Farmers Want Biden, Vilsack to Explain 30 x 30 Executive Proposal

Posted on 04/23/2021 8:40 AM

USDA Deputy Secretary nominee Bronaugh comments on ag sector issues

 


In Today’s Digital Newspaper


 

Market Focus:
• Dow opened flat, then lower after Biden tax concerns hit markets Thursday
• USDA announces several daily export sales
• Soaring climb in U.S. home prices amid tightening supply
• European Central Bank to keep its aggressive monetary stimulus in place

• Bitcoin fell below $50,000, after trading near $65,000 just a couple weeks ago
• Copper's price has soared roughly 90% over the last 12 months
• Some call for gov’t intervention to slow down surging lumber prices
• Fed up with cargo congestion, freight forwarders flee O’Hare airport
• CME widens daily price limits, sparking concerns about heightened volatility
• Exchanges hike margins after big gains•
• Ag demand update

• IKAR cuts Russian wheat crop forecast
• French wheat ratings slide again after April cold snap
• Cargill ramping up canola processing in Canada
• Bolivia bans exports of beef
• Cash cattle trade begins at softer prices
• Hog packing margins turn negative

 

Policy Focus:
• President Biden in the next few days will unveil new tax rates
• U.S. farmers have at least 30 major concerns about Biden’s 30 x 30 proposal
• Stabenow: Senate Ag to vote 'soon" on Bronaugh nomination following hearing
• Bronaugh comments on key ag sector topics

 

Biden Administration Personnel

• Biden to tap Obama alum Nayak as Labor Department policy chief  
• Biden selects acting administrator to lead Federal Rail Administration
• Biden names four nominees for energy-related roles

 

Energy & Climate Change:

New York Times profiles Gina McCarthy
• Biden sets a new climate goal


Coronavirus Update:
• Vaccination updates
• Annual vaccinations?
• Do we still need to keep wearing masks outdoors?

 

Politics & Elections:
• Senate approves bill to address rise in anti-Asian hate crimes
• Union officials give warning to Senate Democrats
• Republican senators’ infrastructure plan about one-quarter the size of Biden’s
• House votes along party lines to grant statehood to Washington, D.C.


Other Items of Note:
• Cotton LDP rises back above 70 cents
• Former USDA Sec. Perdue being considered as leader of Univ. of Georgia
• Johnson asks why police wrongly claimed Sicknick died of injuries sustained at Capitol riot
• Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny ends hunger strike

 


MARKET FOCUS


 

Equities today: Global stock markets were mixed overnight. U.S. Dow opened flat and then turned lower. Other U.S. equities are showing slight gains. Japan’s Nikkei fell 167.54 points, 0.57%, at 29,020.63. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 323.41 points, 1.12%, at 29,078.75. European equities are lower in early trading, with the Stoxx 600 down 0.4% with regional markets seeing losses of 0.3% to 0.7%.

 

     U.S. equities yesterday: News reports that the president was considering nearly doubling the capital-gains tax on the wealthy, to as high as 39.6% from 20% (rising to 43.4% when ObamaCare surtaxes are included), sent stocks tumbling Thursday afternoon. The Dow was unable to move into positive territory for the session and a late decline cemented losses. The Dow lost 321.41 points, 0.84%, at 33,815.90. The Nasdaq dropped 131.81 points, 0.94%, at 13,818.41. The S&P 500 fell 38.44 points, 0.92% at 4,134.98.

 

     Perspective: While the top 1% have always controlled 70% to 80% of stock market value in the U.S., according to the Federal Reserve, the top 10% of households by net worth owned 87.2% of American equities in 2020, the highest level of ownership ever.

 

On tap today:

 

     • IHS Markit's preliminary U.S. manufacturing index for April is expected to rise to 60.5 from 59.1 at the end of March, and the services index is expected to rise to 61.0 from 60.4. (9:45 a.m. ET)
     • U.S. new home sales are expected to rise to an annual pace of 888,000 in March from 775,000 a month earlier. (10 a.m. ET)
     • European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde speaks on capital markets and climate change at 10:30 a.m. ET. (Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also speaks at the climate confab.)
     • Baker Hughes rig count is out at 1 p.m. ET.
     • Commitments of Traders report, 3:30 pm. ET.
     • President Joe Biden will deliver remarks and participate in the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate session on “the economic opportunities of climate action” at 9:15 a.m. ET/ Then, at 11 a.m. ET, he will receive his daily intelligence briefing. At 1:45 p.m. ET, he will receive his weekly economic breeding. At 2:45 p.m. ET, he will participate in a virtual conference with Defense Department senior leaders.

 

Soaring climb in U.S. home prices amid tightening supply threaten to cool the hottest housing market in 15 years. The median price for existing home sales rose to $329,100 in March, a new high according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Prices soared 17.2% last month from a year earlier, marking the biggest price increase in NAR data going back to 1999.

 

   Soaring home prices

 

     What you really want to know: The Hamptons property market is also on fire: A summer rental went for $2 million, while a 42-acre estate sold for over $100 million.

 

     Steepening prices and a scarcity of inventory has left the U.S. housing market millions of homes short of buyer demand, taking some steam out of the market at the start of the peak spring selling season. NAR said Thursday that existing-home sales posted their second straight monthly decline in March. Another stat: The typical home that sold in March spent only 18 days on the market, the fastest pace on record.

 

     Home inventory

 

European Central Bank will keep its aggressive monetary stimulus in place. ECB President Christine Lagarde on Thursday said the eurozone economy wouldn’t return to its pre-pandemic size until the second half of next year.

 

    ECB outlook

 

Market perspectives:

 

     • Outside markets: The U.S. dollar index is lower amid a near-term price downtrend in place. Nymex crude oil prices are modestly higher and trading around $61.65 a barrel. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note is presently fetching around 1.56%. Gold and silver futures are posting advances, with gold trading around $1,792 per troy ounce and silver around $26.30 per troy ounce.


     • Crude oil prices are higher, mostly holding onto earlier gains. U.S. crude is trading around $61.70 per barrel and Brent around $65.50 per barrel. Futures rose in Asian trading with U.S. crude up 33 cents at $61.74 per barrel and Brent up 27 cents at $65.67 per barrel.

 

     • USDA daily export sales:

        — 336,000 metric tons (MT) of corn to unknown destinations during 2021-2022 marketing year;
        — 136,680 MT corn to Guatemala during 2021-2022
        — 132,000 MT soybeans to China during 2021-2022

 

     • Bitcoin fell below $50,000, after trading near $65,000 just a couple weeks ago. Is the digital currency's yearlong rally running out of steam? Link to a WSJ item on the topic. A fresh bout of selling this morning drove Bitcoin down almost 8% to $47,525 as the largest cryptocurrency heads for its worst week in more than a year. The second biggest digital coin, Ether, and joke coin Dogecoin also are tumbling this morning. Of note: Yesterday was the first time since 2018 that Bitcoin accounted for less than 50% of total crypto market cap. The quick drop earlier this week reportedly followed a large liquidation in futures contracts, highlighting some of the biggest growing pains for the crypto market.

 

     Bitcoin plunge

 

     • Copper's price has soared roughly 90% over the last 12 months, with bulls pointing to robust demand from the world’s transition to green energy and speedy economic growth in China, which accounts for about half of global consumption.

 

     • Some call for gov’t intervention to slow down surging lumber prices. Lumber contracts are up about 50% this year, currently trading at $1,324.50 per thousand board feet. That's well above the average prices have been for the past three decades. There has even been calls for gov’t intervention to help put a lid on prices. In late November, the U.S. Commerce Department lowered duties on Canadian lumber coming into the U.S. by more than half, from 20% to 8.9%. Some have also suggested the Biden administration should further cut tariffs on imports from Canada, which is the top lumber exporter to the U.S.

 

     • How about this for some research… Data going back to the Black Death of the 1300s suggests that higher inflation and bond yields rarely follow pandemics. Link for details.

 

     • Fed up with cargo congestion, freight forwarders flee O’Hare airport. Cargo congestion has gone from bad to worse at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, forcing importers to wait several days to retrieve shipments and prompting two large logistics companies to migrate airfreight operations an hour west to an uncrowded facility in Rockford, Illinois. Link for details.

 

     • Ag demand: Jordan issued a new international tender to buy 120,000 MT of animal feed barley. South Korea’s Nonghyup Feed Inc. bought around 137,000 MT of animal feed corn in an international tender. The Korea Feed Association also bought around 201,000 MT of corn in an international tender, with the grain to be sourced optionally from the U.S., South America or South Africa.

 

     • CME widens daily price limits, sparking concerns about heightened volatility. CME Group announced that after a routine biannual review, it will expand daily price limits for Chicago Board of Trade grain and soy futures. The new limits will take effect May 2 for trades dated May 3. Following are some of the new limits. (It also widened limits for oats, rough rice, lumber futures and other grain futures contracts.)
 

        • Corn: 40 cents per bu. (currently at 25 cents per bu.)

        • Soybeans: $1.00 per bu. (70 cents per bu.)

        • Soymeal: $30 per short ton ($25 per short ton)

        • Soyoil: 3.5 cents per lb. (2.5 cents per lb.)

        • SRW and HRW wheat futures: 45 cents per bu. (40 cents per bu.)


        This comes after the exchange on March 15 expanded limits on speculative positions.

 

     • Exchanges hike margins after big gains. CME Group hiked maintenance margins for several commodity futures yesterday, with the changes taking effect after the close of business today. Initial margins will be 110% of these levels. Those changes follow:
 

        • Corn: Maintenance margins climb $200 to $1,700 per contract for May 2021

        • Soybeans: Maintenance margins climb $475 to $3,825 per contract for May 2021

        • Crude oil Nymex: Maintenance margins climb $200 to $5,300 per contract for June 2021

 

        Minneapolis Grain Exchange raised maintenance margins on hard red spring wheat futures for May and July by $500 to $1,900 per contract. The changes take effect at the close of business today.

 

Items in Pro Farmer's First Thing Today include:

     • Profit-taking moves in for grain and oilseed markets as week winds down
     • 
IKAR cuts Russian wheat crop forecast
     • French wheat ratings slide again after April cold snap
     • Cargill ramping up canola processing in Canada
     • Bolivia bans exports of beef
     • Cash cattle trade begins at softer prices
     • Hog packing margins turn negative

 


POLICY FOCUS


 

— President Biden in the next few days will unveil new tax rates for the wealthiest Americans — a top marginal income tax rate of 39.6% and a capital gains rate of 43.4%. "For New Yorkers, the combined state and federal capital gains rate could be as high as 52.22%. For Californians, it could be 56.7%," Bloomberg News reported (link). The new marginal 39.6% rate would be an increase from the current base rate of 20%. A 3.8% tax on investment income that funds Obamacare would be kept in place, pushing the tax rate on returns on financial assets higher than rates on some wage and salary income.

 

     Biden campaigned on equalizing the capital gains and income tax rates for wealthy individuals, saying it’s unfair that many of them pay lower rates than middle-class workers. Congressional Democrats have separately proposed a series of changes to capital gains taxation, including imposing the levies annually instead of when they are sold.

 

     Key unknown: Officials haven't yet made clear whether the capital gains rate would apply in 2022 — or in 2021. The potential changes to the capital gains tax would affect only the 0.3% of Americans who reported annual incomes of $1 million or more, according to the latest IRS data.

 

     The carried interest loophole might disappear. Profits earned from funds owned by real estate investors and managers of private equity and venture capital firms are taxed as capital gains at about 20%, instead of as regular income, which is taxed at more than double that rate when state levies and other taxes are taken into account. Financial industry executives and their lobbyists have long asserted that carried interest merely represents a return on investment, not income.

 

     Timeline: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, asked about the capital-gains plan at a press briefing Thursday, said, “we’re still finalizing what the pay-fors look like.” Biden is expected to release the proposal next week as part of the tax increases to fund social spending in the forthcoming “American Families Plan.” Biden will detail the American Families Plan in a joint address to Congress on April 28. It will include new spending on children and education, including a temporary extension of an expanded child tax credit that would give parents up to $300 a month for young children or $250 for those six and older.

 

     Other measures that the administration has discussed in recent weeks include enhancing the estate tax for the wealthy. Biden wants to impose so-called "stepped up basis" for accounting purposes, and value assets when they are passed on to an heir, not at their original cost. Biden has warned that those earning over $400,000 can expect to pay more in taxes. The White House has already rolled out plans for corporate tax hikes. Private equity executives are also worried that the Biden administration may limit the tax deductibility of corporate interest payments, which would be another hit to their business model.

 

     Hefty Republican opposition quickly surfaced. “It’s going to cut down on investment and cause unemployment,” Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee and former chair of that panel, said of the Biden capital gains plan. He lauded the result of the 2017 tax cuts, and said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

 

— U.S. farmers have at least 30 major concerns about Biden’s 30 x 30 proposal. U.S. farmers want President Biden to explain his 30 x 30 proposal and think USDA Sec. Vilsack is using “voluntary” as an escape word to avoid growing concerns about the executive action proposal. “The concerns of farmers and ranchers are escalating regarding the intent of the 30x30 goal, the definition of conservation, and the metrics for defining success, among other things,” the American Farm Bureau Federation says in a letter (link) to the White House. Link to special report on this topic filed Thursday.

 

     Vilsack defended the 30x30 goal on Thursday, telling reporters it was primarily aimed at public lands and “private working lands” and is not a “land grab.” It didn’t take farmers long to dispute the Ag secretary’s language, saying he was hiding around saying the plan was voluntary rather than mandatory.

 

     Vilsack also argued his unilateral move to expand the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) would not have a significant impact on global markets. But the National Grain and Feed Association says “drastically” increasing CRP could result in negative climate impacts. Mike Seyfert, president and CEO of the NGFA, said, “NGFA believes CRP should be targeted at the most environmentally sensitive portions of farms, and avoid enrollment of whole farms or large tracts of productive farmland. Programs that drastically increase acreage idling in the United States send market signals to competitors to plant more acres, resulting in negative climate and environmental impacts. We look forward to hearing additional details from USDA and working with the department to ensure this acreage is targeted for the most substantial environmental benefits while preserving U.S. agricultural productivity and competitiveness.”

 

    The Biden administration set a goal in January of conserving at least 30% of U.S. land and coastal waters by 2030. The goal has been criticized as lacking detail. “Lots of people talking about a land grab,” said a broadcast reporter to Vilsack. “I can assure you there is no intention to have a land grab,” replied Vilsack. “It is really designed to figure out creative and innovative ways to encourage folks to participate” in land stewardship.

 

     Vilsack also dismissed arguments that adding land to the CRP would be a signal to competitor nations in the world grain market to expand their plantings. “This announcement is not going to create additional pressure for deforestation,” he said.

 

     Some environmental groups see carbon markets as greenwashing, since companies buy credits for carbon sequestration that absolve them of reducing emissions on their own. Vilsack was asked if sequestration on CRP land should be viewed as temporary, because the land could return to production in a few years. “The key is we continue to have a commitment to the CRP as a solution, one of many solutions, in terms of how we’re going to reach the goals that the president has set for 2030,” said Vilsack. USDA offers several stewardship programs, aimed at working lands and livestock operations, and easements to preserve grasslands in addition to setting aside marginal land. While enrollment in the Conservation Reserve may ebb and flow, the goal is “on balance, over time, you essentially make significant progress toward a net-zero future,” Vilsack concluded.

 

     Meanwhile, USDA announced (link) several other funding for programs on Thursday: $487 million in loans and grants for rural water and sewer projects, renewable energy systems for farms and small businesses, the installation of new fuel pumps and storage tanks for higher blends of ethanol in gasoline, and rural electrification.

 

— Stabenow: Senate Ag to vote 'soon" on Bronaugh nomination following hearing. The Senate Agriculture Committee will vote “soon” on President Biden's nomination of Jewel Bronaugh as Agriculture deputy secretary, Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said Thursday after Bronaugh's confirmation hearing, which left no doubt she would be confirmed.

 

     Highlights of comments from Bronaugh, the first Black woman to be nominated for USDA deputy secretary:

  • Why she set up a farmer stress task force: Bronaugh noted that she had heard aging mothers express fears that the farm would leave the family because children were pursuing other goals. She said experiencing “the tears of dairy farmers” in particular led to setting up the farmer stress task force.
  • When asked how she would create jobs in rural America, she noted the importance of biofuels, new biobased products, and the importance of bringing high-speed Internet service to rural America to provide distance learning and renewing the electric grid.
  • Production agriculture: When Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) asked how she would handle production agriculture when she has no experience in it, Bronaugh said she would focus on markets, including foreign countries. She also promised to keep Farm Service Agency offices fully staffed and said allowing employees to work from home by computer would help with that issue.
  • Asked about Biden’s pledge to put land in conservation, Bronaugh said it is important to keep “working lands working.”
  • Fertilizer tariffs: When a senator noted concern about tariffs that the International Trade Commission (ITC) has approved on fertilizer, Bronaugh said she would consult with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and the ITC on that issue.
  • Using USDA’s CCC for climate-related payments: Several Republicans are swary of setting up a carbon bank. Bronaugh said she is aware that the first priority for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) is to support farm programs.
  • On trade with China, Bronaugh said she would work with Vilsack, the White House, the State Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to determine how to move forward on the U.S./China Phase 1 one agreement.
  • Improving outreach to underserved farmers: Bronaugh noted the “cumulative effects of years of not addressing policies, regulations and guidelines that have impacted our farmers of color,” and said her background in working with agricultural extension has been helpful in learning how to engage various communities.
     

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION PERSONNEL


 

— Biden to tap Obama alum Nayak as Labor Department policy chief. President Joe Biden plans to nominate Rajesh Nayak, an advocate for progressive regulatory policy who served in the Obama administration, as the U.S. Labor Department’s (DOL) top policy official, three sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. If confirmed by the Senate as assistant secretary for policy, Nayak would oversee an influential central office responsible for supporting all DOL subagencies on drafting regulations and coordinating with the White House to complete them.

 

— Biden selects acting administrator to lead Federal Rail Administration. The White House announced it has nominated Amit Bose, current acting administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, to take the top post. Bose has worked at HNTB, an architectural and engineering firm, where he also served as board chair of the Coalition for the Northeast Corridor and on the New Jersey Restart and Recovery Advisory Council. He has also been deputy administrator, chief counsel, senior advisor and director of government affairs at the Department of Transportation.

 

— Biden names four nominees for energy-related roles. The White House announced the Biden administration has officials for roles at the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Interior (DOI) in energy-related roles. At the Department of Energy, Shalanda Baker has been nominated as director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact; Asmeret Berhe as the director of the Office of Science; and Frank Rose as the principal deputy administrator for National Nuclear Security. At DOI, Tracy Stone-Manning is nominated as director of the Bureau of Land Management. (Tracy Stone-Manning is a conservation adviser at the National Wildlife Federation and onetime chief of staff to former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.)
 


ENERGY & CLIMATE CHANGE


 

New York Times profiles Gina McCarthy. How a working-class girl from the Boston area became Biden’s senior climate adviser: a profile of Gina McCarthy. Link to NYT article. It notes that McCarthy, Barack Obama’s EPA chief, “could only watch as the Trump administration dismantled her climate work. Now, she’s back with another chance to build a lasting legacy.” When President Biden asked her to join his White House, McCarthy said she was initially reluctant. But when he embraced much of the rhetoric and policies of the party’s left, she was won over, the article informs.

 

— President Biden sets a new climate goal. At the first day of a climate summit that the U.S. convened, he pledged to cut America’s emissions in half by 2030, compared with 2005 levels, and offered more funding for developing countries to help them meet their targets. Swiss Re estimated that climate change could cost the global economy as much as $23 trillion in the coming decades.
 



CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

 

 

Summary: Global cases of Covid-19 are at 144,800,447 with 3,073,851 deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. case count is at 31,930,188 with 570,346 deaths. The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center said that there have been 218,947,643 doses administered, 81,291,690 have been fully vaccinated, or 24.8% of the U.S. population.

 

— Vaccination updates:

  • U.S. officials are leaning toward resuming use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after finding few new cases of rare blood clots. A committee of outside experts will meet today to discuss whether to resume giving the shot; as noted, they’re expected to vote in favor. But the damage may be done. According to an item in the New York Times which says “The Biden administration has reportedly written off the J&J shot’s importance to U.S. vaccination efforts.”
  • The Pfizer and Moderna shots appear to work against the variants found in New York, Britain and South Africa.
  • Women in the U.S. are getting vaccinated at a higher rate than men.

— Annual vaccinations? The scientist who helped develop the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Dr. Ozlem Tureci, has said that the people who got vaccinated against Covid-19 will likely need a third shot as the immune response against the virus diminishes. Should booster shots be required, the government would likely need to make plans with drugmakers for additional supplies, as well as enhancing the network vaccine distribution. "We see indications for this also in the induced, but also the natural immune response against SARS-COV-2," she told CNBC. "We see this waning of immune responses also in people who were just infected and therefore [it’s] also expected with the vaccines."

 

     Tureci's views are in line with the comments from Pfizer CEO Alfred Bourla, who also said last week that the people might need a booster shot within six to twelve months of getting fully vaccinated.

 

— Do we still need to keep wearing masks outdoors? A New York Times item (link) says science shows that the risk of viral transmission outside is very low. The “two-out-of-three rule” can help you decide whether to mask up, it concludes.

 


POLITICS & ELECTIONS


 

Senate approved a bill to address the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in the U.S. since the coronavirus pandemic began. The legislation passed in a 94-1 vote, a rare moment of bipartisanship. The bill would direct the Justice Department to expedite review of Covid-related hate crimes and to issue guidance for states and localities on how to establish online hate crime reporting processes in multiple languages. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) cast the lone “nay” vote on the measure, writing on Twitter that it would turn “the federal government into the speech police.”

 

— Union officials reportedly told Senate Democrats to back legislation strengthening protections for organizing efforts — or risk losing their political support. Link to Politico item for details.

 

— Republican senators outlined an infrastructure plan about one-quarter the size of Biden’s. It’s a starting point for negotiations. GOP lawmakers called for repurposing previously appropriated, unused pandemic-relief funds to help pay for their counteroffer infrastructure plan. Details: $568 billion counterproposal; vs Biden’s $2.25 trillion plan. The GOP proposal includes $299 billion for roads and bridges ((Biden’s plan only allocates $115 billion for roads and bridges), $17 billion for ports and inland waterways, $65 billion for broadband, and $14 billion for water storage.

 

— House voted along party lines to grant statehood to Washington, D.C., a Democratic priority that faces obstacles in the Senate. The measure was approved in a 216-208 vote, along party lines. It now heads to the Senate, where it is not expected to advance with the 60-vote filibuster threshold still intact (even then, not all 50 Democrats in the Senate back making D.C. a state). The vote on Thursday was the second time in history that the House voted to add Washington, D.C., to the union; the first time was in June of last year.
 


OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE     


 

— Cotton LDP rises back above 70 cents. The Adjusted World Price for Upland Cotton moved up to 70.49 cents per pound, effective today (April 23), up from 68.16 cents per pound, up from 68.16 cents per pound the prior week. This the first time the AWP has been above 70 cents per pound since it was at 71.45 cents pound the week of March 19 when it was 71.45 cents pound. Meanwhile, Special Cotton Import Quota #1 will be established April 29 for 37,324 bales of Upland Cotton, applying to supplies purchased not later than July 27 and entered into the U.S. not later than Oct. 25.

 

— Report indicates former USDA Secretary Perdue being considered as leader of University of Georgia. Atlanta TV station Fox 5 is reporting that the University System of Georgia is considering former USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to become the next chancellor. The station reported that a group of students is planning to protest the consideration of Perdue to lead the university system in the state. “Students Against Sonny” published a petition on Change.org and plans to hold a protest next week in front of the Board of Regents building in Atlanta.

 

— Sen. Johnson asks why police wrongly claimed Sicknick died of injuries sustained at Capitol riot. A top GOP senator is demanding to know why the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) claimed Officer Brian Sicknick suffered mortal injuries while on duty and after clashing with protesters during the Capitol riot in light of the District of Columbia’s chief medical examiner's ruling that Sicknick died of natural causes. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Thursday sent a letter to acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman, contending the determination from Chief Medical Officer Francisco Diaz, who told the Washington Examiner last week that Sicknick’s cause of death was a stroke, “raises more questions about what USCP knew and what actions USCP took to confirm certain facts regarding Officer Sicknick’s death before it released its Jan. 7 statement.” "The death of any police officer is a tragedy, and the use of any officer’s death for political purposes or to create a false narrative is reprehensible,” Johnson added.

 

— Alexei Navalny, imprisoned Russian opposition leader, ending weeks-long hunger strike after gaining access to civilian doctors. The critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his goal — independent medical attention — had been accomplished. Doctors warned that he would die if the hunger strike continued much longer.

 


 

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