In this week's Faith in KC, 41 Action News anchor Taylor Hemness interviewed Rabbi Doug Alpert.
- Yahoo News 360
Recent history shows the opportunity to pass major bills can disappear quickly. What should Democrats’ top priority be?
- The Week
Trump's team fired the White House chief usher right before Biden took office, maybe at Biden's request
When President Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrived at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, there was no chief usher to greet them. He had been fired at about 11:30 a.m., half an hour before Biden was sworn in as president, The New York Times reports. Former first lady Melania Trump had hired the chief usher, Timothy Harleth, from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in 2017, after the previous chief usher, Angella Reid, was dismissed a few months into Donald Trump's term.The White House chief usher is in charge of the first family's residence, overseeing everything from personnel issues to budgets. It is typically an apolitical job, and ushers typically stay through several administrations. Reid, hired in 2011, was only the ninth chief usher since 1885, though she was the first woman hired for the job. The Bidens had communicated to the White House counsel that they intended to bring in their own chief usher, a person familiar with the process told the Times. A Biden White House official told CNN that Harleth "was let go before the Bidens arrived," though CNN reports it was the Bidens who gave him the ax.Harleth was already in hot water with Trump's team, though. He "had found himself in an untenable position" since the election, "trying to begin preparations for a new resident in the White House, even as its occupant refused to concede that he would be leaving the premises," the Times reports. And Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was "unhappy" with Harleth "for trying to send briefing books about the residence to the Biden transition team in November." Harleth "had worked with Jill Biden's staff for weeks to organize the move of household belongings," The Washington Post adds.The absence of a chief usher was one manifestation of the chaotic transition period, but it doesn't entirely explain the curious breach in protocol where nobody opened the doors for the BIdens when they arrived at the White House, the Times notes. The doors, which awkwardly stood closed for about 10 long seconds as the Bidens watched, are typically opened by Marine guards.Once the Bidens passed through the doors into the newly sanitized White House, things got better, the Post reports. "Awaiting Biden in a room adjacent to the Oval Office were two trays stacked with chocolate chip cookies, each one in plastic wrap with a gold presidential seal."More stories from theweek.com Biden removes Trump's Diet Coke button from the Oval Office 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency
- The Week
The evenly split Senate is having a hard time agreeing who's in charge.Georgia's two new Democratic senators were sworn in Wednesday, giving Republicans and Democrats 50 senators each, with Vice President Kamala Harris as a Democratic tiebreaker. The two parties are now working out a power-sharing agreement, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) commitment to the filibuster is standing in the way.McConnell on Thursday formally acknowledged Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as the chamber's new majority leader. But as he has been for days, McConnell again implored Democrats to preserve the filibuster that lets a senator extend debate and block a timely vote on a bill if there aren't 60 votes to stop it. Democrats "have no plans to gut the filibuster further, but argue it would be a mistake to take one of their tools off the table just as they're about to govern," Politico reports; More progressive senators do want to remove the option completely.If his filibuster demands aren't met, McConnell has threatened to block the Senate power-sharing agreement that would put Democrats in charge of the body's committees. But Democrats already seem confident in their newfound power, with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) telling Politico that "Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and he should be treated like majority leader." Giving in to McConnell "would be exactly the wrong way to begin," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) echoed.Other Democrats shared their resistance to McConnell's demands in tweets. > McConnell is threatening to filibuster the Organizing Resolution which allows Democrats to assume the committee Chair positions. It's an absolutely unprecedented, wacky, counterproductive request. We won the Senate. We get the gavels.> > -- Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 21, 2021> So after Mitch McConnell changed the Senate rules at a blistering pace during his 6 years in charge, he is threatening to filibuster the Senate's organizing resolution unless the Democratic majority agrees to never change the rules again.> > Huh.> > -- Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 21, 2021More stories from theweek.com Biden removes Trump's Diet Coke button from the Oval Office 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency
- Associated Press
Capt. Scott Moss, who led the NOSC in Knoxville, was relieved of command by Capt. Dale Maxey.
- The Telegraph
- Associated Press
A prominent Chicago family law attorney who was charged last summer with sexually assaulting a colleague has been charged with doing the same thing to two other women, including a client who says he told her that if he didn't have sex with him, she'd lose custody of her children. Prosecutors outlined the new charges against David Pasulka, 61, during a court hearing on Wednesday that ended with Judge Susana Ortiz setting his new bail amount at $100,000 on charges of sexual assault, aggravated sex assault and criminal sexual abuse. Pasulka, who was already out on bond in the initial case, was released from custody after posting the new amount, according to the Cook County Jail.
The estimated COVID-19 reproduction number in Israel has dipped below 1 for the first time since the country launched the world's fastest vaccination drive, suggesting the pandemic may be starting to recede, the government said on Thursday. An "R" number above 1 indicates infections will grow at an exponential rate, while below 1 points to their eventual halt. Israel's "R" number hit 1.3 on Dec. 11.
- National Review
- The Week
One of former President Donald Trump's last acts in office was issuing a directive extending free Secret Service protection to his four adult children and two of their spouses for the next six months, three people with knowledge of the matter told The Washington Post.It's not just his adult children benefiting — Trump also directed that former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and former National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien continue to receive Secret Service protection for six months, two people familiar with the matter told the Post. This 24-hour security, funded by taxpayer money, is expected to cost millions.Under federal law, only Trump, former first lady Melania Trump, and their 14-year-old son, Barron, are entitled to Secret Service protection now that they have left the White House; while Donald and Melania can receive protection for the rest of their lives, Barron is only entitled to it up until his 16th birthday.The Post notes that presidents have the ability to order Secret Service protection for anyone they want, but it is extremely unusual for an outgoing president to order this type of security for their children who are well into adulthood. It is also unclear if there is precedent for ordering security for former aides. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush requested security extensions for their daughters, who were in college when their presidencies ended. Once former President Barack Obama was out of office, his daughters — one in high school, the other on a gap year from college — received a short extension of security.During Trump's presidency, his adult children took more than 4,500 trips, including vacations and business travel for the Trump Organization, the Post reports. Taxpayers paid millions of dollars for Secret Service agents to accompany them on those jaunts.More stories from theweek.com Biden removes Trump's Diet Coke button from the Oval Office 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency
- Associated Press
Iran's capital and major cities plunged into darkness in recent weeks as rolling outages left millions without electricity for hours. With toxic smog blanketing Tehran skies and the country buckling under the pandemic and other mounting crises, social media has been rife with speculation. Within days, as frustration spread among residents, the government launched a wide-ranging crackdown on Bitcoin processing centers, which require immense amounts of electricity to power their specialized computers and to keep them cool — a burden on Iran's power grid.
- Yahoo News Video
Already facing allegations of stealing more than $600,000 in federal funds from a health care school she directed, a Tennessee state senator has been charged in a new fraud case, the U.S. attorney’s office in Memphis said Tuesday.
- Architectural Digest
- NBC News
A GoPro camera was found inside a bathroom and changing area at a Premier Athletics facility, which trains young cheerleaders, gymnasts and dancers in Franklin.
Returned Honduran migrants are directing anger against their president this week after their U.S.-bound caravan was blocked by the region's security forces, accusing him of making their county unlivable while thwarting their escape to a better life. Honduras is reeling from two back-to-back hurricanes that devastated Central America in November, as well as an historic economic contraction on the back of coronavirus pandemic. President Juan Orlando Hernandez has also been under fire from U.S. prosecutors that have accused him of having ties to drug cartels, an allegation he has strongly denied.
- The Week
A Delaware News Journal reporter captured a powerful, private moment on Wednesday as Joe Biden gave his first address as president of the United States. "Poignant moment," the reporter, Patricia Talorico, captioned the photo, which swiftly went viral. "While Joe Biden gave his inauguration speech, a lone man in a uniform knelt at the Delaware grave of his son Beau."> Poignant moment: While Joe Biden gave his inauguration speech, a lone man in a uniform knelt at the Delaware grave of his son Beau. pic.twitter.com/QkCuJRHzTz> > — Patricia Talorico (@PattyTalorico) January 20, 2021As Talorico explained in a subsequent article, "Delaware is a tiny state." She described how back in 2002, when she was struggling with an assignment from her editor, Beau Biden approached her to ask if she was okay while she sat alone on a bench at an elementary school in Wilmington. "He wasn't in office at the time," she wrote. "He was just being kind. It wasn't a grand gesture, just a small one, but somehow, it made a difference that day. I never forgot that act of kindness."On Wednesday, Beau — who died of a brain tumor in 2015 at the age of 46 — was on Talorico's mind, and she decided to drive by his grave to say "a short prayer" when she saw "a lone man in a blue uniform kneeling at Beau's grave. No one else was around … In my car, I had the radio tuned to CNN. Joe Biden was being sworn in as president and was about to begin his address."As Talorico writes, "The journalist in me wanted to go back and find out [the man's] identity and ask why he was there. The person who once received a kind gesture from Beau when I needed it most knew it was a time to be respectful, and I drove away." Read her full story at Delaware News Journal.More stories from theweek.com Biden removes Trump's Diet Coke button from the Oval Office 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency
- National Review
Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) on Wednesday warned fellow Republicans that if they try to “erase Donald Trump from the party, you’re going to get erased.” “I hope people in our party understand the party itself,” he told Fox News hours after President Joe Biden was sworn-in. “Most Republicans like his policies. A lot of Republicans like his style,” Graham said. “A lot of people are disappointed with him personally at times but appreciate the outcomes he’s achieved for our country.” Asked if he thinks Trump will try to start another political party — according to the Wall Street Journal, the former president is toying with the idea of forming a “Patriot Party” — Graham said he hoped Trump does not, adding that he would like to see him “stay the leader of the Republican Party.” He defended Trump’s presidency as “a good four years for judges, for rebuilding the military, for bringing order to the border, for historic peace agreements in the Mideast.” He also commended the former president’s appointment of three Supreme Court justices. “I hope President Trump understands that his legacy and his best future lies with the Republican Party,” he said. He added that removing Trump from the party “would be a disaster … The one way Democrats can survive is for the Republican Party to crack up. The best way for the Republican Party to crack up is try to move forward without Donald Trump.” A number of Republicans have disavowed Trump in recent weeks after a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, leaving five people dead. A handful of House Republicans joined Democrats in voting to impeach the president for “incitement of insurrection.”
Chinese Actress Faces Backlash After Allegedly Hiring 2 Women to Have Her Babies Then Abandoning Them
Chinese actress Zheng Shuang is facing massive backlash after being accused by her former partner, producer Zhang Heng, of abandoning their two children born to U.S.-based surrogate mothers. An international scandal: In a 2019 audio recording that emerged on Monday, Heng said Shuang decided to abandon the children before they were even born following the end of their relationship, South China Morning Post reports. Shuang’s father purportedly made the suggestion to abandon the children at the hospital.
President Biden will continue his executive action blitz on Friday, issuing two more orders in an attempt to provide immediate relief to struggling families without waiting for Congress.Why it matters: In his second full day in office, Biden is again resorting to executive actions as he tries to increase payments for nutritional assistance and protect workers' rights during the pandemic. Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * "These actions are not a substitute for comprehensive legislative relief or reform that is in the American rescue plan," said Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council. "But they will provide a critical lifeline to millions of American families." The big picture: Last week, Biden asked Congress to consider a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package to address the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus. * In addition to $140 billion in public health investments, Biden called for Americans to receive $1,400-per-person direct payments. * But the package's overall price tag will likely be winnowed down in Congress, where Biden will need to muster 60 votes in the Senate to pass a bill quickly. Details: Friday's first executive order is billed as a "whole of government" approach, but primarily focuses on the Departments of Agriculture, Treasury and Veterans Affairs to consider administrative changes to how they calculate payments under various federal programs. * One goal is to have the Department of Agriculture readjust the formula for families whose children are missing meals due to school closures — and increase their benefit by approximately 15%, which could mean another $100-per-month for families with three children. * Biden is also asking the Department of Veterans Affairs to consider pausing federal collections on overpayments and debts, potentially helping some 2 million veterans. The second executive order is designed to protect workers and increase wages and also revokes three Trump executive orders. * It will ask the Labor Department to "consider clarifying" whether workers who refuse employment or fear it will endanger their health, will still be eligible for unemployment insurance. * The order also directs the department to lay the groundwork to require federal contractors to pay a $15 minimum wage and emergency paid leave to workers.The bottom line: The operative word in these executive actions is "consider." Biden is putting his own departments on notice that he expects them to interpret regulations broadly to help families in this unprecedented crisis. * But Biden will need congressional action to get the trillions of dollars his economists say is required. Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- The Week
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is genuinely undecided on how he will vote in former President Donald Trump's second Senate impeachment trial, his close allies say, but a faction of Senate Republicans are warning him if he votes to convict, the backlash will be swift and severe, CNN reports. "If he does, I don't know if he can stay as leader," one senior GOP senator told CNN, portraying that as a sentiment shared by several of his colleagues. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he could not support McConnell if he voted against Trump.McConnell has publicly shifted against Trump since a pro-Trump mob ransacked Congress on Jan. 6. "The mob was fed lies," McConnell said Tuesday. "They were provoked by the president and other powerful people." McConnell is part of "a small but notable faction of high-profile Republicans are taking a stronger stance against Trump or distancing themselves from him," The Associated Press notes, but "Trump is expected to remain politically active, including trying to exact revenge by backing primary challenges against Republicans he believed scorned him in his final days," especially the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him."In the House, a group of Trump loyalists are seeking to strip Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney of her GOP leadership post for supporting impeachment," CNN reports, "a predicament some Republican senators privately believe could hound McConnell if he seeks to end Trump's political career."The logistics and timing of Trump's impeachment trial are up in the air, though multiple Capitol Hill sources tell Politico's Playbook team it could end up being as short as three days, barring Trump calling witnesses. In the end, CNN reports, "Republicans who know McConnell well believe he will take the temperature of the Senate GOP conference and ultimately make a decision based in part on the views of his colleagues and the mood of the country when it comes time to cast the key vote."More stories from theweek.com Biden removes Trump's Diet Coke button from the Oval Office 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency