One of Joe Biden's first actions once he becomes U.S. president Wednesday will be to slam the door yet again on Canada's politically fraught Keystone XL pipeline expansion, transition documents suggest. The documents, seen by The Canadian Press, feature a to-do list for inauguration day that includes signing an executive order to rescind the Keystone XL construction permit granted in 2019 by predecessor Donald Trump. They also suggest that despite its best efforts, Canada has failed to convince the incoming administration of the virtues of importing fossil-fuel energy from a friendly ally and trading partner with similar climate change goals. The controversial, on-again, off-again pipeline expansion, owned by Calgary-based TC Energy, would ferry up to 830,000 additional barrels a day of diluted bitumen from Alberta's oilsands to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
President-elect Joe Biden plans to take immediate action to turn the page on the Trump era after his inauguration speech this week, chief of staff Ron Klain said Sunday after laying out Biden’s plan for his first days in office. This link will open in a new tab. Biden is planning a 10-day blitz of executive action on what his administration is calling the “four crises” facing the country – Covid-19, the economic downturn, racial injustice and climate change. Biden’s plans include: Wednesday: Rejoining the Paris climate change agreement and reversing President This link will open in a new tab. Donald Trump’s travel ban, which applies to several Muslim-majority countries. Biden will also require masks on federal property and interstate travel and take action to extend eviction and foreclosure restrictions; Thursday: Biden will sign executive actions related to reopening schools and businesses, and Friday he will “direct his Cabinet agencies to take immediate action to deliver economic relief to working families bearing the brunt of this crisis,” according to the memo; The following week: Biden will take “significant early actions to advance equity and support communities of color and other underserved communities.” He will also take action to address climate change, expand access to health care, and “restore dignity to our immigration system and our border policies.”
The U.S. and several European governments have expressed deep concern following the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, urgently calling for his immediate release from Russian detention. Police arrested Navalny, 44, at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday shortly after his flight from Berlin, Germany landed in the country’s capital city. The activist, who is widely regarded as the most prominent and determined critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was returning home for the first time since he was poisoned last summer.
Germany moved another step closer to a post-Angela Merkel era at the weekend, with her ruling Christian Democratic Union This link will open in a new tab. electing a new chairman. Armin Laschet beat off competition from conservative rival Friedrich Merz to win 521 votes to 466 in the party leadership election that took place online due to the coronavirus pandemic. Laschet, who leads the North Rhine-Westphalia region, is seen as a centrist and able to unite the ruling CDU’s broad church of members, from conservatives and pro-business members of the party to environmentalists, and is seen as a continuity candidate following Merkel’s pragmatic approach. Still, while winning the party leadership puts Laschet in the ring as a possible contender to become Germany’s next chancellor, it’s by no means a done deal.
China reported Monday that its economy grew 2.3% last year as the world struggled to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Gross domestic product rose by 6.5% in the fourth quarter from a year ago, official data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed. Those numbers beat analysts’ expectations. However, Chinese consumers remained reluctant to spend, as retail sales contracted 3.9% for the year. Retail sales for the fourth quarter rose 4.6% from a year ago. Online sales of consumer goods rose at a relatively rapid pace of 14.8% last year, the statistics bureau said, but the proportion of overall retail sales held fairly steady at around one-fourth. Economists expected China to have been the only major economy to grow last year, and predicted GDP in 2020 expanded by just over 2%. Those polled by Reuters expected the economy to grow 6.1% in the fourth quarter, faster than the 4.9% pace of the prior quarter.