality at Mar-a-Lago, with no extensive government-funded staff, no aide following him with a diet coke, and no guarantee people will return his calls.”

There does, however, remain a few loyal lieutenants who continue to stand by him.

Jenna Ellis, the attorney who represented Mr Trump in a number of his election lawsuits, responded to Ns Haberman by saying: “He is neither isolated nor shunned. The beltway isn’t all of America. America by and large loves Donald Trump.”

Trump frees former aides from ethics pledge, lobbying ban

Trump frees former aides from ethics pledge, lobbying ban

Brian Slodysko                                 January 20, 2021
Business-Managed Government - National - Revolving Door

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump, in one of his final acts as president, released current and former members of his administration from the terms of their ethics pledge, a move that once again laid bare his failure to fulfil his 2016 campaign promise to “drain the swamp.”

Trump won the presidency, in part, on a pledge to take on entrenched special interests in Washington, and his ethics policy was one of his first acts after assuming office.

But in practice it proved to be little more than bluster. Trump instituted a major loosening of ethics standards when compared with the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama, as well as the rules that will govern President Joe Biden’s White House.

While Trump’s policy ostensibly included a five-year ban on former officials lobbying their former agencies, it also had large loopholes that allowed many to skirt the rules. The administration also avoided enforcing it, government watchdog groups say.

By rescinding his ethics executive order before leaving office, Trump freed former officials from lingering concern that they could face consequences for running afoul of the ethics policy as they return to the private sector. Many of them will now try to leverage their experience to secure high-paying jobs in Washington’s influence industry.

“The first rule of ethics enforcement is you need to have strong standards. Then you need to back them up with intense transparency. And you also need to reinforce the whole thing with tone from the top. Trump did the opposite on all three,” said Norm Eisen, Obama’s former ethics czar. “He made a mockery of it by having a corrupt tone at the top.”

Unlike his predecessors, Trump refused to divest from his sprawling business empire. That set the tone for his tenure, while making it easy for foreign and domestic interests to try to influence U.S. policy by patronizing his hotels, restaurants, golf courses and private clubs.

Trump signed the one-page revocation of the ethics order on Tuesday, and it was released by the White House shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday, hours before his term ended.

The decision is not without precedent. President Bill Clinton signed a similar order with weeks left on his final term.

The Trump White House did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday morning.

Appointees who join Biden’s administration will face far more stringent ethics rules that are more in line with those of Obama’s administration — and in some ways go further.

Under an order Biden is expected to issue, officials who leave the administration will be prohibited from lobbying the White House or executive branch agencies for Biden’s duration in office. Those who depart toward the end of Biden’s tenure will be prohibited from lobbying the White House for at least two years.

One provision prohibits incoming administration officials from accepting “golden parachute” payments from their former employers for taking a government job.

Another restricts former senior level staffers not just from lobbying the administration for at least two years, but also prohibits for a period of one year working behind the scenes to materially assist others who do lobby the executive branch. That’s a practice often referred to as “shadow lobbying.” Typically such people do not have to register as lobbyists, even though they play a key role.

The ethics order was described by a Biden transition official on the condition of anonymity because the order has not yet been made public.

One key area that Biden has not addressed in detail is how his White House will address potential conflicts of interest posed by members of his family, some of whom have personally profited by leveraging the Biden name.

Biden repeatedly said on the campaign trail that during his decades in public office, he has never talked to any family members about their private business dealings. And he promised “an absolute wall” between government and his family’s financial interests.

But specifics of how his pledge will be enforced remain unclear.

A person familiar with the incoming administration’s plans said Biden’s family members will not serve as employees or as board members for foreign companies. Additionally, the person said there will be a review process to ensure the Biden family’s business dealings do not present even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The person insisted on anonymity to discus internal deliberations.

Biden’s son, Hunter, has worked for foreign entities in the past, including serving on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma when Biden was Obama’s vice president. Hunter Biden is currently under investigation by the Justice Department, which is probing his finances, including some of his Chinese business dealings.

Biden’s son-in-law Howard Krein, who is married to his daughter, Ashley, is a high ranking executive at StartUp Health, a venture capital and health tech firm, which lobbied the government on health industry technology regulations.

And his brother James has repeatedly found lucrative work over the years by invoking the Biden name.

Family members also serve on two nonprofits, The Biden Institute at the University of Delaware, and the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children.

“The conflict of interest is there,” said Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist with good-governance watchdog Public Citizen. “As long as the Biden family is in charge of a nonprofit it provides an opportunity for special interests to make large donations to that foundation in the hopes of currying favor.”

Holman otherwise praised Biden’s ethics order as a “night and day” difference from Trump.

22-year-old Amanda Gorman becomes youngest to read poem at inauguration

22-year-old Amanda Gorman becomes youngest to read poem at inauguration

Katie Kindelan                               January 20, 2021

 

Amanda Gorman made history Wednesday as the youngest poet in recent history to read a poem at a presidential inauguration.

Gorman, 22, read her own poem at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

The Los Angeles native told NPR she finished writing the poem, titled “The Hill We Climb,” on the night of Jan. 6, hours after rioters took part in a siege on Capital Hill.

PHOTO: Amanda Gorman recites a poem during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

 

“I was like, ‘Well, this is something we need to talk about,'” Gorman told NPR’s Steve Inskeep ahead of the inauguration, adding it had been “really daunting to begin the poem” given how divided the country seemed after the 2020 election.

Gorman opened her poem Wednesday by saying, “We braved the belly of the beast.”

“We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace and the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice. And yet the dawn is hours before we knew it, somehow we do it, somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished,” she said. “We, the successors of a country and a time, where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.”

“And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect,” she said. “We are striving to forge our union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man.”

“And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first. We must first put our differences aside,” Gorman said.

Gorman, who said she was not given specific instructions on what to write in her poem, follows in the footsteps of esteemed poets like Maya Angelou and Robert Frost in reading a poem at a presidential inauguration.

She also delivered her poem at a historic inauguration that saw Harris sworn in as the country’s first woman vice president and first woman of color to serve in that position.

Gorman arrived on the presidential stage after being named the first Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 and the country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate three years later.

Like Biden, who has been public about having a stutter, Gorman has had to work hard to overcome a speech impediment.

MORE: Garth Brooks on why he’s performing at Biden’s inauguration

She told NPR that because of her difficulty saying certain letters of the alphabet, she has to constantly “self-edit and self-police.”

“I would be in the bathroom scribbling five minutes before trying to figure out if I could say ‘earth’ or if I can say ‘girl’ or if I can say ‘poetry.’ And you know, doing the best with the poem I could,” she said, noting that other famous inauguration orators, like Angelou, have also overcome struggles.

PHOTO: National youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman arrives at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

 

“I think there is a real history of orators who have had to struggle, a type of imposed voicelessness, you know, having that stage at inauguration,” Gorman told NPR. “So it’s really special for me.”

Read Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem in full:

Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world, when day comes, we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We braved the belly of the beast.

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace and the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice. And yet the dawn is hours before we knew it, somehow we do it, somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.

We, the successors of a country and a time, where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man. And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first. We must first put our differences aside.

We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true, that even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped.

That even as we tired, we tried. That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious, not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.

If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lighten the blade but in all the bridges we’ve made, that is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare, it’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we stepped into and how we repair it.

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith, we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.

This is the era of just redemption. We feared — at its deception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

So, while once we asked, “how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?”, now we assert, “how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?” We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be, a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation.

Because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain. If we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change, our children’s birth right.

So let us leave behind a country better than one we were left with, every breath from my bronze pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise through the gold-limbed hills in the west, we will rise from the windswept northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.

We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover, in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.

When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid.

The new dawn blooms as we free it for there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it

Keystone XL Pipeline Canceled. Here’s What It Means for the Future Fight Against Fossil Fuels

Keystone XL Pipeline Canceled. Here’s What It Means for the Future Fight Against Fossil Fuels

No KXL sign held up at a 2011 rally in front of the White House
Keystone XL protest at the white house in Washington D.C, on November 6, 2011. Credit: Emma Cassidy, via tarsandaction.

 

President Joe Biden, in one of his first actions after entering the White House, signed an executive order Wednesday canceling the permit for the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline. The move blocks construction of the 1,200-mile pipeline, and puts an end to a saga that has persisted for more than a decade.

The cross-border pipeline would have carried 830,000 barrels per day of Canadian tar sands oil to the Gulf of Mexico, where it would be refined and exported, providing a crucial outlet for landlocked oil from Alberta. But the mundane infrastructure project became a symbol of the broader fight against climate change, sparking a sustained campaign against drilling and fossil fuel infrastructure across the continent.

“We only achieve huge wins like this by speaking out together,” Madonna Thunder Hawk of the Lakota People’s Law Project said in a statement. “Rescinding KXL’s permit is a promising early signal that the new administration is listening to our concerns and will take issues of climate and Indigenous justice seriously. We have to insist that it not stop there.”

The cancelation of Keystone XL cements a legacy of climate activism, a movement that has grown into a powerful force in American politics. The end of the pipeline is also a major victory for the many Native American tribes who have consistently been at the forefront of battles against fossil fuel infrastructure.

At the same time, many more pipelines are under construction or are on the drawing board, having eclipsed Keystone XL long ago in terms of importance to the industry.

In 2015, then-President Barack Obama denied a key permit for the project, citing the need to lead on climate, a move that at the time seemed like the final word on the matter. However, President Donald Trump immediately revived the pipeline proposal when he assumed office in 2017.

Despite the backing of the U.S. government, the pipeline project faced some legal hurdles during the Trump era that delayed construction. President Biden’s executive order issued on January 20 once again puts the project on ice. TC Energy, the pipeline’s sponsor, said it would suspend operations and “consider its options.”

We applaud President Biden’s swift action to rescind Keystone XL’s improperly obtained permits and stop this disastrous project in its tracks yet again,” David Turnbull, Strategic Communications Director at Oil Change International, said in a statement. “Keystone XL would be a disaster for our climate, a disaster for First Nations communities at the source of the tar sands in Canada, and a disaster for communities across a broad swath of our country along its route.”

The Power of Activism

The fatal blow to Keystone XL is a major victory for a coalition of opponents who have fought the fossil fuel project for well over a decade. The fight defined a new era for the environmental movement.

In the early Obama years, national environmental groups placed a lot of faith in legislative efforts at the federal level without building power at the grassroots — a strategy then symbolized by the failed cap-and-trade bill in 2009. In the wake of that defeat, and with the legislative route cut off after Republicans swept the House of Representatives in 2010, the Obama administration turned to executive action. One of those key moves included introducing in 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan to regulate climate emissions from power plants, though its implementation was eventually blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court as the plan was ensnared in legal challenges.

At that point, environmental groups took the climate fight to the grassroots level. And instead of looking at market-based solutions like cap-and-trade, they turned to a “keep it in the ground” strategy, focusing on blocking new supplies of oil, gas, and coal, as well as fossil fuel infrastructure.

And the science supports activists’ calls to keep fossil fuels in the ground. The United Nations says that governments need to wind down fossil fuel production at a rate of six percent per year over the next decade in order to have a shot at meeting a 1.5-degree Celsius warming target and avoiding catastrophic climate impacts.

This anti-fossil fuel development push, however, was not embraced universally by all environmental groups, and conflicted with President Obama’s “all of the above” mantra when it came to the types of energy actions and solutions he would pursue, but the keep-it-in-the-ground strategy became increasingly mainstream for activists in the second Obama term and into the Trump era.

Amid this rising grassroots action to stop the Keystone XL pipeline came an increasing awareness and recognition on behalf of environmental groups of the importance of Indigenous Rights and concepts related to environmental justice, broadening the narrow focus on greenhouse gases that had characterized many prior efforts.

This awareness, however, did not always come easily. “It has always been a challenge for folks to understand the strategic value of an Indigenous Rights framework when it comes to protecting land and water,” Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environment Network, told DeSmog via email.

Indeed, Indigenous peoples have been at the forefront of pipeline resistance since the earliest days of Keystone XL. Goldtooth pointed out that the fight against Keystone XL began with First Nations Dene families in Northern Alberta who lived close to toxic tar sands operations.

And the campaign against the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016 was led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe along with other Indigenous peoples and, to a lesser extent, non-Native allies. Today, some of the largest campaigns against pipelines are also led by Indigenous peoples, including opposition to Line 3, the Trans Mountain Expansion, and the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

More Projects in the Pipeline

But while the defeat of Keystone XL is historically momentous, it raises questions about other routes for Canadian tar sands. After sitting on the drawing board for years, Canada’s oil industry has already turned to alternative pipelines, such as Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement through Minnesota and, even more importantly, the Trans Mountain Expansion from Alberta to British Columbia.

With Line 3 and TMX [Trans Mountain Expansion], Alberta has sufficient capacity to get its oil to market,” Werner Antweiler, a business professor at the University of British Columbia, told DeSmog.

In fact, scrapping Keystone XL arguably makes these other projects more urgent. “For the federal government of Canada, which has a vested interest in the commercial success of TMX, the cancelation of the KXL project may ultimately be good news because it ensures that there is sufficient demand for TMX capacity,” Antweiler said. “This means it is more likely now that TMX will become commercially viable and can be sold back to private investors profitably after construction is complete.”

This at a time when Keystone XL proved to be an expensive gamble. In 2019, Alberta invested $1.1 billion in Keystone XL in order to add momentum to the controversial project, funding its first year of construction. Now the province may end up selling the vast quantities of pipe for scrap, while also hoping to obtain damages from the United States.

Others are less convinced that the cancelation of one project is a boon to another. Even the Trans Mountain Expansion faces uncertainties in a world of energy transition. “Looking back a century ago, as one-by-one carriage manufacturers shut down as car manufacturers expanded production, prospects for the remaining carriage manufacturers didn’t improve,” Tom Green, a Climate Solutions Policy Analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation, told DeSmog.

Canada can take its cue from Biden: recognize the costly Trans Mountain pipeline isn’t needed or viable, it doesn’t fit with our climate commitments, and instead of throwing ever more money into a pit, government should invest those funds in the energy system of the future,” he said.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Oil Change International.

U.S. and Canada underestimating climate risk from abandoned oil and gas wells: study

U.S. and Canada underestimating climate risk from abandoned oil and gas wells: study

Nichola Groom                      January 20, 2021

FILE PHOTO: An abandoned natural gas well stands on the property of Hanson Rower in Salyersville

 

(Reuters) – Methane leaking out of the more than 4 million abandoned oil and gas wells in the United States and Canada is a far greater contributor to climate change than government estimates suggest, researchers from McGill University said on Wednesday.

Canada has underestimated methane emissions from its abandoned wells by as much as 150%, while official U.S. estimates are about 20% below actual levels, the study, published in Environmental Science and Technology, found.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment and Climate Change Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the study.

More than a century of oil and gas drilling has left behind millions of abandoned wells around the globe, posing a serious threat https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-drilling-abandoned-specialreport/special-report-millions-of-abandoned-oil-wells-are-leaking-methane-a-climate-menace-idUSKBN23N1NL to the climate that governments are only starting to understand, according to a Reuters special report last year.

Methane has more than 80 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide in its first 20 years in the atmosphere.

In 2019, methane emissions from abandoned wells were included for the first time in U.S. and Canadian greenhouse gas inventories submitted to the United Nations.

But the McGill study found there are about 500,000 wells in the United States that are undocumented along with about 60,000 in Canada. It also found that the EPA and ECCC had come up with emissions estimates that were far too low – a conclusion the researchers said was based on their own analysis of emissions levels from different types of abandoned wells in seven U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.

Emissions measurements were also not available from major oil and gas-producing states and provinces like Texas and Alberta, adding to uncertainty around the official data, the study said.

The study was co-authored by McGill professor Mary Kang, who in 2014 was the first to measure methane emissions from old drilling sites in Pennsylvania.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Mary Schmich: A Catholic pastor speaks out about Trump. Some parishioners walk out

Mary Schmich: A Catholic pastor speaks out about Trump. Some parishioners walk out

Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune                     January 19, 2021
With new rules in place, parishes reopen for Masses - Chicagoland - Chicago  Catholic
On the Sunday morning after the deadly riot at the United States Capitol, Father William Corcoran put on his black suit and clerical collar and stepped into St. Elizabeth Seton church in the Chicago suburb of Orland Hills to celebrate the 7:30 a.m. Mass.

 

When it was time for the homily, he stood in front of the “celebrant’s chair” on the altar and removed his mask so that he could be clearly heard. He looked out at the 140 or so masked parishioners who sat in the sanctuary, which was still ornamented for Christmas.

He had a feeling this might not go well.

At the 5 p.m. Mass the day before, nine people had walked out as he delivered the remarks he prepared to say again now. He spoke without notes both times but figures he came close to the version eventually published in the church bulletin, which began like this:

“On this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we drink in the last goodness and glories of the Christmas season, and begin ordinary time on Monday.”

So far, so good. Then came the next sentence.

“Goodness and glory,” he continued, “are not two words that we would use describing our past week when we saw an angry and violent mob seize our United States Capitol and interrupt Congress in its duty of certifying the State Elector votes for President and Vice-President. Such an action has left many of us angry, and hurt. Since then we have entered a typical moment of finger pointing, blame, and holding people responsible for what happened. Such finger pointing is not new. In the very story of creation Adam points his finger at Eve for tempting him with the apple, and Eve points to the snake as the cause for all the trouble. Finger pointing often leads to avoidance of responsibility.”

Those words alone would have shaken some parishioners. The most remarkable part, however, was still to come.

“I too want to engage in finger pointing,” said Father Bill, as he’s known in the parish, “and point to myself, and accept personal responsibility in part for what happened in the Capitol this past Wednesday.”

Corcoran went on to name the many times he failed to speak out about Donald Trump’s ugly behavior. Like when the president talked about grabbing women. When he mocked a disabled reporter. When he dissed John McCain.

He talked about the German Catholic Church’s failure to condemn Adolf Hitler, about the failure of the American Catholic Church when faced with the sexual abuse committed by priests.

“As President Trump has lied about so many things,” he told the congregation, “I have never spoken out, and fear we are teaching the young that truth and facts do not matter.”

By Corcoran’s count, a dozen people walked out of Mass that morning. Nearly two dozen more at the 9:30 Mass. “Probably 30,” he estimates, at the 11:30.

Each time he was startled. Saddened. “Awful,” is how he described it later.

And each time he knew he was doing what he had to do.

Corcoran’s struggle with speaking out reflects the struggle many Americans have faced during Donald Trump’s tenure. If speaking out against the president hurts people you care for, do you do it? Do you do it at the risk of being misunderstood or vilified? If you do it, how do you do it, and when?

Corcoran is approaching 65 and he’s been a priest for nearly 40 years. He grew up as the older brother to four sisters in a German-Irish neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side where people identified by Catholic parish. His was Little Flower. He has spent eight years as pastor at St. Elizabeth Seton, a large congregation he describes as middle to upper-middle class.

“Solid citizens,” he says. “Very nice people.”

Corcoran sees one of his jobs as “keeping people together.” Until recently, he worried that denouncing Trump’s behavior would divide the congregation unnecessarily. The Capitol insurrection changed his mind.

“To remain silent now, in the face of this violence,” he says, “was to give tacit permission that this is how we settle some things.”

After he spoke out, Corcoran received calls and emails from several upset parishioners. Some said they come to church to find peace and instead they’d found confrontation. Some had questions: Why hadn’t he condemned the looting that sprang from last summer’s racial justice protests? Why doesn’t he speak out more against abortion?

“One that struck me very hard was someone who didn’t feel welcome or that, because they support Trump, they don’t belong here anymore,” he says.

In the past week, as he talked to distressed parishioners, he has questioned himself: Could he have called out the violence without naming Trump? Should he have waited a couple of weeks when feelings weren’t so raw? He keeps coming back to one word: no.

Still, he’s “sorrowful” over the hurt felt by those who walked out.

“The people who walked out are my parishioners,” he says. “I’m obligated to care for them as well.”

But maybe, he thinks, caring for them means speaking the truth.

“When you lance a boil, it’s messy, it’s painful, it’s smelly,” he says. “But it lets the poison out. We need to let some poison out of the system for the process of healing.”

Corcoran has taken consolation from the many parishioners who are relieved that he finally spoke up. Some have thanked him for being courageous, a word he waves away.

“I didn’t think it was courageous,” he said. “I thought it was necessary.”

What does Biden’s diverse Cabinet mean for a divided country

CNN

Analysis: What does Biden’s diverse Cabinet mean for a divided country

January 18, 2021

 

Americans are demanding leaders atone for the forces of White supremacy that motivated a mob to storm the US Capitol on January 6 in its refusal to accept President Donald Trump’s loss. And people of color, despite their rising political power, have been among the communities hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and other disparities.
Biden has achieved a historic feat that observers hope will help begin the process of repairing a broken country. The President-elect has the most racially diverse presidential Cabinet in the history of the US. A CNN analysis found that 50% of nominees for Cabinet positions and Cabinet-level positions are people of color. That figure includes Vice President-elect Kamala Harris who will be the first Black and South Asian person and first woman to hold the position. Former President Barack Obama set the previous record for diversity with a Cabinet that was 42% people of color.
Civil rights leaders have praised Biden for keeping his promise of creating a Cabinet that better reflects the country’s changing demographics. However, this is only the first step and they are cautiously optimistic.
Biden’s administration will be expected to enact policies that lead to substantive change for communities of color. The Cabinet will be judged on whether it can end the Covid-19 pandemic and ensure vaccine access to underserved communities, support voting rights legislation, revive the economy, push police reform that addresses the fact that Black people are killed by police at higher rates, and reverse Trump’s anti-immigration policies. Civil rights activists will also be looking for Biden to consider people of color for deputy roles in the Cabinet as well as judges and US attorneys.
“We believe that Biden’s Cabinet appointments are just the starting point for a slate of demands that Black people and other people of color have,” said Arisha Hatch, vice president of Color of Change. “For us, diversity is just table stakes. It’s like the baseline thing that needs to happen.”
Diversity on a ‘new level’
Biden will be turning the tide of a majority White and male Trump administration that was only 16% people of color.
Trump garnered criticism for the lack of diversity in his Cabinet and his failure to address issues of concern to communities of color.
Throughout Trump’s presidency, he used offensive rhetoric to target Muslims, Mexicans, Syrian refugees, Africans, congresswomen of color, and Black athletes protesting racial inequality.
During an impeachment hearing for Trump on Wednesday, Rep. Cori Bush, a freshman Democrat from Missouri, called Trump a White supremacist.
“If we fail to remove a White supremacist President who incited a White supremacist insurrection, it’s communities like Missouri’s first district that suffer the most,” Bush said during her speech. “The 117th Congress must understand that we have a mandate to legislate in defense of Black lives. The first step in that process is to root out White supremacy starting with impeaching the White supremacist in chief.”
A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center found that 56% of Americans believed that Trump made race relations worse in the US.
The country experienced a reckoning on racism last summer when mass protests erupted after the controversial police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans. Covid-19 exacerbated already existing health disparities as people of color have died from the virus at higher rates than White people.
Inequality has now become a central focus for this country and many social justice advocates are looking for Biden to right the wrongs of the Trump administration.
In December, lawmakers and civil rights groups pressured Biden to appoint Black, Latino and Asian nominees to his Cabinet, citing the nation’s heightened alert on race and justice.
Douglas Brinkley, a CNN presidential historian, said Biden’s diverse Cabinet is taking the White House to a “new level” that past presidents haven’t been able to accomplish.
Former President Bill Clinton, Brinkley said, attempted to create a diverse Cabinet when he chose four Black and two Hispanic department heads.
Still, Clinton came under fire for passing the 1994 Crime Bill, which strengthened law enforcement across the country, provided federal money for new cops and prisons, and ordered mandatory life sentences for repeat offenders. Critics say the bill led to mass incarceration of Black people. Biden, who authored the bill, has defended aspects of it while also calling it a “mistake” and blaming its negative impacts on state governments.
Brinkley said Biden and his Cabinet have an opportunity to disprove critics who say Democrats rely on voters of color but don’t meet their expectations.
“This is coming at a time when the Republican party seems to be doubling down on being the party of White Americans only,” Brinkley said. “There’s a feeling here of a last gasp of particularly White male privilege going on here and Biden is trying to shatter that impression of America by making sure his Cabinet is very diverse and that should be applauded.”
Falling short with Asian Americans

 

While Black and Latino leaders say they are pleased with the Cabinet picks, Biden did not meet the expectations of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus that asked for top-tier representation in the Cabinet.
Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the nation and make up 6% of the US population.
Biden nominated two Asian people to Cabinet level positions. Neera Tanden will be the Office of Management and Budget Director and Katherine Tai was named US Trade Representative. Both will be the first Asian American women in their roles.
Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair and California Rep. Judy Chu called it “incredibly disheartening” that an Asian American Pacific Islander was not selected for a Cabinet secretary job for the first time since 2000.
“Despite the diversity amongst these Cabinets selections, we are deeply disappointed by the decision to exclude AAPIs from the 15 Cabinet Secretary positions who oversee executive departments in our government,” Chu said. “The glaring omission of an AAPI Cabinet Secretary in the self-declared ‘most diverse Cabinet in history’ is not lost on us and sends a demoralizing message to our nation’s fastest growing racial group and voting bloc that AAPIs do not need to be counted the same way as other key constituency groups.”
According to CNN exit polls, Asian Americans backed Biden at 61%.
Biden has promised to meet the concerns of AAPI’s including appointing them as judges and federal officials, protecting the Affordable Care Act to mitigate their barriers to healthcare access, fighting the rise in hate crimes against their community, and rescinding Trump’s Muslim ban.
A ‘milestone,’ but it’s only a first step

 

In December, Biden met with several Black civil rights leaders who pushed Biden to tap Black people for high level Cabinet roles and not just second-tier positions.
Many wanted Biden to pick a Black attorney general who would crack down on police violence in the Black community and voting rights. Biden ultimately selected Merrick Garland for the role.
Black Americans make up 12% of the US population and have faced oppression dating back to slavery and the Jim Crow era. Black people are also three times more likely than White people to be killed by police, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Biden ultimately picked five Black people for his Cabinet including incoming Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who will be the first Black person to lead the Pentagon, and Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, who was named HUD secretary. Other Black nominees include incoming EPA Administrator Michael Regan, who will be the first Black man to head the department; Cecilia Rouse, incoming chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and the first Black person to hold the post; and Linda Thomas-Greenfield will be U.N. Ambassador.
Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, was among the civil rights leaders who met with Biden and said the President-elect has achieved a “milestone” with this diverse Cabinet.
Morial said he believes their push for diversity was crucial to ensure Biden kept his word.
Now Biden will be charged with prioritizing equitable Covid-19 vaccine access, economic equality and increased funding for Black-owned businesses, voting rights and other issues affecting the Black community, Morial said.
“He has successfully gotten to first base,” Morial said. “I think for people who are fair minded and open minded, the truth is that the way people feel will very much be predicated on how they (Biden’s Cabinet) perform.”
Biden makes gains with Latinos
Latino leaders have also praised Biden for his Cabinet picks. Latinos hold the largest minority population in the country at 18%.
selected four Latino people for his Cabinet and three are Cabinet secretaries. The nominees include Xavier Becerra, for Secretary of Health and Human Services; Miguel Cardona for Secretary of Education, Alejandro Mayorkas for Secretary of Homeland Security; and Isabel Guzman who will be the Small Business Administrator. Becerra and Mayorkas will be the first Latinos to lead their departments.
Last week, the heads of UnidosUs, Hispanic Federation and other national groups met with Biden, Harris and their Hispanic Cabinet nominees to discuss the challenges facing the Latino community. Among the issues discussed were the devastating toll Covid-19 has had on Latino Americans, health care access, immigration, and jobs, the leaders said in a statement.
“The President-elect knows our people are hurting,” said Janet Murguía, UnidosUS President and CEO. “He wants to address the health and economic impact on the Latino community and understands the need to address systemic inequality by putting equity at the center of his economic and health care response. This feels like a new day, a huge change.”
Eric Rodriguez, senior vice president of UnidosUS, said he expects Biden to undo the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies that he called “cruel and heartless and gutless.”
Rodriguez said having a diverse Cabinet will help Biden gain the trust of people of color.
“Having that cultural experience and background is just so important to being able to communicate and get information from those communities,” Rodriguez said.
Native Americans celebrate historic appointment
Biden was also lauded by Native Americans when he nominated Deb Haaland for secretary of the Interior, which will make her the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency.
Crystal Echo Hawk, executive director of IllumiNative, said she now wants to see Biden’s Cabinet boost funding for Covid-19 relief in Native American communities and ensure vaccine access. Echo Hawk said Native Americans have been sickened or dying from Covid-19 at high rates because of the “deliberate and long-term under-funding” of their health care systems.
Native Americans are also asking Biden to undo the repeated attempts by the Trump administration to undermine tribal sovereignty over their lands and sacred sites, suspend Trump’s decision to lease drilling rights on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and rebuild the relationship between tribal leaders and the federal government, Echo Hawk said.
“We are encouraged to see these strides toward political representation that looks like the United States and the constituents the Cabinet serves,” Echo Hawk said. “However, this must be accompanied by policies that transform the systems of power that have shutout Native, Black, Latinx, and other communities of color for generations.”

Billionaires backed Republicans who sought to reverse US election results

The Guardian

Billionaires backed Republicans who sought to reverse US election results

Guardian analysis shows Club for Growth has spent $20m supporting 42 rightwing lawmakers who voted to invalidate Biden victory.

Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington              January 15, 2021

The Club for Growth’s biggest beneficiaries include Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, above, the duo who led the effort to overturn the election result.

The Club for Growth’s biggest beneficiaries include Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, above, the duo who led the effort to overturn the election result. Photograph: Erin Scott/EPA

An anti-tax group funded primarily by billionaires has emerged as one of the biggest backers of the Republican lawmakers who sought to overturn the US election results, according to an analysis by the Guardian.

The Club for Growth has supported the campaigns of 42 of the rightwing Republicans senators and members of the House of Representatives who voted last week to challenge US election results, doling out an estimated $ 20m to directly and indirectly support their campaigns in 2018 and 2020, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

About 30 of the Republican hardliners received more than $100,000 in indirect and direct support from the group.

The Club for Growth’s biggest beneficiaries include Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, the two Republican senators who led the effort to invalidate Joe Biden’s electoral victory, and the newly elected far-right gun-rights activist Lauren Boebert, a QAnon conspiracy theorist. Boebert was criticized last week for tweeting about the House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s location during the attack on the Capitol, even after lawmakers were told not to do so by police.

Public records show the Club for Growth’s largest funders are the billionaire Richard Uihlein, the Republican co-founder of the Uline shipping supply company in Wisconsin, and Jeffrey Yass, the co-founder of Susquehanna International Group, an options trading group based in Philadelphia that also owns a sports betting company in Dublin.

While Uihlein and Yass have kept a lower profile than other billionaire donors such as Michael Bloomberg and the late Sheldon Adelson, their backing of the Club for Growth has helped to transform the organization from one traditionally known as an anti-regulatory and anti-tax pro-business pressure group to one that backs some of the most radical and anti-democratic Republican lawmakers in Congress.

“Here’s the thing about the hyper wealthy. They believe that their hyper-wealth grants them the ability to not be accountable. And that is not the case. If you’ve made billions of dollars, good on you. But that doesn’t make you any less accountable for funding anti-democratic or authoritarian candidates and movements,” said Reed Galen, a former Republican strategist who co-founded the Lincoln Project, the anti-Trump campaigners.

Galen said he believed groups such as the Club for Growth now served to cater to Republican donors’ own personal agenda, and not what used to be considered “conservative principles”.

The Lincoln Project has said it would devote resources to putting pressure not just on Hawley, which the group accused of committing sedition, but also on his donors.

The Club for Growth has so far escaped scrutiny for its role supporting the anti-democratic Republicans because it does not primarily make direct contributions to candidates. Instead, it uses its funds to make “outside” spending decisions, like attacking a candidate’s opponents.

The newly elected far-right gun-rights activist Lauren Boebert, a QAnon conspiracy theorist, is a beneficiary of the Club for Growth.
The newly elected far-right gun-rights activist Lauren Boebert, a QAnon conspiracy theorist, is a beneficiary of the Club for Growth. Photograph: Us House Of Representatives Handout/EPA

 

In 2018, Club for Growth spent nearly $3m attacking the Democratic senator Claire McCaskill in Missouri, a race that was ultimately won by Hawley, the 41-year-old Yale law graduate with presidential ambitions who has amplified Donald Trump’s baseless lies about election fraud.

That year, it also spent $1.2m to attack the Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who challenged – and then narrowly lost – against Cruz.

Other legislators supported by Club for Growth include Matt Rosendale, who this week called for the resignation of fellow Republican Liz Cheney after she said she would support impeachment of the president, and Lance Gooden, who accused Pelosi of being just as responsible for last week’s riot as Trump.

Dozens of the Republicans supported by Club for Growth voted to challenge the election results even after insurrectionist stormed the Capitol, which led to five deaths, including the murder of a police officer.

Neither the Club for Growth nor McIntosh responded to requests for comment.

Public records show that Richard Uihlein, whose family founded Schlitz beer, donated $27m to the Club for Growth in 2020, and $6.7m in 2018. Uihlein and his wife, Liz, have been called “the most powerful conservative couple you’ve never heard of” by the New York Times. Richard Uihlein, the New York Times said, was known for underwriting “firebrand anti-establishment” candidates like Roy Moore, who Uihlein supported in a Senate race even after it was alleged he had sexually abused underage girls. Moore denied the allegations.

A spokesman for the Uihleins declined to comment.

Yass of Susquehanna International, who is listed on public documents as having donated $20.7m to the Club for Growth in 2020 and $3.8m in 2018, also declined to comment. Yass is one of six founders of Susquehanna, called a “crucial engine of the $5tn global exchange-traded fund market” in a 2018 Bloomberg News profile. The company was grounded on the basis of the six founders mutual love of poker and the notion that training for “probability-based” decisions could be useful in trading markets. Susquehanna’s Dublin-based company, Nellie Analytics, wagers on sports.

In a 2020 conference on the business of sports betting, Yass said sports betting was a $250bn industry globally, but that with “help” from legislators, it could become a trillion-dollar industry.

A 2009 profile of Yass in Philadelphia magazine described how secrecy pervades Susquehanna, and that people who know the company say “stealth” is a word often used to describe its modus operandi. The article suggested Yass was largely silent about his company because he does not like to share what he does and how, and that those who know him believe he is “very nervous” about his own security.

Yass, who is described in some media accounts as a libertarian, also donated to the Protect America Pac, an organization affiliated with Republican senator Rand Paul. The Pac’s website falsely claims that Democrats stole the 2020 election.

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Johnson & Johnson Is Working on a COVID-19 Vaccine That Requires a Single Dose

Johnson & Johnson Is Working on a COVID-19 Vaccine That Requires a Single Dose

Korin Miller                              January 18, 2021
Photo credit: Stefan Cristian Cioata - Getty Images
Photo credit: Stefan Cristian Cioata – Getty Images – From Prevention

 

While Pfizer and Moderna both have COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the U.S., other vaccine candidates are still in the works, including a single-dose option from Johnson & Johnson, which has about 45,000 people enrolled in ongoing phase 3 clinical trials. According to early data just released by the company, this vaccine also shows major promise.

Interim phase 1/2a data were published on Jan. 13 in the New England Journal of Medicine, and the results show the company’s vaccine candidate created an immune response in patients for at least 71 days—the full length of time measured in the study so far.

The vaccine was also “generally well-tolerated” in study participants, Johnson & Johnson said in a press release. While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are similar, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine also has plenty of differences. Here’s what we know so far, plus what lies ahead.

How does the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine work?

Johnson & Johnson has an andenovector vaccine, which uses double-stranded DNA to promote an immune response in the body. This technology works differently than the mRNA vaccines available from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which both use single-stranded RNA.

In the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, researchers added a piece of genetic material from the novel coronavirus’ spike protein (the piece that latches onto human cells) into another virus, Adenovirus 26, which was modified so it has the ability to enter cells but not reproduce inside of them. Adenoviruses are common viruses that usually cause cold-like symptoms, but because the one used in the vaccine was altered and cannot replicate, it can’t make you sick. (Other COVID-19 vaccines, including Oxford and AstraZeneca’s candidate, uses similar adenovirus technology.)

When you get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the modified adenovirus carrying a piece of the spike protein latches onto the surface of your cells. It’s pulled inside, where the modified virus travels to the cell nucleus, home to its DNA. The adenovirus then puts its DNA into the nucleus, the spike protein gene is read by the cell, and it’s then copied into messenger RNA (mRNA).

After that, the mRNA leaves the nucleus and serves as a set of instructions for other cells, so they begin making spike proteins. Those are then recognized by your immune system, and your body reacts by producing antibodies to the perceived threat (even though no threat exists).

Your immune system cells then remember how to fight the distinct piece of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus, so if you come into contact with it in the future, your body will have the capability to fight it more efficiently.

This technology is unique but Johnson & Johnson has a lot of experience with it, as it’s already been used for its Ebola vaccine. “They’ve given hundreds of thousands of doses of this similar vaccine,” which has had no major safety issues, says William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

While it’s still being tested, Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine may only require one shot rather than two. Its trials so far have found that giving both one or two doses of the vaccine spurred an effective immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 in study participants, but nothing is set in stone until phase 3 clinical trials are complete and the company has enough data to support its single dose.

How effective is the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine?

It’s not entirely clear at this point. Published data from the early stage trials found that more than 90% of people who were vaccinated developed neutralizing antibodies (which are expected to stop SARS-CoV-2 from infecting your cells) 29 days after they received the first dose of the vaccine. Two months after the first dose, all participants had developed neutralizing antibodies, which stayed put for at least 71 days.

What are the side effects of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine?

According to the data so far, it may cause “mild-to-moderate side effects typically associated with vaccinations,” similar to those expected from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. This includes cold-like symptoms, like a headache, body aches, pain at the injection site, and a fever—a normal sign that the body’s immune response is being primed.

How is the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine stored?

One of the biggest perks of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is its durability. Because it doesn’t harbor delicate mRNA like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (which need to stay frozen), it’s much less fragile and can stay stable in a normal refrigerator (36–46°F) for up to three months.

“That’s a big advantage,” says Thomas Russo, M.D., professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York. Safely storing the other available vaccines, particularly the Pfizer vaccine (which needs to be kept at a frigid -94°F), presents challenges for the average doctor’s office or pharmacy, as most locations don’t have specialty freezers that reach those temperatures.

When will it be granted an emergency use authorization by the FDA?

“It’s too soon to say because we don’t have phase 3 clinical data yet,” says infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

However, he’s hopeful, because “the phase 2 clinical trial results look strong.” Dr. Russo agrees that “as of right now, there are no major concerns with the safety signals.”

Johnson & Johnson’s phase 3 clinical trial is expected to wrap up by mid-February. If everything checks out, the company can apply for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Dr. Russo says. Once the FDA grants its approval, it’s possible that the vaccine could be authorized sometime in March.

In August, the company signed a $1 billion contract with the federal government, pledging to produce 12 million doses of its vaccine by February and 100 million doses by the end of June. However, The New York Times reports production may be about two months behind schedule.

Will you get to choose which COVID-19 vaccine you get?

At this point, that doesn’t seem likely. “In this initial phase of vaccinations, there’s probably not going to be much of a choice for people,” Dr. Adalja says. Rather, the health department or agency administering the vaccine will make the decision, mostly based on which vaccine is readily available in a specific area.

But a lot of this really comes down to what the data will say. “Exactly how effective is this vaccine?” Dr. Schaffner says. “If there’s a noteworthy difference, that might change things.”

Almost a third of recovered Covid patients return to hospital in five months and one in eight die

Almost a third of recovered Covid patients return to hospital in five months and one in eight die

Sarah Knapton                           January 17, 2021
Paramedics transport a patient from the ambulance to the emergency department at the the Royal London Hospital - Barcroft Media 
Paramedics transport a patient from the ambulance to the emergency department at the the Royal London Hospital – Barcroft Media

 

Almost a third of recovered Covid patients will end up back in hospital within five months and one in eight will die, alarming new figures have shown.

Research by Leicester University and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found there is a devastating long-term toll on survivors of severe coronavirus, with many people developing heart problems, diabetes and chronic liver and kidney conditions.

Out of 47,780 people who were discharged from hospital in the first wave, 29.4 per cent were readmitted to hospital within 140 days, and 12.3 per cent of the total died.

The current cut-off point for recording Covid deaths is 28 days after a positive test, so it may mean thousands more people should be included in the coronavirus death statistics.

Researchers have called for urgent monitoring of people who have been discharged from hospital.

Study author Kamlesh Khunti, professor of primary care diabetes and vascular medicine at Leicester University, said: “This is the largest study of people discharged from hospital after being admitted with Covid.

“People seem to be going home, getting long-term effects, coming back in and dying. We see nearly 30 per cent have been readmitted, and that’s a lot of people. The numbers are so large.

“The message here is we really need to prepare for long Covid. It’s a mammoth task to follow up with these patients and the NHS is really pushed at the moment, but some sort of monitoring needs to be arranged.”

The study found that Covid survivors were nearly three and a half times more likely to be readmitted to hospital, and die, in the 140 days timeframe than other hospital outpatients.

Prof Khunti said the team had been surprised to find that many people were going back in with a new diagnosis, and many had developed heart, kidney and liver problems, as well as diabetes.

He said it was important to make sure people were placed on protective therapies, such as statins and aspirin.

“We don’t know if it’s because Covid destroyed the beta cells which make insulin and you get Type 1 diabetes, or whether it causes insulin resistance, and you develop Type 2, but we are seeing these surprising new diagnoses of diabetes,” he added.

“We’ve seen studies where survivors have had MRS scans and they’ve cardiac problems and liver problems.

“These people urgently require follow up and the need to be on things like aspirin and statins.”

The new study was published on a pre-print server and is yet to be peer reviewed. However experts described the paper as “important”.

Commenting on the study on Twitter, Christina Pagel, director of the clinical operational research unit at University College London said: “This is such important work. Covid is about so much more than death. A significant burden of long-term illness after hospitalization for Covid.”

Last year, researchers at North Bristol NHS Trust found that three quarters of virus patients treated at Bristol’s Southmead Hospital were still experiencing problems three months later.

Symptoms included breathlessness, excessive fatigue and muscle aches, leaving people struggling to wash, dress and return to work.

Some patients say they have been left needing a wheelchair since contracting the virus, while others claim they can no longer walk up the stairs without experiencing chest pain.

In December, the ONS estimated that one in 10 people who catch coronavirus go on to suffer long Covid with symptoms lasting three months or more.

Overall, roughly 186,000 people in private households in England in the week beginning November 22 were living with Covid-19 symptoms that had persisted for between five and 12 weeks, the most up-to-date ONS data shows.