By Scott DiSavino and Jarrett Renshaw NEW YORK (Reuters) - A severe winter storm in the U.S. Northeast brought plunging temperatures on Friday, driving regional natural gas prices to all-time highs, disrupting refinery operations and causing electrical outages. From Baltimore to Caribou, Maine, efforts were under way to clear roadways from Thursday's snowfall. Temperatures were expected to be 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit below the average for this time of year and could set records, according to the National Weather Service. Power outages fell to 123,000 from the 235,000 knocked out by the storm over the past couple of days and were largely concentrated in Canada, with 85,100 in Nova Scotia, 16,600 in New Brunswick and 5,100 in Quebec. Refiners in the Philadelphia region were battling severe cold that has slowed crude deliveries and forced the largest plant on the U.S. Coast to significantly cut production. Natural gas prices in the U.S. Northeast were at an all-time record on the back of heating demand. Benchmark U.S. heating oil futures were near their highest in almost three years. Estimated U.S. natural gas demand soared on Monday, surpassing the previous single-day record set in 2014, according to estimates from Reuters. The increase came on the back of the low temperatures, higher consumption in the electric power and industrial sectors, and greater export demand. U.S. demand for natural gas, which is the major heating fuel in the Northeast and is also widely used by power plants, was expected to remain near record highs this week. Next-day gas prices in New York City jumped to a record $140.25 per million British thermal units, according to data from brokerage firm SNL going back to 1992. The prior high was $120.75 set during the polar vortex in January 2014. Spot gas in New England soared to a record $82.75 per mmBtu, according to data going back to 1995. The prior high was $77.60, also in January 2014. In 2017, next-day gas prices averaged $3.08 per mmBtu in New York and $3.80 in New England. The only nuclear plant in Massachusetts remained shut on Friday after halting operations on Thursday afternoon due to the failure of a line that connects the reactor to the power grid. Entergy Corp , which operates the Pilgrim Station, said it had not identified the cause of the line problem. ISO New England, which operates the region's power grid, attributed the shutdown to blizzard conditions. The New England grid operator said it expected the region to have sufficient generating resources to meet the peak demand of 20,450 megawatts and reserve requirements of 2,128 MW on Friday but would only have a surplus of about 500 MW if it must use all of its reserves. Pilgrim's capacity is about 688 MW. The average U.S. home heating oil price rose 5.4 percent to $3.078 a gallon in the seven days through Jan. 1 from a week earlier, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. On the East Coast, the price increased 5.4 percent to $3.085. Prices for the 2017-18 period are well above the 2016-17 levels, the data showed. Next-day power prices in New England and PJM , which covers much of the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Midwest region, rose to their highest since January 2014 due to a spike for local natural gas. There are concerns that a significant disruption could lead to a heating oil shortage as distillate inventories in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions are at their lowest levels for this time of year since 2015. Supply worries have spurred tankers carrying diesel and heating oil to set out from Europe for the United States, reversing a traditional trade route. Icebreakers have been used in ports of Boston, New York and Philadelphia to keep shipping lanes clear, but delays are expected, and the Coast Guard said late on Wednesday that those ships would remain at shore until the storm had passed. Reliance on heating oil is highest in the Northeast, with about 21 percent of households using it for space heating. Most northern U.S. refiners are not reporting significant problems, but the extreme cold still poses threats. Philadelphia Energy Solutions has cut rates by 40 percent at its 335,000 bpd refinery complex in Philadelphia due to a winter storm slowing crude deliveries, a source familiar with the plant's operations told Reuters on Friday. It's the largest refinery on the U.S. East Coast. The company also postponed planned work at its 335,000 barrel-per-day refinery complex in Philadelphia until after the storm. Ridgebury Pioneer, which was carrying 1.9 million barrels of heavy crude into PBF Energy's East Coast refineries, has been delayed by the storm, according to Reuters Eikon shipping data and two sources familiar with the delivery. VLCCs, or Very Large Crude Carriers, are uncommon in the Philadelphia region. Monroe Energy was forced to shut its plant in September when a hurricane slowed deliveries. (Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar, Jarrett Renshaw, Jessica Resnick-Ault and Scott DiSavino; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn AND sUSAN tHOMAS)
- Yahoo News
Despite mounting pressure, President Biden hasn't yet offered any specific legislative proposal to forgive student loans.
- The Independent
Jill Biden spent her first week as First Lady reshaping the role. Melania Trump spent hers isolated in a tower
New first lady signals she will be an active and constant presence in the White House - drawing stark contrasts to her predecessor
- The Telegraph
A doctor with terminal cancer killed a female pediatrician and then himself after taking hostages at a children's clinic in Austin, Texas. Dr Bharat Narumanchi held hostages in a five-hour siege before killing Dr Katherine Lindley Dodson. Narumanchi had applied for a volunteer position at the clinic a week ago and was declined. He later came back carrying a pistol, a shotgun and two duffel bags. Police spokesman Jeff Greenwalt said Narumanchi had recently been given "weeks to live" after a cancer diagnosis. He said: "The case as far as who did this is closed. We know who did it. And we know that there's no longer a threat to the public. But we really, really want to answer the question of why." Dr Lindley Dodson, 43, was beloved by patients and their families. Karen Vladeck, whose two children were among her patients, told the Austin American-Statesman: "You saw her at your worst when your kid was sick, and she just always had a smile on her face. "She made you feel like you were the only parent there, even though there was a line of kids waiting." During the siege a SWAT team used a megaphone to communicate with the armed doctor. A hostage negotiator shouted: "Your life is very important to me. And I know life is very important to you. "You don't deserve to go through this. For all you have done for others. That is why I want to help you work through this. You have saved a lot of lives." Police first sent in a robot and then officers went into the medical office where they found two bodies. They did not comment on how the two doctors died. A police spokesman said: "The SWAT situation has ended. Two subjects have been located and were pronounced deceased."
- Associated Press
One day after the deadly insurrection in Washington, a Pennsylvania school district announced it was suspending a teacher who, the district asserted, “was involved in the electoral college protest that took place at the United States Capitol Building.” Three weeks later, Jason Moorehead is fighting to restore his reputation and resume teaching after he says the Allentown School District falsely accused him of being at the Capitol during the siege. The district says Moorehead’s social media posts about the events of Jan. 6, and not just his presence in Washington that day, are a focus of its probe.
- 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.
- The Week
Career officials at the State Department "don't expect huge improvements" under the Biden administration, a U.S. diplomat told Politico. So far, people who stuck it out for four years under the Trump administration feel like they're being snubbed in favor of political appointees as higher-level positions get filled. On the one hand, Politico reports, the fact that not a single career official was named in the first wave of top appointments that require Senate confirmation is seen as "a slight to the hardworking rank-and-file officials," especially after they felt they were not treated well under the previous administration. "The diplomatic corps has been battered and bruised," the diplomat told Politico. "Why not come explain your thinking? I'm prepared for disappointment and under-delivering from this team." But the criticism may not all be personal. Brett Bruen, a consultant who previously served on the Obama National Security Council, suggested that passing over holdovers from the Trump years could hinder policy decisions. "None of the people who were there for the last four years, who understand how the world has changed, will be in the room when the big decisions were being made," he told Politico. A spokesperson for Secretary of State Antony Blinken tried to ease the concerns, telling Politico "career experts will always be at the center of our diplomacy." Read more at Politico. More stories from theweek.comMitch McConnell is the GOATWho is the Cinderella in the GameStop fairy tale?GameStop makes the case for financial regulation
President Obama's former speechwriter says he's "preemptively frustrated" with President Biden's effort to find unity with Republicans.What they're saying: Cody Keenan told Axios that Biden's messaging team has "struck all the right chords," but at some point "they're gonna have to answer questions like, 'Why didn't you achieve unity?' when there's an entire political party that's already acting to stop it."Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.Keenan spent 14 years writing for Obama, including working alongside Biden for eight of those years. He acknowledged being embittered by his own experience, especially after Sen. Mitch McConnell pledged to make his former boss a one-term president. * "Until the Republican Party steps up and tells their own voters what's really happening with the truth, it's going to be elusive," Keenan said. "It's not up to (President Biden) alone to deliver. He can't."Keenan helped Obama with the first volume of his memoir, "A Promised Land." He stopped working with the former president on New Year's Eve and has taken a full-time role at Fenway Strategies. The firm is run by another ex-Obama speechwriter — Jon Favreau — and presidential aide, Tommy Vietor. * "It just seemed like a natural spot after the book and the elections and, you know, [Obama] is not going to do a ton, especially with Biden in office," Keenan said.Keenan is also writing a book, titled "Grace," about the 10 days from the 2015 shooting at a historic Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, to the eulogy Obama delivered for Rev. Clementa Pinckney. * Obama ended by singing "Amazing Grace." * The title also nods to Keenan's newborn daughter, named Grace.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys extremist group, has a past as an informer for federal and local law enforcement, repeatedly working undercover for investigators after he was arrested in 2012, according to a former prosecutor and a transcript of a 2014 federal court proceeding obtained by Reuters. In the Miami hearing, a federal prosecutor, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and Tarrio’s own lawyer described his undercover work and said he had helped authorities prosecute more than a dozen people in various cases involving drugs, gambling and human smuggling. Tarrio, in an interview with Reuters Tuesday, denied working undercover or cooperating in cases against others.
- The Telegraph
Germany and Russia create 'green' foundation that skirts US sanctions to finish Nord Stream pipeline
A German state has been accused of using a 'green' foundation backed with Russian money to bypass US sanctions against the completion of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the northeasternmost state in Germany, set up the Climate and Environmental Protection MV foundation earlier this month claiming its goal was to “further environmental projects in the Baltic Sea region.” One such project, the state confirmed, would be assisting in the completion of the North Stream 2 gas pipeline, construction of which has been complicated by US sanctions. But it appears that finishing the gas line is likely to be the foundation’s primary aim. The Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom gets to choose its chairperson, while funding it with an initial €20 million. State governor Manuela Schwesig, of the Social Democrats, justified the foundation's involvement in the gas project, saying "we have always taken the view that the Baltic Sea pipeline is part of climate protection." Speaking to state broadcaster ARD on Sunday, Ms Schwesig said the foundation would “neither build nor operate the pipeline,” but conceded that part of its function would be “providing assistance where US sanctions threaten German companies.” The US Senate imposed penalties on companies involved in the project at the end of 2019, fearing that the pipeline, which delivers gas directly from the Russian port of Vyborg, would give Moscow too much control over European energy supplies. The sanctions led Swiss company Allseas to pull out with just 150 kilometers of piping left to lay. With Russian ships now preparing to lay the last stretch of piping, the foundation is likely to take over logistics work on German soil. This task was previously conducted by a small German harbour which US senators threatened last summer with “crushing legal and economic sanctions.” A legal assessment obtained by the environmental organisation German Environmental Help concluded that the foundation would get around US sanctions, as these do not target state organisations. But it also concluded that, if the foundation’s primary aim was financial, it would be an abuse of German charity law. Politicians have also voiced concerns about Russian influence. "Ninety nine percent of the text of the statutes is about climate and environmental protection, but 99 percent of the money comes directly from Nord Stream 2 AG, which is owned by Gazprom," said Alexander Graf Lambsdorff of the opposition Free Democrats in a local radio interview. US President Joe Biden indicated on Tuesday that he would not change the policy of his predecessor of pressuring Berlin to halt construction. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Mr Biden "continues to believe that Nord Stream 2 is a bad deal for Europe." Mr Biden held his first phone call with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday, but read-outs of the conversation published by both sides suggest that Nord Stream 2 did not come up. Mr Biden also spoke to Russian President Vladmitir Putin this week, but Nord Stream 2 was also not mentioned in the read-out of the conversation. Ms Merkel has vowed to complete the project, hinting that she would only be prepared to talk if the US also put its energy imports from Russia “on the table.” But the recent incarceration of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, coupled with a desire to reset relations with Washington after four tricky years, have increased pressure in Germany for her to change her course. The European parliament also voted last week in favour of a resolution which demands an immediate stop to the construction as a consequence of Mr Navalny’s arrest.
- 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, 2021 McConnell 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, 2021 Schumer 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, 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
- The Independent
Biden’s new sign language interpreter runs a right-wing Facebook group and has been pictured in a MAGA hat
One video featuring Heather Mewshaw is titled ‘Joe Biden is literally and legally not the President elect’
The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official told me. Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.Driving the news: A senior State Department official told me the department is “temporarily pausing the implementation of some pending U.S. defense transfers and sales to allow incoming leadership an opportunity to review it”. * The official claimed that was a “routine administrative action typical to most any transition,” intended to ensure U.S. arms sales “meet our strategic objectives." * The suspension of the arms deals was first reported by Bloomberg News.The big picture: The F-35 deal came in the context of the U.S.-brokered normalization agreement between the UAE and Israel. * Israel had been the only country in the region to possess the F-35, but dropped its objections to the sale after protracted discussions with the Trump administration. * Secretary of State Tony Blinken said in his confirmation hearing that the Biden administration supported Israel's recent normalization deals, but would review some of the commitments the Trump administration had made to achieve them. * Blinken also committed to ending U.S. support for the war in Yemen. The Biden administration is concerned the munitions included in that deal will be used there.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
A man in Portland, Oregon has been charged with bias crimes after allegedly kicking and racially attacking an Asian American woman last week. The incident, which left the victim with “some trouble walking,” occurred on a TriMet bus in the area of Southeast 52nd Avenue and Foster Road at 5:45 p.m. on Jan. 22. Eschright also allegedly used racial slurs during the encounter, mentioning the coronavirus in regards to the victim’s race and skin color.
- Associated Press
The Virginia Senate on Wednesday approved a measure rebuking one of its most far-right members for a “pattern of unacceptable conduct," including an allegation that she voiced support for those who participated in storming the U.S. Capitol. On a vote of 24-9, three Republicans joined the chamber's Democrats in advancing a resolution censuring Amanda Chase, a senator from suburban Richmond who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor. The vote followed a long debate that featured scathing rebukes from Chase's colleagues on both sides of the political aisle.
- NBC News
"The member in question had been advised numerous times about the requirements and had refused to be tested," the House speaker said.
Explainer: Why Trump's post-presidency perks, like a pension and office, are safe for the rest of his life
The impeachment proceeding against Donald Trump on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has fueled speculation online that he could lose some of the benefits extended to former presidents. But according to legal experts, under the laws currently in effect, Trump will retain perks including a pension, office space and security detail even in the unlikely event that he is convicted by the Senate in its impeachment trial. Trump can thank a relatively obscure law, the Former Presidents Act.
- Architectural Digest
Let’s get loudOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- The Telegraph
The leader of the Proud Boys extremist group has been unmasked as a "prolific" former FBI informant. Enrique Tarrio, 36, worked undercover exposing a human trafficking ring, and helped with drug and gambling cases, according to court documents. Tarrio's documented involvement with law enforcement related to the period 2012 -2014. There was no evidence of him cooperating after that. But the revelation raised further questions over why police did not take further steps to secure the US Capitol ahead of the riots on Jan 6. At least half a dozen members of the Proud Boys were arrested over involvement in the riots. Tarrio denied ever being an informer, telling Reuters: "I don’t know any of this. I don’t recall any of this."
- The Week
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will have his work cut out for him as he tries to maneuver through the 50-50 upper chamber. To pass most legislation, he'll need to work with Republicans to get things done, but that won't be easy, especially after he rigorously campaigned against a few of them in recent election cycles, CNN reports. Take, for example, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who ultimately won a hard fought re-election campaign last year against Democratic challenger Sara Gideon. Despite the victory, Collins appears to have taken Schumer's efforts to unseat her personally. "What this campaign taught me about Chuck Schumer is that he will say or do anything in order to win," she told CNN. "It was a deceitful, despicable campaign that he ran." Collins is generally considered one of the more bipartisan voices in the Senate and has crossed the aisle not infrequently throughout her tenure, but those words don't make her sound like someone who's excited to help hand Schumer easy wins. Read more at CNN. Susan Collins doesn't sound like she's keen on cutting lots of deals https://t.co/YHgj2ydgN6 — Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) January 26, 2021 The only way governing with the filibuster can ever work is if Republicans are willing to engage in good faith negotiations. Even SUSAN COLLINS is explicitly stating she’s a partisan who has no interest in working with Democrats. — Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) January 26, 2021 More stories from theweek.comMitch McConnell is the GOATWho is the Cinderella in the GameStop fairy tale?GameStop makes the case for financial regulation
- The Independent
Biden tells Fox News reporter he talked to Putin about ‘You’ when asked about his call with Russian president
Leaders reportedly discussed Ukraine tensions, a massive cyberattack and Russia’s poisoned opposition leader