The federal government now says not to hold back second doses of vaccine and to give everything that is on hand.
- NBC News
- The Week
- Associated Press
- Reuters Videos
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden may end the Keystone XL pipeline project as one of his first acts in office, a source familiar with his thinking told Reuters it could happen as early as day one. Biden, who will be inaugurated on Wednesday, was vice president when Barack Obama rejected the $9 billion project in 2015. Then two years later, Donald Trump issued a presidential permit that allowed the line to move forward. Since then the project has seen opposition by environmentalists seeking to check Canada's oil industry and Native Americans whose land faced encroachment. Construction of the pipeline is well underway and if completed, would move oil from Canada's Alberta province to the U.S. state of Nebraska. In his 2020 run for president, Biden vowed to scrap its permit once elected. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Saturday, the words 'rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit' appeared on his list of Biden's executive actions likely scheduled for his first day. Biden's team did not respond to a request for comment, but Canada's ambassador to the U.S. said she looks forward to a decision that fits both countries' environmental protection plans. In a statement, Ambassador Kirsten Hillman said: "There is no better partner for the U.S. on climate action than Canada as we work together for green transition." Meanwhile Alberta's Premier tweeted he was "deeply concerned" by the report, adding the decision would kill jobs, increase U.S. dependence on foreign oil, and weaken U.S.-Canada relations.
- National Review
A senior Biden transition official is warning migrants hoping to cross the southern border into the U.S. during the early days of the new administration that “now is not the time” to come. “There’s help on the way, but now is not the time to make the journey,” an unnamed Biden official said, NBC News reported. The Biden administration is looking to end the Trump administration’s policy of requiring that migrants wait in Mexico as immigration courts consider their asylum applications. Those who have been waiting at the border will be considered first for entry over migrants who only recently arrived. Additionally, the Biden administration will scrap the stricter restrictions the previous administration imposed on asylum seekers, which limit who is eligible for entry. However, any immigration legislation proposed by the Biden administration will address illegal immigrants living in the U.S. rather than new migrants arriving at the border, the official said. “The situation at the border isn’t going to be transformed overnight,” the official explained, saying that migrants seeking to gain asylum right away “need to understand they’re not going to be able to come into the United States immediately.” A caravan of about 2,000 Honduran migrants desperate to reach the U.S. forced their way past Guatemalan authorities Friday night and are expected to reach the southern border within the next few weeks. The caravan “will not find when they get to the U.S. border that from Tuesday to Wednesday, things have changed overnight and ports are all open and they can come into the United States,” the official cautioned. “We have to provide a message that help and hope is on the way, but coming right now does not make sense for their own safety … while we put into place processes that they may be able to access in the future,” the official said. In 2018, just before the midterm elections, a caravan of thousands of Central American migrants headed for America’s southern border. Similarly, in early 2017, just before President Trump took office, a caravan made its way to the border, drawing the ire of Trump.
- The Independent
- The Telegraph
Miners trapped underground in eastern China for more than a week after a blast at a gold mine have managed to send up a note to rescuers, the local government said on Monday. The blast occurred eight days ago on Sunday afternoon at a mine near Qixia city in eastern Shandong province, leaving 22 miners trapped underground more than 600 metres from the mine’s entrance. After a long period without any contact, rescuers were able to drill through the mine on Sunday afternoon and said they heard "knocking sounds". A note was then sent up from the trapped miners saying that 12 were still alive, the local government said in a statement Monday. "We are in urgent need of cold medicine, painkillers, medical tape, external anti-inflammatory drugs, and three people have high blood pressure," the note read.
- The Week
- National Review
Russian security forces detained Alexei Navalny on Sunday immediately upon his return to Moscow, where he traveled after recovering in Germany from a near-fatal poisoning attack, and placed him before a judge Monday morning at a police station. Navalny’s lawyers learned of the hearing just minutes before it began at a police station, instead of a normal courtroom, in the outskirts of Moscow. The judge allotted the attorneys just 30 minutes to familiarize themselves with the case and another 20 minutes to speak to their client. “I’ve seen a lot of mockery of justice… But this is impossible what is happening now,” Navalny said in a video posted by his press secretary before the hearing. “It is the highest degree of lawlessness.” Police asked the court for Navalny to be formally placed under arrest for 30 days, according to the director of Navalny’s foundation. Navalny was already scheduled to appear at a January 29 hearing on charges that he had violated the parole terms of a previous suspended sentence by staying in Germany while undergoing treatment, the reason for which he was officially detained. He received the earlier suspended prison sentence and probation order in 2014 for embezzlement and money laundering, a case which the European Court of Human Rights in 2018 called politically motivated. He has called the criminal cases against him “fabricated” and said the authorities’ intent is to deter him from returning. Russian prosecutors opened a new criminal investigation into Navalny in December, accusing him of taking donations from his Anti-Corruption Foundation. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday called for the opposition leader’s “immediate and unconditional release,” and said his detention was “the latest in a series of attempts to silence Navalny and other opposition figures.” Jake Sullivan, the incoming national security adviser for President-elect Joe Biden, also called for Navalny’s immediate release, tweeting that “the perpetrators of the outrageous attack on his life must be held accountable.” Navalny nearly died over the summer after being poisoned by Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent. He had been on a flight to Moscow after meeting with supporters in Siberia when he fell ill. The Russian dissident blames Russian President Vladimir Putin for the poisoning, though the Kremlin has denied having any involvement. Putin said last month that if Russian intelligence agents had sought to kill Navalny, “we would have finished the job.” Meanwhile, western intelligence officials and scientists who helped develop the nerve agent say it can only be obtained through military and security circles.
- The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Spurned by many foreign allies, ridiculed by adversaries, disliked by a significant number of his own diplomats and trying to preserve his political future, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week offered an insight into his legacy as a commander of the Trump administration’s scorched-earth foreign policy by citing a seminal moment in his personal history. In 1983, when Pompeo was a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, an Iranian-linked militia bombed the Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. troops. By his own telling — “My life wouldn’t be the same after that,” Pompeo said on Tuesday, in his last public speech in office — it was a powerful indoctrination for a young soldier in training to protect the United States from deadly enemies. Thirty-five years later, after becoming the 70th secretary of state in 2018, Pompeo embraced the same military mentality to confront the world. Foreign policies were described as “mission sets,” and his wife, Susan, was a “force multiplier” in disarming dignitaries and families of State Department employees. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times Pompeo dismissed the power of persuasion, instead trying to strong-arm European leaders, taunting rulers in China and Iran, and working to keep dictators off-balance, including negotiating with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but not President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela. But by rejecting the traditional role of predictable diplomacy and mirroring President Donald Trump’s own style, Pompeo’s strategy backfired, according to foreign policy analysts and a large cohort in the State Department. As he leaves office, Pompeo, 57, has been tagged by a number of officials and analysts with the dubious distinction of the worst secretary of state in American history. That will come back to haunt him as he considers running for president in 2024 or seeking another elected office, as he is widely believed to be doing. “The glass is far more empty than it is full,” said Richard Fontaine, president of the Center for a New American Security and a former diplomat who advised Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign as the Republican nominee in 2008. Fontaine noted that Iran is now closer to building a nuclear bomb and that North Korea has more nuclear weapons than it did at the beginning of the Trump administration. Relations with key European leaders, the United Nations and other diplomatic and economic alliances are in worse shape. The United States has less standing to promote democracy and human rights in the world than it did four years ago, according to many career diplomats. And Pompeo’s role in enabling the president’s shadow foreign policy in Ukraine — undermining years of U.S. support to ward off Russian military aggression — raised concerns among lawmakers during House impeachment hearings in late 2019 about whether his loyalty to Trump outweighed U.S. security interests. Pompeo is not the first military man to become the country’s chief diplomat: Colin Powell had retired as a four-star Army general before becoming President George W. Bush’s secretary of state in 2001. Powell’s tenure was forever stained by his citing of faulty intelligence to urge the invasion of Iraq in 2003 — what he has called “painful” and a “blot” on his record — but he is widely viewed as more of a statesman than Pompeo. For political purposes, Pompeo might hope to be remembered as a key player in Trump’s administration — a designation that is far more tarnished abroad than it is with hard-core Republicans who care little about foreign policy in elections. After the storming of the Capitol by Trump’s supporters this month, however, a growing number of Republican officials have sought to distance themselves from the departing president. Notably, Pompeo has not, although people close to him said he was appalled by the attack. Instead, he has continued a barrage of daily Twitter posts that began Jan. 1 to herald what he called his foreign policy successes, echoing Trump’s campaign slogans. Pompeo was at the fore of the Trump administration’s crackdown on China, Iran and Venezuela, using a mix of economic sanctions and provocative policy shifts to reshape global strategy against each. That was especially the case for China, as Pompeo emerged as the administration’s most vocal critic of Beijing. He took every opportunity to highlight China’s human rights abuses of Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities and, as a parting shot, he is now considering whether to declare them acts of genocide. He has also led global condemnation of Beijing’s expansionist ambitions and oppression in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea. Other nations, however, have refused to follow the U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization, which stripped funding from the U.N. agency during the coronavirus pandemic, which Pompeo insisted on calling the “Wuhan virus,” again echoing Trump. In dealing with Venezuela, Pompeo marshaled about 60 countries against Maduro after disputed elections and battered the government in Caracas with sanctions. But Maduro has remained in power. In Europe, Pompeo is credited with helping to strengthen NATO as a bulwark against Russia, including through increased military spending. Alexander R. Vershbow, a former NATO deputy secretary-general who was also a former U.S. ambassador to Russia and South Korea and an assistant defense secretary, said Pompeo had helped protect NATO from Trump’s “contempt for the allies and bullying tactics.” Pompeo also deployed shuttle diplomacy to warm relations between Israel and states in the Middle East and North Africa as part of the Abraham Accords, the administration’s signature foreign policy achievement. But those peace pacts were largely brokered by Jared Kushner, the president’s senior adviser and son-in-law. Pompeo has steadfastly supported Israel by defying internationally recognized norms, such as by moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and declaring Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and the legitimacy of West Bank settlements. As an evangelical Christian — a group that makes up a key conservative political constituency — Pompeo has sometimes framed actions against Iran in religious terms linked to Israel and biblical prophecy. The Abraham Accords were part of a pressure campaign to isolate Iran with sanctions and military threats that began after Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran in May 2018, just weeks after Pompeo moved to the State Department after serving as the CIA director. Over the next two years, he repeatedly vexed efforts by other world powers to keep the 2015 nuclear deal intact. Pompeo was visibly energized by jousting with Iranian officials on Twitter: “You know you’re on the side of angels when this happens,” he tweeted on Tuesday, months after Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, called him the “Secretary of Hate.” Pompeo was among Trump’s advisers who pushed for military strikes against Iran, which the president resisted in June 2019 but allowed in January 2020 to kill a top Iranian general who was in Iraq. Still, Pompeo reversed himself in November, among a group of senior officials — including Vice President Mike Pence; Christopher C. Miller, the acting defense secretary; and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — who countered the president’s request for strike options against Iran with a warning that it could easily escalate into a broader conflict in the last weeks of Trump’s presidency. Pompeo has described himself as a disciple of “realism, restraint and respect” — an approach advocated by his longtime financial backer, Charles Koch, a conservative billionaire whose network of donors gave more campaign contributions to Pompeo than to any other congressional candidate in the country in four House elections from 2010-16. As secretary of state, Pompeo has hardly been secretive about his political future — first eyeing a Senate campaign from Kansas, his adopted home state, and then fueling expectations that he might run for governor in 2022 or president in 2024. His turbulent tenure at the State Department was characterized by a series of investigations, some of which continue, including whether he violated ethics laws by engaging in political activity while on the job. Yet Koch’s continued financial support is far from assured. With a focus on soft-power diplomacy instead of war, the Charles Koch Institute — his policy foundation — is pouring $7 million in new grants to two left-leaning think tanks, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the International Crisis Group, that will have influence in the Biden administration. Pompeo’s support for expanding NATO, striking Iran and keeping U.S. troops in conflict zones have not been forgotten, said Will Ruger, the foundation’s vice president for policy and research. “I don’t believe that the secretary is a card-carrying realist and restrainer,” said Ruger, whom Trump nominated in September to be his ambassador to Afghanistan. In a farewell message, Pompeo made clear that the military was paramount under his watch. “Leading @CIA & @StateDept, I constantly focused on protecting our great military and all Americans,” he tweeted on Thursday. “If nothing else, our enemies knew: attack our soldiers & you will pay.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
- The Telegraph
A woman identified as having taken part in the storming of the US Capitol is accused of stealing a laptop belonging to top Democrat Nancy Pelosi which she hoped to sell to a Russian spy agency, according to the FBI. There is no indication Riley June Williams, a 22-year-old careworker from Pennsylvania, took a laptop from Ms Pelosi's office. The FBI, which is working off a tip, said in the court record the "matter remains under investigation." The complaint, filed late Sunday in US District Court in Washington, sought the arrest of Williams on grounds including "violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds." Relying on several photos and videos of the chaotic January 6 riot, an FBI agent said Williams was seen near the office of Ms Pelosi, US House Speaker. A witness, identified in the court document only as W1 but who claimed to be "the former romantic partner of Riley June Williams," alleged that Williams planned to send the laptop to a friend in Russia to sell it to the SVR foreign intelligence agency. That sale "fell through for unknown reasons, and Williams still has the computer device or destroyed it," the affidavit says.
- The Week
- Associated Press
- The Independent
The latest updates from the White House and beyond on 17 January 2021