As hate crimes against Asian Americans rise amid the coronavirus pandemic, a special group of police officers are being deployed to combat it. Meet NYPD’s Asian Hate Crime Task Force, made up of only officers of varying Asian descent. “Having someone that speaks the language and is of your background makes it a little bit easier for [victims] to feel comfortable with going through the facts,” police officer Jacky Wong says. Inside Edition Digital’s Johanna Li has more.
- Yahoo News
U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va., told the Yahoo News "Skullduggery" podcast that President Trump's supporters claiming voter fraud share a lot in common with the people searching for Bigfoot.
- Yahoo News
Rep. Ilhan Omar proposed the legislation in April but concerns about an impending wave of evictions has continued to grow.
- USA TODAY
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been a top official dealing with the pandemic.
- Associated Press
The European Union’s aviation safety agency has extended a ban imposed on Pakistan's state-run airline this year barring it from flying to Europe after a plane crash that killed 97 people in the port city of Karachi, a spokesman said Friday. At the time — and while the probe into the May 22 Airbus A320 crash was still underway — authorities acknowledged that nearly a third of Pakistani pilots, 260 out of 860, had cheated on their pilot’s exams. Pakistan International Airlines subsequently grounded 150 of its pilots while a probe by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority into the other pilots is still ongoing.
Iran plans to install hundreds more advanced uranium-enriching centrifuges at an underground plant in breach of its deal with major powers, a U.N. nuclear watchdog report showed on Friday, a move that will raise pressure on U.S. President-elect Joe Biden. The confidential International Atomic Energy Agency report obtained by Reuters said Iran plans to install three more cascades, or clusters, of advanced IR-2m centrifuges in the underground plant at Natanz, which was apparently built to withstand aerial bombardment.
- The Week
President Trump reportedly needs no encouragement to start praising the dangerous, baseless QAnon conspiracy theory.The most pressing matter for federal Republicans right now is the upcoming Senate runoffs in Georgia, which will determine control of the body. But in a meeting with advisers and top Senate Republicans about that matter, Trump totally derailed the conversation by bringing up QAnon, people familiar with the discussion tell The Washington Post.Trump is reportedly not thrilled with Georgia and that fact that it flipped for President-elect Joe Biden, and is publicly upset with Republican leaders in the state who haven't somehow overturned the election for him. So even though Republican advisers say Trump's help is "key to convincing his die-hard supporters to vote for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue" in the January runoff election, the president isn't thrilled about doing so, the Post reports. "Advisers say he has been frustrated at how some GOP senators have criticized him," leading Trump to appear "disinterested" when discussing Senate campaign plans, the Post continues.That was clear in a recent meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.), and other aides. As they discussed Georgia's Senate races, Trump brought up the QAnon-supporting soon-to-be congressmember Marjorie Taylor Greene. Trump mispronounced the name of the group as "Q-an-uhn," and then said supporters of the theory that purports Democrats are a cannibalistic, pedophilic cabal "basically believe in good government," people familiar tell the Post. Everyone reportedly went silent until White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows mentioned he had "never heard it described that way," the Post reports.Trump has been asked to denounce QAnon several times, but usually gives the theory his tacit approval instead.More stories from theweek.com What Trump is doing isn't politics. It's something much worse. 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims The Donald goes down to Georgia
- Yahoo News
David Cohen, who helped spearhead CIA modernization efforts, could be Biden's pick for the agency's post-Trump future
Cohen is reportedly being considered as one of President-elect Joe Biden’s candidates for CIA director amid pushback from human rights experts and progressives opposed to Michael Morell, Biden’s original top choice.
- Associated Press
A 13-year-old Palestinian died on Friday after being shot by Israeli troops during clashes with a stone-throwing crowd in the occupied West Bank, the official Palestinian news agency reported. The Palestinian Health Ministry said Ali Abu Alia was hit in the stomach and died later at a hospital. The Israeli military said “dozens of rioters” hurled rocks at Israeli soldiers and border police, who responded with “riot dispersal means.”
- Yahoo News Video
As a pair of critical Senate runoff races approach on Jan. 5, Georgia Republican leaders find themselves in a conundrum, trying to balance indulging President Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud with supporting state GOP election officials. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican, is frustrated with the misinformation about the election process in his state. “I’m actually embarrassed at the amount of misinformation that continues to show up on Twitter feeds and Facebook posts and blogs that takes literally 10 seconds to debunk,” Duncan told Yahoo News. “Anybody could debunk it, but because they’ve let themselves get to a point where they’re more worried about flipping an election result than they are following the truth, that’s how we’ve gotten here.”
Russia protested on Friday after Latvia charged several journalists from the Rossiya Segodnya news agency with violating European Union sanctions. The journalists were charged because of their association with Dmitry Kiselyov, who heads Rossiya Segodnya, said Sputnik Latvia, a subsidiary of Rossiya Segodnya. The Kremlin media mogul was sanctioned by the EU for his role in Russia's seizure of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
- The Week
There appears to be growing support among Senate Republicans for a bipartisan coronavirus relief bill introduced earlier this week, reports The Washington Post.The $908 billion package — championed by moderate Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Susan Collins (D-Maine), and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) — is in between what Democratic leadership is pushing for and what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has suggested. The moderates suggested an unemployment boost and money for state governments, but no stimulus checks.While McConnell on Thursday continued to resist the bipartisan bill, pushing instead for his version, which the White House has endorsed, other Republican senators got on board with the package. Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.), and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) signaled they were open to the bipartisan bill.Democratic leaders said they believed the $908 billion package should be the basis for negotiations. Several Republicans echoed that, saying it wasn't exactly what they wanted but it made for a good starting point.McConnell didn't comment directly on the bipartisan proposal, but instead urged lawmakers to pull the trigger on his version, which he called "a serious and highly targeted relief proposal including elements which we know the president is ready and willing to sign into law."More stories from theweek.com What Trump is doing isn't politics. It's something much worse. 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims The Donald goes down to Georgia
- USA TODAY
Five executions are scheduled before Joe Biden, who opposes capital punishment, takes office. Ninety current and former law officials want a halt.
- The Week
President-elect Joe Biden has settled on a team to lead the U.S. through its biggest ongoing crisis, two people familiar with the decision tell Politico.Jeff Zients, who headed the National Economic Council under former President Barack Obama and is co-chair of Biden's transition team, will reportedly be named the White House's COVID-19 coordinator. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general under Obama, will reportedly return to his role with more responsibilities, and Biden's coronavirus advisory board co-chair Marcella Nunez-Smith will get a special role focused on health disparities.Zients "isn't a health care guru, and he's the first to say that," one source close to Biden told Politico. But his managerial experience is seen as an asset as the U.S. prepares to roll out a vaccine and combat the coronavirus-induced economic crisis — "he's essentially playing that role with the transition now," the source said. Zients will reportedly be paired with health experts including Murthy, who has already been a part of Biden's coronavirus plans. Nunez-Smith, a Yale University associate professor of medicine, will meanwhile help address how COVID-19 and other health care issues disproportionately affect people of color.The left wing of the Democratic party isn't expected to be thrilled with Zients' selection, The New York Times reports. Progressive groups such as Revolving Door Project and Justice Democrats have already pointed out his corporate record, and the fact that an anesthesia company managed under the investment firm Zients ran had poor reviews. Under Obama, "his role was essentially to be a management consultant for the executive branch: cutting costs, finding efficiencies and looking at things like a businessman," Revolving Door said in a document about Zients' background.More stories from theweek.com What Trump is doing isn't politics. It's something much worse. 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims The Donald goes down to Georgia
- Associated Press
Israeli police said Friday they arrested a Jewish man after he poured out a “flammable liquid” inside a church near Jerusalem’s Old City, in what they described as a “criminal” incident. The police did not provide further details about the motive, but past attacks on churches in the Holy Land have been blamed on Jewish extremists. Friday’s incident took place at the Church of All Nations, a Catholic church built on the traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christians believe Jesus was betrayed by Judas, one of his followers, and arrested by the Romans before being crucified.
Philippine police on Friday threatened to cane people who violate social distancing protocols as the Southeast Asian nation fights the spread of the coronavirus during the festive season. The Philippines celebrates one of the world's longest Christmas seasons, starting as early as September, and crowds have started to flock to sprawling malls and shopping centres despite the pandemic. Police general Cesar Binag, commander of the coronavirus task force, told a news conference that police and soldiers would patrol in public areas in the capital Manila, the hotspot of COVID-19 cases, carrying 1 meter rattan sticks to measure distancing.
- The Independent
Educator says she wants to keep on teaching when Joe Biden becomes president
- The Week
President-elect Joe Biden said when it comes to the Department of Justice, he is "not going to be telling them what they have to do and don't have to do."Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were interviewed by CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday, and the discussion turned to reports that President Trump is contemplating preemptively pardoning his adult children, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Biden said this "concerns me in terms of what kind of precedent it sets and how the rest of the world looks [at] us as a nation of laws and justice."Biden promised that he is "not going to be saying, 'Go prosecute A, B, or C,' I'm not going to be telling them. That's not the role, it's not my Justice Department, it's the people's Justice Department. So the persons or person I pick to run that department are going to be people who are going to have the independent capacity to decide who gets prosecuted, who doesn't."Harris, who once served as California's attorney general, added that the administration will assume that "any decision coming out of the Justice Department ... should be based on the law, it should not be influence by politics, period."More stories from theweek.com What Trump is doing isn't politics. It's something much worse. 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims The Donald goes down to Georgia
- Associated Press
The Army Corps of Engineers reversed course on an Obama-era proposal to charge for water drawn from reservoirs the Corps manages, North Dakota’s attorney general said Friday. Attorneys general from a dozen Western and Plains states sent a letter last year to the Trump administration asking that the proposal be withdrawn. Republican North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem headed the effort, which was backed by attorneys general from Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Firefighters battled to tame a wildfire on hillsides southeast of Los Angeles late on Thursday, some 24 hours after it broke out in a wooded canyon, apparently triggered by a faulty domestic generator. Two of some 500 firefighters deployed to control it had been hospitalized with injuries, the Orange County Fire Authority said on Twitter. The Bond Fire, named for the street in Silverado Canyon where it started, ignited late on Wednesday evening and was quickly whipped up by dry Santa Ana winds.
- The Daily Beast
President Donald Trump falsely labeled Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of him a “witch hunt.” It wasn’t.If you want to see what a real political witch hunt looks like, just look to lame duck Attorney General slash personal fixer Bill Barr’s appointment this week of a special counsel meant to probe Joe Biden’s administration before it even begins.While Barr’s order appointing Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham as special counsel is focused on any crimes connected to the opening of the FBI’s investigation into Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, you’re kidding yourself if you think it necessarily stops here. As a reminder, special prosecutor Kenneth Starr was appointed in August 1994 to investigate Clinton’s real estate dealings (“Whitewater”), well over a year before Clinton even met then White House intern Monica Lewinsky and we saw how that worked out.Bill Barr Has Pie on His Face, and One More Trick Up His Sleeve With John Durham’s October SurpriseAnything that Barr does should be viewed through the prism of politics, rather than the law. This is the guy who refused in September to criticize Donald Trump for repeatedly calling on his supporters to vote twice in the run up to the 2020 election and furthered Trump’s baseless claims that mail-in ballots would lead to fraud.And Barr doesn’t seem to have any good-faith basis for making Durham a special counsel. Barr first tapped Durham, a career federal prosecutor also serving as the District of Connecticut U.S. Attorney, to conduct this investigation last May. What does Durham have to show for it? One low-level F.B.I. lawyer pleading guilty in August to doctoring an email in connection with an application for a wiretap. That’s it.In contrast, 18 months into his investigation Robert Mueller had already convicted Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort of various crimes, and charged and secured guilty pleas from Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos and Rick Gates as well as indicting 16 Russian nationals for interfering in the 2016 election.So why is Barr now making Durham a special counsel, potentially allowing him to continue his probe throughout Biden’s term?Just look at the facts that led up to Barr’s Oct. 19, 2020 order appointing Durham. In the weeks before the order was signed, Trump was in the media slamming Barr for not indicting his political enemies before the election, calling it a “disgrace” and threatening that “I’m going to have to get involved” if Barr didn’t start doing something to justify all those “lock ‘em up” chants at his rallies. Just five days before Barr signed the order, Trump again publicly slammed Barr for not announcing indictments before the election.On the same day that Barr signed the Oct. 19 order, 11 GOP members of Congress—all of them big-time Trump backers—sent a letter to the AG urging him to appoint a special counsel to investigate Joe Biden and “any legal or ethical issues that might be uncovered from the former vice president’s 47 years in public office." There was no subtlety there. They told Barr to appoint a special counsel to go after Biden.And, as Barr’s order makes clear, he did.First, the order authorizes Durham to investigate “whether any federal official employee, or any other person…violated the law” in connection with the investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign that began under the Obama administration. That means Durham could plausibly seek to depose Biden regarding what he knew about the origins of the investigation. If Biden objects, it makes him look like he’s covering up something. If he agrees, we have a sitting president testifying under oath—who know where that leads?Secondly—and more alarming—Barr’s order expressly cites the federal regulation that allows Durham to expand his work “to investigate new matters that come to light in the course of his or her investigation” --conditioned upon the approval of the Attorney General. That means if Trump’s buddies send Durham information on any potential wrongdoing by Biden—no matter how far-fetched—Durham could ask Biden’s AG for permission to expand his investigation into this new subject matter. If Biden’s AG says “no,” the political downside for Biden will be immense as Fox News, Republicans in Congress, and others shout that Biden’s AG is engaged in a cover-up. And if the AG approves the investigation, that signals the start of a new investigation that could plague Biden for years.While Biden’s AG can fire Durham, the controlling federal regulation requires a “good cause” basis to do so, such as “misconduct.” But obviously if Biden’s AG dumped Durham, it would come with a political price—which is precisely why Barr formalized Durham as a special counsel pursuant to federal law.Biden and the Democrats need to view this investigation for what it appears to be: the first step in the GOP’s 2024 campaign to hobble President Biden even before he takes office and make him into a one-term president. Democrats need to start calling it out now.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.