February 2, 2021

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The Headlines

U.S. Politics

Biden’s Immigration ‘Reset’ Faces Some GOP Roadblocks (The Center for Public Integrity)

As GOP Senators Push Smaller Covid-19 Relief Package, Dem Leaders Move to Advance Biden’s Bolder Plan (Common Dreams)

Biden Must End the War on Kids (The Progressive)

Biden’s Hawkish Foreign Policy Could Derail Moves to Fight Austerity (Truthout)


“This Is War”: Inside the Secret Chat Where Far-Right Extremists Devised Their Post-Capitol Plans (ProPublica)

The Boogaloo Bois Have Guns, Criminal Records and Military Training. Now They Want to Overthrow the Government. (ProPublica)


Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database (The Intercept)

Media Criticism

The Debate About Fixing America’s Information Ecosystem (Columbia Journalism Review)

Climate Crisis

Climate Change Ravaged the West With Heat and Drought Last Year; Many Fear 2021 Will Be Worse (Inside Climate News

‘We Need to Be Bold,’ Biden Says, Taking the First Steps in a Major Shift in Climate Policy (Inside Climate News)

U.S. Politics
GOP Pushes Biden on Immigration, COVID Relief

Joe Biden has promised an immigration “reset” from Donald Trump’s harsh policies. But the 100-day deportation moratorium that Biden ordered has been blocked by a federal judge in Texas with a 14-day restraining order.

The Center for Public Integrity observes this may be the start of many partisan immigration issues under Biden. Still, polls show most Americans support conditional legalization for undocumented immigrants, and Biden’s administration unveiled an eight-year path to citizenship, which would especially benefit farm workers and those with Temporary Protected Status.

And while Joe Biden prepares to meet with GOP senators to discuss watering down his COVID-19 relief proposal, congressional Democratic leaders filed a joint budget resolution for Fiscal Year 2021 giving Congress an additional tool to enact Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan without Republican support.

Biden Must End the War on Kids

The Trump-era policy of imprisoning immigrant children in cages was a shocking crime that Joe Biden must immediately remedy. But worse yet was Trump’s fulfillment of his campaign promises to “bomb the shit out of” America’s enemies and “take out their families.”

Trump escalated Obama’s bombing campaigns against the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and loosened rules of engagement regarding airstrikes likely to kill civilians.

The Progressive notes that “the killing of civilians in America’s post-9/11 wars did not begin with Trump. And it will not end, or even diminish, under Biden, unless the public demands that America’s systematic slaughter of children and other civilians must be ended.”

Biden’s Hawkish Foreign Policy Could Derail Moves to Fight Austerity

Some of Biden’s first foreign policy moves demonstrate a marked improvement over his predecessor. His administration aims to negotiate with Cuba and Iran and has declared ceased support for Saudi Arabia’s genocidal war in Yemen.

But otherwise, as Truthout describes, the benefits of this administration’s foreign policy are cloudy and could leave the U.S. “wreaking havoc on every continent in the world except Antarctica.”

The U.S. is set to play a dangerous game with China: Biden vowed to “pressure, isolate and punish” the country after his predecessor’s “soft” stance. The administration also aims to set a harder stance with Russia.

Inside the Secret Chat Where Far-Right Extremists Devised Their Post-Capitol Plans

The FBI arrested Edward “Jake” Lang on Jan. 16 for his alleged role in the U.S. Capitol attack, following straightforward evidence from his social media.

ProPublica writes, “The government charged Lang with committing assault and other crimes, but the account of his activities spelled out in court papers doesn’t mention how the 25-year-old spent the 10 days between the riots and his capture: recruiting militia members to take up arms against the incoming Biden administration by way of an invitation-only group on the messaging app Telegram.”

ProPublica gained access to the group when Lang sent an invitation to a reporter. The Telegram group message grew from a few dozen to nearly 200 in just a week, from which Lang aimed to radicalize and recruit others to join regional militia groups.

The Boogaloo Bois Have Guns, Criminal Records and Military Training.

Hours after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, a group calling itself the Last Sons of Liberty posted on Parler to show its members taking part in the riot.

Before Amazon took Parler offline, the Last Sons noted that U.S. Capitol Police suffered only one fatality, Officer Brian Sicknick, 42, whereas the rioters had lost four. A series of posts called for “revenge,” apparently with the murder of three more cops.

The group is part of the Boogaloo movement, a decentralized online militia movement focused on attacking law enforcement and overthrowing the U.S. government. Since its 2019 coalescence, it has attracted current or former military service members: ProPublica has identified more than 20, and military officials say they’re concerned by a surge in extremist activity. Experts worry about the expertise and discipline that Boogaloo Bois with military experience are likely to share.

Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database

The Intercept obtained access to a massive police database used by the Chinese government to facilitate police surveillance of citizens in Xinjiang. Uyghurs are historically the largest ethnic group in the region, are predominantly Muslim, and have long faced discrimination under Chinese rule. Over one million Uyghurs are estimated to have been detained in camps.

The police database, centered on Ürümqi, includes reports that confirm and elaborate on many elements of the persecution and large-scale internment of Muslims in the area.

Details outline “a campaign of repression that has reportedly seen cameras installed in the homes of private citizens, the creation of mass detention camps, children forcibly separated from their families and placed in preschools with electric fences, the systematic destruction of Uyghur cemeteries, and a systematic campaign to suppress Uyghur births through forced abortion, sterilization, and birth control.”

Media Criticism
The Debate About Fixing America’s Information Ecosystem

Ever since Donald Trump and his propagandists pushed election disinformation that triggered to the Jan. 6 insurrection, media circles have been asking how to patch the issue: “what steps need to be taken to hold the perpetrators to account, and fix America’s broken, lie-drenched information ecosystem?”

Commentators agree outlets like Fox and Newsmax should be stopped form spreading lies, covers Columbia Journalism Review.

There are several proposed solutions, each with their own complications and limitations: pressure advertisers to drop Fox, demand that providers stop airing misinformation-laden networks, and/or resurrect the Fairness Doctrine, which mandated balanced coverage of political controversies.

University of Pennsylvania media policy professor Victor Pickard says, “recent events should cause us to reexamine our assumptions about relationships between the First Amendment, corporate power, content regulation, and democracy.”

Climate Crisis
Climate Change Ravaged the West With Heat and Drought

A year of extreme weather in Colorado and California gave ample evidence of climate change that scientists have been warning about for years. Unprecedented wildfires, deadly heat waves, and withering drought “ravaged the landscape, claiming dozens of lives and causing billions of dollars in damage.”

The Western U.S. is going into 2021 facing extreme drought persisting through the winter’s snowfall. Inside Climate News reports staggering figures from several states suffering worsening effects of climate change.

Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders on Wednesday aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions, but it will take broad collaboration to reach the administration’s goals.

In Other News

1. Read the full impeachment case against President Trump (The Independent)

2. The Capitol Rioters Aren’t Like Other Extremists (The Atlantic)

3. White House Reaffirms Commitment To $1,400 Relief Payments (HuffPost)

4. Putin critic Navalny jailed in Russia despite protests (BBC)

5. Biden to launch taskforce to reunite families separated at US-Mexico border (The Guardian

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The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.