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Good morning. The Biden administration begins to address the six crises that the new president described in his inaugural address.
Near the end of his inaugural address yesterday, President Biden named six crises that the U.S. faces: the virus, climate change, growing inequality, racism, Americaâs global standing and an attack on truth and democracy.
âAny one of these will be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is, we face them all at once,â Biden said. âWe will be judged â you and I â by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era.â
To get started, Biden announced a longer list of Day 1 executive actions â 17, in all â than any previous modern president, as The Timesâs Michael Shear points out. The Biden administration is also asking for legislation by Congress. But hereâs our explanation of how the new president is trying to make immediate progress:
Biden signed an executive order yesterday requiring masks where he has the authority to do so â in federal buildings, for example â as well as a separate order creating a White House position to improve the governmentâs response to the virus.
He also made clear that he was ending the Trump administrationâs hostility to global cooperation by halting the U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization. Biden is sending Dr. Anthony Fauci to the groupâs meeting today as the head of the U.S. delegation. âItâs an interconnected world,â my colleague Apoorva Mandavilli says. To succeed in combating the virus, âwe have to coordinate with other countries.â
Biden is also asking Americans to wear masks for the next 100 days. One question he hasnât yet answered: How will he persuade more Republican voters â many of whom are skeptical of masks â to wear them?
Biden signed two executive orders on climate â one that recommits the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement and another that reverses Donald Trumpâs hostility to environmental regulations. âNo president has brought in this many people at the start of an administration to work on climate change,â Lisa Friedman, who covers climate policy, said.
Still, these actions are only first steps, Nathaniel Keohane of the Environmental Defense Fund told me. Reversing Trumpâs actions is significant, he added â but the world needs more ambitious steps to curb the use of greenhouse gases that are causing so much damage.
Inequality and racism
Bidenâs biggest attempts to reduce economic and racial inequality will require congressional legislation. But he took some early steps yesterday.
He has extended moratoriums on evictions and student-loan payments that the Trump administration had put in place. He also ordered federal agencies to root out racially unequal policies. âWe have great evidence from economists that tearing down barriers to advancement for men of color and women of all races fueled huge amounts of growth in the United States in decades past,â The Timesâs Jim Tankersley said.
Biden also sought to undo several of Trumpâs anti-immigration policies. Among the moves: refocusing deportation efforts on those undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes in the U.S. âTrump, on the other hand, decided that anyone in the country illegally should be arrested and deported,â Miriam Jordan, who covers immigration for The Times, said.
Democracy, truth and Americaâs role in the world
In his address, Biden repeatedly stressed the importance of truth and included a veiled but obvious reference to Trump by criticizing âlies told for power and for profit.â And at her first White House briefing last night, Jen Psaki, Bidenâs press secretary, said: âThere will be moments when we disagree â¦ but we have a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people.â
Biden signaled his emphasis on diplomacy by embracing the Paris climate accord and World Health Organization. Another big move to improve the U.S. image around the world was his immediate repeal of a signature Trump policy: the so-called Muslim travel ban. It had restricted nearly all passport holders from several Muslim-majority countries â including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen â from entering the U.S.
MORE ON THE INAUGURATION
Reviews of the Speech
Most presidentsâ inaugural addresses have included encomiums to unity. But âBidenâs words felt less like rhetorical flourishes and more like an urgent appeal to stabilize a country reelingâ from multiple crises, Julie Pace of The Associated Press wrote.
The journalist Clare Malone: ââLies told for power and for profitâ is a good line and a description of a thing thatâs not going away.â
Slateâs Jim Newell: Biden is not likely to erase the countryâs political divisions. But he has laid out an agenda with âtangible, deliverable items to make lives better.â
Eric Levitz of New York Magazine: âHe does not seek the unity of all Americans, only that of âenough of usâ to drag the rest toward justice.â
âIt wasnât a memorable speech, but its informal style was true to Biden,â National Reviewâs Rich Lowry wrote. âObviously itâs much easier to talk unity than achieve it.â
Bidenâs declaration that he would âdefeatâ white supremacy echoed Ulysses S. Grant, the president who crushed the Ku Klux Klan after the Civil War, The New Yorkerâs Jelani Cobb noted.
Gorman said she had listened to the musical âHamiltonâ for inspiration. âYou were perfect,â Lin-Manuel Miranda, the showâs creator, wrote to her on Twitter. âBrava!â
Purple â a blend of red and blue â was the color of the day. (Itâs also one of the signature colors of the suffragists.) Vice President Kamala Harris, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton all wore variations of the color.
Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, as well as Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, wore American designers. Harrisâs outfit was designed by Christopher John Rogers, the latest Black designer whose clothes she has spotlighted.
Senator Bernie Sanders and his mittens became a meme. They are Vermont-made, and he wore them on the campaign trail, Ruby Cramer of BuzzFeed News wrote.
Lady Gaga, who wore a large brooch of a dove carrying an olive branch as she sang the national anthem, evoked the dystopian book series âThe Hunger Games.â Its heroine, Katniss Everdeen, sports a pin of a fictional bird.
Sneakerheads admired the rare pair of Dior Air Jordan 1s that Nikolas Ajagu, husband of Meena Harris and nephew-in-law of Kamala Harris, wore to the ceremony.
The Administrationâs First Day
The Senate confirmed Avril Haines to be the director of national intelligence. She was Bidenâs first cabinet nominee to receive a vote.
The Washington Post got a peek at how Biden has redecorated the Oval Office, from bringing back Bill Clintonâs drapes to installing a big portrait of Franklin Roosevelt, a president who steered the nation through multiple crises.
Jon Bon Jovi, John Legend and Katy Perry â singing âFireworkâ to actual fireworks over the Mall â were among those who performed at a celebration to mark the day.
âThe performances stuck to a theme: hope in a dark time,â The Timesâs critic writes.
Because of a shipping delay, New York City postponed 23,000 vaccination appointments that were scheduled for this week.
Members of the Proud Boys, a far-right group loyal to Trump, are calling him âweak,â as more of them face charges over storming the Capitol.
Antifascist and racial-justice protesters in Portland, Ore., and in Seattle smashed windows, marched through the streets and burned an American flag, saying that the Biden administration âwonât save us.â
Several species of salmon in the Pacific Northwest are âon the brink of extinction,â partly as a result of climate change.
A U.S. woman living in Bali praised the Indonesian island as âqueer friendly.â In response, the authorities deported her for âspreading information that could unsettle the public.â
A Morning Read: An ode to Gottliebâs Bakery, whose Georgia-made rye bread rivaled any deli in New York City for those who grew up with it.
From Opinion: Access to the coronavirus vaccines has been unfair and inequitable. But if youâre offered one, you should take it â no matter how undeserving you may feel, Melinda Wenner Moyer writes.
Lives Lived: Margo St. James was one of the nationâs most prominent advocates for sex workers, devoting her life to decriminalizing prostitution and destigmatizing its practitioners. She called her organization COYOTE (for Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics). She died at 83.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
The pangram from yesterdayâs Spelling Bee was multiply. Todayâs puzzle is above â or you can play online if you have a Games subscription.
Hereâs todayâs Mini Crossword, and a clue: Head-butt (three letters).
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. â David
P.S. A hidden haiku in Abraham Lincolnâs 1861 inaugural address, recently spotted by @nythaikus: âThough passion may have / strained it must not break our / bonds of affection.â And one from Bidenâs: âWe can join forces / stop the shouting and lower / the temperature.â
You can see todayâs print front page here.
Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally posted on https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/21/briefing/executive-orders-biden-climate-proud-boys.html