After 64 Days Biden Speaks to the Press
President Joe Biden appeared at his first press conference since taking office 64 days ago to update Americans on the COVID-19 pandemic, which is now a year ongoing, the immigration crisis on the southern border, and a mishmash of issues. Biden praised scientists’ efforts in readying the now-available vaccine, attempted to calm fears of inundation of unaccompanied migrant children, and spoke of taxes and the hotly debated filibuster.
Mr. Biden did tout the record number of COVID-19 vaccinations already administered but did not acknowledge the past administration in creating Operation Warp Speed.
He touched briefly on recent reports that there was an uptick in migrant children attempting to cross into the U.S. without guardians – 500 each day – Biden assured the American people that:
“As many people came, 28% increase in children to the border in my administration. 31% in the last year of – in 2019, before the pandemic, in the Trump administration. It happens every single solitary year. There is a significant increase in the number of people coming to the border in the winter months of January, February, March.”
However, the number of unaccompanied minors spiked considerably during January-February 2021 by 63%, reaching 9,297 – which exceeded expected seasonal upticks in attempted crossings.
The president did pivot on the issue of taxes, saying “that people who are making, you know if you are a husband and wife, school-teacher and a cop, you’re paying at a higher rate than the average person making $1 billion a year is. Something’s wrong.”
The event was unusual as presidential pressers go with detailed scripting. Mr. Biden was armed with flashcard-type notes and photos and names of the white House Press Corps. And he spoke, outlining details of his administration’s progress thus far. That’s a very different approach than the no-holds-barred events of the previous administration.
The Suez Canal Seems Too Small These Days
The Ever Given ship seemed to be ever-stuck in the Suez Canal, wreaking havoc for shipping lines and vessels in the Egyptian passageway last week. The Ever Given is almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall and was, for a while, firmly aground in the middle of the canal. The ship was caught up in 40-knot winds coupled with a blackout sandstorm causing poor visibility, and some are saying insufficient navigation necessary to pilot in such conditions.
The Suez Canal is an artificial sea leveling waterway that connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Construction of the canal took ten years. It was completed and opened in 1869. Under the Convention of Constantinople, it could be traveled “by every vessel of commerce or war, without distinction of flag.” And the canal has played a vital role for many fleets – including the U.S. Navy.
But all traffic was officially at a standstill as all efforts to unstick the stuck vessel continued to fail and frustrate many different commercial entities. Although a desperate attempt to salvage the Ever Given was mounted, the fleet of nine tugboats was unable to budge the ship. Finally, after six days and nights, the 220,000-ton ship was afloat once again, and the canal was cleared.
An average of 51 ships successfully navigate through the Suez Canal each day. Though the canal is finally clear, there’s still a backlog to process.
Oysters Are Latest Victims of Australian Floods
Historic flooding on the eastern coast of Australia has forced evacuations of 40,000, destroyed homes, stranded livestock, and wildlife and wreaked havoc on an unsuspecting mussel. Millions of oysters are feared dead as murky freshwaters barrel through their delicate habitats, bound for the ocean. The salt concentrations are altered by the floodwaters containing debris, dead animals, and some chemicals, making the water inhospitable for the oysters to feed and survive. The rains have also increased algal blooms, which are not only harmful to oysters, but it means the North-South Wales Food Authority has to stop allowing the sale of the surviving oysters.
Oyster leases in waterways along the coast have been nearly swept away in the deluge from historic rain levels. Over 40 inches of rain fell in four days – up to five times the March monthly average. Experts say the probability for this kind of rainfall in any given year is less than 1%. On the heels of last year’s brushfires that displaced thousands, caused 33 deaths, and the deaths of an estimated billion animals, the oyster and oyster farms are simply another casualty.