Amanda Gorman Becomes Youngest Inaugural Poet in U.S. History & Global News

by Debra Brown

Amanda Gorman

Each Wednesday, we recap the most important headlines from our global community to keep you up to speed on world news.


President-elect Joseph R. Biden will be inaugurated with two historic firsts this week. Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Laureate, will become the youngest Inaugural poet in U.S. history. She was handpicked by Dr. Jill Biden, hopefully indicating a willingness in the future to bring in younger generations. The President-elect also nominated Pennsylvania health expert Dr. Rachel Levine to be assistant secretary for health in the department of Health and Human Services. The confirmation would be the first for an openly transgender federal official. This could mean more representation and protection for the lgbtq community in healthcare.


Amanda Gorman Becomes Youngest Inaugural Poet in U.S. History

The youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, Amanda Gorman, will read a work she finished after the riot at the Capitol, titled “The Hill We Climb.” The poet was tasked with composing a poem about national unity to recite at President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration.

Gorman fell in love with poetry at a young age and distinguished herself quickly as a rising talent. At 16, she was named the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. A few years later, when she was studying sociology at Harvard, she became the National Youth Poet Laureate, the first person to hold the position.


Woman Sentenced to 43 Years for Criticizing Thai Monarchy

The sentence was the longest yet for violating Thailand’s lèse-majesté law, which makes it a crime to defame senior members of the royal family, according to the group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. The former civil servant,  Anchan Preelert, was sentenced to 87 years, but her prison term was cut in half because she agreed to plead guilty.

The crime was to share audio clips on social media that were deemed critical of Thailand’s monarchy. Pawinee Chumsri, one of Ms. Anchan’s lawyers, said that they were planning an appeal.

Protesters, who gathered by the thousands in street rallies, have called for the royal family, one of the world’s wealthiest, to come under the purview of Thailand’s Constitution. They have demanded scrutiny of the palace’s finances, as the king’s lavish lifestyle has contrasted sharply with the economic pain caused by the pandemic.


FBI Investigating Capitol Riot Link to Foreign Governments

The FBI is investigating whether foreign governments, organisations or individuals provided financial support to people who helped plan and execute the January 6 attack on the Capitol, a news report said.

As part of the investigation, the FBI is examining payments of $500,000 in bitcoin, apparently by a French national, to key figures and groups in the far right before the riot, one current and one former FBI official told NBC News.

The payments were documented and posted online last week by a company that analyses cryptocurrency transfers. Bitcoin payments can be traced because they are documented on a public ledger.

Chainalysis reported the donor sent 28.15 BTC, worth about $522,000 at the time of transfer, to 22 separate addresses, many of which belong to far-right activists. 

The bitcoin transfers appear to have been made by a French computer programmer who took his own life on December 8 last year after triggering the transfers, according to French media.


In Historic First Biden Nominates Dr. Rachel Levine as Assistant Health Secretary 

President-elect Joe Biden is nominating Pennsylvania health expert Dr. Rachel Levine to be assistant secretary for health in the department of Health and Human Services, in a move that could make Levine the first openly transgender federal official to win Senate confirmation.

Levine is currently the secretary of health in Pennsylvania, where she leads the state’s fight against COVID-19. She is also professor at the Penn State College of Medicine. 

Levine has previously won state Senate confirmation in Pennsylvania, including a unanimous vote in 2015 to endorse her as Pennsylvania’s physician general. She then rose to the role of secretary of health, also with the state Senate’s approval.


Covid-19 Updates from Around the World: Vaccine Rollout

The global death toll from COVID-19 has topped 2 million as vaccines developed at breakneck speed are being rolled out around the world. Over 93 million cases have been confirmed worldwide just over a year after the coronavirus was first officially detected.

At least 51 countries have started rolling out safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, but none of them are low-income countries. The World Health Organization says that’s because rich countries have bought up the majority of the vaccine supply. Ultra-cold storage requirements make some vaccines difficult to deliver. Some countries may have to wait until 2022 or later before supplies are widely available.

More than 46.2 million doses in 51 countries have been administered, according to data collected by Bloomberg. The latest rate was roughly 2.35 million doses a day, on average.

Here’s an international COVID-19 vaccination data tracker.


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