By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Ran Tsabari GAZA-ISRAEL BORDER (Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Israel is prepared to wage a broad military campaign in Gaza if needed, after a two-day flareup of cross-border fighting that has thrust his security policies to the fore two weeks before an election. In Gaza, organizers announced plans for a massive protest on Saturday along the border to mark the anniversary of weekly demonstrations at which Israeli forces have, according to Gaza medical officials, already killed nearly 200 Palestinians. Israel launched air strikes and moved troops and armor reinforcements to the Gaza border this week after a rocket attack from the Hamas Islamist-run enclave wounded seven Israelis in a village north of Tel Aviv on Monday. "All Israelis should know that if a comprehensive campaign is required, we will enter it strong and safe, and after we have exhausted all of the other possibilities," Netanyahu said after visiting the Gaza frontier and meeting with Israeli commanders. Although this week's fighting has since died down amid Egyptian mediation, Israel's security posture toward Gaza will be tested again by what are expected to be massive demonstrations on Saturday. The United Nations Human Rights Council said last week that Israeli security forces may have committed war crimes by using excessive force at the protests. Israel says the protests are used as cover by militants to attack the frontier, and lethal force is needed to safeguard border towns from infiltration. "The military will resort to a very strong hand against anyone trying to confront our troops," Israeli security cabinet minister Arye Deri told Army Radio. "Let no one blame Israel after." Israel captured Gaza in a 1967 war and withdrew its troops and settlers in 2005. Two years later, Hamas, which calls for Israel's destruction, took power in the territory. Israel fought three wars against the group from 2007-2014. Since the last war five years ago, the sides have repeatedly pulled back from the brink of another major conflict. The weekly border protests have instead become a focus for confrontation. Palestinians say the protests are not futile despite having failed to bring improvement in living conditions. "This has achieved something. We have explained the Palestinian cause to all humans, to the whole world," said Khalil Shahin of Nusseirat refugee camp, whose son Imad was killed at the fence. "We have made clear our cause will never die." The protesters call for Palestinians to be allowed to return to lands their families fled or were forced to abandon in Israel, and a lifting of an Israeli-Egyptian security blockade that has brought Gaza's economy to a state of near-collapse. GENERATION WITH NO HOPE According to a U.N. humanitarian report in December, 53 percent of Gazans live in poverty and 54 percent are unemployed. Sameh el-Sakani, a 26-year-old protester, said a generation had grown up with no hope. "You have a generation born in the 1990s that has nothing. Some study for four or five years in university only to have no job," he said. "We see nothing. On the contrary, the blockade was tightened." Security is a major issue for Netanyahu in Israel's April 9 election. Beset by corruption allegations that he denies, he is facing his strongest electoral challenge from a centrist coalition led by a former general. Netanyahu cut short a visit to the United States after seven Israelis were injured in Monday's initial rocket strike in the village of Mishmeret, 120 km (75 miles) north of Gaza. Twelve Palestinians were wounded by Israeli retaliatory attacks, Gaza health officials said. Televised scenes of a high-tech military facing off against crowds of youths armed mostly with rocks or improvised kite-and balloon-borne firebombs bedevil Netanyahu's government. It frets about being tripped into another Gaza war. But it also cannot ignore the rattled nerves of Israelis near the border, who say they live under constant threat of rockets and incendiary kites flown across the border. "What has happened here over the past year has been hell," said Yifat Ben-Shushan, an Israeli mother of two from Nativ Haasara, a few hundred yards (meters) from the border. (Additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Peter Graff)
- NBC News
"The situation at the border isn't going to be transformed overnight," a senior Biden transition official told NBC News in an exclusive interview.
After a probe found "significant errors of judgment and procedure" in the termination of the employee, GitHub's head of human resources resigned, GitHub Chief Operating Officer Erica Brescia said on Sunday. "In light of these findings, we immediately reversed the decision to separate with the employee and are in communication with his representative," Brescia said in a blog https://bit.ly/2KnkVhI, adding that the company apologized to that employee.
Kevin McCarthy warned members to not call out colleagues by name, citing potential political violence
Members of the House Republican Conference ignored leader Kevin McCarthy last week when he warned them against criticizing colleagues by name based on intelligence that doing so could trigger more political violence. Why it matters: McCarthy made clear that name-dropping opponents, instead of spelling out complaints in more general terms, can put a literal target on a politician, especially with tensions so high following the events of Jan. 6.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.That's what happened to Rep. Liz Cheney, the GOP conference chairperson, after she said she would support impeaching President Trump. * She and several other members had to increase their security and take extra precautions because of death threats and other alarming warnings after their colleagues singled them out in their complaints.What McCarthy said: The House minority leader issued his warning during a conference call last Monday. He said his concern was driven by the FBI briefings he receives. * "It doesn’t matter which side of the position you were: I respect it, I respect why you did what you did. But what we are saying on television, when we say a member’s name. ... This is not the moment in time to do it." * "You can incite something else. The country is very divided and we know this. Let’s not put any member, I don’t care who they are Republican, Democrat or any person not even in Congress. Watch our words closely. I get these reports on a weekly basis. I’ve seen something I haven’t seen before.”Several minutes later, McCarthy repeated the message: “Emotions are high. What you say matters. Let’s not put other people in danger. Let’s watch what words we’re using and definitely not be using other members' names in any media.”Days later, some GOP members ignored him and openly criticized their colleagues * Rep. Adam Kinzinger tweeted that the name of his Republican colleague, Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene, "will be one forgotten by next January." * Rep. Lauren Boebart (R-Colo.) mocked Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the House's new mask fines.One of the most blatant attacks, leading to a media firestorm, was when several members of the House Freedom Caucus went after Cheney for voting to impeach Trump. * On the day of the vote, the members circulated a petition to remove her from her leadership role. * Cheney is now fielding a series of threats against her, many from fiery Trump supporters angered by her vote, a source with direct knowledge of the threat said. * “We don’t comment on security matters,” Cheney’s communications director, Jeremy Adler, told Axios.What we’re hearing: McCarthy's team told Axios he isn't looking for repercussions. Spokesman Matt Sparks said the leader wants to lower the temperature and is encouraging members to be mindful of the current environment.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- The Telegraph
Miners trapped underground in eastern China for more than a week after a blast at a gold mine have managed to send up a note to rescuers, the local government said on Monday. The blast occurred eight days ago on Sunday afternoon at a mine near Qixia city in eastern Shandong province, leaving 22 miners trapped underground more than 600 metres from the mine’s entrance. After a long period without any contact, rescuers were able to drill through the mine on Sunday afternoon and said they heard "knocking sounds". A note was then sent up from the trapped miners saying that 12 were still alive, the local government said in a statement Monday. "We are in urgent need of cold medicine, painkillers, medical tape, external anti-inflammatory drugs, and three people have high blood pressure," the note read.
- The Independent
Man arrested at inauguration checkpoint with gun and ammo says he was lost and did not mean to bring weapon to DC
The man said he got lost driving around Washington DC
U.S. President Donald Trump at this point is opting not to issue a pardon for himself as he prepares an expansive list of more than 100 pardons and commutations for release on Tuesday, a source familiar with the effort said. White House advisers have said Trump has privately debated with advisers whether to take the extraordinary step of issuing a pardon for himself but some administration officials have cautioned Trump against a self-pardon because it would make him look guilty. Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House of Representatives last week on charges of inciting the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by pro-Trump protesters.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) called on his Republican Party to rebuild itself and "repudiate the nonsense that has set our party on fire" in an in an op-ed for The Atlantic Saturday on the QAnon conspiracy theory.Why it matters: Many of the mob involved in the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riots wore items signaling their support for the far-right QAnon and a prominent member of the cult was among those arrested following the siege.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * Several Republicans who ran for Congress last year publicly supported or defended the QAnon movement or some of its tenets — something Sasee noted in his op-ed, headlined "QAnon is Destroying the GOP From Within." * Sasse blames the violence on "the blossoming of a rotten seed that took root in the Republican Party some time ago and has been nourished by treachery, poor political judgment, and cowardice."Driving the news: Sasse wrote in his op-ed that "until last week, many party leaders and consultants thought they could preach the Constitution while winking at QAnon." * "They can't," he added. "The GOP must reject conspiracy theories or be consumed by them. Now is the time to decide what this party is about." * Sasse criticized House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for not denouncing QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) when she was running for Congress in 2020. * "She's already announced plans to try to impeach Joe Biden on his first full day as president," Sasse wrote. "She'll keep making fools out of herself, her constituents, and the Republican Party."Worth noting: Sasse said before the House impeached President Trump for a second time he'd consider "definitely consider" any articles of impeachment against him over his conduct and comments at a rally before the riots. * The Nebraska senator criticized Trump's embrace of QAnon supporters last August, warning that Democrats could "take the Senate" this "will be a big part of why they won." * Months later, the Democrats went on to win control of the Senate.The bottom line: Sasse wrote that his party faces a choice when Trump leaves office: "We can dedicate ourselves to defending the Constitution and perpetuating our best American institutions and traditions, or we can be a party of conspiracy theories."Go deeper: * The Capitol siege's QAnon roots * House freshmen at war after Capitol siegeSupport safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- 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 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 gap between the two groups' infection rates.> 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 Statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico only needs 50 votes 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious
- NBC News
Couy Griffin, a county commissioner in New Mexico, planned to return to the Capitol with guns on Jan. 20, the FBI said.
The U.S. Army has identified a 1st Armored Division staff sergeant from Fort Bliss, Texas found dead at his home Thursday.
- Associated Press
President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday filled out his State Department team with a group of former career diplomats and veterans of the Obama administration, signaling his desire to return to a more traditional foreign policy after four years of uncertainty and unpredictability under President Donald Trump. Biden will nominate Wendy Sherman as deputy secretary of state and Victoria Nuland as undersecretary of state for political affairs — the second- and third-highest ranking posts, respectively.
- The Telegraph
The coronavirus was found on ice cream produced in eastern China, prompting a recall of cartons from the same batch, according to the government. The Daqiaodao Food Co., Ltd. in Tianjin, adjacent to Beijing, was sealed and its employees were being tested for the coronavirus, a city government statement said. There was no indication anyone had contracted the virus from the ice cream. Most of the 29,000 cartons in the batch had yet to be sold, the government said. It said 390 sold in Tianjin were being tracked down and authorities elsewhere were notified of sales to their areas. The ingredients included New Zealand milk powder and whey powder from Ukraine, the government said. The Chinese government has suggested the disease, first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019, came from abroad and has highlighted what it says are discoveries of the coronavirus on imported fish and other food, though foreign scientists are skeptical. Chinese officials have blamed cluster outbreaks on frozen food products imported from countries including the US, EU, New Zealand, Canada, India, Germany and Ecuador. And recently, China blamed an infection in a current cluster outbreak on an imported virus strain that had supposedly contaminated a package of steamed buns. The World Health Organisation has said that cases of live viruses being found on packaging appeared to be “rare and isolated". Other health experts have cautioned against drawing causal links between food packaging and outbreaks – finding traces of virus indicates it is present on a surface, but does not mean it can cause infections. The report came as China confirmed 109 new Covid-19 cases, two-thirds of them in a northern province that abuts Beijing, and no deaths. There were 72 new cases in Hebei province, where the government is building isolation hospitals with a total of 9,500 rooms to combat an upsurge in infections, according to the National Health Commission. The Health Commission on Saturday blamed the new infections on travellers and imported goods it said brought the virus from abroad. China's death toll stands at 4,653 out of 88,227 total cases.
- Miami Herald
A man who did prison time for aggravated stalking and has convictions for domestic violence and violating a restraining order has an 18-year-old girl he has kidnapped at gunpoint, Pembroke Pines police said.
In a briefing held ahead of Desert Storm's 30th anniversary, analysts revisited the elements that made it successful.
President-elect Joe Biden will roll back some of President Trump's most controversial policies and address "four overlapping and compounding crises" in his first 10 days in office — the pandemic, the economic downturn, climate climate and racial inequity.Driving the news: That's according to a memo from Biden's incoming Chief of Staff Ron Klain Saturday. Following Biden's inauguration Wednesday, he'll "sign roughly a dozen actions to combat the four crises," Klein said.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.Zoom in: Biden's actions on day one of his presidency will include rejoining the Paris climate agreement, extending a pause on federal student loan payments, reversing Trump's ban on travel to the U.S. from several Muslim-majority countries and issuing a mask mandate in an attempt to curb surging COVID-19 cases. * On Thursday, Biden will sign several executive actions aimed at changing the course of the COVID-19 crisis and safely re-open schools and businesses. * On Friday, the president-elect will "direct his Cabinet agencies to take immediate action to deliver economic relief to working families bearing the brunt" of the coronavirus crisis, Klein wrote. * Between Jan. 25 and Feb. 1, Biden will address the climate crisis, criminal justice reform, take steps to expand access to health care, and move to reform immigration — including reuniting families separated at the border under Trump's immigration policy.For the record: All of these measures were previously announced, but this is the first time Biden's timetable has been revealed.Go deeper: Biden's "100-day challenge"Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- Reuters Videos
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden may end the Keystone XL pipeline project as one of his first acts in office, a source familiar with his thinking told Reuters it could happen as early as day one. Biden, who will be inaugurated on Wednesday, was vice president when Barack Obama rejected the $9 billion project in 2015. Then two years later, Donald Trump issued a presidential permit that allowed the line to move forward. Since then the project has seen opposition by environmentalists seeking to check Canada's oil industry and Native Americans whose land faced encroachment. Construction of the pipeline is well underway and if completed, would move oil from Canada's Alberta province to the U.S. state of Nebraska. In his 2020 run for president, Biden vowed to scrap its permit once elected. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Saturday, the words 'rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit' appeared on his list of Biden's executive actions likely scheduled for his first day. Biden's team did not respond to a request for comment, but Canada's ambassador to the U.S. said she looks forward to a decision that fits both countries' environmental protection plans. In a statement, Ambassador Kirsten Hillman said: "There is no better partner for the U.S. on climate action than Canada as we work together for green transition." Meanwhile Alberta's Premier tweeted he was "deeply concerned" by the report, adding the decision would kill jobs, increase U.S. dependence on foreign oil, and weaken U.S.-Canada relations.
- The Telegraph
Scientists say Colombia must cull its so-called “cocaine hippos” that roam the Magdalena river basin as they are breeding voraciously and are an increasing menace. The marshlands of Colombia have been home to these giant mammals since they were illegally imported in the late 1980s by the notorious drug lord, Pablo Escobar. When he was shot dead in 1993, the Colombian government took control of his extravagant estate, including his personal zoo. Most of the animals were shipped away, but four hippos were left to fend for themselves in a pond, and now there are dozens of them living in the wild. Although nobody knows exactly how many there are, estimates put the total number between 80 and 100, making them the largest invasive species on the planet. Scientists forecast that the number of hippos will swell to almost 1,500 by 2040. They conclude, that at that point, environmental impacts will be irreversible and numbers impossible to control. “Nobody likes the idea of shooting a hippo, but we have to accept that no other strategy is going to work,” ecologist Nataly Castelblanco-Martínez told The Telegraph.
- Associated Press
Lottery players have another chance to win big next week since there were no winners of the top prize for both the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots in their most recent drawings. The Powerball jackpot grew to an estimated $730 million after no one matched all five numbers and the red ball in the drawing on Saturday night. If a lottery player strikes big in the next Powerball drawing on Wednesday, it would be the fifth-largest jackpot ever in the United States.
- The Independent
Biden’s plan to get 100m Americans vaccinated in first 100 days is ‘doable,’ Dr Fauci says
- The Guardian
Jeffrey Yass, Club for Growth donor, told associate he did not foresee senator’s role in attempt to overturn US democracyJamie Raskin: ‘I’m not going to lose my son and my republic’ Josh Hawley speaks at the US Capitol on 6 January, the day of the Capitol attack. Photograph: AP A secretive billionaire supporter of Josh Hawley and other rightwing lawmakers suggested he had been “deceived” by the Republican senator from Missouri, who led the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Jeffrey Yass is a co-founder of Susquehanna International Group – headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a critical swing state – who has donated tens of millions of dollars to hardline Republican groups who supported Donald Trump’s effort to invalidate his defeat at the polls by Joe Biden. Yass privately told a longtime associate he had not foreseen how his contributions would lead to attempts to overturn US democracy. “Do you think anyone knew Hawley was going to do that?” Yass wrote to Laura Goldman, a former stockbroker who has known him for more than three decades. “Sometimes politicians deceive their donors.” Yass, who does not give interviews and generally avoids publicity, also told Goldman he did not believe the 2020 election had been “stolen”, even though he has directly and indirectly supported rightwing Republicans who have repeatedly – and falsely – sought to discredit the results. The latest fallout of the 6 January attempt to invalidate the election, in which 147 Republicans in Congress objected to electoral college results in the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol, comes as both Hawley and his donors face pressure and criticism for his role. Hawley has said he objected to the counting of electoral votes in order to instigate a “debate” on the issue of election integrity. He has denied that his actions helped to incite the violent outburst and breach of the Capitol in which five people died, including a police officer. Goldman told the Guardian she emailed Yass because she was upset to learn about his support for Hawley and other Republicans, especially since the lawmakers were seeking to invalidate the election results in their home state, Pennsylvania, which helped Biden clinch the White House. “I approached Jeff Yass upset after reading the Guardian’s article [about his involvement in donations] because I was shocked he would allow my vote and the vote of his neighbors to possibly be invalidated by politicians to whom he gives millions of dollars,” she said. She added: “Yass lives here. He knows local politicians … he could simply call them and ask questions if he thought the election results were funky, which they absolutely were not. He doesn’t need Josh Hawley, a senator from Missouri, or Ted Cruz, a senator from Texas, to question the election results in the state that he has lived almost 40 years.” Goldman published snippets of Yass’s private remarks to her on Twitter. The Guardian was able to verify the authenticity of the statements. Yass, a trader and poker aficionado who is an active Republican donor and has been a force in Pennsylvania elections, donated about $30m to conservative Super Pacs in the 2020 election cycle, making him the eighth-largest donor in the election, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. Most of those donations were made to the Club for Growth, an anti-tax group that in 2018 and 2020 supported 42 Republican hardliners who ultimately voted to overturn election results even after insurrectionists stormed the US Capitol. The Club for Growth has been a major back of both Hawley and Cruz, his partner in seeking to invalidate the election. Yass has not responded to requests for comment from the Guardian. Nor has he responded to questions about whether he will continue to donate to the Club for Growth or whether he discussed issues with Hawley and others. Goldman said she sought out a discussion with him in part because she knows he is a “hands on” political donor. The Club for Growth did not respond to a request for comment. The group’s president, David McIntosh, has been an avid supporter of some of most anti-democratic lawmakers elected in 2020, including Lauren Boebert, a QAnon follower and gun rights advocate from Colorado who has been criticized for tweeting the location of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, during the riot in the Capitol, against the advice of police. In an endorsement of Boebert in July 2020, McIntosh lauded the the restaurant owner and political novice for her understanding of the “irreparable harm” caused by “government overreach” and said he had no doubt Boebert would be a “conservative firebrand” in Washington. Yass told Goldman he donated to the Club for Growth a year ago and suggested he could not have anticipated what Hawley and others might do. But public records show Yass also donated $2.5m to the Protect Freedom Pac on 10 November 2020, a week after the US election. The Protect Freedom Pac, affiliated with the Kentucky Republican senator Rand Paul, ran advertisements against Democrats ahead of two January runoff elections in Georgia, including ads that claimed Democrats were seeking to defund the police, institute “socialist healthcare” and raise “trillions in new taxes”. The Protect Freedom Pac’s website currently – and falsely – states that Democrats “stole” the 2020 election and used the Covid-19 crisis to illegally change election laws. It has also endorsed an in-person voter ID law, a policy that would disproportionately block minority voters. Yass has received far less attention than other billionaire donors, such as Mike Bloomberg or the late Sheldon Adelson, but has been known to get involved in local politics, donating money to candidates who support charter schools. Goldman told the Guardian Yass has been a longtime supporter of the Republican majority in the Pennsylvania legislature that led the fight to stop mail-in ballots from being counted until election day. Pennsylvania’s final results were not known until days after the election and Biden’s victory was clinched in large part because of hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots that were counted after in-person ballots. Hawley’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Got a tip? Please email Stephanie.Kirchgaessner@theguardian.com