Biden under siege as he ends first year of his presidency
One year ago, on Jan. 20, 2021, Joe Biden entered the White House promising victory over COVID-19 and a return to competence and normalcy following the chaotic Trump presidency. But a year later, the president is facing a multitude of problems that he acknowledged Wednesday in a rare news conference that lasted nearly two hours. During the event, Biden spoke of "frustration and fatigue" in the country over the coronavirus pandemic that's lasted two years – and that has seen a resurgence due to the omicron variant – record-high inflation, his stalled domestic agenda and Russia's threatened invasion of Ukraine. The president, however, repeatedly pushed back at the narrative that his presidency has not met expectations, even as he conceded he would have to pursue a new strategy on key priorities, including his $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill, which will take on climate and social policy. "I don't think I've overpromised at all, and I'm going to stay on this track," Biden said.
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Winter woes to continue: More snowstorms forecast this week
Winter remains in full swing on Thursday as a storm is expected to spread snow from the Ohio Valley into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. While folks were still cleaning up from a potent storm that walloped much of the central, southern and eastern U.S. with snow and ice over the holiday weekend, forecasters were eyeing additional wintry storms that could affect millions in the days ahead. Cities such as Louisville, Kentucky, Charleston, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C., are all in another storm's path, and each could pick up 1 to 3 inches of snow from the system. "There could be a narrow, sneaky zone of 3 inches of snow from parts of the Tennessee Valley to the lower Mid-Atlantic coast in the Wednesday night to Thursday time frame," AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.
As voting rights push fizzles, Biden's failure to unite his own party looms again
Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, both Democrats, said Thursday they were against filibuster changes, spoiling Biden's efforts to pass voting rights.On Thursday, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, dealt a potentially fatal blow to Biden’s renewed push for federal voting rights legislation. In a surprise speech on the Senate floor, she flatly rejected Biden’s plea – issued less than 48 hours earlier – to change the filibuster rules so Democrats could muscle through the voting rights bill without any Republican votes.
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House committee to hold hearing on immigration court system
The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on the possibility of creating an independent immigration court system. The hearing comes as U.S. immigration courts have hit a historic backlog jam not seen in decades, sparking years-long delays for immigrants seeking asylum, according to a new report. Pending cases at the end of December reached 1.6 million — the largest ever in the court's four-decade history, according to the report released Tuesday by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. Though the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered courtrooms and contributed to the logjam, the most alarming cause is the rate by which the Homeland Security Department, which oversees immigration enforcement, is adding new cases to the pile, according to the report.
Biden year one takeaways: Grand ambitions, humbling defeats
Joe Biden's long arc in public life has always had one final ambition: to sit behind the Resolute Desk of the Oval Office. He achieved it — albeit, at 78, as the oldest person to assume the presidency. After the turbulence and chaos of his predecessor, Donald Trump, Biden was seen by voters as one who could restore a sense of normalcy and a reassuring tone to the White House. But Biden also found out, as all his predecessors have, that events beyond his control would shape his time in office and the public's assessment of him.
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First aid flights arrive in Tonga after volcanic eruption and tsunami
The first flights carrying fresh water and other aid to Tonga finally arrived Thursday after the Pacific nation's main airport runway was cleared of ash left by a huge volcanic eruption. New Zealand and Australia each sent military transport planes carrying water containers, various supplies and communications equipment. The deliveries were dropped off without the military personnel coming in contact with people at the airport in Tonga. That's because Tonga is desperate to make sure foreigners don't bring in the coronavirus. It has not had any outbreaks of COVID-19 and has reported just a single case since the pandemic began. U.N. officials report about 84,000 people — more than 80% of Tonga's population — have been impacted by the volcano's eruption, including three deaths, U.N. spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said. Dujarric added the most pressing humanitarian needs are safe water, food and non-food items, and top priorities are reestablishing communication services including for international calls and the internet.
How Joe Biden's Approval Ratings Have Changed During His First Year in Office
President Biden concludes his first year in office with the second-lowest approval rating of any President's freshman year at the White House.The Democrat inherited a country in disarray, staring down the barrel of a troublesome pandemic, faced with growing social and political division, and economically burdened by the consequences of the continuing COVID crisis.
"That was remarkable":The tremendous explosion and impact of the Tonga volcano, explained
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Video:Stunning satellite imagery shows underwater volcano eruption in Tonga
Sundance Film Festival once again goes virtual
The Sundance Film Festival, one of the biggest showcases of independent films, kicks off virtually for the second year in a row Thursday after organizers canceled its in-person events due to the spread of the omicron variant of coronavirus. The 11-day festival in Park City, Utah, has been the launching pad for a ton of great indie movies over the years, from Oscar-ready films like "In the Bedroom" and "Precious," to the horror gorefest "Saw". Some highlights this year include the W. Kamau Bell-directed docu-series "We Need to Talk About Cosby" and Amy Poehler's "Luci and Desi," a documentary on the relationship between Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz.
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Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden presidency, winter storm woes, Sundance Film Festival: 5 things to know Thursday