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Joe Biden is the president. Here are some executive actions he is expected to take

The new president will arrive at the White House with a plan to unpack his predecessor’s legacy swiftly and aggressively.

Joe Biden is the president. Here are some executive actions he is expected to take
[Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images]
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Today’s presidential inauguration marks the transition of power between two diametrically, couldn’t-be-more opposed political leaders. And according to reports, newly elected Joe Biden will arrive at the White House with a plan to unpack predecessor Donald Trump’s legacy more swiftly and aggressively than we’ve seen in modern history.

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President Biden is expected to sign 17 executive orders, memorandums, and proclamations just hours after taking the oath of office, his staffers told news outlets. Several of those signatures will undo some of the Trump era’s flagship policies, including a full stop on construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall and the lifting of the travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries.

Others will reverse the White House’s stance on key issues, starting with rejoining the Paris climate accord and canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, and requiring face masks on federal property to block coronavirus transmission.

As Trump jets off to Mar-a-Lago on Air Force 1 for the final time and Biden places his hand on the bible at the U.S. Capitol, here’s what to expect by day’s end (per CNN, CBS, and the New York Times):

  • A “100 Days Masking Challenge” calling on citizens to wear face masks, and requiring them on federal property
  • Halting of the U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization, and appointment of Anthony Fauci as head of the U.S. delegation
  • Creation of a new, dedicated COVID-19 Response Coordinator role reporting directly to the president
  • Extension of the nationwide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until March 31
  • Extension of suspended federal student loan interest and payments until September 30
  • Rejoining of the Paris climate accord
  • Canceling of the Keystone XL pipeline
  • Rescinding of the 1776 Commission, which thwarted schools from teaching a more transparent history curriculum on slavery
  • Broadening of rules against workplace discrimination based on orientation or gender identity
  • Mandatory inclusion of undocumented Americans in U.S. Census counting and allocation of congressional representatives
  • Strengthening of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, encouraging Congress to grant path to citizenship for all “dreamers”
  • Lifting of travel and immigration restrictions from several Muslim-majority countries, including Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.
  • Repeal of stricter arrest policy for Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • End of construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall by terminating the national emergency declaration that funds it
  • Extension of deferred deportation for a group of protected Liberians until June 30, 2022,
  • Requiring of executive branch appointees to sign an ethics pledge, which also vows to “uphold the independence of the Department of Justice”
  • A freeze and re-evaluation of last-minute regulations put forth by the Trump administration
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Biden stimulus update: What the new president and Senate could mean for third checks

Happy Inauguration Day! Next comes your $1,400 stimulus check from Joe. Maybe.

Biden stimulus update: What the new president and Senate could mean for third checks
[Photo: Giorgio Trovato/Unsplash]
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Joe Biden is launching his presidency with an approval-ratings elixir: $1,400 stimulus checks for all. What stands between that proposed check and your bank account? A lot. Will you get one? And when? Read on.

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What’s the situation here?

Last week, Biden proposed the American Rescue Plan relief package, which in addition to direct payments to Americans in the form of $1,400 stimulus checks, includes endless chunks of funding for Congresspeople to squabble over, such as $30 billion in rental assistance, $20 billion in transit funding, and $170 billion in school reopening support. But most Americans have their eyes on those $1,400 stimulus checks.

How much will my check actually be?

The full amount is for people who earn less than $75,000 (or $150,000 for married couples). If you earn more than that, you’ll get less. This colorful line chart from the Tax Foundation (three paragraphs down) helps you see your situation at a glance.

Is the $1,400 figure definite?

Nothing’s definite! This is America in 2021. Both sides of the aisle support stimulus checks for coronavirus relief, and economic distress is on the upswing, so $1,400 checks may well hold, or they may even go higher: Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, have pushed for $2,000 checks. Anything could happen, though.

When’s the money coming?

Ask Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader after Wednesday. Congress needs to pass a relief bill, and McConnell’s track record is not one of speed: As majority leader last year, he repeatedly postponed, even as millions of Americans faced financial peril, leading to an epic nine-month process to pass a second relief package with stimulus checks.

Why can’t they just pass the bill ASAP?

Republicans will likely wheel and deal to decrease the $1.9 trillion price tag, and they hold some power here: The bill will likely require 10 Republican votes to pass the Senate. (Sixty votes are needed to clear the Senate. After today, Democrats and Republicans will each hold 50 seats.) Wheeling and dealing takes time. But unlike last year, when gridlock reigned, Democrats will now lead the House, Senate, and White House, so things will move a wee bit faster, but expect a month or two, not weeks. Then payment disbursement takes a few weeks. Stay tuned.

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Presidents with the most pardons. How does Trump’s full list compare?

Trump’s use of presidential pardon power has been controversial, but he’s granted pardons less often than his predecessors.

Presidents with the most pardons. How does Trump’s full list compare?
[Photo: Shealah Craighead/The White House/Flickr; rawpixel]
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Update Wednesday, 6:30 a.m. ET:

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Trump on Wednesday granted pardons to 73 people and commuted sentences for 70 more as one of the final acts of his presidency. Names include Steve Bannon and ex-Google engineer Anthony Levandowski. You can check out the full list here.

Original story:

The countdown for President Trump’s last day in office has begun, and he’s likely to spend his final hours doing what many presidents have done before him—handing out pardons.

According to media reports, Trump is expected to grant clemency to around 100 additional people before his term expires and President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Wednesday. That will add to a list of names that already includes such controversial figures as Roger Stone, Charles Kushner, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and others. As NPR reported earlier this year, Trump’s use of clemency power has so far differed from that of his predecessors in that he has used it largely as a way to “reward friends and political allies,” one scholar told the outlet in July.

As we wait to see the full list of Trump pardons, it’s worth pointing out that the president who is obsessed with doing things bigly does not top the list of presidents with the most pardons or communications, either in terms of raw numbers or percentage of requests granted. Of course, the day is not over, and anything can happen (with Trump, it often does), but if the number of expected pardons on Trump’s list is accurate, the final list will not even come close.

Consider some of these chart toppers:

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  • Franklin D. Roosevelt (2,819 pardons)
  • Harry S. Truman (1,913 pardons)
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower (1,110 pardons)
  • Woodrow Wilson (1,087 pardons)
  • Lyndon B. Johnson (960 pardons)
  • Richard M. Nixon (863 pardons)

Researchers at Pew dug through data from the Department of Justice to see how modern presidents measured up. In a post in November, it found that Trump had granted 28 pardons and 16 commutations up until that point. He granted dozens more in December, but even if we get another 100, Trump will be far behind his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, who granted 212 pardons and 1,715 communications, according to Pew. Of course, as a one-term president, Trump also had less time in office.

Here’s the full list.

About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

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Parler is back online, sort of, thanks to a Russian-owned tech firm

So far Parler’s resurrected website comprises a single page titled “Technical Difficulties.”

Parler is back online, sort of, thanks to a Russian-owned tech firm
[Photo: NordWood Themes/Unsplash]
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Parler, the controversial social media platform conservative pundits fled to over the past year, is back online—barely.

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The Twitter-like service all but got destroyed a little over a week ago, following the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. In the days after the attack, Parler, where many of the insurrectionists posted videos of the attack, was kicked off the Google Play Store and then the Apple App Store—effectively preventing any new downloads of the app. A day after that, Amazon booted Parler from its AWS servers, which meant even those who had downloaded the app couldn’t use it anymore.

Since then, Parler’s app and website had remained offline as the company scrambled to look for a new provider that was willing to support it. But as of yesterday, it seems to have found said support, Reuters reports. However, in an ironic twist, Parler, which likens itself as a bastion of free speech, has had to rely on the Russian-owned tech firm DDoS-Guard for its new internet protocol address–the series of numbers representing the address of where an URL is supposed to be directed to.

Reuters says the firm “has worked with other racist, rightist and conspiracy sites that have been used by mass murderers to share messages.” It has also supported sites like 8kun and those owned by the Russian government. Needless to say, the Russian government is a purveyor of misinformation in America, and the country is hardly a bastion of free speech. Critics have also pointed out that Parler’s new IP host could be a potential security risk for the self-styled American patriots who populate the service.

Yet those patriots are unable to actually use Parler again as of the time of this writing. While the DDoS-Guard-provided internet protocol address has allowed Parler’s website to go live again, so far the website is made up of a single page titled “Technical Difficulties.” And even if the website does expand to provide an online social media platform once again, it doesn’t mean Parler’s old Android and iOS apps will suddenly begin working again. They would presumably need to be updated to work with a new hosting service, but that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon as Google and Apple have said Parler will need to address the moderation concerns that got the app booted in the first place before the app or any updates will be allowed in their stores.

When reached for comment, DDoS-Guard provided a prepared statement that said at this time Parler does not violate the company’s terms of service. The company also said it does not endorse any extremist or illegal activities, nor does it support any political movement. It also says that Parler is not using its hosting service.

Update: This post has been updated to include comments from DDoS-Guard. We’ve reached out to Parler, too, and will update this post again if we hear back.

About the author

Michael Grothaus is a novelist, journalist, and former screenwriter. His debut novel EPIPHANY JONES is out now from Orenda Books. You can read more about him at MichaelGrothaus.com

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Bumble files to go public

The six-year-old dating app where women make the first move revealed its IPO plans in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Bumble files to go public
[Photo: rawpixel]
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Bumble is looking to spread some love on the Nasdaq.

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The six-year-old dating app where women make the first move revealed its plans to go public Friday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. In a preliminary prospectus, Bumble revealed a net loss of $84.1 million on revenue of $376.6 million for the period between January 29 and September 30 of last year. In all of 2019, the company generated $488.9 million, up 36% from the year before.

Bumble, which also owns the dating-focused social network Badoo, said it had 42.1 million monthly users between all of its services as of September of last year, and that 2.4 million are paid users on average, meaning they had agreed to purchase one of the company’s subscription plans. Among its paid users, 1.1 million are paying specifically for the Bumble app, the company says.

Austin, Texas-based Bumble was founded in 2014 by Whitney Wolfe Herd, a cofounder of Tinder, which is part of the conglomerate of dating apps owned by Match Group. It’s a crowded space, but Bumble has powerful allies: Private equity giant Blackstone Group took a majority stake in the company in 2019.

“We are just getting started,” Bumble says confidently in the filing. “We see significant upside in our core online dating market driven by the steady growth of the global singles population, increasing adoption of online dating both in the United States and globally and increasing propensity to pay for online dating.”

At the same time, Bumble acknowledges a number of business risks, including increased saturation of the dating app market. Notably, the company also said its approach to business as a “mission-based company” aimed at empowering women could subject it to certain challenges. “[B]ecause we hold ourselves to such high standards, and because we believe our users have come to have high expectations of us, we may be more severely affected by negative reports or publicity if we fail, or are perceived to have failed, to live up to the Bumble app’s mission,” the company writes.

Fast-growing tech startups have been increasingly eager to cash in on an IPO market that doesn’t seem to want to quit. This week alone saw market debuts from payments platform Affirm and the resale platform Poshmark, among others.

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Friday’s filing from Bumble does not reveal an intended share price or date for the offering. However, Bloomberg reported last month that the company was seeking a valuation of between $6 billion and $8 billion.

Perhaps it can list in time for Valentine’s Day!

About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

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