How 2021’s Presidential Inauguration Will be Different
On Wednesday 20th January 2021, a new chapter will begin in American history when President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
While inauguration ceremonies are traditional, this year’s formal procedure is not going to be quite the same. Here are 4 ways that the Presidential Inauguration 2021 will be different.
Prior to Covid-19, people could go to concerts, clubs and out for dinner and have drinks with family and friends. Amid an ongoing pandemic that’s affected every country in the world, all these things are on hold and life as we know it hasn’t been the same for months to keep us safe.
Biden’s Inauguration ceremony will be different due to the pandemic; there won’t be crowds of people packed on to the Mall, watching him sworn in. There will be a socially distanced area for a few selected people. The receptions and dinners have been cancelled and there won’t be a parade.
This year, watching the Inauguration will mainly be online and/or on TV.
Earlier this month, there was a mob of looters that stormed the Capitol Building just as Biden’s election victory was being certified. It shocked world leaders and the world.
In response, this inauguration will see an increased and the largest security presence in history to ensure the smooth transition of power.
Trump will not be attending
It is traditional for the outgoing president to attend the inauguration of the new leader. Current President Donald Trump has said he will not attend which breaks tradition. He will only be the fourth president to skip their successor’s ceremony, the last one being Andrew Johnson skipping Ulysses S. Grant inauguration in 1869.
Trump’s decision was welcomed by Biden.
First woman to be sworn in
On a positive and progressive note, Kamala Harris will make history on the January 20th as the first female, woman of colour Vice-President to be sworn in.
Harris will be sworn in before Biden. Biden will be sworn in on the Capitol’s West Front at noon.
As part of the American 2021 inauguration, have a look at our amazing American programmes, on special this month, including our Historic Walk of Washington DC and our special programme, the American Empire. Learn more about American history, with our study guides here.
Healthcare providers in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States among others have ramped up efforts to vaccinate vulnerable people against the Coronavirus since a number of vaccines, each from different pharmaceutical companies and research teams, have been approved for use.
Meanwhile, the so-called COVAX initiative has set out to help provide poorer nations with a share of the global supply.
Run, Forrest! Run!
More Coronavirus News & Statistics
Europe tightens COVID restrictions ahead of Christmas. Germany will return to a national lockdown until January 10th, but with the restrictions relaxed slightly from 24 to 26 December, allowing a limited amount of festive household mixing.
Main image: B-18007 China Airlines with special Boeing livery Boeing 777-309(ER) coming in from Taipei (TPE) @ Frankfurt (FRA) / 01.06.2018, Oliver Holzbauer, Flickr Creative Commons
Remembrance, Veterans and Armistice Day 2020
November 11, 2020
Remembrance Day, as it is known in the Commonwealth, and Veterans Day, as it is known in the Americas, is celebrated every November 11.
Remembrance Day has its roots in the Armistice signed at the end of WWI, becoming immortalized as the day the Great War ended. However, the Armistice – agreement to ceasefire on both sides – which was signed on 11 Novermber 1918, did not formally become the end of the war until the Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28 June 1919. The ceasefire did however last for the full duration between the armistice and the peace treaty being signed.
Following the outbreak of WWII, the Commonwealth nations decided to change the name from Armistice Day to Remembrance Day to honour all the fallen and not just those of WWI.
During WWII and in the many wars that would follow, including the Vietnam war, the Gulf war, Afghanistan and Iraq, millions more would perish as servicemen from all around the world fought for their countries.
Hence, Remembrance and Veterans Day celebrate the bravery of these service personnel, both fallen and returned heroes, and gives thanks and recognition for the service that they have given.
Large celebrations and commemorations often take place, including ‘Remembrance Sunday’ across the Commonwealth, the Sunday closest to the 11th of November, where crowds gather to mark their respect with a 2 minute display of silence, and Veterans festivals in the US such as the celebrations we visited in San Diego.
From the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall, through to tech solutions of Silicon Valley, America has shaped the world we live in – all the while shaping its own identity through the iconic buildings and structures that chart the nation’s history.
Through bustling ports and strategic forts, cultural quirks and cathedrals of commerce, this episode of Empire Builders tells the the incredible story of the United States through 12 key historic sites.
Our story starts in the humble surrounds of a meeting hall in Philadelphia, with the ‘Thirteen Colonies’ declaring independence from the United Kingdom. And nearby , in Washington D.C., stands the Washington Monument, a tribute to iconic father of the nation and city founder. It was completed almost a century after it was originally commissioned, the huge obelisk a testament to character of man it celebrates.
No geographical entity was more important to the spread of America westwards than the Mississippi River. President Jefferson sought to ensure passage through the purchase of the historic Port of New Orleans at the river’s mouth. He could never have dreamed the outcome; with the eventual ‘Louisiana Purchase’ being described as the greatest land deal in history, almost doubling the size of the United States over night.
Andrew Jackson’s bold and controversial capture of the perfectly preserved Spanish Fort Barrancas at Pensacola culminated in the transfer of Spanish Florida to the United States. Perhaps even more significantly, it resulted in the Spaniards ceding claims over ‘New Spain’, emboldening American progress to the west and propelling Jackson toward the Presidency.
In the story of America’s conquest of west, no chapter burns more brightly in the American conscious than the Battle of the Alamo, with Davy Crockett’s legendary last stand confirming the small Spanish mission’s place in history. It led ultimately to Texas joining the United States and, after victory in the Spanish American War in 1848, the size of the country almost doubling.
With the continent settled, it was soon to be linked by the fantastically ambitious Transcontinental Railroad. The grand project required a grand terminus, with the Vanderbilt family commissioning a fittingly advanced and opulent departure point: ‘Grand Central Terminus’ became the gateway to the nation.
With the nation mobilised, it industrialised at an unprecedented rate. Andrew Carnegie’s Homestead Steel Mill was a game changer, dwarfing anything that industry had witnessed. It remained the largest steel producing plant on the planet for the best part of a century.
Fast becoming the most powerful nation on earth, the United States now expanded its strategic and military horizons beyond its borders, taking over the Kingdom of Hawaii followed by the Philippines, Puerto Rico and parts of Cuba following the Spanish American War of 1898. Then the huge Panama Canal project made transit of ships between the American continents possible for the first time.
Economic success meant boom time in the city; and nowhere was this more evident than New York City. Tycoons set about building great monuments to their success, the greatest of all them all was the Empire State Building.
The Hollywood Sign hailed success of different kind on the west coast – the eyes of the world now fell on America as it exported movies around the globe. But the symbol that would go on to define this new industry actually started life as a real estate advertisement hoarding.
After success in WWII, the Cold War raged, but with the collapse of the Soviet Union the United States became the world’s only superpower. Meanwhile, America had looked to the next frontier: space exploration. The colossal Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas would become the Johnson Space Center – Mission Control for the Apollo and Space Shuttle expeditions.
Crowning America’s technological dominance is Silicon Valley. Apple’s gargantuan new HQ was based on an idea of the late Steve Jobs, and raises the bar for contemporary design standards everywhere. Constructed costs were eye-wateringly expensive, but it is affectionately nicknamed the Spaceship.
Main image: Jefferson Monument, Washington DC, Pilot Productions
Travel in the COVID-Zone
October 13, 2020
Cruise Ships dismantled for scrap metal
A number of disused cruise ships are being dismantled and sold for their scrap metal value following the disastrous impact of the coronavirus on the cruise ship industry.
The ships are being stripped down at a ship-breakers yards, the Aliaga Ship Recycling Facility, in Turkey.
Machu Picchu opened up for one lone tourist
Peru has opened the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu for a single Japanese tourist who had been waiting for almost seven months to visit the world heritage site.
Jesse Katayama was due to visit Machu Picchu in March before it was closed due to coronavirus. He went into lockdown with the rest of the nation, finding himself stranded.
Mr Katayama submitted a request to the ministry of culture and was granted special access to see the World Heritage Site before his return journey to Japan.
The ancient Inca citadel – Peru’s top tourist attraction – is expected to re-open next month, although no exact date has been given.
Lunch at Singapore Airlines, anyone?
Another quirky initiative by an airline has grabbed headlines this week, with Singapore’s national carrier offering lunch on a plane without a flight.
Diners, travel lovers and aviation enthusiasts have purchased tickets priced between $40 and $500, with every available seat selling out.
The airline is also offering home delivery of its meals, which also includes the airline’s tableware and amenity kits.
World Health Organization director-general has warned against allowing coronavirus to spread in the hope of achieving so-called herd immunity, saying the idea is “scientifically and ethically problematic”.
Texas has overtaken California as the state with the second highest Coronavirus death toll, after New York.
Trump returns to campaign trail less than 2 weeks after positive Coronavirus test. On Sunday, 11 days post positive test, Trump’s doctor said he was no longer a COVID transmission risk to others and said later on Monday that his most recent tests had all come back negative.
President Trump and First Lady contract coronavirus
U.S President Donald Trump tested positive for the COVID-19 on Thursday sparking widespread alarm and concern for his health. The President, who has previously expressed skepticism of the coronavirus, spent three nights in hospital receiving treatment before quickly reappearing to put on a strong face for the American public.
The president himself has expressed in a number of statements that he is feeling better. With the presidential election looming, he has made it clear that the show must go on.
Aside from the condition of his health, a number of people have criticised the President for maintaining a busy schedule whilst remaining potentially contagious to others.
Other world leaders who previously contracted the virus include Brazil’s Jair Bolsanaro and the UK’s Boris Johnson.
Air pollution in New Delhi expected to worsen COVID-19
India’s capital is bracing itself for its annual ‘air pollution season’ where officials expect the poor air quality and other pollution related health issues to exacerbate the already serious coronavirus health crisis.
The air quality in New Delhi drastically deteriorates between October and December — to levels which are often considered ‘hazardous’ — due to various factors including stubble burning after the harvest, vehicle pollution, cold weather and post-monsoon low atmospheric pressure.
Cycling is still wheelie popular in Europe
A combination of a summer of fantastic weather, the desire to avoid public transport, and err… the pandemic… have proved the perfect series of events for the cycling industry.
Other Coronavirus News & Statistics
Paris has once again closed bars and restaurants as officials raise their coronavirus alert level to maximum.
Virgin Atlantic has become the first UK airline to introduce COVID-19 pre-flight testing at its Heathrow base for its cabin crew and pilots.
Main image: Donald Trump, Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons
Travel in the COVID-Zone
September 30, 2020
Global deaths surpass 1 million
The report of the millionth death arrived on Tuesday, just short of 10 months since the first confirmed death in January. The current confirmed number of cases currently stands at over 33 million. Here are the top 5 nations with the highest number of deaths
Walt Disney has announced that it will be cutting 28,000 jobs from its theme parks, mostly in the United States.
The decision comes in reaction to the new limited visitor capacity at the parks, and ongoing uncertainty about how long the coronavirus pandemic will last.
Disney lost $4.7bn (£3.6bn) in the three months to 27 June.
Disney’s parks in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Paris are not affected by the announcement. Josh D’Amaro, chairman of the parks unit, said the company’s problems in the US were “exacerbated in California by the state’s unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen.”
60 million Indians may have had the coronavirus, pandemic agency suggests
According to official data, India is the world’s second most infected nation, with more than 6.2 million cases. Officially, nearly 100,000 Indians have died due to COVID-19, though the country’s leading pandemic agency suggest that the real number is likely significantly higher.
Citing an antibody study which was run to determine the proportion of the population have had the virus, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) suggested that the figure is more likely closer to 1 in 15 Indians (aged over 10), placing the number at around 60 million, which is 10 times the official number.
Other Coronavirus News & Statistics
German Chancellor has urged Germans to “continue acting patiently” in the fight against the Coronavirus. She has this week begun to reimpose restrictions on the number of people who can meet following a number of outbreaks at larger gatherings.
Despite concerns for the future of office space across London, Morgan Stanley has decided to move to a new, bigger space in England’s capital. It is thought that currently only 1/3 of London’s workers are travelling to the office each day.
Main image: Disney, qin linlin, Flickr Creative Commons
California Wildfires Have Burned Over 2 Million Acres of Forest This Year
At present, more than 14,000 firefighters are fighting around 24 major fires across the state of California which continue to grow.
It is estimated that this year, an area totalling around five times the size of London has been burned by these wildfires.
The fires do not stop at the state border – Oregon and Washington state are facing similar destruction.
The smoke from the fires has turned the skies orange, prompting calls for various neighbourhoods most at risk to be evacuated. Similar fires in 2018 damaged or destroyed 24,226 structures, and caused 100 confirmed fatalities.
Dry and hot weather, paired with gusty winds, is helping the fires to spread.
Los Angeles county saw temperatures of 121F (49.5C), a record high over the weekend, and San Francisco hit 100F (38C) on Sunday, breaking a previous same-day record of 92F (33C) set more than 100 years ago in 1904.
These temperatures have two large risks attached to them. First, when combined with dry, gusty winds, can facilitate the spread of a fire. Second, they result in an increased electricity usage, primarily from the use of air conditioning systems, somewhat overloading the electricity lines. The power grids in California are notoriously sensitive to high temperatures.
California power companies have warned of power outages to attempt to control the situation and prevent any further fires from starting. Dried woodland material falling onto electrified lines was the direct cause of one blaze in the 2017 wildfires.
These record breaking temperatures are also causing electrical storms, with lightning striking dried areas of woodland. Dead, dry trees are the perfect fuel for a large blaze.
This week, one particular blaze was reported to have been ignited by a ‘pyrotechnic’ device used for a gender reveal stunt. Devices such as these often combust, releasing a coloured smoke, indicating the gender of the baby.
Main image: The Woolsey Fire, California, 2018. Photo courtesy of Peter Buschmann
Travel in the COVID-Zone
Travel, Explore, Defer?
For most of the northern hemisphere, this time of year marks the start of a new academic year, and for many students this means upping sticks and moving to a new house, city and sometimes even country!
As with many other things over the past few months, the coronavirus has now put pay to this year’s foreign cohorts. A report conducted by Ernst & Young estimates that only about 330,000 foreigners are studying in Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand this year, down from 1.09 million in 2019.
However, they also predict that 2021 will see up to 1.85 million people starting degrees in foreign countries, as those who deferred this year resume their studies.
In the UK, Cambridge University has said it will be only conducting online teaching for the duration of the new acadmeic year, deferring the arrival of over 20,000 students to the city, which usually make up around a sixth of the entire city’s population!
Meanwhile, Harvard’s 2020 freshmen have arrived on campus in a socially distanced manner, with most student expressing relief at having made it, and a little disappointment at the lack of buzz about the Yard. In past weeks, the New York Times has tracked thousands of cases that were linked to students returning to campuses across the nation.
Hope and Fear: How Pandemics Changed the World
Our latest documentary explores the impact on our planet of viral diseases across the ages.
COVID-19, which struck with such devastating impact in the early months of 2020, is just the latest in a long line of pandemics that have devastated, and in some cases, destroyed societies throughout time.
Like all pandemics, COVID-19 was sparked by human interaction with the animal world.
“Hope and Fear: How Pandemics Changed the World” looks at the circumstances that have caused these diseases – whether it be hygiene, poverty, overcrowding, urbanisation or the growth of cities – and how travel has impacted on their rapid transmission resulting in pandemics.
Other Coronavirus News & Statistics
The University of Georgia has advised its students to wear face masks during sex. In a COVID pamphlet, it said: “Consider wearing a face mask during sex. Heavy breathing and panting can further spread the virus, and wearing a mask can reduce the risk.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is leading by example and has been spotted exercising in a bid to shed his excess pounds after asking the nation to do the same. In 2018, 63% of adults in the UK were overweight or obese, and 20.2% of children aged 11 were obese. It is understood that being overweight puts you at risk of becoming seriously ill with the COVID-19 virus, along with multiple other health complications.
Main image: Cambridge University, Mark Fosh, Flickr Creative Commons
Travel in the COVID-Zone
25 August, 2020
First documented coronavirus reinfection reported in Hong Kong
A man in his 30’s is reported to have become reinfected with coronavirus more than 4 months after his first diagnosis.
Hong Kong scientists say that the two strains of the virus are “clearly different”, making it the world’s first proven case of reinfection
The World Health Organization warns it is important not to jump to conclusions based on the case of one patient, and experts say reinfections may be rare and not necessarily serious. It is fully expected that the virus will mutate over time.
Usain Bolt tested positive for COVID-19 following his birthday celebrations.
Usain Bolt, world sprinting superstar, has tested positive for COVID-19 just days following his “big, mask-free” birthday party.
The Jamaican 100m and 200m sprint world record holder is said to be isolating at his home in Jamaica, and has so far not displayed any symptoms of the illness.