By Mark Guarino CHICAGO (Reuters) - Thousands of U.S. fast-food workers and supporters marched in nearly 200 cities around the United States on Thursday including Chicago and Boston to advocate for a $15 minimum wage and other labor rights. About 200 demonstrators marched in downtown Chicago starting near the Rock 'N' Roll McDonald's, the largest in the city, chanting "We can't survive on $8.25." Behind a thick, colorful scarf, Halle Smith, 20, was among about 50 demonstrators in frigid pre-dawn temperatures outside a Milwaukee Taco Bell. "I shouldn't have to have two jobs just to survive," said Smith, who said she has earned the minimum wage for about three years and works 60 hours a week at two jobs, a Sonic restaurant and a group home. Organizers said Thursday's protests, under a banner organization called Fight for 15 and including the home care and airline industries, were the most expansive to date, increasing to about 190 cities from 150 in a similar protest in September. No arrests had been reported as of Thursday afternoon. Workers planned strikes and walkouts at fast-food restaurants such as McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's, and major airports including John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. The union-backed actions are part of a push since 2012 for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour from $7.25, where it has held since 2009. Jonelle Walker, 29, a home care worker from a suburb west of Chicago who said she serves as the legs, eyes and ears of a Vietnam veteran, was among the marchers on Thursday. She said low wages in her industry hurt clients and workers, because of high turnover. "No one wants a different person in and out of their house working," Walker said. MARCHING IN COLD FOR HIGHER WAGES In the Boston area, scores of fast-food workers and their supporters filled a McDonald’s and a Dunkin Donuts in working-class Chelsea, Massachusetts, early Thursday. Sharera Fernandez, 30, a McDonald's worker at the Boston protest who also cares for a disabled aunt, said fast food workers are misunderstood. "From the outside, it looks like there's no skill involved, you're flipping burgers," Fernandez said. "But from our perspective, we do a lot. Sometimes you have to do more than one person's job ... It's not easy at all." Melinda Robinson of Kansas City, Missouri, and her 5-year-old daughter, Mercy, marched Thursday with about 100 people in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, seeking a $15 wage and union. "We need a living wage to be able to support our families. They don't think we deserve it," said Robinson, who has six children and makes $9 per hour working at a Subway. In Knoxville, McDonald's employee Diamond Jackson, 18, said she wants to be a nurse like her mother, but cannot afford school. "I make $7.25, and we're out here telling people that we can't get by on that," she said. About 650 federal contract workers in the nation's capital walked off fast food jobs at landmarks like the National Zoo, organizers said. Workers said they need more than the $10.10 per hour President Barack Obama approved for workers on new contracts in January. "We are still too poor to afford the American Dream," said Jessenia Vega, who works at the Pentagon McDonald's. Advocates of higher hourly pay say full-time workers are kept below the poverty threshold for a family of four at the current wage. Opponents say the protests are tainted because they involved major labor organizations. Fast-food chains say their locations are largely owned by independent operators who are responsible for pay rates of employees. (Reporting by Mark Guarino in Chicago, John Clarke in Washington, Brian Snyder and Daniel Lovering in Boston, Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Kansas, Melodi Erdogan in Knoxville, Tennessee and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Mary Wisniewski, Bernard Orr and Bill Trott)
- The Independent
Rioters who entered Capitol building may not be charged if they didn’t engage in violence, report says
Federal officials do not want to crush court system with hundreds of cases
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden attended Mass for the first time since taking office, worshipping Sunday at the church he frequented when he was vice president. Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, picked Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood, a few miles from the White House. It's where the nation’s only other Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, often went to Mass.
- The Telegraph
Russian police detained Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, at a protest in Moscow on Saturday as demonstrations in support of the opposition leader swept across Russia. Authorities detained at least 1,600 people at unauthorised rallies in Moscow and dozens of cities across the country, with some reports of violent clashes between protesters and riot police. At least 10,000 people joined protests in Moscow, according to estimates, in a test to Vladimir Putin. Protests began in Russia’s Far East and Siberia on Saturday morning. Seven time zones east of Moscow, about 3,000 people marched across the city of Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean, chanting “Navalny!” In Novosibirsk, chants “Putin is a thief” rang out in freezing minus 19 C temperatures as opposition supporters walked across the city to the main square.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), incoming chair of the Senate Budget Committee who caucuses with the Democrats, told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that Democrats plan to push a coronavirus relief package through the chamber with a simple majority vote. Why it matters: "Budget reconciliation" would allow Democrats to forgo the Senate's 60-vote requirement and could potentially speed-up the next relief package for millions of unemployed Americans. Democrats hold the the 50-50 split in the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.What he's saying: "What we cannot do is wait weeks and weeks and months to go forward. We have got to act now," Sanders said. * "We're going to use reconciliation — that's 50 votes in the Senate, plus the vice president — to pass legislation desperately needed by working families in this country right now." * When asked if he wants a relief bill passed before former President Trump's impeachment trial begins the week of Feb. 8, he said: "We've got to do everything. This is not — you don't have the time to sit around, weeks on impeachment and not get vaccines into the arms of people."Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- Associated Press
A federal judge on Sunday blocked the release of a Tennessee man who authorities say carried flexible plastic handcuffs during the riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell for the District of Columbia set aside an order by a judge in Tennessee concerning the release of Eric Munchel of Nashville. After testimony at a detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Frensley for the Middle District of Tennessee determined Friday that Munchel wasn’t a flight risk and didn’t pose harm to the public.
- The Telegraph
The acrimonious split within Republican ranks widened over the weekend as Donald Trump made his foray back into politics, backing the re-election of a hard-line supporter as chair of the party in Arizona. His wholehearted support for Kelli Ward was seen by allies as the former president firing a warning shot across the bows of any Republican senators considering backing his impeachment.
- Associated Press
A 34-year-old grizzly bear captured in southwestern Wyoming has been confirmed as the oldest on record in the Yellowstone region, Wyoming wildlife officials said. Grizzly bear 168 was captured last summer after it preyed on calves in the Upper Green River Basin area. Biologists learned of the bear’s longevity after euthanizing the bruin, which had preyed on cattle and then finally, calves.
- Business Insider
Barely any time has passed since President Biden's inauguration, and Republicans have already returned to their bag of shenanigans.
India said it will administer homegrown coronavirus vaccine COVAXIN in seven more states from Monday as it seeks to inoculate 30 million healthcare workers across the country. The government this month gave emergency-use approval to the vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech International Ltd and state-run Indian Council of Medical Research, and another licensed from Oxford University and AstraZeneca PLC that is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
A Disney World employee notified police after suspecting that a person who called to buy tickets was being abused
While a Pennsylvania woman pretended to buy Disney World tickets, a Disney employee reportedly heard her yelling "get off me" and "get away from me."
- Associated Press
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said Israel will be closing its international airport to nearly all flights, while Israeli police clashed with ultra-Orthodox protesters in several major cities and the government raced to bring a raging coronavirus outbreak under control. The entry of highly contagious variants of the virus, coupled with poor enforcement of safety rules in ultra-Orthodox communities, has contributed to one of the world's highest rates of infections. It also has threatened to undercut Israel's highly successful campaign to vaccinate its population against the virus.
- Yahoo News Video
It's a club Donald Trump was never really interested in joining and certainly not so soon: the cadre of former commanders in chief who revere the presidency enough to put aside often bitter political differences and even join together in common cause.
- The Week
President Biden reeled in a record-breaking $145 million in so-called dark money from anonymous donors during his presidential campaign, topping the $113 million that went to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) before his failed presidential bid in 2012, Bloomberg reports.It's not surprising that Biden set the mark given that the $1.5 billion he hauled in overall was the most ever for a challenger to an incumbent president, but it's notable in large part because Democrats have been at the forefront of a movement to ban dark money in politics since it means that supporters can back a candidate without scrutiny. Plus, Bloomberg notes, anonymous donors "will have the same access to decision makers as those whose names were disclosed, but without public awareness of who they are or what influence they might wield." As Meredith McGehee, the executive director of campaign finance reform advocacy group Issue One, told Bloomberg, "the whole point of dark money is to avoid public disclosure while getting private credit."Still, it seems the Democratic Party was willing to embrace the strategy in the hopes of defeating former President Donald Trump, who only brought in $28.4 million from anonymous donors. Read more at Bloomberg.More stories from theweek.com 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Biden's COVID-19 push Biden foolishly low-balls America's COVID response Trump's pressure on DOJ to sue states over election in Supreme Court reportedly 'got really intense'
- NBC News
"I couldn't believe it, it was like an animal. That's the only way I can put it, it was like an animal," the woman said of the assault in Harlem.
- Associated Press
Four Zimbabwean Cabinet ministers have died of COVID-19, three within the past two weeks, highlighting a resurgence of the disease that is sweeping through this southern African country. President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the coronavirus is reaping a “grim harvest” in the country. Then came the death of the transport minister.
- The Week
Trump's pressure on DOJ to sue states over election in Supreme Court reportedly 'got really intense'
Former President Donald Trump, citing unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud, pushed the Justice Department to ask the Supreme Court to invalidate President Biden's electoral victory, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. "He wanted us, the United States, to sue one or more states directly in the Supreme Court," a former administration official told the Journal. "The pressure got really intense."Ultimately, several Justice Department officials, including former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Attorney General William Barr, reportedly refused to file a case with the high court because there was no legal basis to challenge the election outcome and the federal government "had no legal interest" in whether Trump or Biden won the presidency. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone also reportedly opposed the idea.The strategy appears to have preceded Trump considering ousting Rosen and replacing him with Jeffrey Clark, an ally within the Justice Department, as reported by The New York Times. The Times later revealed it was Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) who made Trump aware of Clark's apparent willingness to back his conspiracy theories. Clark has denied being involved with a plan to get rid of Rosen. Read more at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.More stories from theweek.com 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Biden's COVID-19 push Biden foolishly low-balls America's COVID response 'No way' McConnell has had a post-Trump 'epiphany,' political scientist says
Iran may cooperate with the United States on oil and security in the Gulf, but not on Israel, the Iranian foreign minister said in remarks published on Saturday. Ties between Tehran and Washington worsened under the administration of former President Donald Trump, who in 2018 withdrew from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled its economy.
- The Telegraph
A missing Australian man has been found alive after surviving on wild mushrooms and dam water for three weeks. Robert Weber, 58, was last seen on January 6, leaving the Kilkivan Hotel Motel in Queensland in his car with his dog. Search efforts were called off earlier this week, but he was discovered by a local politician and his wife on Sunday morning. Police reported that Mr Weber was safe and well, despite “suffering exposure to the elements”. He had become disorientated in the heat, but managed to stay close to a dam. “He left on foot and became lost and remained at a dam where he survived by sleeping on the ground, drinking dam water and eating mushrooms,” Queensland police said in a statement. Mr Weber ran into trouble when his white Ford Falcon became bogged down on an unfamiliar road. Mr Weber waited in his car for three days, but was forced to abandon the vehicle when water ran out. The car was found by search and rescue teams on January 17, but Mr Weber and his dog had long since moved on. Mr Weber was discovered 3km away from his vehicle by the local MP for Gympie Tony Perrett and his wife, who told the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC): “We'd been past this dam on numerous occasions over the last week and when we saw him there it was just quite extraordinary.” Mr Perrett had decided to continue searching for Mr Weber, despite police calling off the extensive ground and air hunt a few days prior. “He said he was trying to get to Caboolture and he got disorientated … he became lost and didn't know where he was,” Mr Perrett added. Mr Weber became separated from his dog at an unknown point and the canine has yet to be found.
- Associated Press
Ailing Pope Francis, who this week is making limited public appearances due to persistent pain, has drawn attention to the plight of homeless people in winter, including a Nigerian man who froze to death near the Vatican. Francis on Sunday asked for prayers for the 46-year-old man named Edwin who he said was “ignored by all, abandoned, even by us.” The pontiff said on Jan. 20 “a few meters away from St. Peter's Square, because of the cold, a Nigerian homeless man was found dead.”
- NBC News
Speaking on "Meet the Press," Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., called the impeachment trial "a moot point."