Every January is National Blood Donor Month for the Red Cross. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic makes donations more important than ever during these hard winter months.
- 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
- The Week
Biden did not, in fact, remove Trump's 'Diet Coke button' from the Resolute Desk, White House clarifies
The new Biden administration has yet not disclosed the secrets of Area 51 or explained what the Air Force really knows about UFOs, but it did clarify, at least, the mystery of the vanished "Diet Coke button" former President Donald Trump would use to summon refreshments in the Oval Office. The usher button, as it is formally known, is not gone, even if it is no longer used to summon Diet Cokes, a White House official tells Politico. The White House official "unfortunately wouldn't say what Biden will use the button for," Politico's Daniel Lippman writes, suggesting Biden might summon Orange Gatorade and not the obvious answer, ice cream — or, let's get real, coffee. What's more, there are evidently two usher buttons in the Oval Office, one at the Resolute Desk and the other next to the chair by the fireplace, a former White House official told Politico, adding that Trump didn't actually use the Diet Coke button all that much because "he would usually just verbally ask the valets, who were around all day, for what he needed." In any case, it is not the placement of the button that matters, of course, but how you use it. And Biden will presumably know better than to order ice cream treats during a top-secret national security briefing. More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorMitch McConnell is the GOATThe left's fake Senate majority
Word has it the former Second Family is staying at the Indiana governor’s cabin or crashing with kinfolk back in their home state. Former Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, are reportedly looking for a new home after their free, taxpayer-funded housing officially ended just over a week ago. The story was originally shared by Business Insider but reposted to other outlets: Pence is reportedly staying at a cabin that Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb uses as a retreat, while two other Indiana Republican insiders say that the former second-in-command and ex-Second Lady are staying with family.
A federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked the Biden administration's 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants.Why it matters: Biden has set an ambitious immigration agenda, but could face pushback from the courts.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.The big picture: U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton, a Trump appointee, issued a temporary restraining order blocking the policy for 14 days. * Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration last week, claiming the freeze "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security, per a press release from Paxton’s office. * "The issues implicated by that Agreement are of such gravity and constitutional import that they require further development of the record and briefing prior to addressing the merits," Tipton wrote in his Tuesday order. * Tipton also said Texas has provided evidence that the freeze would result in "millions of dollars of damage" by spurring an increase in spending on public services for unauthorized immigrants, according to the judge’s order.What they're saying: "Texas is the FIRST state in the nation to bring a lawsuit against the Biden Admin. AND WE WON," Paxton tweeted. "Within 6 days of Biden’s inauguration, Texas has HALTED his illegal deportation freeze." * Neither DHS nor Immigration and Customs Enforcement immediately responded to Axios' request for comment.Of note: Former President Trump was frequently met with injunctions for his immigration policies.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- 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."
- Yahoo News Video
In remarks on Tuesday, President Biden said his administration will increase COVID-19 vaccine doses to states from 8.6 million to 10 million every week. He also said that states and territories will get a three-week forecast of vaccine supply.
- National Review
President Joe Biden on Monday expressed support for the Chicago Teachers Union in its fight against reopening schools for in-person learning, saying, “I know they want to work.” The CTU voted Monday to defy the city school district and continue to work remotely. “They just want to work in a safe environment, and as safe as we can rationally make it, and we can do that,” Biden said. Biden’s comments came in response to a question about the union at a news conference after an event on American manufacturing, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. White House staffers were reportedly briefed about the ongoing standoff in the nation’s third-largest district by American Federation of Teachers chief Randi Weingarten. Asked if teachers should return to school, the president said, “we should make school classrooms safe and secure for the students, for the teachers and for the help that is in those schools maintaining those facilities.” The president added, “we should be able to open up every, every school, kindergarten through eighth grade, if in fact we administer these tests, and we’ll have the added advantage I might add, a putting millions of people back to work.” Biden did not mention Chicago or Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot in his response. He said widespread testing and functioning ventilation systems are key to reopening schools – both of which have fueled disagreements between Chicago Public Schools officials and the CTU, which is a local affiliate of the AFT. Weingarten said the White House is “really concerned about reopening and really concerned about doing it right.” “I felt it was my moral obligation to brief the White House this weekend, which I did,” she said, adding that she briefed Biden senior staffers on “what was going on in Chicago, from my perspective.” She indicated she was “very pleased” with his comments on Monday. Politically powerful national teachers unions make up a key part of Biden’s base. First Lady Jill Biden along with Weingarten and National Education Association President Becky Pringle held a virtual event with 11,000 teachers last week. About 70,000 elementary school students are scheduled to return to in-person learning on February 1 for the first time since schools closed in March 2020, according to the Chicago Public School’s coronavirus reopening plan. Around 10,000 elementary school teachers and staff were expected to report to work on Monday to prepare for the reopening. However, CTU members voted to stay at home due to disagreements with CPS over the reopening plan. Eighty-six percent of all CTU members cast ballots with 71 percent opting to continue to work from home. The union is advocating for members with medically vulnerable relatives at home to receive accommodations for remote work and for teachers to only be required to return to in-person instruction upon receiving a vaccination. It is also pushing for increased testing of staff and students as well as a public health metric that would determine when schools should reopen or close. Union members said they were encouraged to hear Biden’s comments on the situation, according to the Sun-Times. CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said Biden “is not taking sides” but is “prioritizing the safety of every stakeholder in every city in every state in this country.”
- 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.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorMitch McConnell is the GOATThe left's fake Senate majority
Russian President Vladimir Putin told the virtual “Davos Agenda” conference on Wednesday that recent events in the U.S. had underscored the danger of “public discontent” combined with “modern technology.”The big picture: Putin, a late addition to the speakers' list, is facing protests at home over the arrest of opposition figure Alexey Navalny. Several experts and activists criticized the World Economic Forum for inviting him, with chess champion and Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov tweeting that Putin’s appearance showed he was “desperate to reassure his cronies he's still acceptable in the West despite his brutal crackdown.”Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.What he’s saying: Putin said growing inequality and “systemic socio-economic problems” were “splitting the society,” adding: “This pressure shows through even in those countries which seem to possess well-established civic and democratic institutions.” * He said Big Tech firms had established monopolies, and questioned whether their services were serving “the public interest” or further contributing to the divide. * “We have seen all of this quite recently in the United States, and everybody understands quite well what I’m talking about," he said.Between the lines: This could also be read as a self-serving argument from Putin, who has sharply curtailed freedoms online and was only yesterday forced to respond to a viral YouTube video in which Navalny claimed he owned a “billion dollar palace."The other side: Putin’s style diverged sharply from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who addressed the conference on Monday. * Xi appeared polished and camera-ready, breaking his speech into four themes and speaking in sweeping terms about international cooperation. * Putin was late to start, sat in a slouched position and peppered his speech with economic statistics in a tone that alternated between combativeness and disinterest.Worth noting: Putin also contended that countries facing internal divisions were seizing on “external enemies,” particularly “countries that do not agree to become docile, easy to control satellites.” * He argued that the increasing the use of tools like sanctions would only increase the risk of future “military force.”Go deeper: Biden's Russia challengeSupport safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
U.S. President Joe Biden is expected on Friday to issue executive orders on asylum resettlement and reunification of migrant families, among other issues, according to a Biden transition team memo shared with lawmakers and interviews with two people familiar with the plans. Biden, a Democrat, has vowed to reverse many policies put in place by former Republican President Donald Trump, a process that could take months or years. Biden plans to rescind some Trump policies that made it harder to obtain asylum in the United States, according to the memo.
- NBC News
"The member in question had been advised numerous times about the requirements and had refused to be tested," the House speaker said.
- The Telegraph
Iceland has issued its first vaccination certificates to ease international travel for those inoculated against Covid-19, authorities told AFP on Tuesday, with EU countries still haggling over using such documents. All the 4,800 Icelanders who have received two doses of coronavirus vaccine are eligible for the digital certificates, said the health ministry, which has set up a website to handle their distribution. "The aim to facilitate the movement of people between countries so that the individuals can show a vaccination certificate during border checks and be exempt from border restrictions," the ministry said. However, the documents have yet to be recognised internationally. Iceland, which is not an EU member but is part of the bloc's Schengen open travel zone, intends to allow most Europeans bearing similar certificates to enter the country. But Brussels is still trying to find a consensus between member states about the certificates. Greece backs the idea to boost its suffering tourism industry.
The U.S. Air Force is approaching its sunset date for the Airman Battle Uniform, known as the ABU.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, hoping to avoid an immediate clash with President Biden over Iran, will give dialogue a chance, Israeli officials say.Why it matters: Biden intends to try to resume the 2015 nuclear deal, which Netanyahu vehemently opposes. The two are on a collision course, and memories are fresh of the crisis in U.S.-Israel relations when Netanyahu was publicly campaigning against Barack Obama's attempts to reach a deal — including in a speech to Congress.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.Between the lines: A senior Israeli official who is well-informed of Netanyahu’s thinking draws a clear distinction between the two cases. Obama went behind Israel's back to hold secret talks with the Iranians, the official said, while Biden's team has earned goodwill by saying from day one that they intend to consult with Israel before making any decisions on Iran. * The senior official added that Netanyahu's warm personal history with Biden over four decades could be used as a shock absorber to help overcome difficulties and misunderstandings. * Two other Israeli officials said Netanyahu was hesitant to pick a fight with Biden from the start for another reason: Unlike Obama in 2015, he has Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, which will make it harder to exert pressure.What they're saying: A senior Israeli official close to Netanyahu said that while the prime minister wants to begin with a stance of cooperation and consultation toward the Biden administration, he intends to stand firm in his opposition to a U.S. return to the deal. * “He doesn’t want to tweak it. He thinks the agreement is flawed to its foundations and that the Iranians will agree to compromise only if pressure continues," the official said.Worth noting: On Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Aviv Kohavi aligned himself with Netanyahu, coming out publicly against any U.S. return to the previous deal or even “a deal with cosmetic changes." * Kohavi said he ordered the IDF to prepare several new plans to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities should Israeli leadership decide to use that option. * That's a major shift in the position of Israel’s most senior security official. In 2015, then-IDF leader Gadi Eizenkot didn't oppose the deal and Kohavi himself, then chief of military intelligence, thought it had strategic advantages for Israel. * The Obama administration used such arguments from the Israeli defense establishment to counter Netanyahu’s campaign. Now, Netanyahu has the head of the military on his side. * And while former IDF chiefs of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Benny Gantz were opposed when Netanyahu considered striking Iran between 2009 and 2012, Kohavi is now on the record in support.The other side: Now foreign minister, Ashkenazi called on Tuesday for a much more cautious approach. * He said Israel must hold quiet talks with the Biden administration on Iran and avoid the sort of confrontational media campaign it launched in 2015. * Ashkenazi has argued that the past approach only sidelined Israel and can't be repeated if Israel wants to remain relevant to the process.Driving the news: On Saturday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke for the first time with his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat. * Israeli officials said the call was very good and were satisfied by the White House readout that stressed the U.S. would consult Israel and enter into a strategic dialogue.What’s next: Israeli officials told me they expect talks with the Biden administration on Iran to start in the very near future, most likely in secured video conferences due to COVID restrictions. * Yes, but: Netanyahu’s willingness to engage with Biden and avoid confrontation could change quickly if he thinks it’s ineffective — or if he decides confrontation could help him in the March 23 elections.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- Architectural Digest
Let’s get loudOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
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.
- NBC News
Snow in Las Vegas and the biggest snowstorm in 30 years forecast to hit parts of California are just some of the superlatives from this week's winter siege.
- The Telegraph
Turkish state media accused former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea of "whitewashing terrorists" after they announced they were intending to produce a TV drama based on female Kurdish fighters in Syria. The series will be an adaptation of journalist Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s 'The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice', a book based on interviews with members of Kurdish all-female brigades known as Women’s Protection Units (YPJ). Part of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), they gained international attention for fighting against the Islamic State Group in northern Syria. The series will be produced by the production company HiddenLight, which was founded by Mrs Clinton and her daughter. "We created HiddenLight to celebrate heroes - sung and unsung alike - whose courage is too often overlooked, and we could not be more thrilled to bring this inspiring story to viewers around the world," said Mrs Clinton. Turkey takes a very different view of the YPG, which is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed left-wing group that has fought a guerilla war with Turkey since 1984 over securing greater Kurdish rights. Turkey considers the entire YPG to be terrorists because of their links to the PKK, which was designated a terrorist organisation under Bill Clinton’s administration in 1997. The US designation does not apply to the YPG or YPJ, however. “In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including, women, children and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot,” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said. The fighting between Turkey and the PKK has killed at least 40,000 across both sides of the conflict and both have repeatedly committed human rights violations.
President Biden's plan to replace the government’s fleet of 650,000 cars and trucks with electric vehicles assembled in the U.S. by union workers is easier said than done. Why it matters: The populist "Buy American" message sounds good, but the vehicles Biden wants are still several years away and his purchase criteria would require an expensive overhaul of automakers' manufacturing strategies, not to mention a reversal of fortune for labor organizers long stymied by Tesla and other non-union companies.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.Reality check: Right now, not a single model fits the president's criteria: battery-powered, made in America, by union workers. * Tesla produces the vast majority of EVs in the U.S., and all of its models contain at least 55% American-made parts, according to federal data. But Tesla doesn't have a union and CEO Elon Musk has run afoul of federal labor laws. * General Motors' Chevrolet Bolt is the only U.S.-built EV made by union labor. But it's made mostly with parts imported from Korea. Just 24% of the content is considered domestic. * The Nissan Leaf, another popular EV, is made in Tennessee. But the factory is non-union and only 35% of the parts are domestic. "Made in America" itself is confusing, because current rules governing "domestic" content include parts made in both the U.S. and Canada. * Under the American Automobile Labeling Act, passed in 1992, every car requires a label disclosing where the car was assembled, the percentage of equipment from the U.S. and Canada combined, and the country where the engine and transmission were built. * The newly passed US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement adds another layer of rules about the origin of parts.Biden wants to change the whole system of determining whether a federal vehicle is "American." * Today, the government requires federal vehicles to have at least 50 percent of their components made in America, but loopholes allow the most valuable parts like engines or steel to be manufactured elsewhere, Biden told reporters Monday. * He wants a higher threshold and tighter rules that would directly benefit American workers. Be smart: It's all doable, but definitely not within Biden's four-year term in office. * "It just doesn't add up," said Joe Langley, a forecasting analyst for IHS Markit. "The product is still a few years away." * And replacing 650,000 federal vehicles with EVs would require an increase in U.S. investment through the whole supply chain, including electric motors, batteries and vehicles — all of which will take time, Langley said. * Union leaders are glad Biden is focused on the industry's future. "He sees new technology as a way to grow our industry and our economy," a spokesperson for the United Auto Workers told Axios.Some of that investment is already happening. GM, for example, is overhauling several factories to produce electric vehicles in Tennessee and Michigan. Ford will make its upcoming e-Transit van in Missouri. * But GM, Ford and Stellantis (the newly merged FiatChrysler and Peugeot) just recently committed to build more EVs at union factories in Canada. * And Ford is ramping up production of its highly anticipated Mustang Mach-E in Mexico. What to watch: There could be some surprise winners from Biden's plan. * A handful of well-funded EV startups such as Lordstown Motors, Rivian and Workhorse are developing plug-in commercial vehicles like vans and trucks — things that are often needed in government fleets. * "This could put wind in the sails of a lot of new startups," said Langley.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- The Week
Lots of things went wrong with law enforcement before and during the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump, and one of them was the long delay in deployment of National Guard reinforcements. Those failures were the focus of a closed-door hearing Tuesday before the House Appropriations Committee, and among those who testified was Maj. Gen. William Walker, commander of the D.C. National Guard. Walker told The Washington Post on Tuesday that the Pentagon had tied his hands. Because Washington, D.C., isn't a state, the president is nominally in charge of the D.C. National Guard. In practice, the defense secretary and Army secretary are in command, but Walker, like all National Guard commanders, typically has the power to take military action in an emergency. "All military commanders normally have immediate response authority to protect property, life, and in my case, federal functions — federal property and life," Walker told the Post. "But in this instance I did not have that authority." In a Jan. 5 memo, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, who was Walker's direct superior until he stepped down last week, prohibited Walker from deploying a ready force of 40 Guardsmen without a formal "concept of operations" plan, the Post reports. In a Jan. 4 memo, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller had prohibited McCarthy from authorizing the deployment of D.C. Guardsmen carrying helmets, body armor, riot control agents, or weapons without his approval, and said the quick reaction force could be dispatched "only as a last resort." Pentagon officials say the requirement for top-level authorization was a response to the D.C. Guard's participation in Trump's widely criticized crackdown on racial justice protests in June. "When you go back to times when we've done this, like June, we wanted to make sure we were very careful about the employment — careful about fragmentary orders," McCarthy told the Post. There was also concern at the Pentagon about sending soldiers nominally under Trump's command into a riot of Trump supporters, because that might give the impression Guardsmen were aiding a pro-Trump coup, the Post reports. Those concerns, valid as they may be, don't explain why it took three hours for the Pentagon to deploy the National Guard after the rioters had already overrun the Capitol. Read more at The Washington Post. More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorMitch McConnell is the GOATThe left's fake Senate majority