By Mary Wisniewski WASHINGTON, Illinois (Reuters) - When a powerful tornado bore down on the small city of Washington, Illinois, on Sunday, Ryan Bowers took his wife's advice and sheltered in the basement with their 2-1/2-month-old daughter and their pet dogs. Winds of up to 200 miles per hour leveled their home, along with a large swath of the city of 15,000 people east of Peoria, but the Bowers survived, as did many of their neighbors. The twister, part of a fast-moving storm that hammered much of the Midwest, killed eight people in Illinois and Michigan, but many survived thanks to quick reactions like Bowers's and because their homes had basements to flee to. "I have to believe that 90 percent of those people who survived were probably in their basement, taking cover, or at church," said Washington Mayor Gary Manier, who noted that he was among the many town residents who took refuge in church basements when they heard tornado warning sirens. "We thank God that our community listened and took heed," Manier said, standing in a destroyed section of Washington where bits of American flags and insulation from destroyed houses clung to trees that had been stripped of most of their branches and remaining leaves by the storm. Bowers, 33, said that he normally disregarded tornado warnings but headed to his basement after seeing the debris cloud barreling toward his house. "I ran back inside, ran in the basement, not 15 seconds later our basement windows were sucked in and everything was twirling about," said Bowers. "Everything was white and all I could hear was snapping ... Things were dropping on top of me and splitting in two." He and his wife Andrea, 32, briefly returned on Monday to retrieve a family Bible and a pink baby rattle that was their daughter Sydney's favorite toy. UP TO 500 HOMES DAMAGED As they were sorting through the wreckage, a police officer approached and told them to leave. Authorities had closed the destroyed area, where buildings were reduced to rubble and cars were turned upside down, out of concern that people could be injured while attempting to retrieve possessions. Jonathan Monken, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), said officials would allow people to return to the affected area after they confirmed it was safe. "The sooner we can get residents in the better," Monken said. "We want to be able to get that debris cleared so we can start that process of rebuilding as soon as possible." Manier estimated that 250 to 500 homes had been damaged by the tornado, rated as the second-most powerful magnitude of twister, which hit the city east of Peoria with winds of 166 to 200 miles per hour (267-322 kilometers per hour). The storm killed three people in Massac County, two in Washington County and one in the city of Washington, in Tazewell County, said Patti Thompson of the IMEA. Illinois State Police spokesman Dustin Pierce said about 120 people were injured in Washington. An 80-year-old man and his 78-year-old sister were killed in Washington County, about 200 miles south of Peoria, County Coroner Mark Styninger said. The three were killed in Massac County on the Kentucky border when a tornado devastated several neighborhoods, emergency officials said. Rescue workers in central Michigan found the body of a 59-year-old man entangled in downed power lines on Sunday night. The man went outside to investigate a noise, according to Shiawassee County Sheriff's Department Lieutenant David Kirk. A 21-year-old man was killed on Sunday night when a tree fell on his car in the central Michigan town of Leslie, said Jackson County Sheriff Steven Rand. It was unclear whether the man struck the tree while driving or if high winds in the area toppled the tree, Rand said. The storm also damaged homes and building in Indiana and Kentucky, though no fatalities were reported in those states. The unusual late-season storms moved dangerously fast, tracking east at 60 miles per hour, with the bulk of the damage spanning about five hours, Thompson said. BASEMENT SAFE HAVENS Survivors said they rode out the storm in their basements, which are common in homes in the affected area, a fact that may have helped hold down the death toll, officials said. In May, a monster, top-category tornado killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma, a part of the United States where basements are less common. Nancy Rampy, 62, said she fled to her basement when she heard the storm sirens blaring on Sunday. "I heard what sounded like 12 trains just roaring down the tracks, and it just wouldn't stop. It just kept coming and coming," Rampy said. "I ran to the basement, sat in the basement with my flashlight in the dark and just prayed, 'Let it be over soon.'" Rampy's house was spared. "The good news is the tornado warning system worked, so there wasn't a lot of loss of life," said U.S. Representative Aaron Schock, a Republican whose district includes Washington, Illinois. "These people knew what was coming, and they were smart and took cover." (This story has been corrected to change infant's age in paragraph 1) (Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee, Carey Gillam in Kansas City and Scott DiSavino in New York; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Maureen Bavdek, Jim Marshall and Bob Burgdorfer)
- Yahoo News
Fresh off his inauguration Wednesday, President Biden began his term with executive orders on measures ranging from curbing the coronavirus pandemic to addressing racial inequality, many of which roll back measures enacted by former President Donald Trump’s administration.
- Yahoo News
Republicans built up QAnon backer Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, but now are they afraid of what they created?
On the eve of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the combative Georgia Republican known for her association with QAnon, was back on Twitter after a 12-hour suspension, and back to making waves.
- CBS News
Vice presidents since Vice President Walter Mondale have been living in the residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.
- The Telegraph
Donald Trump spent his first night as a private citizen settling into his new home at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where he has reportedly already begun preparing for his upcoming impeachment hearing. Mr Trump’s final engagement in Washington DC as president was attending his farewell at Joint Base Andrews in DC, which was attended only by some 250 of his most loyal aides and supporters. Notably absent were close White House aides and his own vice president Mike Pence. The former president then left for Florida as President Joe Biden was being sworn in, where he received a much warmer welcome. Supporters lined Mr Trump’s route to Mar-a-Lago, waving “Trump 2020” flags and signs reading “welcome home!”, while others screamed “I love you” as his motorcade drove past. Some still refused to accept the results of the election.
Capt. Scott Moss, who led the NOSC in Knoxville, was relieved of command by Capt. Dale Maxey.
President Biden warned dozens of staffers and appointees Wednesday to treat everyone with respect, or else “I will fire you on the spot.” What he's saying: Everyone, regardless of their background, is "entitled to be treated with decency and dignity. That’s been missing in a big way the last four years," Biden said at the virtual swearing-in ceremony for incoming administrators. "I expect you to do that for all the folks you deal with."Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * "I’m not joking when I say this: If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot," he added. "On the spot. No ifs or buts." * He also emphasized that as government officials, they work for the people.The big picture: Biden's comments reinforce his vision of unity and equity for the U.S. as expressed in his inauguration address earlier in the day — starting with his very own administration. What to watch: Biden signed an order on Wednesday launching a "whole-of-government" initiative designed to root out systemic racism and prioritize equity across the federal government.Go deeper: Biden embarks on a consequential presidencyBe smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- The Week
President Trump has spent the last few days asking his friends, aides, and associates if they would like pardons — even those who are not facing any charges, a senior administration official told The Washington Post.In one case, the official said, Trump offered a pardon to a person who declined the chance at clemency, saying they weren't in any legal trouble and hadn't committed any crimes. "Trump's response was, 'Yeah, well, but you never know. They're going to come after us all. Maybe it's not a bad idea. Just let me know,'" the official recounted.Trump has taken a great interest in pardoning people, the Post reports, even calling families to personally let them know he granted a pardon. A person familiar with the matter told the Post that Trump was talked out of pardoning himself, family members, and controversial figures like Rudy Giuliani. An aide said there was also a brief discussion about possibly issuing pardons related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, but that idea went nowhere.While Trump has held a few ceremonial events in recent weeks, journalists have been kept away from the White House, largely because the president is "just not in a place where they would go well," one official told the Post. Trump is constantly flip-flopping, another administration official said, talking about his future but uncertain of where he will be. "He goes between, 'Well, I'm going to go to Florida and play golf, and life is honestly better,' and then in the next moment, it's like, 'But don't you think there's a chance to stay?'" the official said. Read more at The Washington Post.More stories from theweek.com Bernie Sanders steals the inauguration with his grumpy chic outfit Only a sprinkling of Trump supporters showed up at state capitols to protest Biden's inauguration QAnon believers are realizing their entire conspiracy was a hoax as Biden is sworn in
Russian forces have killed a Chechen separatist guerrilla commander believed to have been involved in a deadly bombing at Moscow's Domodedovo airport in 2011, authorities said on Wednesday. Aslan Byutukayev was one of six militants killed during a special operation in the village of Katyr-Yurt, about 1,500 km (930 miles) south of Moscow, Chechen regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov said. Byutukayev is supected of being behind a bombing that killed nearly 40 people in the arrivals hall of Domodedovo airport in 2011.
Marine F-35B Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and the Navy destroyer The Sullivans will deploy as part of the strike group.
- Yahoo News Video
Alejandro Mayorkas, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to head the Department of Homeland Security, said during his Senate confirmation hearing that he would execute Biden’s plan to stop building the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Mayorkas also said that CBP and ICE play “critical roles” in the federal government and that he wouldn’t abolish them.
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to sign 15 executive actions upon taking office Wednesday, immediately reversing key Trump administration policies. Why it matters: The 15 actions — aimed at issues like climate change and immigration — mark more drastic immediate steps compared with the two day-one actions from Biden's four predecessors combined, according to incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.What they're saying: The actions are the first of many, Psaki said in a news release, as Biden works "to address the four crises that he's laid out" — COVID-19, the economic crisis, racial injustice and climate change. * "In the coming days and weeks we will be announcing additional executive actions that confront these challenges and deliver on the President-elect's promises to the American people," Psaki said, "including revoking the ban on military service by transgender Americans, and reversing the Mexico City policy." Highlights * Moving to rejoin Paris Climate Agreement * Asking the Department of Education to extend student loan relief * An executive order to rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit * Rejoining the World Health Organization * Asking the CDC to "immediately" extend eviction restrictions * Reversing Trump's travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries * Temporarily halting oil and gas leasing in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge * An initiative on advancing racial equity in federal policymakingGo deeper: See the full listSupport safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
Tam Dinh Pham of the Houston police department was part of the deadly mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. A veteran Houston police officer is in trouble after attending the U.S. Capitol riots in Washington, D.C., then lying about it. Officer Tam Dinh Pham joined the deadly mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
- The Week
Melania Trump was reportedly "emotionally checked out" long before boarding Air Force One to leave D.C. on Wednesday, going as far as to outsource writing her "thank you" notes to the White House residence staff, The New York Times and CNN report.Traditionally, the first family of the United States will write short cards to their household staff, thanking them for taking care of them over the past four to eight years. The cards tend to be intimate and "much of the correspondence includes personal anecdotes and the letters become 'cherished keepsakes' for the residence staff," such as the butlers, cooks, and housekeepers, who do not tend to turn-over between administrations, CNN writes.Melania Trump, however, reportedly did not personally write the cards for the approximately 80 staff members charged with caring for her, her husband, and her teenage son, Barron, while they lived in the White House. Instead, she is said to have instructed a "lower-level East Wing staffer" to write the type-written notes "in her voice," and then signed her name."I think she was a reluctant first lady and she did it for her husband," society publicist R. Couri Hay, who knows Trump from New York, told The New York Times. He added that after she departs Washington, "I think that you will find that she will be even less visible, and less available."More stories from theweek.com Michael Flynn's brother was in a key Pentagon meeting during Jan. 6 Capitol siege, despite earlier denials Bernie Sanders steals the inauguration with his grumpy chic outfit Cheap, 'generic' drug reduces COVID-19 death risk by 75 percent, trials suggest
Beijing is touting a state programme that gives Taiwanese in China priority for COVID-19 vaccines, prompting concern within Taiwan's government which sees it as the latest Chinese tool to win over the island's population. China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, is making the free-of-charge offer at a time when the democratic island has yet to begin vaccinations of its own, with Chinese government departments and state media quoting Taiwanese in China in support of the programme. "This shows the mainland's warmth and affection towards us," a Taiwanese teacher surnamed Wang was quoted as saying in a post this month by China's United Front Work Department, which is in charge of co-opting overseas Chinese and non-communists.
- Architectural Digest
Mercedes-Benz’s Hyperscreen, General Motors’ Bright Drop, and Jeep’s Electric Wrangler were among the unveils that turned headsOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- NBC News
The boy was pulled into the water Monday, while the National Weather Service warned that waves could swell to 25 feet.
Former California Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham was convicted of taking bribes from defense contractors.
- The Week
And he's off -- to the crooning of Frank Sinatra and the escaped laughter of CNN anchors.President Trump departed with his family from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Wednesday, four years to the day after he took his oath of office. He got out of Dodge a few hours before President-elect Joe Biden's swearing-in ceremony and is headed to Florida to begin his post-White House life.As Trump's plane took off, Frank Sinatra's "My Way" blared, which was certainly on the nose. The whole scene amused CNN's coverage crew, who couldn't hold back a few chuckles. It's been a long four years, after all. > Just an incredible segue. pic.twitter.com/EJgQQv3qzi> > -- Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 20, 2021More stories from theweek.com Michael Flynn's brother was in a key Pentagon meeting during Jan. 6 Capitol siege, despite earlier denials Bernie Sanders steals the inauguration with his grumpy chic outfit Cheap, 'generic' drug reduces COVID-19 death risk by 75 percent, trials suggest
- The Telegraph
South Korean president under fire for saying adoptive parents should be able to 'change' their child
Children’s rights groups in South Korea have condemned comments by President Moon Jae-in suggesting that adoptive parents who do not get along with a child should be able to “change” it for another one. Mr Moon was responding to a question at a press conference on Monday about the government’s efforts to prevent child abuse in light of the death late last year of a 16-month-old girl, allegedly at the hands of her adoptive parents. The case has provoked outrage in South Korea, with the adopted mother of Jung-in charged with murder on January 13. The woman, identified only by her family name, Jang, was originally charged with fatal child abuse and neglect in December. Commenting on the case, Mr Moon said, “Even after adoption, the adoptive parents need to check if the adoption is working out for them. So there should be measures allowing them to cancel the adoption or, if they still want to adopt a child, then they should be able to change the child." The press conference, which was being broadcast live on national television, triggered an immediate response, with critics saying the president was suggesting that children were “goods” that could be returned for a refund. Groups representing adoptees and parents who have given homes to children staged a protest in front of the presidential Blue House the same day, demanding an apology from the president and changes to the system of adoptions in Korea. “Mr Moon’s comments are no different from those of adoption agencies, who treat adoption as a business," Jeon Young-soon, head of an association of parents, told The Korea Herald. Na Kyung-won, a member of the opposition People Power Party, also condemned the president’s comments, saying, “For adopted children, the horrific ordeal is being abandoned again by their adoptive parents. Mr Moon has made a serious error." A petition has also been started on the president’s website, stating, “Adoption is not like shopping for a child. When people have made up their minds to care for a child for his or her whole life, they adopt the child with love that is beyond comparison”. Government officials insist the president’s comments have been misunderstood and taken out of context. South Korea traditionally has low levels of domestic adoption, in part due to the importance of blood relations and the stigma attached to children born out of wedlock. Many Korean children find adoptive parents overseas.
Biden's transition team lawyers have reminded Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' niece, Meena, that she can't profit off her famous aunt's image, after she unveiled a collaboration between her company and Beats By Dre.Why it matters: Following Republican attacks, President-elect Joe Biden pledged that neither his family nor Harris' would profit from their service as president and vice president. Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America. * While Meena Harris did nothing illegal, it underscored the challenge of keeping relatives in line, and of adhering to the higher ethical standards that the incoming administration has pledged.The backdrop: The specially curated products come in a black box and include a black hoodie emblazoned with the word AMBITIOUS on the front; a Bluetooth speaker with the word PHENOMENAL across it; and the over-ear headphones. * Ambitious refers to the criticism some leveled against Harris — who was a first-term senator — as Biden weighed a variety of female candidates to be his running mate. * Phenomenal is a female-powered lifestyle brand of which Meena Harris is CEO.The spine connecting the two earpieces reads, "The First But Not The Last," an apparent reference to Kamala Harris' becoming the first female vice president. * While the products are not for sale, they were gifted to influencers and celebrities ahead of the inauguration.The team surrounding the incoming vice president was not made aware of the collaboration in advance, people familiar with the situation told Axios. The lawyers followed up and told Meena Harris that she — like anyone else — cannot profit off of Harris' image or likeness once she becomes vice president. * Meena Harris's team did not respond to a request for comment. * Meena is the daughter of Kamala Harris' sister, Maya.Between the lines: The optics of Meena Harris' business ventures are especially challenging after Democrats spent four years criticizing business deals involving President Trump and his children, and after Biden's public pledge to avoid any influence-peddling. * “My son, my family will not be involved in any business, any enterprise that is in conflict with or appears to be in conflict,” he said last year. * In December, lawyers for the presidential transition team started "drafting new rules for the Biden White House that are likely to be more restrictive than the rules that governed the Obama administration," per the Washington Post. The bottom line: Phenomenal has sold several other items inspired by Kamala Harris since Biden announced her as his running mate. * They include a sweatshirt with "MVP" on it, standing for "Madam Vice President," and another with the phrase "I'm speaking" on the front — a nod to a moment when Kamala Harris complained about being interrupted during a vice-presidential debate. * After Kamala Harris received the "too-ambitious" criticism, her niece created and sold a pink sweatshirt with "AMBITIOUS" written on the front. * “I look at her as another figure in history and someone to be celebrated,” she said of her aunt during an interview with the New York Times.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.