As the U.S. celebrates Thanksgiving during a pandemic, we hear from Americans who say they still have many reasons to be thankful.
- 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.
- Yahoo News
Early data on the rollout of the vaccines for COVID-19 shows that minority populations in the United States already disproportionately affected by the pandemic are not being immunized at the same rate as white Americans.
The president's views on some hot-button social issues have led to clashes with US Catholic hierarchy.
- 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.
China said on Wednesday it was seeking details about 25 of its nationals who were among 61 crew on two supertankers seized by Indonesia on suspicion of illegally transferring oil. Indonesia said on Sunday it had seized the vessels after they were detected making the transfer from Iranian-flagged MT Horse to Panamanian-flagged MT Freya, causing an oil spill. The Indonesian authorities said the seizure was not related to U.S. sanctions, which Washington imposed in a bid to shut off Iran's oil exports in a dispute over Tehran's nuclear programme.
- The Telegraph
Donald Trump may be out of office, but his legacy is likely to throw a spanner in the works for the Biden revolution. The Democrats control the White House, the House of Representatives and, with the aid of Kamala Harris’s casting vote, the Senate. But it took less than a week for a Trump-appointed judge to slam the brakes on a Biden immigration initiative. US District Judge Drew Tipton issued a restraining order preventing the new administration from enforcing a 100-day moratorium on deportations. His ruling was a foretaste of what is to come over the next few years. Immigration, of course, is one of the biggest areas of contention between the parties. While Donald Trump was in power, the Democrats repeatedly – and often successfully - went to court to block immigration restrictions. Think back to the ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. It was repeatedly knocked back by the courts. It had to be rewritten time and time again before finally getting approved by the Supreme Court. It is hardly surprising that the Republicans will use the courts to delay – and if possible block - the Biden administration where it can.
- Associated Press
A group of U.N experts has criticized Sri Lanka's requirement that those who die of COVID-19 be cremated, even it goes against a family's religious beliefs, and warned that decisions based on “discrimination and aggressive nationalism” could incite hatred and violence. The experts, who are part of the Special Procedures of the U.N Human Rights Council, said in a statement Monday that rule amounts to a human rights violation. “We deplore the implementation of such public health decisions based on discrimination, aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism amounting to persecution of Muslims and other minorities in the country,” the experts said.
- The Week
Steven Brandenburg, the Wisconsin pharmacist accused of intentionally sabotaging hundreds of doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, will plead guilty to two counts of "attempting to tamper with consumer products with reckless disregard for the risk that another person would be placed in danger of death and bodily injury," the Justice Department announced Tuesday. Each count carries up to 10 years in prison. After his arrest, police called Brandenburg, 46, an "admitted conspiracy theorist," and his federal plea agreement bolsters that label. Brandenburg had told his coworkers about his beliefs in "conspiracy theories" and "alternative history" for at least two years, his plea deal says, and he had let it be known he was a skeptic of the Moderna vaccine specifically, and vaccines in general. On the nights of Dec. 24 and 25, he left two batches of the vaccine out of refrigeration for several hours, and the spoiled vaccine was then injected into the arms of 57 people, the Justice Department said. The sabotaged vaccines are not believed to be dangerous, but researchers are checking to see if the lack of refrigeration sapped their efficacy. 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'Democrats are preparing for a party-line COVID-19 bill, hoping for bipartisan buy-in
- The Telegraph
Joe Biden challenged Vladimir Putin over the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, and reports of Russian bounties on the heads of US soldiers in Afghanistan, in their first presidential phone call. Mr Biden also raised concerns about Russian "aggression" against Ukraine, and reaffirmed Washington's "strong support for Ukraine's sovereignty." The US president said he was willing to extend the New START nuclear arms control treaty for five years. Kremlin officials said documents had been exchanged to extend the pact. Mr Biden also raised concerns over Russian cyber hacking, interference in US elections, and treatment of peaceful protesters. Mr Biden made clear he would "act firmly in defence of our national interest in response to malign actions by Russia," the White House said. The Kremlin said Mr Putin told Mr Biden that he supports "normalisation" of relations between their two countries. Mr Putin "noted that the normalisation of relations between Russia and the United States" would benefit "the entire international community," the Kremlin said.
- The Conversation
Rioters storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, seeking to intimidate politicians into overturning the presidential election. AP Photo/John MinchilloAs the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump approaches, federal officials are investigating threats to attack or kill members of Congress. This comes in the wake of the Capitol riot, when a mob stormed the building where members of the House and Senate were preparing to certify the presidential election. Some rioters reportedly threatened the lives of elected officials in both parties. When the House took up impeachment proceedings, Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives reportedly felt afraid to vote to impeach Trump – even fearing for their lives. A video also captured a group accosting Republican Lindsey Graham, a U.S. senator from South Carolina, screaming that he was a “traitor” after he declared that Joe Biden had been lawfully elected president. These threats do not simply reflect increased levels of anger and depravity among individual Americans. Rather, they appear to be evidence of a more systemic use of fear and intimidation in U.S. politics, seeking to force fealty from Republicans and reinforce the authoritarian turn that defined Donald Trump’s leadership. Engagement in public life in the U.S. has always carried risk, with public officials of both parties, journalists and even movie stars often the target of death threats and intimidation. With the advent of social media and the Trump presidency, however, the risks for public officials have grown substantially. As a professor of human rights and a practitioner of democracy-building and the rule of law, this trend symbolizes the depth of deterioration of democracy in the U.S. Political violence Before the insurrection, experts tracked current trends as part of a broader cycle of political violence in the U.S. that one analysis said “has occurred approximately every fifty years for the past two centuries.” Even with a transfer of power, the question remains whether America will finally break this cycle or whether Trump has just planted the seeds for the next time. Over the past few years, scholars and experts have warned that the U.S. is at risk of widespread political violence and democratic instability. They identify four interconnected factors that make a society vulnerable to violence that aims to affect political systems and decision-making: “Elite factionalization,” in which political parties engage in winner-take-all competition to promote their own interests at almost any cost. A high level of societal polarization. Weakening democratic institutions, such as electoral processes and law enforcement, due in part to the erosion of public trust and bipartisan support. A rise in hate speech and militant rhetoric. All of these are happening in the U.S. in significant measure. Before the November 2020 election, a group of scholars called attention to the fact that a large number of Americans said they would accept violence to advance their parties’ political goals. By the end of 2020, experts were raising the alarm that the country was spinning toward political violence. Supporters of President Donald Trump marched in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin Radicalization of the right Trump’s claims of massive election fraud, intimidation of opponents and his own party members, attacks on free media and support for right-wing groups generated an extremist Make America Great Again movement. Observing a toxic mix of the president’s fabrications, the right-wing media ecosystem, conspiracy theories and increased isolation and insecurity due to COVID-19, former national security officials in late 2020 noted signs of “mass radicalization” in the U.S. This sequence of events fits with research showing how hate and radicalization progress toward extreme beliefs and behaviors, including participation in collective violence. Humans identify in groups and prioritize their own group. If there’s a threat of or competition between groups, some leaders will encourage followers to hate and dehumanize the other group – usually by painting their own group as a victim – and even to engage in violence or intimidation as self-defense. Group members who act in response, in turn, feel they’re contributing to their group’s survival. Trump altered the norms of acceptable rhetoric and behavior within the Republican Party. He increased the tolerance for intimidation, hate and bullying, and demonized the Democratic Party and social justice movements, like Black Lives Matter, as unpatriotic dangers to America. Before the 2020 election, evidence showed that the Republican Party had fewer democratic traits than almost all governing parties in the world’s democracies and “its rhetoric was closer to authoritarian parties, such as AKP in Turkey and Fidesz in Hungary.” These parties seek to build power by undermining democratic institutions, such as fair elections, independent judiciaries and media, and by using threatening rhetoric and being disrespectful of opponents. Trump also legitimized preexisting extremist groups that use violence and intimidation. The mob that stormed the Capitol consisted of a range of groups and individuals with diverse ideologies – including the ultra-nationalist Proud Boys, white supremacists, anti-government and pro-gun militias such as the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, QAnon conspiracy followers, and common Trump supporters and Republican officials. They all came together as elements of Trump’s “Stop the Steal” effort to overturn the election of the actual winner, Joe Biden. The unifying narrative for them was the false idea that American democracy is under attack by Democrats and traitors, and that violence could be justified as part of patriotic self-defense. What happens to moderation? The Republican Party – with a few notable exceptions – embraced Donald Trump’s post-election rhetoric and the massive lie about election fraud. This is as a result of Trump’s control throughout the party, from its general members up through party leadership and affiliated media outlets – who felt obligated to support Trump no matter what he said or did. Even though many Republicans have denounced the use of violence on Jan. 6, most officials continue to validate their voters’ concerns about election integrity, which are rooted in the “Stop the Steal” effort. Republican Party members defend their actions by claiming they are legitimate efforts to protect democracy. As extremism rises, moderates who are willing to challenge the group’s direction are the first to be intimidated or silenced. Party leaders who have now called out the “Stop the Steal” lie and voted for impeachment are facing repercussions. Republican congressional leaders Kevin McCarthy, left, and Mitch McConnell, center, with then-President Donald Trump. AP Photo/Evan Vucci A legacy Though Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has repudiated the “Stop the Steal” lie, early indications are that the Republican Party overall remains entrenched in the defense of Trump and partisan rhetoric at any cost. Nearly 9 out of 10 Republicans approved of Trump’s job performance even after the Capitol attack. The climate in government continues to be fearful. Death threats against public officials of both parties are part of the justification for and opposition by Republicans to weapons checks required before entering the House floor. Research shows that political violence can reinforce a group’s existence, solidify members’ interconnections and beget more violence. Even if Trump remains out of power and off Twitter, the events leading up and including Jan. 6 may reinforce his supporters’ feelings of affiliation to a highly distorted narrative of patriotism within the Republican Party, and could deepen polarization and elite factionalism. This adds to the difficulty of reversing the party’s autocratic turn. [Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.] The aim of authoritarian parties is control or cooptation of law enforcement and the military, which are often seen as the last line of defense of democracy. This is why the potential that significant levels of sympathy, affiliation or even complicity with the MAGA movement exists within American police and the armed forces is so disturbing. As a new president takes office, the resilience of U.S. democracy is on display. President Biden has already declared his intention to combat domestic extremism and radicalization. Even though Democrats are now in power, what happens next with the Republican Party, and its financial backers and supporters, will remake or break America’s democracy.This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Shelley Inglis, University of Dayton. Read more:Capitol mob wasn’t just angry men – there were angry women as wellUS Capitol protesters, egged on by Trump, are part of a long history of white supremacists hearing politicians’ words as encouragement Shelley Inglis does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
- Associated Press
A Texas man accused of taking part in the attack on the U.S. Capitol earlier this month while wearing a shirt with a message that stood for “murder the media” was arrested Tuesday, the FBI said. Nicholas DeCarlo, 30, was charged with obstructing an official proceeding, entering a restricted building and parading or demonstrating on Capitol grounds, according to a criminal complaint. Investigators say DeCarlo, of Burleson, Texas, was seen in photos smoking a cigarette inside the Capitol on Jan. 6.
- 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
Myanmar's army warned on Tuesday it would "take action" if an election dispute was not settled and declined to rule out staging a coup if its demands were not met, just days out from the convening of a new parliament. Military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun told a new conference there may have been fraud in the November contest, which was won in a landslide by Aung San Suu Kyi's National league for Democracy (NLD) party. "We will take action according to the constitution and existing laws if they don't resolve the issue," he said of the election commission, declining to give further details.
- 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.
- Associated Press
Iran has sentenced the brother of the country’s senior vice president to two years in prison on corruption charges, the website of the Iranian judiciary reported Tuesday. According to the judiciary's spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaili, the verdict for Mahdi Jahangiri, the brother of Eshaq Jahangiri, is final and cannot be appealed.
- The Independent
Biden news: 200m more Covid vaccine doses on order as only 5 GOP senators back Trump impeachment trial
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- Architectural Digest
Let’s get loudOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
China said on Tuesday it will conduct military exercises in the South China Sea this week, just days after Beijing bristled at a U.S. aircraft carrier group's entry into the disputed waters. A notice issued by the country's Maritime Safety Administration prohibited entry into a portion of waters in the Gulf of Tonkin to the west of the Leizhou peninsula in southwestern China from Jan. 27 to Jan. 30, but it did not offer details on when the drills would take place or at what scale. A U.S. carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt entered the South China Sea on Saturday to promote "freedom of the seas," the U.S. military said, days after Joe Biden began his term as president.
- Associated Press
Leaders of a protest movement sought Wednesday to distance themselves from a day of violence when thousands of farmers stormed India's historic Red Fort, the most dramatic moment in two months of demonstrations that have grown into a major challenge of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. Farmers demanding the repeal of new agricultural laws briefly took over of the 17th-century fort, and images broadcast live on television shocked the nation. In a particularly bold rebuke to Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government, the protesters hoisted a Sikh religious flag.
- The Telegraph
AstraZeneca vaccines meant for and paid for by the EU could have ended up in Britain, diplomatic sources in Brussels claimed today. The suspicion is that the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company supplied the UK from the EU vaccine stock because Britain paid a higher price for the dose and approved it sooner. On Monday, Brussels threatened to block EU vaccine exports to non-EU countries, after AstraZeneca revealed that it would not be able to fulfil its contractual obligations as originally hoped. Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said on Tuesday that the EU would press on with the export mechanism that would force companies to ask for permission before vaccines could leave the bloc. In a speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mrs von der Leyen said, “Europe invested billions to help develop the world's first Covid-19 vaccines to create a truly global common good. Europe is determined to contribute to this global common good but it also means business.” She added: “And now, the companies must deliver. They must honour their obligations and this is why we will set up a vaccine export to transparency mechanism.” A European Commission spokesman said: "How worried are we about the state of vaccinations? Well, we are worried that is for sure. We are dealing with a very important pandemic and vaccination is very important." The UK is dependent on the Pfizer vaccine, which is produced in Belgium, and is expecting almost 3.5million doses to be delivered in the next three weeks. That supply could be jeopardised if the EU decided to block the exports after the AstraZeneca controversy.