By Erwin Seba HOUSTON (Reuters) - Talks to end the largest U.S. refinery strike in 35 years are not expected to resume this week, sources familiar with the negotiations said on Monday after the number of plants hit by walkouts increased over the weekend. Face-to-face meetings between the United Steelworkers union (USW) and lead refinery owner representative Shell Oil Co, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, might remain on hold until the second week of March, the sources said. The halt in talks comes after the USW pulled workers from three Motiva Enterprises LLC [MOTIV.UL] refineries in Louisiana and Texas co-owned by Shell after oil companies balked at a possible settlement. Over the weekend, sources said negotiations might resume by the middle of this week. About 6,550 workers are walking picket lines at 15 plants, including 12 refineries that account for one-fifth of U.S. refining capacity. Refiners are using trained replacement workers, primarily managers and engineers, to keep plants running close to normal. In a text message on Monday night sent to union members and the news media, the USW called on Shell to return to the negotiating table. A spokesman said Shell looks forward to resuming negotiations. More information might come from a news conference USW International President Leo Gerard has scheduled for Tuesday morning in Atlanta. In a letter to employees, Shell said the major sticking point in the talks was the USW's push to shift daily maintenance work from non-union contractors to union members. The company said it offered a 6.5 percent increase in pay to the USW over the three years of the agreement. In a letter on Monday night, Tesoro Corp Executive Vice President Keith Casey urged striking workers to return to work at company refineries on the West Coast. "I can confirm we have had folks make this decision and rejoin us at all of our refineries," Casey said. "The same is occurring across the industry." Casey also said Tesoro is preparing to restart its 166,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery in Martinez, California, which has been shut since Feb. 6 for a planned multi-unit overhaul. Workers are also striking at the Shell refinery and chemical plant in Deer Park, Texas, and at plants in California, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Texas and Washington owned by BP Plc, Lyondell Basell NV, Marathon Petroleum Corp and Tesoro. (Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Andre Grenon and Lisa Shumaker)
- NBC News
The suspension will last at least 30 days and has been in effect since last week, YouTube said in an email.
- The Week
In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said his caucus won't allow Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to dictate the agenda in the Democratic-led 50-50 Senate or demand an end to the legislative filibuster as a precondition for a power-sharing pact. "We've told McConnell no on the organizing resolution, and that's that. So there's no negotiations on that," Schumer said, suggesting he had a secret plan. "There are ways to deal with him." Maddow included an update when she broadcast the interview Monday night. "While we were airing that right now, and you were watching it, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just put out a statement that he is folding on this" and willl "agree to go forward with what Sen. Schumer told him he must," she said. "Sen. Mitch McConnell has caved and Sen. Schumer has won that fight. That was quick. Let's see what else we can do." No sooner has the portion of Rachel Maddow's interview with Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer aired than Mitch McConnell has put out a statement that he is folding, ending the stand-off. pic.twitter.com/9qR1jpKXkf — Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021 McConnell said he would allow the Senate to move forward because two Democrats had reiterated their opposition to ending the filibuster, effectively taking that option off the table. Maddow asked Schumer about that, too, and he didn't answer directly. "The caucus is united with the belief that I have: We must get big, strong, bold things done," Schumer said. The Democratic caucus is also "totally united" that "we will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do," and "we have tools that we can use," notably the budget reconciliation process," he added. "We will come together as a caucus and figure it out." "We will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do." Here's Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier in his interview with Rachel Maddow, talking about the filibuster specifically, and getting things done. pic.twitter.com/xOAKWfe2Fu — Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021 Schumer also suggested he is not interested in playing cat-and-mouse with McConnell's Republicans again. Watch below. "We will not repeat that mistake." Senate Majority Leader Schumer cites Obama era lessons in prioritizing legislation over bad faith Republican 'bipartisanship.' pic.twitter.com/gpc1kBP45w — Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021 More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedBiden's reverse triangulation
- Associated Press
A federal judge on Tuesday barred the U.S. government from enforcing a 100-day deportation moratorium that is a key immigration priority of President Joe Biden. U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton issued a temporary restraining order sought by Texas, which sued on Friday against a Department of Homeland Security memo that instructed immigration agencies to pause most deportations.
- NBC News
"The member in question had been advised numerous times about the requirements and had refused to be tested," the House speaker said.
- Yahoo News Video
Former President Donald Trump opened an office in Florida on Monday that will handle his duties as a former U.S. president and seek to further his administration's agenda.
- The Independent
‘There appeared to be no remorse,’ says Calcasieu Parish sheriff Tony Mancus
- 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 governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedBiden's reverse triangulation
- The Telegraph
Joe Biden challenged Vladimir Putin over the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, and reports of Russian bounties on the heads of US soldiers in Afghanistan, in their first presidential phone call. Mr Biden also raised concerns about Russian "aggression" against Ukraine, and reaffirmed Washington's "strong support for Ukraine's sovereignty." The US president said he was willing to extend the New START nuclear arms control treaty for five years. Kremlin officials said documents had been exchanged to extend the pact. Mr Biden also raised concerns over Russian cyber hacking, interference in US elections, and treatment of peaceful protesters. Mr Biden made clear he would "act firmly in defence of our national interest in response to malign actions by Russia," the White House said. The Kremlin said Mr Putin told Mr Biden that he supports "normalisation" of relations between their two countries. Mr Putin "noted that the normalisation of relations between Russia and the United States" would benefit "the entire international community," the Kremlin said.
- Associated Press
Chinese state media have stoked concerns about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, despite rigorous trials indicating it is safe. A government spokesperson has raised the unsubstantiated theory that the coronavirus could have emerged from a U.S. military lab, giving it more credence in China. As the ruling Communist Party faces growing questioning about China's vaccines and renewed criticism of its early COVID-19 response, it is hitting back by encouraging conspiracy theories that some experts say could cause harm.
- Los Angeles Times Opinion
Gov. Newsom needs to do a better job communicating California's statewide COVID restrictions with the public, and with other state officials.
- National Review
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) voted in favor of a resolution declaring the impeachment trial of former President Trump “unconstitutional” on Tuesday. The point of order resolution was put forward by McConnell’s colleague from Kentucky, Rand Paul, and effectively forced Republicans to declare on the record whether they consider the impeachment trial constitutional, given that it’s taking place after Trump has left office. The resolution failed after a majority of senators voted against it, meaning the impeachment trial will go ahead as planned. However, only five Republicans voted against the resolution: Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. At the close of the impeachment trial itself, at least 17 Republican senators would need to join Democrats in order to convict Trump. “I think there will be enough support on” the point-of-order resolution “to show there’s no chance they can impeach the president,” Paul told reporters before the vote on Tuesday. “If 34 people support my resolution that this is an unconstitutional proceeding, it shows they don’t have the votes and we’re basically wasting our time.” Senator Collins said following the vote that there would be little chance of an impeachment conviction. “I think it’s pretty obvious from the vote today that it is extraordinary unlikely that the president will be convicted,” Collins told The New York Times. “Just do the math.” McConnell was reportedly pleased with the idea of impeaching Trump, after the former president incited a mob of his supporters to amass at the Capitol on January 6, though the majority leader later said publicly that he hadn’t decided whether to vote to convict. The mob breached the Capitol and forced lawmakers to evacuate, and five people died in the riots including a Capitol police officer. An impeachment conviction could allow the Senate to bar Trump from running for office again, however a number of Republican senators have come out against the impeachment push. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said it would be “arrogant” for the Senate to prevent Trump from running again. “Voters get to decide that,” Rubio told Chis Wallace on Fox News Sunday. “Who are we to tell voters who they can vote for in the future?” Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas also voiced skepticism regarding the impeachment trial. “I think a lot of Americans are going to think it’s strange that the Senate is spending its time trying to convict and remove from office a man who left office a week ago,” Cotton told the Associated Press on Monday.
Italy asked the European Commission on Tuesday to take action against Pfizer over cuts to its COVID-19 vaccine deliveries, the government's special commissioner said. The request to Brussels came a day after Rome sent a formal warning letter to the U.S. drug company calling on it to respect its contractual commitments after a temporary slowdown in its COVID-19 vaccine deliveries. Pfizer has said it will make up for the drop in deliveries with manufacturing changes that will boost output.
- Associated Press
The patter of paws is being heard in the White House again following the arrival of President Joe Biden's dogs Champ and Major. Major burst onto the national scene late last year after Biden, then president-elect, broke his right foot while playing with the dog at their home in Wilmington, Delaware. The Bidens adopted Major in 2018 from the Delaware Humane Association.
- Defense News
There was a noticeable uptick in the People’s Liberation Army’s typical air activity inside Taiwan’ air defense identification zone, which usually amounts to a handful of aircraft daily.
- Architectural Digest
Let’s get loudOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- The Week
With former President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial looming, several Republicans in the upper chamber are reportedly rallying around the argument that impeaching a president who is already out of office is unconstitutional. As The Dispatch and Politico note, scholars in legal circles that span the political spectrum generally disagree, and Trump himself suggested ex-presidents could be tried a year ago. Per The Washington Post, when Trump was impeached for the first time, he complained that Congress should be going after former President Barack Obama instead over comments he made about health care. "We should impeach him for that," Trump said. "Why aren't we impeaching him?" Some of his staunchest allies in Congress concurred, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who stated explicitly in 2019 that former presidents are subject to impeachment. Gaetz didn't change his mind this time around, though he made the case Trump's actions aren't impeachment-worthy. Regardless, the comments raise questions about the sincerity of the argument. Can’t overstate the importance of reporters conveying that this position was fabricated rapidly to give Republican senators dishonest cover to acquit Trump. Clearly evident in the genesis of the talking point. https://t.co/pC0nmIADoP — Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) January 26, 2021 More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedBiden's reverse triangulation
- Associated Press
A group of U.N experts has criticized Sri Lanka's requirement that those who die of COVID-19 be cremated, even it goes against a family's religious beliefs, and warned that decisions based on “discrimination and aggressive nationalism” could incite hatred and violence. The experts, who are part of the Special Procedures of the U.N Human Rights Council, said in a statement Monday that rule amounts to a human rights violation. “We deplore the implementation of such public health decisions based on discrimination, aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism amounting to persecution of Muslims and other minorities in the country,” the experts said.
Backers of the union of the United Kingdom's four nations should boycott any "wildcat" independence referendum for Scotland, the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party said on Monday, after the nation's first minister pressed ahead with plans for a vote. Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said on Sunday she was hoping a strong performance by her Scottish National Party (SNP) in an election in May would give her the mandate to hold a second referendum. To get a legal referendum, any such vote must be approved by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has ruled out doing so.
- The Week
The CEO of MyPillow will no longer be able to use his Twitter. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has been permanently banned from Twitter for "repeated violations of our Civic Integrity Policy," the company told CNN. While Twitter didn't specify what tweet prompted Lindell's final suspension, he has in recent weeks been pushing false claims about widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Twitter's Civic Integrity Policy states that users may not use the platform "for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes," including by posting "false or misleading information about the procedures or circumstances around participation in" elections. Under this policy, five or more strikes will lead to a permanent suspension. Lindell, who visited former President Donald Trump at the White House earlier this month and was seen with notes referencing "martial law," also could soon be hit with a potential defamation lawsuit for his election claims. Dominion Voting Systems has threatened to sue the MyPillow boss over his promotion of a false conspiracy theory that the company's machines were used to change the outcome of the presidential race. Dominion on Monday sued Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who also promoted the false claims. Lindell told The New York Times he would "welcome" a lawsuit from Dominion. Twitter's suspension of Lindell comes after the company earlier this month permanently banned Trump due to the "risk of further incitement of violence" following the deadly Capitol riot. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has defended the decision, while at the same time saying that "a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation." More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedBiden's reverse triangulation
- The Telegraph
Indian and Chinese soldiers armed with sticks and stones have brawled again along their disputed frontier, Delhi said, as the neighbours' months-long border stand-off continued. Indian security officials said there were clashes after at least 18 Chinese soldiers tried to cross into Indian-claimed territory at Naku La in Sikkim on January 20. Soldiers on both sides were carrying firearms, but did not use them. A senior Indian Army official told the Telegraph that four Indian soldiers were wounded after they challenged the Chinese PLA soldiers. All four Indian wounded had been hospitalised, and their condition was described as stable. The officer said the number of injured Chinese was “in double figures”. An official army statement gave few details, describing the clash as a minor stand-off and saying it had been "resolved by local commanders as per established protocols". The military asked journalists "to refrain from overplaying or exaggerating" the incident. Zhao Lijian, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, urged India "not to take any unilateral action that may further complicate or exacerbate the border tension." Yet an opinion piece in China's Global Times, a hawkish state-owned tabloid, said the reports were false and blamed Indian rumour-mongering. Tensions have been high since May when deadly clashes erupted high in the Karakoram mountains along the poorly defined frontier between the rivals. Both sides have mobilized tens of thousands of soldiers, artillery and fighter aircraft along the fiercely contested border known as the Line of Actual Control, or LAC, that separates Chinese and Indian-held territories from Ladakh in the west to India's eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety. May's brawl exploded into hand-to-hand combat with clubs, stones and fists on June 15 that left 20 Indian soldiers dead. China is believed to also have had casualties, but has not given any details. Indian and Chinese army commanders met for the ninth round of talks after a gap of two-and-a-half months in Ladakh on Sunday but neither side released any details of the outcome.