By Megan Twohey (Reuters) - A study by a major U.S. adoption research group calls for "targeted laws, policies and practices" to stop adoptive parents from giving their unwanted children to strangers through the Internet. The report, released by the Donaldson Adoption Institute this week, also says problems exposed by a Reuters investigation in September "should be seen as the tip of an iceberg of unmonitored, unregulated adoption-related activities taking place on the Internet." Reuters found that desperate parents turn to online groups to offer unwanted adopted children to others. The U.S. government is typically unaware of the arrangements or what becomes of those children. The practice, called "re-homing," illustrates what can happen when parents are ill-prepared for the needs of their adopted child and don't receive the necessary support, the report says. Through a survey of 1,500 adoptive parents and adoption professionals in the United States and abroad, researchers from the institute and Tufts University found that international adoption has shifted from mostly infants to a growing number of older children who have disabilities or other kinds of emotional, physical or behavioral problems. In many cases, parents said they were unaware of those problems at the time of the adoption. Fewer than 25 percent of parents surveyed planned to adopt a child with special needs, but 47 percent wound up doing so, the report says. Reuters found that many children offered to strangers were adopted from a foreign country and suffer from emotional or behavioral problems that their adoptive parents could not handle. The parents complained they did not receive proper training, could not get help from the U.S. government, and often knew little about the child's history before adopting. "Probably all the parents who have re-homed a child went into adoption planning to care for the child forever, to do the right thing, but they couldn't do it," said Adam Pertman, executive director of the adoption institute. "When systems are not in place to educate parents, when they're not prepared for problems, this is what happens. We don't have the systems and supports in place for adoptive families." Titled "A Changing World," the report calls for changes in adoption practices "to prevent the kind of distress that leads desperate parents to seek radical solutions like 're-homing.'" Among the report's recommendations: * Adoption agencies should increase the quantity and quality of training for adoptive parents. * Foreign countries should provide more information about their orphans. * The international adoption system - from government officials to adoptive families - should maintain better records on adopted children, including updates on what becomes of them once they are in the United States, as required by many countries. The report comes as U.S. lawmakers consider ways to protect children who are adopted overseas and brought to America. This week, members of Congress called for a hearing on re-homing that would "identify ways to prevent these dangerous practices." Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, sought reviews by the Obama administration to identify gaps in training and support for adoptive families, and a "minimum federal standard" to govern custody transfers of unwanted adopted children, among other steps. At the state level, Florida, Wisconsin and Illinois have held hearings on ways to address the practice. The Illinois attorney general is urging Facebook and Yahoo to police online groups where children may be advertised. The Donaldson Institute is part of a coalition of adoption and child welfare advocates pushing federal policymakers to establish funding for post-adoption services and address what it says are gaps in state assistance for adoptive families. (Reporting By Megan Twohey)
A boy who was killed in an alleged murder-suicide by his father has been identified as 9-year-old Pierce O’Loughlin. Family tragedy: The boy and his father, Stephen O'Loughlin, 49, were both found dead at their home on Scott Street, Marina District in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon, SF Chronicle reports. The boy’s mother, Lesley Hu, asked authorities to check on her son after learning that he did not show up for school that day.
- NBC News
She displayed "a round metallic object later identified as a Military Police Challenge Coin" and said she was part of law enforcement, police said.
- National Review
President Trump signed an executive order on Monday expanding access to personal firearms for federal law enforcement officials. The order is one of the last of Trump’s presidency, with Joe Biden set to be sworn into office on Wednesday. The purpose of the order is to remove “undue obstacles” for law enforcement officers and prosecutors to obtain concealed carry licenses, as well as to expand protections for prosecutors and judges. “It shall be the policy of the United States to remove any undue obstacle preventing current or retired Federal law enforcement officers from carrying a concealed firearm,” the order states. The order also directs the U.S. Attorney General to “propose a regulation…to provide that the special deputation as a Deputy United States Marshall shall be granted upon request to any Federal prosecutor” who faces risk of harm as a result of his or her work. The special deputation would grant a prosecutor the right to concealed carry of a firearm. It is unclear if the incoming Biden administration will work to carry out the order. Biden announced earlier this month that he will nominate Merrick Garland, the prosecutor who headed the investigation against Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, to the position of attorney general. Biden himself is preparing several executive orders for the first days of his presidency, in an attempt to reverse several Trump administration policies. Among other issues, Biden will rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and end Trump’s immigration restrictions on some Muslim-majority nations.
- Associated Press
The spokesman for Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert has quit less than two weeks after she was sworn into office, saying he was prompted to by the insurrection at the nation's Capitol. Ben Goldey confirmed his departure to The Colorado Sun after it was first reported on Saturday by Axios. The Sun reported that Goldey did not respond to additional questions, but he told Axios he was leaving in the wake of a deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
An independent panel said on Monday that Chinese officials could have applied public health measures more forcefully in January to curb the initial COVID-19 outbreak, and criticised the World Health Organization (WHO) for not declaring an international emergency until Jan. 30. The experts reviewing the global handling of the pandemic, led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, called for reforms to the Geneva-based United Nations agency.Their interim report was published hours after the WHO's top emergency expert, Mike Ryan, said that global deaths from COVID-19 were expected to top 100,000 per week "very soon". "What is clear to the Panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January," the report said, referring to the initial outbreak of the new disease in the central city of Wuhan, in Hubei province.
- The Telegraph
The Welsh government has come under fire for its "truly bewildering" policy of delaying the coronavirus vaccine rollout, with the British Medical Association (BMA) and Number 10 leading the criticism. On Monday, Mark Drakeford, the Welsh First Minister, defended the slower rollout of the vaccination programme in Wales, saying supplies of the Pfizer jab were being stretched out so that vaccinators were not standing idle. In the past week, his government has faced criticism for vaccinating fewer people in proportion to its population than the other home nations. Dr David Bailey, the chairman of the BMA in Wales, said: "For the First Minister to say that there is 'no point' in using all the supplies in a week to ensure vaccinators aren't standing around with nothing to do is truly bewildering." Dr Bailey called on the Welsh government "to stop sitting on supplies and get on with it". Asked about the slower rollout in Wales, Boris Johnson's press secretary, Allegra Stratton, said the Prime Minister "has always been clear that the British people want to see jabs in everybody's arms as quickly as is sensibly possible" and that he expected the devolved leaders to share that philosophy.
- The Independent
Care worker charged in Capitol riots investigated by FBI for trying to ‘steal Pelosi’s laptop and sell it to Russia’
Riley Williams intended the laptop to end up in the hands of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, former partner claims
- National Review
At the outset of the pandemic, the government undertook a deliberate effort to reduce economic activity in what was widely thought to be a necessary measure to slow the spread of COVID-19. Whereas most recessions call for policy that stimulates the economy, the COVID-19 recession called for the opposite — measures that would enable workers and businesses to hit pause until a vaccine or therapeutic became widely available. Now that vaccines are being administered, policymakers face a different challenge — not keeping Americans inside, but getting them back to work as quickly as possible. In this context, President-elect Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package misses the mark. The proposal gives a nod to public health — with $20 billion allocated to vaccine distribution, $50 billion to testing, and $40 billion to medical supplies and emergency-response teams — but fails to address the most pressing hurdles to COVID-19 immunity. Vaccines sit unused not for lack of funding but thanks to burdensome rules determining which patients can receive shots and which doctors can administer them. Additional spending to speed up vaccine distribution is welcome, but its effects will be muted if bureaucratic hurdles remain in place. Even if the public-health provisions were to succeed in reopening the economy, much of the rest of Biden’s plan guarantees that it will reopen weaker. For one, an expanded unemployment-insurance top-up of $400 a week would mean more than 40 percent of those receiving unemployment benefits would make more off-the-job than on-the-job at least until September, and possibly for longer. The food-service and retail industries hit hardest by the pandemic would see the largest shortfalls in labor, exacerbating the challenges they’ve faced over the past year. Enhanced unemployment may have been reasonable when we wanted workers to stay home, but it’s catastrophic when we want them to go back to work. Meanwhile, Biden’s proposed minimum-wage increase to $15 nationally would eliminate an estimated 1.3 million jobs, hitting low-income states hardest. In Mississippi, where the median wage is $15, as many as half the state’s workers would be at risk. A minimum-wage hike may be high on the Democratic wish list, but it does not belong in an emergency-relief bill. The Biden plan isn’t all Democratic priorities, though. He took a page from Trump’s book and proposed $1,400 checks to households, bringing the second-round total to $2,000. With household income now 8 percent above the pre-pandemic trend, additional checks would do little more than pad savings accounts. Indeed, 80 percent of the recipients of last year’s checks put the money into savings or debt payments, not consumption. The flagship item in Biden’s plan would do little to spur economic growth even on Keynesian assumptions. The same goes for state and local aid, for which Biden is seeking $370 billion on top of $170 billion in public-education grants. The total of $540 billion far surpasses the roughly $50 billion hit to state and local tax revenues last year. As we wrote in December, states and cities are slow to spend federal grants, so the lion’s share of this stimulus would not show up until 2023. Rather than attempting to stimulate the economy, Biden is hoping to launder bailouts of profligate Democratic states through COVID-19 relief. Other parts of the bill — expansions of the earned-income and child-tax credits — are defensible long-term structural reforms, but as year-long emergency measures, they will have the same muted effect as direct checks. By including a slew of proposals unrelated to the pandemic, Biden has weakened his hand in negotiations and made it less likely that urgent measures pass quickly. In the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic policymakers rose to the occasion. Following an unprecedented external shock, the U.S. economy has emerged in relatively good shape, with less unemployment and bankruptcy than most feared. But the policies implemented to curb COVID-19 are not suited for what will begin to become, over the course of this year, a post-pandemic economy. Biden may have campaigned during a recession, but he is taking office during a recovery. He should govern accordingly.
- Associated Press
South Korea’s president on Monday urged the incoming Biden administration to build upon the achievements and learn from the failures of President Donald Trump’s diplomatic engagement with North Korea. A dovish liberal and the son of northern war refugees, Moon Jae-in had lobbied hard to help set up Trump’s three summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but their diplomacy stalemated over disagreements over easing crippling U.S.-led sanctions for the North’s disarmament. Biden has accused Trump of chasing the spectacle of summits rather than meaningful curbs on the North’s nuclear capabilities.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday that a convoy of trucks carrying emergency oxygen supplies for Brazil's northern Amazonas state, where a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has hit hard, has departed and is set to arrive at the border by Monday morning. Reading from a message sent by Justo Noguera, governor of Venezuela's southern Bolivar state, Maduro said during a state television appearance that the six trucks would arrive at the Santa Elena de Uairen border crossing by morning, where they would be handed over to Brazilian health authorities. From there, the trucks - carrying some 136,000 liters of oxygen, enough to fill 14,000 individual canisters - would take 14 hours to arrive in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas, whose hospital system is collapsing due to the pandemic.
- The Telegraph
Anas Sarwar has confirmed his bid to succeed Richard Leonard as the next Scottish Labour leader. The Glasgow MSP used an article for the Observer online to set out his stall in the leadership race, which was triggered by Mr Leonard's resignation on Thursday. Late on Saturday night, he tweeted to say the country "needs political leadership that will bring people together" and that he wants "to rebuild Scottish Labour, and then rebuild Scotland". In his column, Mr Sarwar wrote: "Over the past few years, I have gained a new perspective on our politics and realised that the things we argue about mean little to people's lives. "We spend too much time highlighting our differences, rather than focusing on what unites us. "I firmly believe we cannot go back to society as it was before the pandemic - insecure work, hollowed-out public services, an underfunded health service, and the constant focus on another independence referendum when there's far more important things we need to be dealing with. "Scottish Labour can compete again if we offer a positive alternative - a plan to heal our wounds, to reunite our people and to rebuild our country." Read more: Alan Cochrane: With Leonard gone, Unionists have a chance to fight back against SNP
- The Independent
As many as 8,000 migrants and asylum seekers have entered Guatemala in hopes of reaching the US
- National Review
Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) on Sunday advised the president not to grant presidential pardons to the rioters who stormed the Capitol this month, warning that doing so would “destroy” Trump. “Mr. President, your policies will stand the test of time. You’re the most important figure in the Republican party. You can shape the direction of the party. Keep your movement alive,” Graham said on Fox News. “There are a lot of people urging the president to pardon folks who participated in defiling the Capitol, the rioters,” Graham continued. “I don’t care if you went there and spread flowers on the floor, you breached the security of the Capitol, you interrupted a joint session of Congress, you tried to intimidate us all, you should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and to seek a pardon of these people would be wrong. I think it would destroy President Trump and I hope we don’t go down that road.” On Wednesday, a large group of Trump supporters overpowered Capitol Police and forced their way into the halls of Congress. Pence and the assembled lawmakers evacuated the Senate floor, where a joint session of Congress was being held to certify the presidential election results. The violence followed a rally outside the White House earlier in the day where President Trump addressed the “Save America March” and repeated his claims that November’s election was rife with voter fraud that threatened to deprive him of his rightful second term. The violence on January 6 resulted in five dead, including a Capitol Police officer. Since then, dozens of criminal cases have been brought in connection with the riot. Graham defended Trump’s rhetoric at the rally, which received bipartisan condemnation and sparked a second impeachment against the president by House Democrats. “President Trump never said, ‘Go into the capitol and try to interrupt a joint session of Congress.’ That was the choice they made and they need to live with that choice,” Graham said. Graham added that there were “irregularities in mail-in voting,” but said “the election is over,” noting that the electoral votes have been certified.” “It is now time to move on,” the South Carolina Republican said. Graham also had a message for incoming president Joe Biden, calling on him to stand up against the second impeachment of Trump, which the Senate is expected to take up after he leaves office.
Twitter Inc, on Sunday, locked the account of Republican U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a political newcomer known for promoting the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory. The social media platform suspended her account after the newly elected Georgia congresswoman sparred with a state election official over baseless voter fraud allegations. Greene's account "has been temporarily locked out for multiple violations" of Twitter's 'civic integrity policy', a company representative said in an emailed statement.
- Associated Press
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has authorized the dispatch of oxygen to Brazil to help its South American neighbor treat people sickened amid another wave of the coronavirus, despite frosty relations between the two governments and Venezuela's own lack of hospital supplies. Maduro approved departure for a convoy of six tanker trucks loaded with oxygen in a national broadcast Sunday on state TV. It's destined for the city of Manaus in the northern state of Amazonas.
- National Review
A Russian judge ruled Monday that opposition leader Alexei Navalny must remain in retail detention for 30 days after he was detained on Sunday immediately upon his return to Moscow, where he traveled after recovering in Germany from a near-fatal poisoning attack. “The court arrested Navalny for 30 days. Until February 15,” the judge’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh wrote on Twitter. Navalny’s lawyers learned of the Monday morning hearing just minutes before it began at a police station, instead of a normal courtroom, in the outskirts of Moscow. The judge allotted the attorneys just 30 minutes to familiarize themselves with the case and another 20 minutes to speak to their client. Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said the ruling “cannot even be called a parody of the rule of law.” “They detained him at the border, took him to places unknown, his lawyer was not granted access, the hearing was carried out urgently right in the police station and he was detained for 30 days,” Yarmysh said. Navalny was already scheduled to appear at a January 29 hearing on charges that he had violated the parole terms of a previous suspended sentence by staying in Germany while undergoing treatment, the reason for which he was officially detained. He received the earlier suspended prison sentence and probation order in 2014 for embezzlement and money laundering, a case which the European Court of Human Rights in 2018 called politically motivated. He has called the criminal cases against him “fabricated” and said the authorities’ intent is to deter him from returning. After the court’s ruling, Navalny urged people to take to the streets in protest. “Don’t be afraid, take to the streets. Don’t go out for me, go out for yourself and your future,” Navalny said in a video posted to YouTube. Navalny nearly died over the summer after being poisoned by Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent. He had been on a flight to Moscow after meeting with supporters in Siberia when he fell ill. The Russian dissident blames Russian President Vladimir Putin for the poisoning, though the Kremlin has denied having any involvement. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday called for the opposition leader’s “immediate and unconditional release,” and said his detention was “the latest in a series of attempts to silence Navalny and other opposition figures.”
U.S. officials who have engaged in "nasty behaviour" over Chinese-claimed Taiwan will face sanctions, China's Foreign Ministry said on Monday, after Washington lifted curbs on exchanges between U.S. and Taiwanese officials. Sino-U.S. ties have worsened as China has already condemned this month's easing, announced by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the waning days of President Donald Trump's presidency. Further adding to China's anger, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, spoke last week to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, after a planned trip to Taipei was called off.
- Reuters Videos
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden may end the Keystone XL pipeline project as one of his first acts in office, a source familiar with his thinking told Reuters it could happen as early as day one. Biden, who will be inaugurated on Wednesday, was vice president when Barack Obama rejected the $9 billion project in 2015. Then two years later, Donald Trump issued a presidential permit that allowed the line to move forward. Since then the project has seen opposition by environmentalists seeking to check Canada's oil industry and Native Americans whose land faced encroachment. Construction of the pipeline is well underway and if completed, would move oil from Canada's Alberta province to the U.S. state of Nebraska. In his 2020 run for president, Biden vowed to scrap its permit once elected. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Saturday, the words 'rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit' appeared on his list of Biden's executive actions likely scheduled for his first day. Biden's team did not respond to a request for comment, but Canada's ambassador to the U.S. said she looks forward to a decision that fits both countries' environmental protection plans. In a statement, Ambassador Kirsten Hillman said: "There is no better partner for the U.S. on climate action than Canada as we work together for green transition." Meanwhile Alberta's Premier tweeted he was "deeply concerned" by the report, adding the decision would kill jobs, increase U.S. dependence on foreign oil, and weaken U.S.-Canada relations.
- Associated Press
Kamala Harris will make history on Wednesday when she becomes the nation’s first female vice president — and the first Black woman and the first woman of South Asian descent to hold that office. With the confluence of crises confronting Joe Biden's administration — and an evenly divided Senate in which she would deliver the tie-breaking vote — Harris is shaping up to be a central player in addressing everything from the coronavirus pandemic to criminal justice reform. Symone Sanders, Harris' chief spokeswoman, said that while the vice president-elect's portfolio hasn't been fully defined yet, she has a hand in all aspects of Biden's agenda.
- The Independent
Biden’s plan to get 100m Americans vaccinated in first 100 days is ‘doable,’ Dr Fauci says