Connect with us

News

Biden marks ‘deadliest year on record for transgender Americans’ on day of remembrance

Published

on

In a statement shared with CNN, Biden also remembered “the countless other transgender people — disproportionately Black and brown transgender women and girls — who face brutal violence, discrimination, and harassment.”

On Friday, the White House marked the day with a vigil in the Diplomatic Room of the White House hosted by second gentleman Doug Emhoff.

Transgender Day of Remembrance caps off Transgender Awareness Week, and memorializes victims of anti-transgender violence across the country. Earlier this month, the Human Rights Campaign declared 2021 the deadliest year on record for transgender and nonbinary people, with at least 45 transgender or gender-nonconforming people killed.
In a tweet marking that solemn milestone, White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the news “unacceptable,” writing: “Our hearts are with all who knew and loved the 45 people who have been killed this year. The march to end this epidemic of violence continues.”
In his statement, Biden called on the Senate to pass the Equality Act, which amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect people from being discriminated against based on sexual orientation and gender identity, “so that all people are able to live free from fear and discrimination.” The bill passed the House in March but has stalled in the Senate.

“In spite of our progress strengthening civil rights for LGBTQI+ Americans, too many transgender people still live in fear and face systemic barriers to freedom and equality,” Biden wrote.

The administration also released a report Saturday from the first Interagency Working Group on Safety, Opportunity, and Inclusion for Transgender and Gender Diverse Individuals, which is made up of representatives from the US Agency for International Development, the Departments of State, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Education, Homeland Security, Labor, Interior and Veterans Affairs, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the US Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Per the report, shared Friday with CNN, violence against transgender Americans is the direct result of “systemic anti-transgender stigma and hate, pervasive discrimination, disproportionate criminalization, and marginalization and exclusion of gender minorities,” with violence against transgender communities “heightened today due to a historic spike in legislation targeting transgender people for discriminatory and unjust treatment.”

President Barack Obama’s White House regularly acknowledged Transgender Day of Remembrance and met with activists to discuss violence against the community. That practice did not continue under President Donald Trump.
Biden’s statement is the latest in a series of moves by the administration to show support for LGBTQ+ Americans, including reversing his predecessor’s ban on transgender Americans in the military, reinstating a special envoy for LGBTQ rights after the position lapsed under Trump and issuing the first presidential proclamation marking Transgender Day of Visibility in March. The President drew praise from LGBTQ advocates for his remarks pledging support for transgender Americans during his first address to a joint session of Congress in April, while first lady Jill Biden invited Stella Keating, a teenage transgender advocate who testified before Congress in support of the Equality Act, as her virtual guest for the address.
While violence against transgender Americans is at an all-time high, 2021 has also marked a record year for anti-transgender legislation, with state legislatures introducing 100 bills across 33 states aimed at curbing the rights of transgender people.
The majority of bills would affect transgender youth, a group that researchers and medical professionals warn is already susceptible to high rates of suicide and depression.  

“To ensure that our government protects the civil rights of transgender Americans, I charged my team with coordinating across the federal government to address the epidemic of violence and advance equality for transgender people. I continue to call on state leaders and lawmakers to combat the disturbing proliferation of discriminatory state legislation targeting transgender people, especially transgender children,” Biden wrote in Saturday’s statement. “Today, we remember. Tomorrow — and every day — we must continue to act.”

News

Biden’s Vaccine Mandates Are Losing in Court

Published

on

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the coronavirus response and vaccinations during a speech at the White House, August 23, 2021. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Joe Biden’s effort to use the federal government to mandate the COVID vaccine is not faring very well in the courts. In early November, the Fifth Circuit halted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s vaccine mandate almost as soon as it was announced. After hearing briefing and argument, it extended the stay. Now, we have a battery of additional decisions from the federal district courts.

Today, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Kentucky, Gregory van Tatenhove (a George W. Bush appointee), issued an injunction blocking the vaccine mandate for employees of federal-government contractors and subcontractors. The injunction applies throughout three states (Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee), the state governments of which were plaintiffs in the case. The court, citing the Fifth Circuit’s opinion in the OSHA case, was unconvinced that the Biden administration had the authority to do this:

While the statute grants to the president great discretion, it strains credulity that Congress intended…a procurement statute to be the basis for promulgating a public health measure such as mandatory vaccination. If a vaccination mandate has a close enough nexus to economy and efficiency in federal procurement, then the statute could be used to enact virtually any measure at the president’s whim under the guise of economy and efficiency…Although Congress used its power to delegate procurement authority to the president to promote economy and efficiency federal contracting, this power has its limits…If OSHA promulgating a vaccine mandate runs afoul of the nondelegation doctrine, the Court has serious concerns about the FPASA, which is a procurement statute, being used to promulgate a vaccine mandate for all federal contractors and subcontractors. [Bold added.]

Yesterday and today, federal judges in Louisiana and Missouri entered injunctions against vaccine mandates for the staff of 21 types of Medicare and Medicaid health-care providers, enacted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and planned to go into effect next Monday. Monday’s ruling was by Judge Matthew Schlep of the Eastern District of Missouri (a Trump appointee), and applies to ten states (Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming), all of which were plaintiffs in the case. Judge Schlep, too, cited the lack of statutory authorization:

While the Court agrees Congress has authorized the Secretary of Health and Human Services…general authority to enact regulations for the “administration” of Medicare and Medicaid and the “health and safety” of recipients, the nature and breadth of the CMS mandate requires clear authorization from Congress—and Congress has provided none…Courts have long required Congress to speak clearly when providing agency authorization if it (1) intends for an agency to exercise powers of vast economic and political significance; (2) if the authority would significantly alter the balance between federal and state power; or (3) if an administrative interpretation of a statute invokes the outer limits of Congress’ power. Any one of those fundamental principles would require clear congressional authorization for this mandate, but here, all three are present… [E]ven if Congress has the power to mandate the vaccine and the authority to delegate such a mandate to CMS—topics on which the Court does not opine today—the lack of congressional intent for this monumental policy decision speaks volumes. [Bold added.]

He also noted the long delay in issuing a mandate, which — as in the case of OSHA’s mandate — undercuts the Biden administration’s claim of urgency and its basis for acting in high-handed fashion without full consideration of comments from affected parties:

[T]wo vaccines were authorized under Emergency Use Authorization (“EUA”) more than ten months before the CMS mandate took effect, and one vaccine was fully licensed by the FDA well over two months before…[S]ince the onset of COVID, CMS has issued five…mandates, such as the one here; the most recent on May 13, 2021…One could query how an “emergency” could prompt such a slow response; such delay hardly suggests a situation so dire that CMS may dispense with notice and comment requirements…and the important purposes they serve.

The COVID pandemic is an event beyond CMS’s control, yet it was completely within its control to act earlier than it did…CMS looked only at evidence from interested parties in favor of the mandate, while completely ignoring evidence from interested parties in opposition…In fact, CMS foreclosed these parties’ ability to provide information regarding the mandate’s effects on the healthcare industry, while simultaneously dismissing those concerns based on “insufficient evidence.”…But facts do not cease to exist simply because they are ignored, and stating that a factor was considered is not a substitute for considering it. [Bold added; quotations and citations omitted.]

He further observed that “the failure to take and respond to comments feeds into the very vaccine hesitancy CMS acknowledges is so daunting” and found it irrational that “CMS rejected mandate alternatives in those with natural immunity by a previous coronavirus infection.” Should judges be flyspecking the reasoning of administrative agencies? Maybe if they stuck to ordering things they clearly had the power to order, that would be a fairer question.

Finally, today, Judge Terry Doughty of the Western District of Louisiana (a Trump appointee) enjoined the CMS mandate in the other 40 states. The nationwide scope of his injunction is more debatable, although fourteen states (Louisiana, Montana, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio) were before the court as plaintiffs, and the ruling is clearly properly tailored to the parties to the case. Judge Doughty is in the Fifth Circuit, so he felt himself bound by the similarity of the CMS mandate to the OSHA mandate. He was similarly critical of the process:

It took CMS longer to prepare the interim final rule without notice than it would have taken to comply with the notice and comment requirement. Notice and comment would have allowed others to comment upon the need for such drastic action before its implementation.

He was also unpersuaded that CMS had the authority to issue such far-reaching rules without anything resembling a specific authorization from Congress:

None of these statutes give the Government Defendants the “superpowers” they claim. Not only do the statutes not specify such superpowers, but principles of separation of powers weigh heavily against such powerful authority being transferred to a government agency by general authority…if the Government Defendants have the power and authority they claim (to mandate vaccines for 10.3 million workers), these government agencies would have almost “unfiltered power” over any healthcare provider, supplier, and employees that are covered by the CMS Mandate. If CMS has the authority by a general authorization statute to mandate vaccines, they have authority to do almost anything they believe necessary, holding the hammer of termination of the Medicare/Medicaid Provider Agreement over healthcare facilities and suppliers. [Bold added.]

We have a government of enumerated powers. Congress is supposed to make laws that are to be executed in enumerated ways. Assuming that it has such an extraordinary power as mandating that Americans take a vaccine, it should either pass a law to exercise that power, or at least pass a law that unambiguously delegates to the executive branch the decision when to exercise it. What we have seen instead is the Biden administration scouring the books for any law – no matter how general or how unrelated to the topic – that seems vague enough to cover the situation. We will see in the end how the Supreme Court resolves these issues, as it inevitably will. But we still have only one legislative branch, and it is not run by the president.

Continue Reading

News

November saw fewer Covid deaths in Pimpri-Chinchwad, zero fatalities on eight days

Published

on

Even as two passengers from Pimpri-Chinchwad who returned from high-risk countries have tested positive for Covid, the month of November brought some relief to the industrial city as it witnessed fewer deaths due to infectious disease compared to the last few months.

According to PCMC health officials, 22 citizens succumbed to Covid-19 in November, the lowest figure in the last four months. In August, 54 died while in September, the figure was 39. In October, the deaths doubled as 83 lost their lives.

According to health officials, in the month of November, on at least 8 days, Pimpri-Chinchwad did not register a single death. “Otherwise, mostly the city registered a solitary death on most days,” officials said.

The first Covid death was registered last year on April 11. To date, there have been 4,511 related deaths in the industrial city.

The health officials said the Covid positivity rate has also gone down considerably in the month of November. “The COVID positivity rate is now below one per cent,” said Dr Laxman Gofane, medical officer. The current positivity rate is 0.78 per cent and the overall positivity rate is 12.67 per cent.

Officials said vaccination has also picked momentum with 25 lakh citizens so far receiving either first or both vaccine doses. Every day 10-15,000 citizens are receiving their vaccine doses at 200 civic and private vaccination centres.

Besides, in November, more patients recovered than the number of those admitted.

Municipal Commissioner Rajesh Patil said, “Since last one month, Covid deaths and positivity rate have come down. However, citizens should continue to observe Covid appropriate behaviour. Wearing mask, maintaining social distancing and washing hands regularly is essential to keep COVID at bay.”

Continue Reading

News

Internet swoons over Joe Biden’s bodyguard, comparing him to Tom Cruise in Top Gun

Published

on

Joe Biden’s security team is making headlines across the globe — but not for any act of bravery.

A member of his security detail took the attention off the US President during his Thanksgiving trip to Nantucket, thanks to his dashing good looks and striking similarity to a Hollywood superstar.

The unknown agent, who has been dubbed the “Tom Cruise” of the secret service, has now gone viral after footage of him was posted on social media.

The video, posted by TikTok user @life_with_Matt, has already notched up more than 400,000 views.

“Forget about the President, the Secret Service be looking fine,” he wrote on the video caption.

Other TikTok users seemed to agree, posting hundreds of comments, before they were promptly turned off.

However the video was reposted by another user, who left the comments on.

“Defending the nation with hotness,” one person wrote.

“That man is too fine,” wrote another.

Joe Biden’s security team is making headlines across the globe — but not for any act of bravery.
Camera IconJoe Biden’s security team is making headlines across the globe — but not for any act of bravery. Credit: TikTok

Another said: “I am a heterosexual man but this video made me feel things.”

The agent, casually dressed in khaki pants, a knit sweater, a black trench coat, and classic black Wayfarers, drew just as many comparisons to Tom Cruise.

“He’s conveying Tom Cruise to me in Top Gun vibes,” noted one fan.

The Bidens are back at the White House but visited the tiny Massachusetts island at the weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Continue Reading

Trending