White House Correspondent Ksenija Pavlovic Mcateer gives her take on the latest news from the White House

THE WHITE HOUSE

  • Biden continues to exercise caution around the Omicron variant.

DIGITAL ASSETS

  • Countries adopt their own rules and regulations around cryptocurrency

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

  • Blinken and B9 concerned with “Russia’s destabilizing military buildup along Ukraine’s border.”

“Fully vaccinated and boosted Americans are not likely to have severe symptoms from Omicron,” says White House official.

*All this and more ahead!

Good Morning DC!

On behalf of our team, we wish you a Happy New Year! It’s January 4, 2022, and today marks an annual perihelion, an event where the Earth will be reaching its closest point to the sun.

The snow fell on Washington DC yesterday, and, due to the Federal office closure, the first White House press briefing of 2022 was canceled. 

Biden returned from Delaware to the very snowy White House, but his arrival did not go smoothly. Due to the heavy snow, the stairlifts could not get to the plane on the tarmac, so the president and his entourage were stuck on board for half an hour. President Biden exited Air Force 1 at 10:42 am, ready to kick off the first working week of 2020 in the nation’s capital. 

Back at the White House, Biden had a virtual meeting with family and independent farmers and ranchers. The discussion focused on ways to boost competition and reduce prices in the meat-processing industry. Roundtable participants described how the lack of competition in the meat and poultry supply chain impacts their businesses and lives. The farmers and ranchers explained that they are “often at the mercy of just a few buyers who determine the price they receive.” What was shared at the meeting was “that even as conglomerates raise prices at the grocery stores, they push down the prices for farmers and ranchers, taking wealth out of rural communities and hurting consumers.” Biden wants to change that in 2022. 

TODAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE

Biden and Harris will receive a briefing from the White House COVID-19 Response Team on the latest developments related to the Omicron. “In the briefing, the President will hear about the latest resources and personnel being sent to states and local communities to help with staffing needs and hospital capacity and the ongoing work to expand access to COVID-19 treatments,” according to a White House official.  

Biden will also be presented with the latest data on the Omicron variant. White Omicron cases continue to increase, “fully vaccinated and boosted Americans that get infected are not likely to have severe symptoms,” a White House official reaffirmed.

After this briefing, Biden will address Americans to talk about updates and the importance of using vaccines, boosters, and masks to protect themselves and others.

Due to the Omicron surge and predictions that rates will continue to increase in the greater Washington DC area after holiday gatherings, the White House Correspondents will be operating in considerably reduced numbers. The seating chart in James S. Brady’s briefing will only allow 14 seats in total. 

DC Public Schools will require all students and staff to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result before returning to school on Thursday, January 6.

DIGITAL ASSETS

Happy Birthday, Bitcoin! Yesterday marked 16 years since Satoshi Nakamoto published the white paper, putting in motion a revolution of decentralized finance. 

The President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele believes two more countries will adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. Sharing his predictions for 2022, he said that Bitcoin will reach $100k. He also sees Bitcoin becoming a “major electoral issue” in upcoming US elections.

Former First Lady Melania Trump is a fan of Bitcoin despite her husband’s negative stance on crypto. She tweeted her support for Bitcoin on its anniversary, noting that it had surpassed $1 trillion (£742.3bn) in market value.

Crypto billionaire investor Mike Novogratz has a New Years’ resolution “to explain to the progressive leadership in Congress that crypto is actually progressive.” By that, he means AOC and Warren.

TODAY’S PRICES:

BTC: $46,519,30 ; Today’s change: -1.59%

ETH: $3,824.76; Today’s change: -0.09

SOL: $170.86; Today’s change: -2.01%

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin is voicing his concerns around Bitcoin Cash (a fork of Bitcoin), calling it “mostly a failure.” His main takeaway is that “communities formed around a rebellion, even if they have a good cause, often have a hard time long term, because they value bravery over competence and are united around resistance rather than a coherent way forward.”

Estonia’s Ministry of Finance confirms that they have no plans to ban crypto, but the government is drafting anti-money laundering legislation to mitigate financial crime risks. The regulation does not affect people owning and trading virtual assets and does not require customers to share their private keys to wallets. According to the draft legislation, virtual asset service providers are required to identify their customers.

Italy’s Banca Generali will start allowing users to buy Bitcoin directly through their bank account under a partnership agreement with wallet provider Conio. 

China is moving forward with a pilot version for its digital yuan e-CNY app. Developed by the People’s Bank of China’s Digital Currency Research Institute, the e-CNY app went live today on Android and Apple app stores in China. 

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

On January 2, in the first international discussion this year, Biden spoke with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine. President Biden “made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine,” said the White House. Russia is believed to be adding 100,000 troops on the border. 

Biden told Zelenskyy that the United States remains committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The President expressed support for “confidence-building measures to de-escalate tensions in Donbas and active diplomacy to advance the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, in support of the Normandy Format.”

On New Year’s Eve, Biden said that he “made clear to President Putin that if he makes any more moves and goes into Ukraine, we will have severe sanctions. We will increase our presence in Europe with our NATO allies, and it will be a heavy price to pay for it.”

Yesterday, Secretary Blinken had a call with the Bucharest Nine (B9) group of eastern flank NATO Allies. The Secretary and Foreign Ministers discussed “Russia’s destabilizing military buildup along Ukraine’s border.” They talked about a need for a collective and resolute NATO stance for the “defense of Allies.”

Across the pond, London Mayor Sadiq Khan is planning to decriminalize drugs in London as part of a plan to end the prosecution of young people caught with cannabis, ketamine, or speed. Anyone under 25 caught with Class B drugs will be able to avoid arrest and get “speeding course-style classes or counseling instead of arrest,” writes today’s The Telegraph.

And that’s a wrap for this Tuesday morning, January 4, 2022. Good Morning DC will be back tomorrow to bring you the latest, first. Let the new year of political news begin! Judging by how the 2022 East Coast snowstorm has welcomed us, this year may be a rollercoaster. It will be a fun ride. Brace yourselves!

#GMDC

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Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer

Ksenija Pavlovic is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Pavlovic Today, The Chief White House Correspondent. Pavlovic was a Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Fellow in the Political Science department...