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Analysis: Key lines from Biden's address to Congress for the rest of the world

For the first time, the first and second officials in the line of presidential succession — who traditionally sit behind the commander in chief on such occasions — were both women: Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi heard Biden declare a new dawn after a nightmare pandemic year and a Trump presidency that threatened to tear the democratic system apart.
“After just 100 days, I can report to the nation, America is on the move again … ,” Biden said. “Life can knock us down. But in America, we never stay down.”
Addressing a House chamber more than half empty because of social distancing, Biden touted the accomplishments of his first 100 days in office and pitched his plan to overhaul the American economy — a $6 trillion vision of domestic reconstruction that he argued would also boost US foreign policy and the battle against climate change:
‘We have to show not just that we’re back, but that we’re here to stay’
Biden said the most common refrain he heard from foreign leaders was “We see that America is back — but for how long?” Restoring trust will be a challenge, the President acknowledged. “My fellow Americans, we have to show not just that we are back, but that we are here to stay. … No one nation can deal with all the crises of our time alone — from terrorism to nuclear proliferation to mass migration, cybersecurity, climate change — and as we’re experiencing now, pandemics.”
‘When I think climate change, I think jobs’
“For too long, we have failed to use the most important word when it comes to meeting the climate crisis: Jobs. Jobs,” Biden said, painting an image of future American workers installing highway charging stations for electric cars, Pittsburgh manufacturers churning out wind turbine blades and US factories developing electric cars and batteries.
‘A blue-collar blueprint to build America’
Overhauling America is no fanciful concoction by the liberal elite, Biden emphasized as he pumped unions and blue-collar work. “Nearly 90% of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan do not require a college degree. 75% do not require an associate’s degree. The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America.” (Nevertheless, Biden also plans to extend free public education for American students by four years, he said.)
‘Trickle-down economics has never worked’
Millionaires and billionaires can expect to pay more in taxes to fund needed infrastructure and social programs. The “trickle-down” economic theory of enriching the already wealthy in hopes they’ll redistribute it through spending is dead wrong, Biden said. “I will not impose any tax increase on people making less than $400,000. But it’s time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1% of Americans to begin to pay their fair share.”
‘Autocrats think democracy can’t compete in the 21st century’
Repeatedly referencing past conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Biden urged America to prove wrong the notion that democracies move too slowly in a world of accelerating technological innovation and competition. Xi is betting that American democracy can’t keep up with Beijing’s dictatorial decisiveness, Biden said. He later added: “We welcome the competition.”

Meanwhile in Brazil…

Bolsonaro might have seen it coming.
After presiding over the infection of more than 14 million people with Covid-19, betting on the wrong vaccine, promoting quack cures and suing states in a futile attempt to prevent lockdowns, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is facing the inevitable political consequences.
Brazil’s Senate has launched an investigation into his pandemic handling, which could pave the way to an impeachment hearing or criminal charges. In addition to examining the Brazilian President’s actions and use of emergency funds, investigators will look into his response to catastrophic oxygen shortages in the remote city of Manaus earlier this year — where hospitals were forced to airlift children to other cities and rampant deaths prompted gravediggers to stack caskets vertically for space.
Brazil has suffered the second-worst Covid-19 death toll in the world — closing in on 400,000 deaths, a toll second only to that of the United States, where Bolsonaro’s onetime role model and fellow Covid-19 skeptic former President Donald Trump saw his popularity ratings plummet toward the end of his term. Now, as the so-called Trump of the Tropics prepares to face voters next year, national polls show his own popularity is on a similar downward trajectory.
Bolsonaro has dismissed the inquiry as an “off-season carnival,” but even some supporters think it’s about time. Sao Paulo insurance salesman Manoel de Souza Ponte, who voted for Bolsonaro in 2018, told Meanwhile that he fears investigators may be biased — but that nevertheless the probe should go on. “If some evidence appears connecting (Bolsonaro) or a person related to him regarding a fraud, or something that caused some kind of damage to the treasury and the population, because the person put his hand in the money and used it for other purposes in a corrupt way, then it certainly changes my opinion, yes. … Because I don’t defend criminals.”
Maria Jose Martins, a 66-year-old pensioner in Parana State, told Meanwhile that she too voted for Bolsonaro in 2018, but now felt disillusioned. “The way he denied the seriousness of Covid, how he sometimes even mocked the public’s concern about Covid. My opinion about him, about the Bolsonaro government, fell a lot. Let’s say so, on a scale of one to 10, it fell to two,” Martins said. “I think he made a lot of mistakes, and that will cost him a lot in the next election, for sure.”
The price the world pays, however, may still be higher. A variant first identified in Manaus — the extra-contagious P.1 — now appears to be driving a new wave of infections across the continent. — with reporting by Meanwhile friend and journalist Rodrigo Pedroso in Sao Paulo

‘The continent will be wiped off the face of this Earth whilst others are hoarding’

Thabo Makgoba, archbishop of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, is unimpressed with the slow rollout of the COVAX plan to distribute Covid-19 vaccines to poor countries. In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday, Makgoba criticized the WHO-backed program as unambitious, hamstrung by the selfishness of wealthy nations and “destined to fail.” He added: “If one looks at the scourge in India … one is anxious that should we have that magnitude in the [African] continent, the continent will be wiped off the face of this Earth whilst others are hoarding.”
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