The much-anticipated and delayed World Health Organization team investigating the origins of the coronavirus has finally arrived in Wuhan, but are warning they may not find clear answers in the weeks to come. Matthew Larotonda reports.
- The Independent
President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months. Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * A federal mask mandate on government property and for interstate travel — Biden's "100 Day Masking Challenge." * Expand neighborhood access by activating local pharmacies, working directly with both independent drugstores and massive chains. * Reimburse states for deploying the National Guard to support vaccinations, and provide additional FEMA assistance.The plan, Part 2 ... Biden plans a $2 trillion stimulus/coronavirus plan plus the following executive orders to symbolize and solidify a substantial shift here and abroad: * Rescind the travel ban on several predominantly Muslim countries. * Rejoin the Paris climate accord. * Extend pandemic-related limits on evictions. * Order federal agencies to find ways to reunite children split apart from their families after crossing the border.The big picture: Watch for Biden to wrap everything, even tangential ideological priorities, under the banner of the coronavirus, in hopes of speeding up legislative action and picking up some Republican votes. * Biden privately says he has a small window to get the vaccination rollout right and the economy recovering. Otherwise, he'll fall victim to liberals who find his actions too timid, and Republicans who find them too liberal. Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- Associated Press
A federal judge in Washington on Friday night halted a plan to release and put on house arrest the Arkansas man photographed sitting at a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during last week's riot at the U.S. Capitol. Richard Barnett will instead be brought to Washington, D.C., immediately for proceedings in his case, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ordered Friday night, staying a decision by another judge to confine Barnett to his home in Gravette, Arkansas, until his trial. Howell's ruling came hours after U.S. Magistrate Judge Erin Wiedemann in Arkansas set a $5,000 bond for Barnett and ordered that a GPS monitor track his location.
- The Telegraph
- The Guardian
John Kiriakou, who was jailed in 2012 for identity leak, said his pursuit of a pardon came up in a meeting with Giuliani last yearUS politics – live coverage Rudy Giuliani reportedly rejected Kiriakou’s version of events and said he did not work as a pardon broker because he already represented Trump. Photograph: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images An associate of Rudy Giuliani told a former CIA officer a presidential pardon was “going to cost $2m”, the New York Times reported on Sunday in the latest bombshell to break across the last, chaotic days of Donald Trump’s presidency. The report detailed widespread and in some cases lucrative lobbying involving people seeking a pardon as Trump’s time in office winds down. The 45th president, impeached twice, will leave power on Wednesday with the inauguration of Joe Biden. The former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who was jailed in 2012 for leaking the identity of an operative involved in torture, told the Times he laughed at the remark from the associate of Giuliani, the former New York mayor who as Trump’s personal attorney is reportedly a possible pardon recipient himself. “Two million bucks – are you out of your mind?” Kiriakou reportedly said. “Even if I had two million bucks, I wouldn’t spend it to recover a $700,000 pension.” An associate of Kiriakou reported the conversation to the FBI, the Times said. Meant to reward offenders who show contrition, presidential pardons do not imply innocence. Presidents often use them to reward allies but Trump has taken the practice to extremes. Among recent recipients of pardons or acts of clemency are Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with Russia; the political dirty trickster Roger Stone, who did not turn on Trump during the Russia investigation in which he was convicted of obstructing Congress; Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager convicted in the Russia investigation; and Charles Kushner, father of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner who was convicted of tax fraud and witness retaliation. The Times report detailed an “ad hoc” White House system for approving pardons which it said was run by the younger Kushner, bypassing the usual “intensive justice department review process intended to identify and vet the most deserving recipients from among thousands of clemency applications”. The report also identified lobbyists it said were seeking pardons on behalf of fee-paying clients. It is not illegal to do so. Margaret Love, who was the United States pardon attorney at the Department of Justice for seven years, told the paper: “This kind of off-books influence peddling, special-privilege system denies consideration to the hundreds of ordinary people who have obediently lined up as required by justice department rules, and is a basic violation of the longstanding effort to make this process at least look fair.” Trump will lose legal protection once he leaves office and faces threats both potential and already in train. He has reportedly discussed issuing pre-emptive pardons to himself, Kushner, Giuliani and other family members and close aides. It is not clear whether a self-pardon would work. Pardons issued as the president leaves the White House are not uncommon. Infamously, Bill Clinton pardoned the fugitive financier Marc Rich on his last day as president in 2001. Kiriakou told the Times his pursuit of a pardon came up during a meeting with Giuliani on another subject, at the Trump International Hotel in Washington last year. During the meeting, which reportedly “involved substantial alcohol”, Giuliani went to the bathroom. It was then, Kiriakou said, that Giuliani’s unnamed associate told him: “It’s going to cost $2m – he’s going to want two million bucks.” The Times said Giuliani rejected Kiriakou’s version of events and said he did not work as a pardon broker because he already represented Trump. “It’s like a conflict of interest,” he was quoted as saying, adding that though he had heard large fees were being offered for pardons, “I have enough money. I’m not starving.” It was reported this week that Trump, angry with Giuliani over the failure of almost all lawsuits mounted against election results, had told staff not to pay his legal fees. Ken Frydman, Giuliani’s press secretary in the 1990s, said: “Lay down with dogs. Wake up with fleas and without $20,000 a day.”
- National Review
Eleven years ago, Dan Senor and Saul Singer dubbed Israel the “Start Up Nation” for its disproportionately large number of technology start-ups and NASDAQ stock listings. Make way for the Vaccination Nation. Israel leads the world in COVID-19 vaccinations. It has already vaccinated nearly a quarter of its population, including 75 percent of the population most at risk, people over age 60. It has administered 24.5 doses per 100 persons, nearly double the next-best country (the United Arab Emirates) and about 8 times as many people per capita as in the U.S. and the U.K. Israel’s per capita vaccination rate is 24 times that of the normally efficient Germans and 50 times better than the world average. Only three other countries in the world — the U.S., China, and the U.K. — have administered more vaccines. Why is Israel doing so much better than anyone else? Israel’s small size simplifies logistics. But there are other factors. First, unlike American states, which have administered only about a third of the doses they have received, Israeli made sure it was ready to use its supply. Officials set up large vaccination centers and mobile units in advance. They reached out to minority groups, such as the ultra-Orthodox and Arab citizens, ahead of the roll-out to encourage vaccine uptake. Israel started vaccinations in mid-December and by the end of the month was vaccinating more than 150,000 people a day. Second, Israel secured a large supply from Pfizer by promising to provide comprehensive safety and effectiveness data. Israel has a nationwide, computerized health database that can provide anonymized outcomes for all citizens, letting Pfizer use the country of nearly nine million as a real-time laboratory. In return, Pfizer has pledged to provide enough doses to vaccinate every Israeli over 16 by the end of March. In addition, Israel was the first country outside of North America to approve the Moderna vaccine and has purchased six million doses. Israel also paid premium prices — a wise investment in ending the economic devastation occasioned by pandemic lockdowns. Needless to say, Israel is good at planning for and executing during emergencies. Senor and Singer identified universal army service as promoting Israelis’ resourcefulness and willingness to take the initiative to improve existing systems. Pfizer packages its vaccine in trays of 1,000 doses, which, because of the need for ultra-cold storage, must be all be used within a short period of time once they have been defrosted. The large number of doses limits vaccinations to centers that can line up large numbers of recipients. Israel figured out how to repackage the trays into smaller lots of doses to improve flexibility for delivering doses to a broader range of providers and less populated locations. Israelis are also willing to buck established authority. The Pfizer multi-dose vaccine vials were authorized to hold five doses. This led many American vaccinators to discard vaccine remaining after administering five doses, even if it was adequate to provide one or two extra doses, for fear of running afoul of FDA instructions (the FDA eventually clarified that it is acceptable to use every obtainable full dose). Israelis, in contrast, were willing from the start to use windfall sixth and seventh doses. American vaccinators have been reluctant to give remaining doses to people outside of government-mandated priority order — New York’s Governor Cuomo promised hefty fines for vaccinating out of order — leading to doses’ being discarded at the end of the day. Israeli providers vaccinated end-of-day walk-ins outside of the guidelines to avoid wasting valuable doses. Finally, Israelis’ willingness to pull together and treat the pandemic as if it were a war and the government’s successful roll-out have changed Israelis’ initial reluctance into eagerness to be vaccinated. Prime Minister Netanyahu set an example by being the first Israeli to be vaccinated. The prophet Isaiah said Israel would function as “a light unto the nations,” providing spiritual and moral guidance to the world. Modern-day Israel, the Start-Up Nation, can provide technological and practical guidance as well.
- The Telegraph
- NBC News
- Associated Press
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Friday blamed an inadequate education in American civics as “the root cause” of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, while making no mention of President Donald Trump's role in the attack that sent Congress into hiding. Since Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, Noem has tried to deflect blame from the president while calling for an end to political violence.
- Architectural Digest
You'll love the twist these designers have put on old-school entertainmentOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
Guatemalan security forces on Sunday used sticks and tear gas to beat back a large migrant caravan bound for the United States, just days before the advent of a new U.S. administration, which urged travelers to abandon the journey. Between 7,000 and 8,000 migrants, including families with young children, have entered Guatemala since Friday, authorities say, fleeing poverty and violence in a region hammered by the coronavirus pandemic and back-to-back hurricanes in November. The caravan was met by around 3,000 Guatemalan security officials mustered in the village of Vado Hondo in eastern Guatemala, leading to the clashes on Sunday morning.
- The Week
Israel has vaccinated at least 25 percent of its population against the coronavirus so far, which leads the world and makes it "the country to country watch for herd effects from" the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, says infectious disease expert David Fishman. Recently, the case rate in Israel appears to have declined sharply, and while there could be a few reasons for that, it's possible the vaccination effort is beginning to play a role.> Israel's reproduction number appears to have declined rather sharply in recent days, with around 25% of the country vaccinated, and some additional percentage having at least partial immunity via prior infection. pic.twitter.com/sVyCYYd9dj> > — David Fisman (@DFisman) January 17, 2021One study from Clalit that was published last week reports that 14 days after receiving the first Pfizer-BioNTech shot, infection rates among 200,000 Israelis older than 60 fell 33 percent among those vaccinated compared to 200,000 from the same demographic who hadn't received a jab.At first glance, Fishman writes, that might seem disappointing since clinical trials suggested the vaccine was more than 90 percent effective. But he actually believes the 33 percent figure is "auspicious." Because vaccinated and non-vaccinated people are mingling, there could be "herd effects of immunization." In other words, when inoculated people interact with people who haven't had their shot, the latter individual may still be protected because the other person is. On a larger scale, that would drive down the number of infections among non-vaccinated people, thus shrinking the rate gap between the two groups. > Estimated vaccine efficacy is a function of relative risk of infection in the vaccinated...when there is indirect protection via herd effects, we expect efficacy estimates to decrease because the risk among unvaccinated individuals declines.> > — David Fisman (@DFisman) January 17, 2021More data needs to come in, and Fishman thinks "we'll know more" this week, but he's cautiously optimistic about how things are going.More stories from theweek.com 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious New Yorker reporter's footage provides 'clearest view yet' of Capitol rioters inside Senate chamber
- The Telegraph
- Yahoo News Video
A 16-year-old boy has admitted to fatally shooting his newborn daughter and leaving her body inside a fallen tree in the woods in Wisconsin, according to prosecutors.
- National Review
- The Independent
‘It was my pleasure to crush a white nationalist insurrection’: DC officer injured in Capitol riot speaks out
Daniel Hodges recounted pro-Trump mob’s attempt to crush him inside a doorway during siege on 6 January
- Associated Press
Egypt’s former antiquities minister and noted archaeologist Zahi Hawass on Sunday revealed details of an ancient funerary temple in a vast necropolis south of Cairo. Hawass told reporters at the Saqqara necropolis that archaeologists unearthed the temple of Queen Neit, wife of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty that ruled Egypt from 2323 B.C. till 2150 B.C. Archaeologists also found a 4-meter (13-foot) long papyrus that includes texts of the Book of the Dead, which is a collection of spells aimed at directing the dead through the underworld in ancient Egypt, he said.