Massachusetts state senators are taking up several changes Gov. Charlie Baker wants to see in the legislation.
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Anthony Scaramucci was right: The White House appears to be having trouble rounding up a sizable crowd for President Trump's official send-off from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Wednesday."In what looks like a desperate attempt to build a crowd for the crowd-obsessed president, an email has been making the rounds to current and former White House officials inviting them, and as many as five plus-ones, to Trump's elaborate exit ceremony," Politico reported Tuesday morning. "The go-to excuse for skipping out has been the 6 a.m. call time at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. But truly, many just don't want to be photographed sending off their former boss."Trump's current staffers have a good reason to avoid their outgoing boss. "Former White House officials and campaign staffers who would typically land plum jobs in corporate America after serving their time are now out in the cold," Politico says. One former White House official who got out early put it this way: "No one wants to touch them, they're just toxic." Another former Trump aide, pointing to the fallout from the Jan. 6 insurrection, was more blunt, telling Politico: "They're f---ed."Trump will be the first president since Andrew Johnson, another member of the tiny impeached president club, to skip the inauguration of his successor. "Johnson snubbed Ulysses S. Grant in 1869," The Washington Post notes. More stories from theweek.com 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Lindsey Graham seemed very pleased with Biden's secretary of state nominee Trump pardons Steve Bannon, charged with defrauding Trump supporters
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The protesters had gathered on a square in front of the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum art galleries, carrying signs reading "Freedom: stop this siege" and chanting "What do we want? Freedom!". None wore masks, which are not mandatory, and few respected social distancing rules. Authorities had declined an application for the protest to be held on Museum Square. The demonstrators refused to leave when police told them to do so, and some threw fireworks.
- The Telegraph
A valuable 16th century copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s Saviour of the World has been recovered by Italian police in a cupboard in a flat in Naples. The museum from which it was stolen had no idea it was missing. The copy of Salvator Mundi, which depicts Christ with one hand raised in a blessing and the other holding a crystal orb, is believed to have been painted by a pupil of Leonardo. It was stolen some time in the last few months from a collection of art works inside the Basilica di San Domenico Maggiore in Naples. The painting was of “inestimable value”, Italian police said in a statement. It was found “hidden in a bedroom” in an apartment in Naples. The owner of the flat, a 36-year-old man, was arrested not far from the property on charges of receiving stolen goods, police said. The oil painting, which dates to the early 1500s, is believed to be by artist Giacomo Alibrandi, a member of the artistic school of Leonardo. The museum had not noticed its theft because it had been closed for three months as a result of Italy’s coronavirus lockdown measures. Police are trying to ascertain how it was stolen, said Giovanni Melillo, a Naples prosecutor. “It is plausible that it was a theft commissioned by an organisation working in the international art trade," he said.
- National Review
Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) blocked a quick confirmation of Alejandro Mayorkas as Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security secretary, citing Mayorkas’s immigration policy stance. Mayorkas is a former Obama administration official considered the architect of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allowed illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children a renewable deportation deferment, without providing a path to citizenship. The confirmation hearings for Mayorkas come as Biden has pledged to undue many of the Trump administration’s restrictions on immigration, although it is unclear how quickly the Biden administration can act on those promises. “Mr. Mayorkas has not adequately explained how he will enforce federal law and secure the southern border given President-elect Biden’s promise to roll back major enforcement and security measures,” Hawley said in a statement. “Given this, I cannot consent to skip the standard vetting process and fast-track this nomination when so many questions remain unanswered.” Biden is reportedly set to propose an immigration-reform bill that would grant roughly eleven million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship over eight years. The bill could also grant citizenship to agricultural workers and illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. However, the proposal is not expected to include Republican-backed border security measures. The looming immigration debates in Congress come as a new migrant caravan continues to travel toward the U.S.-Mexico border. Several thousand people in the caravan clashed with Guatemalan security forces while crossing the border from Honduras on Sunday. “There’s help on the way, but now is not the time to make the journey,” a Biden official said in comments to NBC.
- Associated Press
The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus eclipsed 400,000 on Tuesday in the waning hours in office for President Donald Trump, whose handling of the crisis has been judged by public health experts a singular failure. The running total of lives lost, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is nearly equal to the number of Americans killed in World II. It is about the population of Tulsa, Oklahoma; Tampa, Florida; or New Orleans. While the Trump administration has been credited with Operation Warp Speed, the crash program to develop and distribute coronavirus vaccines, Trump has repeatedly downplayed the threat, mocked masks, railed against lockdowns, promoted unproven and unsafe treatments, undercut scientific experts and expressed scant compassion for the victims.
- The Independent
Trump ends term with ‘patriotic education’ report which makes excuses for slavery and calls anti-abortion movement ‘great reform’
White House website says report is “rebuttal of reckless 're-education' attempts that seek to reframe American history around idea that United States is not an exceptional country but an evil one”
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Election experts have uniformly declared that the 2020 election was conducted fairly.
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Israeli Covid czar says first Pfizer jab not as effective as hoped and blames spike in cases on British strain
Israel’s coronavirus czar has warned that the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine offers less protection than expected, as he blamed the country’s surge in Covid cases partly on the new British variant. Nachman Ash said many Israelis had caught Covid in between their first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine, suggesting that the first jab is “less effective than we thought,” according to Army Radio. His remarks underline the importance of receiving a second vaccine dose, which according to recent studies is more than 90 per cent effective in protecting against coronavirus. Israel has already given the first of two jabs to nearly 30 per cent of the population and on Tuesday announced it would extend eligibility to those aged 40 and over. But Mr Ash is said to have warned at a cabinet meeting that a new strain of Covid originating in Britain was hampering efforts to tackle the pandemic, as it was responsible for nearly 40 per cent of new cases. It comes after two studies by Israeli healthcare providers found that the first dose of the vaccine reduced the risk of infection by between 30 and 60 per cent. And according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, a survey by the health ministry found that around six per cent of 189,000 citizens who had received the first jab tested positive for Covid within two weeks. It also stated that 69 people from the sample had tested positive for coronavirus after receiving their second dose of the vaccine. Another study of a hundred people in Israel found that 98 per cent were protected from the disease once the second dose was administered. That research, carried out by the Sheba Medical Center, also said that a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine significantly refused the risk of spreading the virus to others.
- The Guardian
Decision would mean US could assign blame for death on to Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman The Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, left, with journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a scene from the recent documentary The Dissident. Photograph: AP The Biden administration will declassify an intelligence report into the murder by the Saudi government of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Avril Haines, who has been nominated to serve as director of national intelligence. The decision means that the US is likely to officially assign blame for Khashoggi’s brutal murder to the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist and US resident who wrote critical columns about the Saudi crown prince, was murdered by Saudi agents inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October 2018. While media reports have said that the US intelligence community determined with a medium to high degree of confidence that Prince Mohammed ordered the killing, that assessment has never officially been stated. The crown prince has denied he ordered the murder. Since then, Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz and other human rights activists have called on Biden to release the classified report into the murder, saying that doing so was the first step towards seeking accountability. During Haines’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday, the Oregon senator Ron Wyden said that, if confirmed as the new DNI, she would have the opportunity to “immediately” turn the page on the “excessive secrecy” and “lawlessness” of the Trump administration, and submit an unclassified report on “who was responsible” for Khashoggi’s murder, as required under a February 2020 law that the Trump administration in effect blocked. Asked whether she would release the report, Haines replied: “Yes, senator, absolutely. We will follow the law.” In a statement, Wyden praised the move, saying it was “refreshing to hear a straightforward commitment to follow the law” from Haines. Biden's Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines says, if confirmed, she will provide Congress with an unclassified report on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. pic.twitter.com/ocPUsJUeti— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 19, 2021 Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and director at the Brookings Institution, said: “It is a useful way to put the question of accountability for Khashoggi’s murder in the public domain early in the new administration.” One of the most outspoken advocates for justice for the murder, Agnès Callamard, also praised the move, saying the information would provide the “one essential missing piece of the puzzle of the execution of Jamal Khashoggi”. Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, said she hoped other information would also come to light, such as any new details about the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s remains, and whether a risk assessment had ever been done by the US about whether Khashoggi was in danger before his trip to Turkey. Callamard, who will be named the new head of Amnesty International later this year, also pointed to other threats that have reportedly been lodged against human rights defenders and former Saudi officials in Canada and Norway by Prince Mohammed’s agents, who have been called a “death squad” in media reports. “At some point, if the US intelligence has information about those operatives, then I think they should really make that information publicly available,” Callamard said. The release of the Khashoggi report will also raise a host of new questions for both the US and Saudi Arabia. “If the document fingers MBS as responsible for the murder it will raise the question what is Biden going to do to hold him accountable?” said Riedel. During the 2020 election campaign, Biden issued scathing attacks against the crown prince, saying Saudi Arabia needed to be treated as “a pariah”. It is expected that the Biden administration would seek to curb weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, but it could also take more targeted actions against Prince Mohammed, including financial sanctions.
- The Week