News headlines for Thursday, December 24, 2020 from ABC 10News
- Yahoo News
Black National Guardsman describes being deployed to protect Biden’s inauguration: 'I just felt this huge sense of pride'
As most of the 25,000 National Guardsmen who were called upon to protect Washington, D.C., during the presidential inauguration began heading home this week, one Black service member agreed to speak to Yahoo News about the experience of protecting the nation’s capital in the wake of a pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill.
- The Independent
Mike Pence is homeless after leaving office and ‘couch-surfing’ with Indiana politicians, report says
Mike Pence has been residing in public housing for the past eight years
- The Week
Biden did not, in fact, remove Trump's 'Diet Coke button' from the Resolute Desk, White House clarifies
The new Biden administration has yet not disclosed the secrets of Area 51 or explained what the Air Force really knows about UFOs, but it did clarify, at least, the mystery of the vanished "Diet Coke button" former President Donald Trump would use to summon refreshments in the Oval Office. The usher button, as it is formally known, is not gone, even if it is no longer used to summon Diet Cokes, a White House official tells Politico. The White House official "unfortunately wouldn't say what Biden will use the button for," Politico's Daniel Lippman writes, suggesting Biden might summon Orange Gatorade and not the obvious answer, ice cream — or, let's get real, coffee. What's more, there are evidently two usher buttons in the Oval Office, one at the Resolute Desk and the other next to the chair by the fireplace, a former White House official told Politico, adding that Trump didn't actually use the Diet Coke button all that much because "he would usually just verbally ask the valets, who were around all day, for what he needed." In any case, it is not the placement of the button that matters, of course, but how you use it. And Biden will presumably know better than to order ice cream treats during a top-secret national security briefing. More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorTrump's impeachment lawyer said he thinks 'the facts and the law will speak for themselves'Mitch McConnell is the GOAT
- Associated Press
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday criticized Iran's hard-liner dominated judiciary over last week's prosecution of the countrys telecommunications minister. Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi was released on bail after he was summoned for prosecution. Judiciary officials cited his refusal to block Instagram and impose limitations on the bandwidth of other foreign social media and messaging systems.
- FOX News Videos
Biden administration has system in place where reporters will not ask president tough questions: Media critic
Steve Krakauer, editor at Fourth Watch, says 'it shouldn't be contingent' on one reporter to ask Biden tough questions.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday that Democrats may try to pass much of President Joe Biden's coronavirus relief bill using a process that would bypass a Republican filibuster and could pass with a majority vote. Biden wants Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal, but many Republicans have balked at the price tag. The Senate is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote.
- NBC News
Tommy Frederick Allan said he took the documents because he is a taxpayer, according to an arrest warrant.
- The Week
The Biden administration announced Tuesday that the U.S. is restoring relations with the Palestinians and will resume supporting assistance programs that deliver humanitarian aid to refugees, a reversal from former President Donald Trump's policies. Acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Mills said the new policy is "the best way to ensure Israel's future as a democratic and Jewish state while upholding the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations for a state of their own and to live with dignity and security." During the Trump administration, the U.S. stopped making contributions to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which provides education, health care, and aid to Palestinian refugees; shuttered the Washington office of the Palestinian Liberation Organization; and submitted a peace proposal leaving Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which was rejected by the Palestinians. Mills said under the Biden administration, "the policy of the United States will be to support a mutually agreed two-state solution, one in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state." Both sides are being urged to "avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult, such as annexation of territory, settlement activity, demolitions, incitement to violence, and providing compensation for individuals in prison for acts of terrorism," Mills added. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said now is "the time to heal and repair the damage left by the previous U.S. administration. We look forward to the reversal of the unlawful and hostile measures undertaken by the Trump administration and to working together for peace." More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorTrump's impeachment lawyer said he thinks 'the facts and the law will speak for themselves'Mitch McConnell is the GOAT
- National Review
A federal judge in Texas has blocked President Biden’s executive order halting deportations of some illegal immigrants. Biden signed the order halting deportations for 100 days on January 20, several hours after his inauguration, as part of a blitz of executive orders aimed at undoing Trump administration policies. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton subsequently sued the Biden administration to reverse the order, citing an agreement between the Department of Homeland Security and Texas requiring the state’s approval to halt deportations. Judge Drew Tipton of the Southern District of Texas blocked the implementation of Biden’s order on Tuesday for a period of 14 days. Tipton said that the delay was appropriate according to the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946. The news comes after Biden promised to propose legislation during his first 100 days in office providing a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. On Inauguration Day, Biden signed an executive order to review the public-charge rule, which restricts immigration by applicants who may require government assistance such as food stamps. The president also ordered the Department of Homeland Security to work to safeguard the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
- Associated Press
Tova Friedman hid among corpses at Auschwitz amid the chaos of the extermination camp's final days. Days later, on Jan. 27, 1945, she was among the thousands of prisoners who survived to greet the Soviet troops who liberated the camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Now 82, Friedman had hoped to mark Wednesday's anniversary by taking her eight grandchildren to the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial site, which is under the custodianship of the Polish state.
- The Independent
‘There appeared to be no remorse,’ says Calcasieu Parish sheriff Tony Mancus
The United States on Monday approved all transactions involving Yemen's Houthi movement for the next month as Washington reviews a Trump administration designation of the Iran-aligned group as a foreign terrorist organization. The move appeared designed to allay fears of companies and banks involved in commercial trade to Yemen, which relies almost solely on imports. The Treasury Department in a Frequently Asked Question specifically stated that foreign banks will not be exposed to sanctions "if they knowingly conduct or facilitate a transaction" for the Houthis.
- The Week
President Biden's administration is hoping to "speed up" efforts to get Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during a briefing Monday said the Treasury Department is "taking steps to resume efforts" to put Tubman on the $20 bill, a plan that was originally announced under former President Barack Obama, and is "exploring ways to speed up that effort." Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin previously announced in 2019 that the planned $20 bill redesign with Tubman replacing former President Andrew Jackson on the front had been delayed until 2028. At the time, Mnuchin said he would focus on a security feature redesign. "The primary reason we've looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues," Mnuchin said. "Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028." The original plan was for the Tubman redesign to be unveiled in time for the 19th Amendment's 100th anniversary in 2020, The New York Times notes. Former President Donald Trump dismissed the efforts to put Tubman on the $20 bill as "pure political correctness" during his 2016 campaign. In Monday's briefing, Psaki said that it's "important" for U.S. currency to "reflect the history and diversity of our country," adding that "Harriet Tubman's image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that." NEW: White House says Treasury Dept. is "taking steps to resume efforts" to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Press Sec. Psaki says the Biden admin. is "exploring ways to speed up that effort." pic.twitter.com/z7Jw5CqXP0 — MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 25, 2021 More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorTrump's impeachment lawyer said he thinks 'the facts and the law will speak for themselves'Mitch McConnell is the GOAT
- NBC News
"The member in question had been advised numerous times about the requirements and had refused to be tested," the House speaker said.
A 19-year-old Tibetan monk has reportedly died after battling two months of alleged mistreatment under Chinese authorities. Tenzin Nyima, also known as Tamay, served at Dza Wonpo monastery in Wonpo township, Kandze prefecture, a Tibetan area in the Sichuan province of China. Nyima was first arrested in November 2019 after distributing leaflets with three other monks according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
- Associated Press
The Justice Department’s inspector general is launching an investigation to examine whether any former or current department officials “engaged in an improper attempt” to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Monday that the investigation will investigate allegations concerning the conduct of former and current Justice Department officials but will not extend to other government officials. The Justice Department watchdog investigation follows a report in The New York Times that a former assistant attorney general, Jeffrey Clark, had been discussing a plan with then-President Donald Trump to oust the acting attorney general and try to challenge the results of the 2020 race by falsely saying there had been widespread election fraud.
- Architectural Digest
Let’s get loudOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
Venezuela's Juan Guaido is a "privileged interlocutor" but no longer considered interim president, European Union states said in a statement on Monday, sticking by their decision to downgrade his status. The EU's 27 states had said on Jan. 6 they could no longer legally recognise Guaido as after he lost his position as head of parliament following legislative elections in Venezuela in December, despite the EU not recognising that vote. Following the disputed re-election of President Nicolas Maduro in 2018, Guaido, as head of parliament, became interim president.
- NBC News
Steven Brandenburg was fired from the Aurora Medical Center after the hospital said he admitted he "intentionally removed the vaccine from refrigeration."
- The Guardian
Many of the Filipina women we interviewed across Asia, Europe and the Middle East lost jobs or had salaries cut since the pandemic – others were subjected to physical abuse ‘They’ve got no support whatsoever.’ Illustration: Susie Ang/The Guardian This story is published in partnership between the Guardian and the Fuller Project. Every morning, Rowena wakes early on the pile of blankets where she sleeps, curled up against a desk in the corner of the office she used to clean. It’s not yet 7am, but if her manager catches her alone in her pyjamas, he’ll try to grope and stroke her, as he’s tried to do several times a week for the past six months. Rowena, who is 54 and asked to be identified only by her first name, left the Philippines for Bahrain in April 2019. After she had been in the Gulf country for a year, her boss told her that due to the pandemic, he could no longer pay her monthly salary of 120 Bahraini dinar, or BHD (£240). Instead, he would provide her and the three other migrant domestic workers he employed with 10 Bahraini dinar (or £20) for food every fortnight, to be split between four. The same month, Rowena’s flight out of the country was cancelled, and she found herself trapped. In September, her employer stopped giving the women their food allowance too, leaving them with nothing. Rowena and her housemates are not alone: the pandemic has left domestic workers like them further exposed to exploitative working conditions and abuse. The Guardian has interviewed more than a dozen Filipina women across Asia, Europe and the Middle East since April. Most have lost jobs or had salaries cut by their employers since the start of this year. Others have also found themselves suddenly subjected to physical abuse. As Covid started to spread worldwide, the Philippine government organised repatriation flights from Manama to Manila. But Rowena didn’t know about them. In July, three months after her boss first stopped paying her, she wrote on the Philippine government’s Overseas Foreign Workers Help Office’s public Facebook page to ask for help, along with dozens of other Filipina women and men stranded abroad. She also applied for financial support from the Philippine department of labor and employment. Months passed by, but no one replied. “I don’t want to make trouble,” she says via a call over Facebook Messenger. “I want to go home.” ••• The Philippine government says that about one-third of its 10 million citizens overseas are women working in “elementary” jobs – a term widely interpreted as referring to domestic workers like Rowena who are paid low wages to clean homes, and cook meals and care for wealthy families under often horrendous conditions. Human Rights Watch has long described migrant domestic workers, thousands of miles away from home and hidden out of sight in strangers’ houses, as one of the world’s most vulnerable demographics. Now, nearly a year into a global pandemic, thousands of Filipina women are stranded with even fewer options to flee exploitation. According to the International Labor Organisation, there are 11.5 million migrant domestic workers worldwide. By the Philippine government’s own estimate, about one in four is a Filipina woman. International advocacy organisations believe the number would likely be higher if those who are undocumented were taken into account. Together, the women form a scattered community, the majority spread across the Middle East and East Asia, followed by Europe and the United States. Recruited by international agencies who favour English-speaking nannies and cleaners, the women are charged exorbitant fees to find work overseas. For the 60% of Filipina women who work in the Middle East, they’re also subject to the “kafala” system, which generally binds a migrant worker to their employer, resulting in the confiscation of their passports until their contracts come to an end. Maria, 43, is a single mother from the Philippines who has been working in Hong Kong since 2019. In August, her employer lost her temper after Maria (who agreed to speak on the condition of her anonymity) didn’t cook a bell pepper for the family’s baby. “She slapped me on my face, on the right side of my face with her hand, and beat me on [my] bottom [ I think] around three or four times,” she says. “I felt that I was unworthy for her.” In Singapore, Robina Navato hears similar stories daily. A domestic worker for almost 25 years, she also volunteers for the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home), counseling her peers across the city on their rights. At the start of the outbreak, she received calls late into the night from Filipina domestic workers trying to leave their abusive employers. “I told them that the shelter is packed with people already and we cannot accept [them],” she remembers. “So if you can hold on, for like another month, and then run away after that?” ••• The UK issues about 23,000 visas to foreign domestic workers every year, half of whom come from the Philippines, according to reports. British laws enabled their abuse before the pandemic, migrant rights advocates say. But research shows illegal, exploitative working conditions have multiplied in recent months. “They don’t have any access to public funds, or furlough schemes or anything like that. From the perspective of the state, they just don’t exist,” says Dr Ella Parry-Davies, a postdoctoral fellow at the British Academy researching the lives of Filipina domestic workers in Lebanon and the UK. “They’re really pushed to the brink of destitution.” They’re really pushed to the brink of destitution Dr Ella Parry-Davies In the first two months of the coronavirus outbreak, more than half of the Filipino migrant workers surveyed in the UK had lost their jobs, according to a report compiled in June by Dr Parry-Davies and the Kanlungan Filipino Consortium – a London-based consortium of grassroots organisations advocating for Filipino migrants’ rights. Others saw their wages drop to less than £2 an hour, less than a quarter of the UK’s statutory minimum wage. Of those who were infected by the coronavirus, one in four were too scared to ask the NHS for help in case it affected their immigration status in the future. “They’ve got no support whatsoever,” says Dr Parry-Davies, adding that the Filipina women, who clean, nanny and take care of disabled or elderly people, are essentially key workers. “They’re just completely abandoned by the nation.” In 2014, Mimi (who asked to go by a different name to avoid jeopardising her safety) arrived in west London, brought over to the UK by a European family she had previously worked for in Hong Kong. Today, she works from 8am until 8pm, Monday to Friday, taking care of two children under the age of 10, earning about £5 an hour. After finishing her day’s duties, the 52-year-old often crosses High Street Kensington and cleans a neighbour’s house from 8.30pm until one or two in the morning. Then she walks for 30 minutes back to the boarding house she shares with four other Filipina women. Her monthly rent is almost half her salary. “When I am working in the wee hours I am crying, and I am saying: ‘Why am I doing this?’” she says over the phone, late one Friday night. “I know I am being abused. But I cannot complain.” As the country moves in and out of Covid-19 lockdowns, her employers have insisted she continue working, coaching her on what to say to the police if she’s stopped on the street. Their demands have also increased: she has to disinfect the house from top to bottom, clean their three toilets every day and sanitise the kitchen. But although Mimi fears for her safety, she can’t afford to quit. The Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, says his administration is helping Filipino citizens stranded overseas, but such support is limited. In April, the department of labor and employment (Dole) released a one-off grant of up to 10,000 Philippine pesos (£156) for displaced foreign workers, and the department of foreign affairs (DFA) has repatriated 277,320 Filipino citizens from countries including Lebanon, Turkey and Bahrain since February. ••• Each of the women the Guardian spoke to sends the majority of her disposable income back to the Philippines. Filipina migrant workers wire back more than £26bn to support their families every year, accounting for 8.8% of the Philippines’ total GDP, according to the World Bank. Since the start of the year, unemployment in the Philippines has doubled and the pressure to send money home is greater than ever. Without Mimi’s income, her 19-year-old daughter won’t be able to finish her civil engineering degree. “There’s nothing left for me,” Mimi says. “I’m working here with no [money] for myself, just for my family.” I’m working here with no [money] for myself, just for my family. Mimi Even if Mimi did decide to hand in her notice, she would risk deportation. Until 2012, an overseas domestic worker visa allowed Filipina women to quit their jobs and find a new employer within the UK without it affecting their immigration status. “But when [Prime Minister David] Cameron and the Conservatives were in power, they removed the rights of the domestic workers to change their employers,” says Phoebe Dimacali, who heads up the Filipino Domestic Workers Association UK, a volunteer organisation of more than 80 women from the Philippines in the UK. “Once they leave their employers they will automatically become undocumented.” In 2020, foreign domestic workers can legally change employers in the UK within the first six months of their arrival. After six months, the only way they can stay in the country is if he or she can prove they have been trafficked. “The reason why that is a problematic response is because we have lots of people that come to see us who have been exploited but haven’t been trafficked,” says Avril Sharp, legal policy and campaigns officer at Kalayaan, a London-based non-governmental organisation advocating for migrant domestic workers’ rights. “But they may well be trafficked later in the future, because their visa – if it hasn’t already – will expire, and then they will lose a lot of ... the basic fundamental rights that will keep them safe in the UK.” Many of the women who say they have been trafficked are not allowed to work and have to survive on the national asylum support allowance of £39.60 a week until their visa application is processed, which can take up to three years. Human rights campaigners, along with the Labour MP for Birmingham, Yardley Jess Phillips, are urgently calling for 2012’s overseas domestic worker visa to be reinstated during the pandemic, and to allow thousands of women the right to escape abusive working conditions. “They’re not being fed, they sleep on the floor, they’re not being given the right amount of wages that they need,” says Dimicali. “Nobody knows what is happening inside these big houses in Knightsbridge, inside these big houses in Kensington, in these very wealthy places in London.” A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are committed to protecting migrant domestic workers from exploitation and have already made a number of changes to better protect workers. This includes allowing workers to switch to a different employer and explaining how to raise concerns. We are also proud to provide world-leading support for victims of modern slavery so they can rebuild their lives, including by providing accommodation, financial support and counselling.” ••• After her employer stopped paying for her food in Bahrain in September, Rowena found part-time work cleaning houses in the neighbourhood, earning approximately 16BHD (£30) every week. Her visa has expired, and she’s worried that if she’s caught, she might be sent to jail. “It’s useless,” she said. “Because I’m alone here. This is not my country.” On 4 December, Rowena received 75BHD (£147) in financial support from the Philippine government, seven months after she first applied. The cheapest ticket from Manama to Manila costs more than twice as much as she received. Her boss has promised to pay for her flight home, but he hasn’t told her when. The Phillipine department of foreign affairs did not respond to repeated requests for comment. As rates of Covid-19 continue to climb across the world, neither she nor Mimi have told their children the reality of their lives abroad. When Rowena’s 24-year-old daughter and two-year-old grandson ask how she’s doing, she lies. “She’s asking me: ‘Mama, what date do you come back?’ I say: ‘Very soon …’ But I don’t know, because my boss never says: ‘OK, your ticket is ready now.’” Until he does, Rowena lies on her pile of blankets behind the desk and waits.