WASHINGTON: Lloyd J Austin, a West Point graduate who rose to the Army's elite ranks and marched through racial barriers in a 41-year career, won Senate confirmation Friday to become the nation's first Black secretary of defence.The 93-2 vote gave President Joe Biden his second Cabinet member; Avril Haines was confirmed on Wednesday as the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence. Biden is expected to win approval for others on his national security team in coming days, including Antony Blinken as secretary of state.Biden is looking for Austin to restore stability atop the Pentagon, which went through two Senate-confirmed secretaries of defence and four who held the post on an interim basis during the Trump administration.Austin's confirmation was complicated by his status as a recently retired general. He required a waiver of a legal prohibition on a military officer serving as secretary of defence within seven years of retirement. Austin retired in 2016 after serving as the first Black general to head US Central Command. He was the first Black vice chief of staff of the Army in 2012 and also served as director of the Joint Staff, a behind-the-scenes job that gave him an intimate view
Friday Cognitive dissonance is the phenomenon where you see two or more phenomena that are supposed to go together but really are wildly different. For example, if you saw a bloody beachhead on Peleliu and right on the sand in the middle of a huge blood stain was a band from the Stork Club playing classic American songbook favorites with a white piano. Yesterday, I went to my favorite supermarket on this earth, the Pavilions in gay West Hollywood. I noticed a line of men and women at the pharmacy counter. From their conversation I could tell they were waiting for COVID vaccine. I know the pharmacists well at that store. I asked one of them if she could give me the vax. She studied a computer screen and then cheerfully nodded. A very few minutes later, I was getting a tiny, super-sharp needle in my triceps, and a second later, I was rubbing my shoulder, thanking the pharmacist and smiling like a fool. Today, I brought my wifey into the same store and the same super pharmacist gave her the same Moderna vaccine. Both of us were smiling like monkeys as we got into my car and drove home.
Germany will extend and strengthen the coronavirus-related restrictive measures until February 14, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. "Today we held talks again and agreed to introduce new measures... We are doing this as a precautionary measure for the sake of citizens' health, as well as for the sake of the economy and labor market," Merkel said. Merkel said the number of new coronavirus infections in Germany was gradually reducing, and this was encouraging.