A coastal storm is expected to bring rain throughout the Tri-State and a possible mixing of snow in some areas north and west of the city.
- Yahoo News
The first time a Black woman served as the main voice of the presidency came in 1991, when Judy Smith stepped behind the podium as a deputy press secretary for President George H.W. Bush.
- NBC News
More uncertainty was added on Saturday after 11 Republican senators said they'd reject electors from certain states unless a commission is established to investigate the results.
- The Telegraph
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, who hasn’t been seen in public for several weeks after criticising China’s financial regulatory system, has now disappeared as a judge on a TV talent show that he created. Mr Ma was absent from the final of “The Apprentice”-style “Africa’s Business Heroes”, a show that offers budding African entrepreneurs the chance to compete for a share of US$1.5 million (£1.1 million) in prize money. Mr Ma was originally due to be part of the panel that judged contestants’ business ideas. But he was replaced as a judge by an executive from Alibaba, the ecommerce company that he founded, in the November final. His photograph has also been taken down from the judging webpage and he was left out of a promotional video, according to the Financial Times, which also reported that broadcast of the final has been delayed until the spring. The paper cited a spokesperson for Alibaba as saying that Mr Ma could no longer be part of the judging panel “due to a schedule conflict”. One of China’s most successful entrepreneurs, Mr Ma appears to have fallen foul of its leaders after he criticised the country’s regulators and its state-owned banks in late October. In a speech in Shanghai, he called for reform of the regulatory system, which he said was stifling innovation. About a week later, the Shanghai Stock Exchange ordered a US$37 billion initial public offering of Ant Group, a financial technology firm co-founded by Mr Ma, to be suspended. Mr Ma reportedly hasn’t been seen in public since then. In late December, Chinese authorities announced an investigation into Alibaba for suspected monopolistic behaviour, and ordered Ant Group to restructure its operations to meet regulatory guidelines. Chinese authorities are trying to tighten oversight of the country’s financial sector, but are also seen as wanting to rein in the huge influence of private tech giants. Mr Ma is a popular figure in China, and one of the country’s best-known businesspeople abroad. Formerly an English teacher, he founded Alibaba in 1999, which became China’s biggest online ecommerce company. He stepped down as the company’s chairman in 2019, but is still one of its largest shareholders.
- The Week
U.S. officials are reportedly privately worried Russia stole blueprints for U.S. blackout restoration
In public, American officials have said they do not believe Russia's SVR intelligence agency "pierced" classified systems and stole sensitive communications and plans during an alleged cyberattack on what may have been hundreds of networks in the United States, The New York Times reports. But privately, per the Times, those same officials reportedly say they still aren't sure exactly what was or was not taken.There are concerns that the SVR — which the U.S. intelligence agency and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are confident was behind the breach, despite President Trump suggesting China may have been involved instead of Moscow — was able to get its hands on delicate, albeit unclassified information from victims like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. For example, it's reportedly possible the hackers accessed Black Start, the detailed technical blueprints for how the U.S. would restore power if there was a major blackout. If that was indeed the case, Russia would theoretically have a list of systems it could target to keep power from turning back on.The Times report sheds more light on the cyberattack, which may not be fully understood for months or even years. Some of the revelations include the fact that the hack appears to have been much broader in scope than originally thought and that the hackers "managed their intrusion from servers inside" the U.S. by "exploiting legal prohibitions on the National Security Agency." Read more at The New York Times.More stories from theweek.com 5 inexcusably funny cartoons about Trump's disgraceful pardons America was always going to bungle the vaccine rollout 5 cartoons about the end of a very, very bad year
The pardons come amid a rift between President Félix Tshisekedi and his predecessor, Kabila's son.
- Associated Press
The top commander of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard said Friday that his country was fully prepared to respond to any U.S. military pressure as tensions between Tehran and Washington remain high in the waning days of President Donald Trump’s administration. Gen. Hossein Salami spoke at a ceremony at Tehran University commemorating the upcoming one-year anniversary of the U.S. drone strike in Baghdad that killed Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who headed the expeditionary Quds force, on Jan. 3, 2020. At the time, Iran retaliated by launching a ballistic missile strike on a military base in Iraq that caused brain concussion injuries to about 100 U.S. troops.
- The Guardian
Squatters reportedly belonging to one family claim site of 5,000 year-old ruins was given to them in the 1970sIllegal squatters have invaded the ruins of the oldest city in the Americas, and made death threats against Ruth Shady, the celebrated Peruvian archaeologist who discovered the 5,000 year-old civilization.The threats came via telephone calls and messages to various workers at the archeological site at the height of Peru’s Covid-19 pandemic. They followed reports to the police and prosecutors about the invasions of the ancient ruins of Caral.“They called the site’s lawyer and said if he continued to protect me they would kill him, along with me, and bury us five metres below the ground,” said Shady, 73.“Then they killed our dog as a warning. They poisoned her, as if to say, look at what will happen to you,” she said.It is not the first time Shady has been threatened or attacked. In 2003, she was shot in the chest during an assault on the 626-hectare (1,546-acre) archaeological complex which was declared a Unesco world heritage site in 2009.After nine invasions of the sacred city during the pandemic period, Shady and her team repeatedly asked the authorities to intervene.“There is a feeling that there is no authority dedicated to the protection and defence of our heritage. It’s a huge worry,” she said.Caral mapIn July, squatters using a heavy digger knocked down adobe walls and tore up the ground destroying ancient ceramics, tombs containing mummies, textiles and household remains, before police and the site’s staff were able to stop them.As a result of Shady’s pleas, a police car now patrols the archeological site day and night but nothing has been done to punish or evict the land invaders.The squatters are believed to belong to a single extended family, and claim the land was given to them in the 1970s during Peru’s controversial agrarian land reform which was pushed through by a leftist military dictatorship.Shady denies the claim: “They do not have a single land title. The owner of the land is the Peruvian state.”A planned eviction of one of the squatters was thwarted in December when a local prosecutor and official failed to give the order to proceed despite having the support of police officers, Shady said.Land prices in the area have risen from around $5,000 per hectare to as much as $50,000 per hectare, as outsiders rush to buy land around the prestigious archaeological site which is surrounded by a 56 sq mile buffer zone.Shady, who was named on the BBC’s 100 Women list this year, first visited Caral in 1978. But it was not until 1994 that she discovered the ancient city and began to properly excavate the site, which is situated on a dry desert terrace overlooking the Supe river valley nearly 200 km (124 miles) north of Lima.What she uncovered was the “oldest centre of civilization in the Americas” which Unesco describes as “exceptionally well-preserved” with a complex architectural design with “monumental stone and earthen platform mounts and sunken circular courts”. Organic material found at the site has been carbon-dated back to 2627 BCEShady and her team continue to investigate and excavate a dozen former settlements, half of the 24 situated in the Supe valley which form part of the Caral-Supe civilization. Their findings have revealed musical instruments such as flutes made of animal and bird bones and evidence of the cultivation of multi-coloured cotton used in textiles.“We can’t allow archeological sites to continue being invaded and destroyed because it is an unwritten history and we recover that history through our investigation,” said Shady. “If we can’t do that it is like burning a book which no one will ever read.”“I hope we can continue to investigate and continue to recover our history because it has such an interesting message,” she added. “It was a very, very peaceful society. We have not found even a single walled settlement.”“There is message there that we, human beings, should live in harmony between ourselves and nature,” Shady concluded. “We are living through this pandemic, in part, due to our mistreatment of nature.”
- The Week
India has approved the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca for emergency use, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters Saturday. Additionally, the government authorized the emergency use of a vaccine known as COVAXIN developed locally by Bharat Biotech and the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research.They're the first coronavirus vaccine candidates to get the green light in India, launching a massive immunization campaign in the world's second most populous nation, which has recorded the second largest number of COVID-19 infections after the United States.The Oxford-AstraZeneca shot has already been approved in the United Kingdom. While its clinical trials raised questions about its efficacy, especially compared to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, it's considered safe and is also cheaper and easier to distribute than other candidates.Little is known about the results of COVAXIN's clinical trials, Reuters reports.India has two more vaccines awaiting approval, including Russia's Sputnik V, and the country's health regulator has also received an emergency-use application for the Pfizer-BioNTech shot. Read more at Reuters.More stories from theweek.com 5 inexcusably funny cartoons about Trump's disgraceful pardons America was always going to bungle the vaccine rollout 5 cartoons about the end of a very, very bad year
- The Telegraph
Donald Trump was dealt a stinging rebuke by Republican senators last night as Congress overrode his veto of a sweeping defence bill. It was the first time in Mr Trump's four years as president that Congress had blocked his veto power. Many Republican senators joined Democrats in an 81-13 vote to override, well over the two thirds majority required. As a result the annual $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act to fund the military in 2021 will become law. Mr Trump had called the result, which was expected, a "disgraceful act of cowardice" and the Republican leadership in Congress "weak". The bill will provide a three per cent pay raise for US troops and included elements relating to defence policy, troop levels, weapons systems and military construction. Mr Trump had vetoed it, arguing it allowed for the renaming of military bases that honour Confederate generals, and that it limited his ability to bring troops home from Afghanistan and Germany. He also tried to link passage of the bill to measures targeting social media companies. Throughout Mr Trump's term Republican senators had been highly reluctant to break so publicly with him. He had vetoed eight previous bills and none were overridden. But with less than three weeks left in office Mr Trump's influence with Republican senators appeared to have receded markedly. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, said: "It's time for us to deliver this bill. It's our chance to remind brave service members and their families that we have their backs." It came as Republicans also faced a deepening split over Mr Trump's last ditch attempt to overturn the US presidential election result. Over 140 Republicans in the House of Representatives may be ready to back a move not to certify the outcome at a joint session of Congress on Jan 6, it emerged. But even with that level of support the attempt to block the result still had no chance of success. Mr McConnell privately urged colleagues to accept the election result, and called his own vote on Jan 6 the "most consequential I have ever cast". In an open letter Ben Sasse, the Republican senator from Nebraska, accused colleagues of "playing with fire". He said: "Let’s be clear what is happening here. We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage. But they’re wrong. "Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government." The move to oppose the election results was ignited by Josh Hawley, a Republican senator from Missouri. He will object, forcing a two-hour debate, followed by a vote in the Senate, and in the House of Representatives. The session in Congress will take place a day after two run-off races in Georgia, which will determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the Senate. David Perdue, one of two Republican candidates, announced he would spend the final days of the campaign in quarantine after possible exposure to the coronavirus. Meanwhile, it emerged that staffing changes were to be made to the Secret Service's presidential detail when Joe Biden takes office on Jan 20. Mr Biden's camp was said to have expressed concerns that current agents might be politically supportive of Mr Trump. Mr Trump cut short a trip to Florida and headed back to Washington on New Year's Eve. In a New Year video message he hailed "historic victories" on the economy and fighting the pandemic. He said: "We have to be remembered for what's been done." In the final weeks of his term the president was also facing an ongoing battle with Republicans in Congress, including Mr McConnell, after he called for an increase in stimulus cheques to Americans. He also faced growing friction with Iran.
Mexican authorities said they are studying the case of a 32-year-old female doctor who was hospitalized after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The doctor, whose name has not been released, was admitted to the intensive care unit of a public hospital in the northern state of Nuevo Leon after she experienced seizures, difficulty breathing and a skin rash. "The initial diagnosis is encephalomyelitis," the Health Ministry said in a statement released on Friday night.
- Associated Press
Seven children and two adult drivers were killed in head-on collision in Central California on New Year's Day, authorities said. The children, who were between 6 and 15 years old, were members of two related families traveling in a 2007 Ford that collided around 8 p.m. Friday with a Dodge vehicle on State Route 33 between Avenal and Coalinga, the Fresno County Coroner's office and the California Highway Patrol said. Evidence from the scene indicated that the Dodge being driven by a 28-year-old man was traveling southbound on the highway when it veered onto the dirt shoulder for an unknown reason, the CHP said.
- NBC News
Security employees at the store had taken the suspect to their office for allegedly stealing items.
- The Telegraph
Republicans have condemned a Democrat plan to eliminate gender-specific pronouns such as "he" and "she" from the rules of the US House of Representatives. Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat Speaker of the House, announced the proposal as a "bold and future-focused" move, and said it would make the lower chamber of Congress the "most inclusive in history" for transgender and nonbinary people. The move would do away with any gender-specific references, such as "man", "woman", "husband" or "wife" in the 45-page text of the rules that will govern the House during the 117th Congress, which convenes on Sunday. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House, wrote on Twitter: "This is stupid. Signed - A father, son, and brother". Kelly Loeffler, the Republican senator standing for re-election in Georgia on Tuesday, added: "The far-left’s priorities, everyone. If you’d like to still be able to call yourself a father, daughter, mother or son, vote for me on Tuesday. Sincerely, A Proud Daughter." Democrats said the aim was to "ensure we are inclusive of all members and their families - including those who are nonbinary." References to "father" and "mother" would be replaced by "parent", while "son' and "daughter" would become "child". Mentions of "brother" and "sister" would become "sibling". Aunts and uncles would be changed to "parent's sibling". Other changes would include altering "submit his or her resignation" to "resigns", "chairman" becoming "chair", and "seaman" being changed to "seafarer". The proposal was put forward by the Democrat-led House rules committee, which is sometimes known as the "traffic cop of the House", and backed by Ms Pelosi.
SEOUL (Reuters) -A South Korean health official said on Sunday that a third wave of the novel coronavirus is being contained, as it reported the lowest number of new infections in nearly four weeks with the help of tougher restrictions during the New Year holiday season. New cases for Saturday numbered 657, much lower than 824 the day before, but bringing the country's total cases to 63,244 with 962 deaths, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). "The latest third wave of coronavirus spread is being contained as a result of expanded COVID-19 testing (recently) and strengthened distancing measures," Sohn Young-rae, a senior health official, told a briefing.
- Associated Press
Pakistan's security forces arrested Saturday an alleged leader of the militant group that was behind the bloody 2008 Mumbai attacks in India. An official with the Pakistani counterterrorism police, Shakil Ahmed, said that Zaikur Rehman Lakhvi was seized in the eastern city of Lahore, on terrorism financing charges. Lakhvi is alleged to be a leader of the Lashker-e-Taiba group that organized the Mumbai attacks in 2008 that killed 166 people.
- Reuters Videos
Japan is considering issuing a new emergency declaration to tackle the country’s record surge in COVID-19 cases. The head of Japan’s pandemic response on Saturday said the government needs to consult with health experts before deciding on another declaration. As an interim measure, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nakamura said restaurants and karaoke parlors in the Tokyo area would be asked to close at 8 PM, businesses serving alcohol - 7 PM. All this in response to a meeting he held earlier Saturday with the governors of Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures. The governors urged a new state of emergency declaration. Tokyo raised its COVID-19 alert level to its highest notch on December 17. On Thursday, new infections in the capital rose to a record 1,337 cases, and the country set a record with more than 4500 new cases. But Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has so far resisted calls to reinstate a national state of emergency.
A court has ruled that Lisa Montgomery can be executed on 12 January, despite appeals from lawyers.
- The Telegraph
Republicans faced a deepening split last night over whether to back Donald Trump's last ditch attempt to overturn the US presidential election result. It emerged over 140 Republicans in the House of Representatives may be ready to back a move not to certify the outcome at a joint session of Congress on Jan 6. Senior Republicans tried to rein in colleagues arguing that their bid to publicly show loyalty to Mr Trump was "playing with fire" and would only further undermine public faith in the electoral system. The president cut short a trip to Florida and headed back to Washington on New Year's Eve. But even with that level of support the attempt to block the result still had no chance of success in Congress. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, privately urged colleagues to accept it. Mr McConnell called his own vote on Jan 6 the "most consequential I have ever cast" - more important than on war or impeachment.
- Associated Press
A Connecticut aquarium has agreed to delay its acquisition of five beluga whales for research amid a lawsuit by an animal rights group trying to stop the delivery. Mystic Aquarium will not import the whales before March 31 to allow time for a judge to decide the lawsuit and avoid an effort by Friends of Animals to obtain a preliminary injunction to stop the delivery, according to documents filed in federal court in Hartford on Dec. 23. Friends of Animals, based in Darien, Connecticut, filed the lawsuit in September, saying the five belugas would be harmed by the trip from their current home in Canada and by being torn from long-term relationships with others of their species.
- NBC News
Los Angeles County prosecutors file lawsuit against new district attorney over justice reform efforts
"The directives violate California law," the union representing deputy district attorneys said about an order to abandon many sentencing enhancements.