Vice President Mike Pence is reportedly spending the Christmas holiday in Vail Valley, and one state senator is not happy about it.
- NBC News
Biden's team appears ready to invest political capital trying to get Congress to approve another round of stimulus payments.
A U.S. aircraft carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt has entered the South China Sea to promote "freedom of the seas", the U.S. military said on Sunday, at a time when tensions between China and Taiwan have raised concern in Washington. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement the strike group entered the South China Sea on Saturday, the same day Taiwan reported a large incursion of Chinese bombers and fighter jets into its air defence identification zone in the vicinity of the Pratas Islands.
- Associated Press
- National Review
President Biden will sign a fresh round of executive orders during his first full week in office, including actions loosening restrictions around abortion and immigration. Biden will issue and order to rescind the Mexico City policy, which prohibits U.S. funding for foreign organizations that perform or promote abortions. The administration also dodged last week on whether Biden plans to scrap the Hyde Amendment, which bars taxpayer funding of elective abortions under Medicaid. On immigration, Biden plans to establish a task force focused on reuniting migrant families who were separated as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, according to a memo outlining the upcoming executive actions obtained by The Hill. Biden will order an immediate review of the public-charge rule, which denies U.S. entry to migrants considered likely to become dependent on the government. The president also plans to roll back Trump administration policies on asylum and take “other actions to remove barriers and restore trust in the legal immigration system, including improving the naturalization process.” At the same time, Biden will take a page from the Trump administration’s playbook and sign an order directing federal agencies to tighten requirements on buying goods and services made in America from American businesses. Trump signed a similar directive during his first months in office. The president will also sign orders related to racial equity, including establishing a commission on police and bringing back Obama-era rules on transferring military-style equipment to local law enforcement. Another order will direct the Justice Department to improve prison conditions and begin the process of eliminating private prisons. Biden may also sign an order reversing a ban on transgender troops serving in the military. On climate change, Biden is expected to sign an order installing regulations to “combat climate change domestically and elevate climate change as a national security priority.”
- Associated Press
Indonesian authorities said that they seized an Iranian tanker and Panamanian tanker suspected of carrying out the illegal transfer of oil in their country's waters Sunday. The tankers — the Iranian-flagged MT Horse and the Panamanian-flagged MT Frea — were seized in waters off Indonesia's West Kalimantan province, said Wisnu Pramadita, a spokesman for the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency.
New U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, during his first phone call with his Japanese counterpart, reaffirmed America's commitment to Tokyo to defending a group of East China Sea islets claimed by both Japan and China, the Pentagon said. Austin, in talks with Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, confirmed that Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan security treaty, which stipulates U.S. defence obligations to Japan, covers the uninhabited islands, the Pentagon said in a statement.
- The Week
President Biden has issued another two executive orders aimed at the coronavirus pandemic's economic fallout.Millions of Americans have claimed unemployment insurance as they lost their jobs amid the pandemic, not to mention thousands of noncitizen workers who haven't been eligible for the benefits. Congress has so far passed two relief bills aimed at helping those who have lost their jobs, though many families are still struggling. Biden is pushing Congress to pass another $1.9 trillion stimulus program, but took initial and immediate relief steps Friday with another round of executive orders.The first order would increase how much families are given through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program each week. About 12 million families rely on the program, and this order would boost food stamp benefits for a family of four by 15 percent, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese tells The New York Times. And while Biden has called for another round of $1,400 stimulus checks, this order would direct the IRS to ensure Americans are getting their $600 payments as well. Notably, the order will also let people claim unemployment benefits even if they quit their job because they feel unsafe working it during the pandemic, among other economic benefits aimed at low-income Americans.The second order meanwhile lays the groundwork for ensuring federal workers and contractors are paid at least $15 per hour and can access paid leave, CNN reports. It also undoes some of former President Donald Trump's orders that let a president hire and fire employees for political reasons and limited federal workers' bargaining rights.Biden has spent the first two days of his presidency issuing executive orders to combat Trump's policies on immigration, climate, the pandemic, and more.More stories from theweek.com 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Biden's COVID-19 push 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit 'No way' McConnell has had a post-Trump 'epiphany,' political scientist says
- Associated Press
Four Zimbabwean Cabinet ministers have died of COVID-19, three within the past two weeks, highlighting a resurgence of the disease that is sweeping through this southern African country. President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the coronavirus is reaping a “grim harvest” in the country. Then came the death of the transport minister.
- The Telegraph
The SNP has revealed a "roadmap to a referendum" on Scottish independence, with the latest poll showing a majority want a fresh vote. Mike Russell, the Scottish Government's Constitution Secretary, will present the 11-point document to the party's policy forum on Sunday. It says a "legal referendum" will be held after the pandemic if there is a pro-independence majority following May's election. The roadmap states any attempt by the UK Government to challenge the legality of the referendum in the courts will be "vigorously opposed". A Section 30 order - part of the Scotland Act 1998 which allows Holyrood to pass laws normally reserved to Westminster - was granted by the UK Government ahead of the 2014 independence referendum.
There was no distribution plan for the coronavirus vaccine set up by the Trump administration as the virus raged in its last months in office, new President Joe Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, said on Sunday. "The process to distribute the vaccine, particularly outside of nursing homes and hospitals out into the community as a whole, did not really exist when we came into the White House," Klain said on NBC's "Meet the Press." Biden, a Democrat who took over from Republican President Donald Trump on Wednesday, has promised a fierce fight against the pandemic that killed 400,000 people in the United States under Trump’s watch.
- Associated Press
As a student in college and seminary, then as a pastor in Texas, Dwight McKissic has been affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention for more than 45 years. “It would feel like a divorce,” McKissic said. If he does, he would be following in the footsteps of several other Black pastors who have recently exited in dismay over what they see as racial insensitivity from some leaders of the predominantly white SBC.
- Yahoo News Video
- The Telegraph
Thousands of Hong Kongers were ordered to stay in their homes on Saturday for the city's first coronavirus lockdown as authorities battle an outbreak in one of its poorest and most densely packed districts. The order bans anyone inside multiple housing blocks within the neighbourhood of Jordan from leaving their apartment unless they can show a negative test. Officials said they planned to test everyone inside the designated zone within 48 hours "in order to achieve the goal of zero cases in the district". The South China Morning Post said the measures covered about 150 housing blocks and up to 9,000 people with hundreds of police on standby to enforce the lockdown. Hong Kong was one of the first places to be struck by the coronavirus after it burst out of central China.
- The Independent
Priest who attended pro-Trump rally ahead of Capitol insurrection is suspended from post and may be defrocked
Reverend Mark Hodges described event as ‘joyful, positive and orderly’
Support for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has overseen the world's second deadliest coronavirus outbreak, has fallen sharply, a Datafolha poll shows, as a brutal second wave and a lack of vaccines sour views of his far-right government. However, despite his declining support, a majority of Brazilians are now against him being impeached, a second Datafolha poll found. According to one of the polls, Bolsonaro's administration was rated as bad or terrible by 40% of respondents, compared with 32% in an early-December survey.
- Associated Press
Turkey on Sunday passed 25,000 Covid-19-related deaths since the start of the outbreak in March, the health ministry said. Turkey has recorded more than 2.4 million infections since the first case was recorded on March 11 last year. Turkey began its vaccination program on Jan. 14, initially focusing on health workers and the elderly.
- LA Times
Column: You thought McConnell was tough as majority leader? Wait until you see him as minority leader
Get ready for the same tough-as-nails obstructionist we saw when Obama was in office.
Efforts to free the miners, who were stuck underground for 14 days, took a dramatic turn on Sunday.