By Valerie Volcovici WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The board of scientists that advises the Environmental Protection Agency, including members recently appointed by Administrator Scott Pruitt, voted unanimously on Thursday to review the agency's proposal to limit the kinds of scientific research it can use in crafting regulations, saying the policy requires more scrutiny from the scientific community. The Science Advisory Board (SAB) voted to back the recommendation of a smaller workgroup, which found that the agency should have sought the expert advice of the board before undertaking a policy that would significantly change how the agency uses scientific research. "Although the proposed rule cites several valuable publications that support enhanced transparency, the precise design of the rule appears to have been developed without a public process for soliciting input from the scientific community," said the group's memo, which the board backed unanimously. The panel also voted to review a number of other proposed EPA regulations, including the repeal of the Clean Power Plan and changes to vehicle emission standards, which could freeze requirements at 2020 levels through 2026. Under the EPA's April proposal to "end secret science," the agency will no longer be able to rely on scientific research that is underpinned by confidential public health and industry data. The measure was billed by Pruitt as a way to boost scientific transparency for the benefit of the industries the EPA regulates. But scientists and former EPA officials have worried it will hamstring the agency’s ability to protect public health by putting vital data off limits. Thomas Sinks, director of the EPA's Office of the Science Advisor, told the board that the agency has postponed the public comment period by a month to Aug. 16 and said the proposal has already received over 120,000 public comments. Environmental and science advocacy groups welcomed Thursday's action by the SAB. “The leadership of the board was chosen by Pruitt himself, so their decision today is a sharp rebuke of his leadership and this dangerous proposal,” said Ana Unruh Cohen, director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Last year, Pruitt issued a directive banning EPA-grant-funded scientists from serving on the agency's advisory board, which paved the way for 18 new members to join the board, several of whom represented industry groups or previously opposed EPA regulations. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Leslie Adler)
- 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.com Democrats are getting Chuck Grassleyed MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell permanently banned from Twitter Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing
President Joe Biden will continue his flurry of executive orders on Monday, signing a new directive to require the federal government to “buy American” for products and services. Why it matters: The executive action is yet another attempt by Biden to accomplish goals administratively without waiting for the backing of Congress. The new order echoes Biden's $400 billion campaign pledge to increase government purchases of American goods.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.What they're saying: "President Biden is ensuring that when the federal government spends taxpayer dollars they are spent on American made goods by American workers and with American-made component parts," the White House said in a fact sheet.The big picture: Biden’s action kick offs another week in which the president will seek to undo many Trump policies with executive actions, while signaling the direction that he wants to take the country. * Biden will also reaffirm his support for the Jones Act, which requires maritime shipments between American ports to be carried on U.S. vessels. * Last week, Biden signed an order to attempt to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors and workers to $15 an hour.The bottom line: Former President Trump also attempted to force the federal government to rely on U.S. manufacturers for procurement with "buy American" provisions. * But supply chains — with some parts and components made outside of the U.S. — require long and complicated efforts to boost domestic manufacturing. Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
The death toll from storm Eloise rose to at least 13 on Monday after heavy winds, rain and flooding destroyed buildings, drowned crops and displaced thousands in parts of southern Africa. Eloise weakened from a cyclone to a tropical storm after making landfall in central Mozambique on Saturday, but continued to dump rain on Zimbabwe, eSwatini - formerly known as Swaziland - South Africa and Botswana. Six people were killed in Mozambique, the country's National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction (INGD) reported, while the number of displaced people rose to more than 8,000, with thousands of homes wrecked or flooded.
- The Week
In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said his caucus won't allow Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to dictate the agenda in the Democratic-led 50-50 Senate or demand an end to the legislative filibuster as a precondition for a power-sharing pact. "We've told McConnell no on the organizing resolution, and that's that. So there's no negotiations on that," Schumer said, suggesting he had a secret plan. "There are ways to deal with him."Maddow included an update when she broadcast the interview Monday night. "While we were airing that right now, and you were watching it, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just put out a statement that he is folding on this" and willl "agree to go forward with what Sen. Schumer told him he must," she said. "Sen. Mitch McConnell has caved and Sen. Schumer has won that fight. That was quick. Let's see what else we can do."> No sooner has the portion of Rachel Maddow's interview with Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer aired than Mitch McConnell has put out a statement that he is folding, ending the stand-off. pic.twitter.com/9qR1jpKXkf> > -- Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021McConnell said he would allow the Senate to move forward because two Democrats had reiterated their opposition to ending the filibuster, effectively taking that option off the table. Maddow asked Schumer about that, too, and he didn't answer directly."The caucus is united with the belief that I have: We must get big, strong, bold things done," Schumer said. The Democratic caucus is also "totally united" that "we will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do," and "we have tools that we can use," notably the budget reconciliation process," he added. "We will come together as a caucus and figure it out."> "We will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do." Here's Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier in his interview with Rachel Maddow, talking about the filibuster specifically, and getting things done. pic.twitter.com/xOAKWfe2Fu> > -- Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021Schumer also suggested he is not interested in playing cat-and-mouse with McConnell's Republicans again. Watch below. > "We will not repeat that mistake." Senate Majority Leader Schumer cites Obama era lessons in prioritizing legislation over bad faith Republican 'bipartisanship.' pic.twitter.com/gpc1kBP45w> > -- Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021More stories from theweek.com Democrats are getting Chuck Grassleyed Biden did not, in fact, remove Trump's 'Diet Coke button' from the Resolute Desk, White House clarifies MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell permanently banned from Twitter
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden is set to issue an executive order to reverse a Pentagon policy that largely bars transgender individuals from joining the military, dumping a ban ordered by President Donald Trump in a tweet during his first year in office, a person briefed on the decision tells The Associated Press. Biden has been widely expected to overturn the Trump policy in his early days in office. The White House could announce the move as early as Monday, according to the person briefed on the decision who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the order.
- Los Angeles Times Opinion
Gov. Newsom needs to do a better job communicating California's statewide COVID restrictions with the public, and with other state officials.
- The Telegraph
Britain's Covid vaccine supply is in jeopardy after the EU threatened to block exports of the Belgian-made Pfizer jabs amid a row with UK-based AstraZeneca. Brussels decided to impose tighter controls on exports after reacting with fury to the news that AstraZeneca will deliver 50 million fewer doses to the EU than it had expected. Ministers now fear deliveries of the Pfizer jabs will – at best – be delayed by extra paperwork and that the EU could try to stop doses being sent to non-EU countries after saying it will "take any action required to protect its citizens". In March, the bloc imposed export restrictions on personal protective equipment after it struggled with supply to its member states. On Monday night, MPs accused the EU of acting out of "spite" and trying to deflect blame for its own mistakes in getting vaccination programmes off the ground.
An explosion was heard in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh on Tuesday and the cause was not immediately known. Several witnesses also reported hearing two loud bangs and seeing a small plume of smoke above the capital just before 1 P.M. local time (10 A.M. GMT). Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV cited local reports of an explosion and videos circulating on social media purporting to show a missile being intercepted over Riyadh.
- Associated Press
Five days into her new role, Jill Biden signaled Monday that she'll be a more active first lady, with a trio of virtual appearances before governors' spouses, young Latinos and library officials. Jill Biden's early moves seemed designed to signal that she intends to be more active than her predecessor, Melania Trump. Mrs. Trump often allowed weeks to pass between her public appearances.
- NBC News
Brittney Gilliam had taken her family for a "Sunday funday" when officers with guns drawn ordered her and the four underage girls with her to exit the car.
All Guard members who test positive are quarantined and won't return to their home states until they're fully recovered.
The Philippines has confirmed domestic transmission of the new, highly contagious British variant of the coronavirus, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to abandon a plan to allow some minors to go outside their homes. "Right now, we have local transmission where this individual or these cases with the variant have already infected their community, their family," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told news channel ANC on Tuesday. The world is scrambling to contain the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant, despite travel bans, new lockdowns and a tightening quarantine measures in dozens of countries, amid concerns it could not only be more transmissible, but deadlier.
- The Independent
First family orders sesame bagels with cream cheese
- Associated Press
Indonesian authorities have detained the Iranian and Chinese crewmembers of two tankers that were seized for illegally transferring oil in Indonesian waters, an official said Tuesday. “MT Freya did the oil spilling,” Pramandita said.
- Yahoo News Video
Israeli authorities on Monday extradited a former teacher accused of sexually abusing her former students in Australia, capping a six-year legal battle that had strained relations between the two governments and antagonized Australia's Jewish community.
A Chinese-born Canadian known as Asia’s “El Chapo” has been arrested in Amsterdam on Friday. Tse Chi Lop, 57, reportedly made up to $17.7 billion a year as the alleged leader of Asia’s biggest crime syndicate in history, referred to by its members as “The Company” and by law enforcers as "Sam Gor" Tse allegedly conducted Sam Gor’s operations in Hong Kong, Macau and Southeast Asia. It turns out Tse was responsible for 70% of the drugs that reach Australia.
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.
- NBC News
Because the incident happened in New York, the men may have legal recourse, but in nearly half the states, they would not.
- The Independent
Giuliani slams ‘hate-filled left-wing’ as he responds to $1.3bn defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems
Donald Trump’s personal lawyer claims legal action is intended to ‘frighten people of faint heart’
- The Telegraph
A Texan teenager who tipped off the FBI about his father's alleged involvement in the Capitol riots said he would "do it again", despite claiming his father threatened to shoot him for being a "traitor". Jackson Reffitt, 18, said he felt a moral obligation to report his father to the authorities after watching him participate in the violent riots on live TV. His father, Guy, 48, was arrested at his home in Wylie, Texas on January 16 and faces charges of obstruction of justice and knowingly entering a restricted building. According to court documents, Mr Reffitt had allegedly threatened his wife and children, saying: “If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors … traitors get shot”. The younger Mr Reffitt said he was "afraid" of what his father might think of him, but told local station Fox 4 that he had acted according to his "moral compass".