A dozen bottles of the French wine were sent into space along with hundreds of grapevines orbiting Earth for more than one year.
- Yahoo News
For weeks the news about America’s slow, sloppy COVID-19 vaccination rollout has been dispiriting. There’s been too much demand and too little supply. At the same time, roughly half of the distributed doses haven’t even been administered.
- The Independent
Mike Pence is homeless after leaving office and ‘couch-surfing’ with Indiana politicians, report says
Mike Pence has been residing in public housing for the past eight years
- 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."
President Obama's former speechwriter says he's "preemptively frustrated" with President Biden's effort to find unity with Republicans.What they're saying: Cody Keenan told Axios that Biden's messaging team has "struck all the right chords," but at some point "they're gonna have to answer questions like, 'Why didn't you achieve unity?' when there's an entire political party that's already acting to stop it."Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.Keenan spent 14 years writing for Obama, including working alongside Biden for eight of those years. He acknowledged being embittered by his own experience, especially after Sen. Mitch McConnell pledged to make his former boss a one-term president. * "Until the Republican Party steps up and tells their own voters what's really happening with the truth, it's going to be elusive," Keenan said. "It's not up to (President Biden) alone to deliver. He can't."Keenan helped Obama with the first volume of his memoir, "A Promised Land." He stopped working with the former president on New Year's Eve and has taken a full-time role at Fenway Strategies. The firm is run by another ex-Obama speechwriter — Jon Favreau — and presidential aide, Tommy Vietor. * "It just seemed like a natural spot after the book and the elections and, you know, [Obama] is not going to do a ton, especially with Biden in office," Keenan said.Keenan is also writing a book, titled "Grace," about the 10 days from the 2015 shooting at a historic Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, to the eulogy Obama delivered for Rev. Clementa Pinckney. * Obama ended by singing "Amazing Grace." * The title also nods to Keenan's newborn daughter, named Grace.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- Associated Press
One day after the deadly insurrection in Washington, a Pennsylvania school district announced it was suspending a teacher who, the district asserted, “was involved in the electoral college protest that took place at the United States Capitol Building.” Three weeks later, Jason Moorehead is fighting to restore his reputation and resume teaching after he says the Allentown School District falsely accused him of being at the Capitol during the siege. The district says Moorehead’s social media posts about the events of Jan. 6, and not just his presence in Washington that day, are a focus of its probe.
The move could save the service millions of dollars and provide wearers with better protection in the field.
- The Independent
Jill Biden spent her first week as First Lady reshaping the role. Melania Trump spent hers isolated in a tower
New first lady signals she will be an active and constant presence in the White House - drawing stark contrasts to her predecessor
Three teenage boys were arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of murder and arson stemming from a house fire last year that killed a family of five Senegalese immigrants, including two small children, police said. Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said the three juveniles were being held for investigation on nearly two dozen charges, including five counts of first-degree murder, three counts of attempted first-degree murder and eight counts of first-degree arson. The Aug. 5, 2020, fire deaths shook members of Denver's ethnic Senegalese community who feared the family whose house burned may have been targeted because they were Muslim immigrants from the West African nation.
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.
- Yahoo News Video
China toughened its language toward Taiwan on Thursday, warning after recent stepped-up military activities near the island that "independence means war" and that its armed forces were taking action to respond to provocation and foreign interference.
- The Telegraph
A doctor with terminal cancer killed a female paediatrician and then himself after taking hostages at a children's clinic in Austin, Texas. Dr Bharat Narumanchi held hostages in a five-hour siege before killing Dr Katherine Lindley Dodson. Narumanchi had applied for a volunteer position at the clinic a week ago and was declined. He later came back carrying a pistol, a shotgun and two duffel bags. Police spokesman Jeff Greenwalt said Narumanchi had recently been given "weeks to live" after a cancer diagnosis. He said: "The case as far as who did this is closed. We know who did it. And we know that there's no longer a threat to the public. But we really, really want to answer the question of why." Dr Lindley Dodson, 43, was beloved by patients and their families. Karen Vladeck, whose two children were among her patients, told the Austin American-Statesman: "You saw her at your worst when your kid was sick, and she just always had a smile on her face. "She made you feel like you were the only parent there, even though there was a line of kids waiting." During the siege a SWAT team used a megaphone to communicate with the armed doctor. A hostage negotiator shouted: "Your life is very important to me. And I know life is very important to you. "You don't deserve to go through this. For all you have done for others. That is why I want to help you work through this. You have saved a lot of lives." Police first sent in a robot and then officers went into the medical office where they found two bodies. They did not comment on how the two doctors died. A police spokesman said: "The SWAT situation has ended. Two subjects have been located and were pronounced deceased."
The aim control enhancer was once under consideration for the U.S. Special Operations Command's "Iron Man" suit program.
- The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Three times in recent weeks, as Republicans grappled with a deadly attack on the Capitol and their new minority status in Washington, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky carefully nudged open the door for his party to kick Donald Trump to the curb, only to find it slammed shut. So his decision Tuesday to join all but five Republican senators in voting to toss out the House’s impeachment case against Trump as unconstitutional seemed to be less a reversal than a recognition that the critical mass of his party was not ready to join him in cutting loose the former president. Far from repudiating Trump, as it appeared they might in the days after the Jan. 6 rampage at the Capitol, Republicans have reverted to the posture they adopted when he was in office — unwilling to cross a figure who continues to hold outsize sway in their party. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times “Anybody surprised by that vote wasn’t paying attention before yesterday,” said Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a close ally of the Republican leader. For McConnell, a leader who derives his power in large part from his ability to keep Republicans unified, defying the will of his members would have been a momentous risk, putting his own post in peril and courting the ire of the far right. But in a series of discreet forays, the stoic 78-year-old had tried to nudge senators toward a different outcome. He made clear to associates after the Jan. 6 attack that he viewed Trump’s actions around the riot as impeachable and saw a Senate trial as an opportunity to purge him from the party, prompting an article in The New York Times that his office notably did not challenge. In a letter to colleagues, McConnell signaled he was open to conviction, a stark departure from a year before when he had declared he was not an “impartial juror” in Trump’s first impeachment trial and guided him to acquittal. And then last week, in a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell flatly said the president had “provoked” the mob that sent the vice president and lawmakers fleeing as it violently stormed the Capitol, trying to stop Congress from formalizing his election loss. They were striking moves for McConnell, who for four years consistently supported and enabled Trump, including backing his refusal to concede the election for more than a month after Joe Biden was declared the winner. Trump spent that period spreading the false claims of voter fraud that fueled the Jan. 6 rampage. But in the wake of the mob assault and a pair of Senate losses in Georgia, McConnell had come to view the former president as a dangerous political liability and saw an opening to marginalize Trump. He may have brought exceptionally energetic new voters into the Republican fold, McConnell and his advisers believed, but Trump’s excesses and personality had driven women and suburban voters away, and with them control of the House, the Senate and the White House in just a few short years. And in after the Capitol riot, his actions had also put at risk the backing of donors and corporate groups that power the party’s campaigns. Still, the always-restrained Kentuckian never mounted a campaign to persuade other Republicans to join him, knowing how difficult it would be for his party to break from someone who polls indicate that half of its voters believe should remain their leader. If all senators were voting, it would take 17 Republicans joining every Democrat to convict Trump, something that seemed all but unthinkable after Tuesday’s vote. In the week since Trump skipped Biden’s inauguration and decamped to his private club in Florida, it had become increasingly clear that his departure from the Oval Office had done little, if anything, to loosen his grip on rank-and-file Republicans in Congress. While few have defended his conduct, many fewer have dared to back the impeachment push. The 10 House Republicans who did join Democrats in voting to impeach him faced fierce backlash, and in the Senate, constituents were flooding offices with phone calls indicating they expected their senators to stand behind Trump. “Let’s face it: Many of the people there — they want to be reelected, most of them,” said Bob Corker, a former Republican senator from Tennessee who retired in 2018 after clashing with Trump. “For those people, whose service in the Senate is their entire life, I’m sure just what they are hearing back home has an effect on them.” When Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., raised an objection to Trump’s trial, arguing that trying a former president would be unconstitutional, 45 of the 50 Republicans in the Senate — including McConnell — supported his challenge. By Wednesday, the Republican Party stated an official position against holding Trump’s impeachment trial. “Not only is this impeachment trial a distraction from the important issues Americans want Congress focused on, it is unconstitutional, and I join the vast majority of Senate Republicans in opposing it,” said Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman. Far from elucidating his position, McConnell has adopted a sphinxlike silence in public. As late as Tuesday morning, according to Republicans briefed on the conversations, his own aides were uncertain how he planned to vote on Paul’s motion. He has declined to explain his vote, telling reporters Wednesday that as a juror in the coming proceeding, he planned to keep an open mind. “Well, the trial hasn’t started yet,” he said. “And I intend to participate in that and listen to the evidence.” His advisers declined to speculate on his thinking. McConnell remains eager to move beyond Trump. While his House counterpart, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, was set to meet Trump on Thursday in an effort to repair his relationship with the former president, the Senate leader gladly told reporters he had not spoken to Trump since Dec. 15, after McConnell congratulated Biden as the president-elect. He has told allies he hopes never to talk to Trump again. Yet his public silence has left even some of the most loyal members of his conference flummoxed. Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, who said last week that McConnell had told him to vote his conscience on matters of impeachment, ticked through a series of possible explanations for the leader’s vote Wednesday. “Maybe this is one of those votes that you can be a reflection of your conference, and clearly he does that a lot,” he said of McConnell. “Our conference was pretty overwhelming in its support.” The vote clearly bewildered some Democrats, some of whom questioned whether it was even worth the effort — or the costs to Biden — to spend time on an impeachment trial destined once again for acquittal. Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, floated a bipartisan censure of Trump in lieu of a trial, setting off a flurry of debate over the topic. “To do a trial knowing you’ll get 55 votes at the max seems to me to be not the right prioritization of our time,” Kaine lamented. But Democratic leaders were adamant they would move forward on Feb. 9 as planned with oral arguments. And even Republicans theoretically in favor of a reprimand like censure conceded it was most likely unworkable, at least for now. Collins raised it with McConnell directly anyway, people familiar with the exchange said. “No one will be able to avert their gaze from what Mr. Trump said and did, and the consequences of his actions,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. “We will pass judgment, as our solemn duty under the Constitution demands. And in turn, we will all be judged on how we respond.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
- Associated Press
A Florida fire captain accused of stealing COVID-19 vaccines meant for first responders turned himself in Wednesday afternoon, sheriff's officials said. Polk County Fire Rescue Capt. Anthony Damiano, 55, faces a felony charge of falsifying an official record as a public servant and misdemeanor petit theft, according to a Polk County Sheriff's Office news release. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference Tuesday that paramedic Joshua Colon, 31, was arrested Monday for covering up Damiano’s theft.
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.
- NBC News
President Joe Biden vowed to ultimately put an end to private prisons, but activists says the move isn't enough to fully address mass incarcerations.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic underlined the benefits of being part of the United Kingdom as he prepares to visit Scotland on Thursday to confront growing support for another independence referendum. The bonds holding together the United Kingdom have been severely strained over the last five years by Brexit, the government’s handling of the pandemic, and repeated calls by the Scottish National Party for a new referendum on independence. Ahead of his visit, Johnson said that Scotland as a part of the United Kingdom gained access to a coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and they are being administered by their shared armed forces, who are creating 80 new vaccine centres in Scotland.
- Architectural Digest
Let’s get loudOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had hoped to declare victory over the pandemic before the elections on March 23, but new fast-spreading variants of COVID-19 have dashed those hopes.Why it matters: Netanyahu's main political vulnerability is his handling of the pandemic. He has acknowledged that his poll numbers will be directly connected to the rates of vaccinations, new infections and deaths, as well as his ability to reopen the economy.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.He had wanted to base his election push on Israel's world-leading vaccination campaign, which has already seen 21% of the over-16 population obtain both doses, including 70% in the highest-priority groups (medical workers and people over 60). * But Israel is also in the midst of its worst COVID-19 wave to date, with daily death tolls hitting record highs. The capacity of the medical system is stretched close to a breaking point. * Four weeks of lockdown have only just begun to slow Israel's rate of new cases, which remains among the highest in the world, adjusted for population. Israeli officials say the fast spread is due to new virus variants. * The government is likely to prolong the lockdown for another week or two.Between the lines: The infection rate is particularly high in ultra-Orthodox communities, which have largely not complied with lockdown rules and kept schools open even as they were closed elsewhere. * Netanyahu has faced harsh criticism for not enforcing the lockdown among the ultra-Orthodox community, which constitutes an important chunk of his right-wing political bloc. * When the police did attempt to enforce the lockdown in recent days, violent riots erupted in ultra-Orthodox cities. That only generated more criticism of Netanyahu. * A Channel 12 poll published on Tuesday found that 61% of Israelis — and 52% of right-wing voters — want ultra-Orthodox parties excluded from the next coalition government.The state of play: Recent polls showed Netanyahu's Likud party stable with 29-30 seats, with public praise over the vaccination campaign balanced out by criticism about the lockdown and rising death toll.What’s next: Netanyahu's broader political bloc is short of the 61-seat majority needed to form the next coalition. Without a positive change in the COVID-19 numbers by March, he will have a hard time reaching it.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- Architectural Digest
The best occasional tables keep your cocktail at arm’s reachOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest