During a challenging year of the COVID-19 pandemic, area school districts are showing an increase in high school graduation rates, with most exceeding the state average, which also rose.
- Yahoo News
Republicans built up QAnon backer Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, but now are they afraid of what they created?
On the eve of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the combative Georgia Republican known for her association with QAnon, was back on Twitter after a 12-hour suspension, and back to making waves.
- The Independent
President-elect celebrates his hometown: ‘You were with me my whole career, through the good times and the bad’
- The Week
U.S. prosecutors have imposed the first conspiracy charge against a person who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, The Washington Post reports.Thomas Edward Caldwell was arrested early Tuesday morning on four federal counts pertaining to the riot, including conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, per the Post. He allegedly organized a group of militia members who attacked the Capitol building, praising their actions in Facebook posts after the event.Caldwell's group of "eight to 10 individuals" wore "helmets and military-style gear and were seen moving purposefully toward the top of the Capitol steps and leading the move against police lines," the Post reports. He had been planning the siege at least a week earlier, sending a Facebook message on Jan. 1 that showed he was scouting hotels near the Capitol that "would allow us to go hunting at night if we wanted to," the charging affidavit says. He allegedly sent the message to Jessica Watkins, the founder of the "Ohio State Regular Militia" who was arrested last week after participating in the attack.Caldwell seemingly didn't try to hide his involvement at the Capitol, allegedly sharing video of the attack in the evening of Jan. 6. "We need to do this at the local level. Lets [sic] storm the capitol in Ohio. Tell me when!" Caldwell wrote on Facebook, the FBI says in its charging documents.Caldwell was allegedly a member of the Oath Keepers, an extremist group that, along with the Three Percenters and Proud Boys, is being investigated for its role in sparking the Capitol attack.More stories from theweek.com 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Trump issues last-minute order attempting to free his appointees from ethics commitments Lindsey Graham seemed very pleased with Biden's secretary of state nominee
Retailers including Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl's and Wayfair have stopped selling My Pillow products after Trump-supporting CEO Mike Lindell pushed baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.Driving the news: Lindell told NBC News Tuesday the retailers phoned him to say they could face "a boycott" if they didn't take the action. But Bed Bath & Beyond and Kohl's have both said the decision was related to a lack of demand for My Pillow's products.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America. * Lindell insisted to Fox9 that "leftists" on social media were behind the moves, which he claimed also resulted in HEB dropping My Pillow products.What they're saying: Axios has contacted all of the retailers for comment. Bed Bath & Beyond told the New York Times in a statement: "We have been rationalizing our assortment to discontinue a number of underperforming items and brands." * Kohl's told USA Today in a statement: "There has been decreased customer demand for MyPillow. We will sell our current inventory and not buy additional/future inventory in the brand."Of note: The retailers' action comes a day after Dominion Voting Systems sent a cease and desist letter to Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- National Review
Rand Paul would like you to know that while he “didn’t agree with the [Capitol] fight that happened” January 6, he doesn’t believe that President Trump — whose batty two-month crusade to convince his supporters the election was stolen served as the proximate cause of the “fight” — should be disqualified from holding office again in the future. Language tends to be intemperate these days, but “I didn’t agree with the fight” errs in the opposite direction: It’s far too tame a response to the sickening display of January 6. This was no ordinary “fight.” It was an attempt to violently disrupt the counting of electoral votes, and hence the peaceful transfer of power to the next duly elected administration. It stunned America and shamed us before the world. It made us look like a banana republic. It resulted in several deaths and might have led to a physical attack on, or even the murder of, the vice president as he was conducting the most important business of his term. Trump’s actions may not have met the legal definition of incitement, but he tossed a match on kindling he had carefully placed and thoroughly soaked with kerosene. As Dan McLaughlin has written, Trump must face consequences “sufficiently spectacular to deter any repetition so long as our national memory endures.” But if Senator Paul has his way, apparently, Trump will suffer no consequences whatsoever and reenter private life as the heavy favorite to be the next Republican presidential nominee. This is madness. Abraham Lincoln’s party was fine without Trump for 150 years and it will long survive him. The parties being largely ruled from the ground up, it’s not feasible to eject Trump from a GOP he seized control of in 2015 and has since disgraced, but it is possible for 17 Republican senators to convict and disqualify him from holding any future high office in the United States. This is the right thing to do and it’s also the prudent thing to do, for the sake of the party as well as the country. The GOP cannot afford to spend the next four years trying to explain away Trump’s indefensible actions. It has to move on, and there is only one way to do that. Paul foresees a colossal schism in the party should Trump be convicted and barred from future office-holding, warning that one-third of the party will walk away from the GOP in that scenario. He’s wrong: One of the curses (but also, sometimes, one of the blessings) of our culture is our notoriously short collective memory. Should Trump be disqualified this winter, the discussion will quickly move on to other topics. Who should be the new party’s standard-bearer? Don Jr.? I very much doubt it. It’s unclear that even Trump Sr. would be enthusiastic about that, having repeatedly ridiculed his younger namesake as, among many other things, “not the sharpest knife in the drawer.” For five years we’ve seen various other Republican politicians attempt to ape Trump’s combination of posturing and populism, and it never works. Senator Josh Hawley has spent two years reverse-mortgaging his reputation in an attempt to extract equity out of the Trump bank, and it has gotten him nowhere. A Politico/Morning Consult poll taken in November put him at 1 percent in the polls, and that was before his shameful performance on January 6. Though some of Trump’s ideas about trade and immigration may continue to have sway in some parts of the party, Trumpism as a whole is too closely tied up with one man to be handed off to a new leader. It would die with Trump’s political career, and the party would move on. A disqualified Trump would, of course, rain hellfire on the senators who disqualified him, as well as any other perceived backstabbers. But four years from now, when ten Republican senators face reelection, Trump’s rage will be background noise at worst. Six years from now, when Ben Sasse, Mitch McConnell, Susan Collins, and 17 of their Republican colleagues face the voters, it won’t be any noise at all. Trump himself has a short attention span and a fear of being boring; even he won’t be able to keep up the insults for four years, much less six, on whatever cable-news perch from which he chooses to harangue the nation. It is true that Trump is the only thing that consistently fascinates Trump. But America does not love a sore loser, and his victim act will begin to go stale by the next time voters go to the polls. Gradually, even many of his most ardent supporters will begin to realize the man is embarrassing. Among those who persist in believing the fantasy that Trump was robbed and that any lawmakers who voted against him are sworn enemies, how will this play out at the ballot box? It won’t, because voting will remain a binary choice. Trump, being disqualified, won’t be able to run as a third-party candidate and divide the party. The primary motivating force for voters will continue to be, as it has been for years, visceral dislike for one party’s style and policies. Joe Biden has signaled in many ways that, far from being a unifying president, he will consider it a core duty to focus on punishing and antagonizing Trump supporters via appointments and policies specifically designed to irritate them. Biden has watched Trump play the role of Troll-in-Chief for the last four years and decided he wants in on the action. Kamala Harris, should she become president, would be even more despised by both conventional Republicans and Trumpists. So never fear, Senator Paul: Post-Trump, Republicans will close ranks quickly. The main thing the American Right stands for is hating what Democrats do, and Democrats are preparing to embark on a presidency full of policies that are easy to hate.
Tam Dinh Pham of the Houston police department was part of the deadly mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. A veteran Houston police officer is in trouble after attending the U.S. Capitol riots in Washington, D.C., then lying about it. Officer Tam Dinh Pham joined the deadly mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
A boy who was killed in an alleged murder-suicide by his father has been identified as 9-year-old Pierce O’Loughlin. Family tragedy: The boy and his father, Stephen O'Loughlin, 49, were both found dead at their home on Scott Street, Marina District in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon, SF Chronicle reports. The boy’s mother, Lesley Hu, asked authorities to check on her son after learning that he did not show up for school that day.
- Associated Press
French President Emmanuel Macron hoped on Tuesday that U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will show a greater military commitment to fight against Islamic extremists in several theaters of conflict and especially in the Middle East. Macron, who made his New Year’s speech to the French military in Brest, in western France, said “I am certain that in the coming weeks, the new administration (Biden) will need to make key decisions that will mark a greater commitment and awareness in the fight against terrorism" in Syria and Iraq. Macron stressed that France has maintained its efforts to fight against the Islamic State group in the region.
- The Telegraph
Drug kingpins are to be targeted by the Government in a £148 million bid to “cut the head off the snake” and combat addiction in an operation dubbed “Project Adder". Boris Johnson announced that £68 million of the extra money will be used to take on county lines gangs which have grown into a £500 million criminal industry distributing illegal drugs from cities to suburban and rural towns throughout the UK. A further £80 million will be invested in drug treatment services to try to halt re-offending, and slash demand from addicts who are fuelling the gangs and the violence they use to stake out their territories. Part of the money will go to “Project Adder” – an acronym for Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery – which will direct money into policing and treatment in five drug blackspots. The Prime Minister said: “It is clear that drugs are a serious driver of the violence which devastates communities and robs young lives. That is why we must take action to cut off supply and cut the head off the snake by tackling the criminal gangs which exploit young people. “We must also help people to get off drugs in the first place and that is why we are launching Project Adder, a new, targeted approach which will ramp up local enforcement, while at the same time diverting more people into recovery, backed up by the largest investment in treatment in 15 years.” The cash injection follows a damning report by Prof Carole Black for the Home Office that warned the heroin and crack retail market has been transformed by county lines gangs driving increased violence and the exploitation of young people and vulnerable drug users. She also warned that funding for drug treatment had fallen dramatically in recent years and in some local authorities by as much as 40 per cent, denying many drug users the support they needed to escape their habit. Some £40 million of the new money will go to police and other law enforcement agencies to take down county lines gangs and drug kingpins. It brings the total invested to £65 million since November 2019. The Home Office said the funding had already seen more than 3,400 people arrested, more than 550 county lines closed, drugs with a street value of £9 million, and £1.5 million cash seized, and more than 770 vulnerable people safeguarded. The extra £28 million for Project Adder will run for three financial years in five areas with some of the highest rates of drug misuse: Blackpool, Hastings, Middlesbrough, Norwich and Swansea Bay.
- Architectural Digest
Mercedes-Benz’s Hyperscreen, General Motors’ Bright Drop, and Jeep’s Electric Wrangler were among the unveils that turned headsOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- Associated Press Videos
Twelve U.S. Army National Guard members have been removed from the presidential inauguration security mission after they were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or posted extremist views. (Jan. 19)
Secretary of State nominee Tony Blinken said at a confirmation hearing on Tuesday that it was “extraordinary how frightened Vladimir Putin seems to be of one man” — Alexey Navalny.Why it matters: Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, Navalny, returned to Russia on Sunday and was swiftly arrested. He spent the previous five months recovering in Germany after being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. His detention poses an early foreign policy challenge for the Biden administration.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.What he’s saying: Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Navalny served as a voice for millions of Russians, “and their voice needs to be heard in Russia.” * “The attempts to silence that voice by silencing Mr. Navalny is something that we strongly condemn,” Blinken added, noting that Navalny's arrest and other points of tension with Russia would be “very high on the agenda for an incoming administration.” * Incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan previously called for Navalny's immediate release.The latest: Navalny was ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days. He was officially arrested for violating the conditions of a suspended prison term by missing an appointment in December.Worth noting: Blinken praised Sen. Mitt Romney, who serves on the committee, for being “prescient” on Russia. Romney was mocked for referring to Russia as America’s “number one geopolitical foe” in a 2012 presidential debate with Barack Obama, including by Obama himself.Go deeper: Bill Browder on Russia-U.S. relations after Alexei Navalny's arrestGet smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
Inauguration Day is a time of great expectancy and transformation. There are reports of at least 12 National Guard members being removed from the inauguration patrol duties. There are 25,000 troops in D.C. to protect attendees at the inauguration after the deadly and unprecedented Jan. 6 Capitol Hill insurrection.
The Trump administration said on Tuesday it had issued drilling leases on more than 400,000 acres (160,000 hectares) of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), delivering on a promise to fossil-fuel proponents on President Donald Trump's last full day in office. Formal issuance of the leases by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management came a day before the inauguration of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, who has pledged to protect the 19.6-million-acre (7.9-million-hectare) habitat for polar bears and caribou and to ban new oil and gas leasing on federal lands. Lease holders would still need to seek permits from the new administration before any wells could be drilled, among other challenges.
- The Guardian
Decision would mean US could assign blame for death on to Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman The Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, left, with journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a scene from the recent documentary The Dissident. Photograph: AP The Biden administration will declassify an intelligence report into the murder by the Saudi government of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Avril Haines, who has been nominated to serve as director of national intelligence. The decision means that the US is likely to officially assign blame for Khashoggi’s brutal murder to the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist and US resident who wrote critical columns about the Saudi crown prince, was murdered by Saudi agents inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October 2018. While media reports have said that the US intelligence community determined with a medium to high degree of confidence that Prince Mohammed ordered the killing, that assessment has never officially been stated. The crown prince has denied he ordered the murder. Since then, Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz and other human rights activists have called on Biden to release the classified report into the murder, saying that doing so was the first step towards seeking accountability. During Haines’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday, the Oregon senator Ron Wyden said that, if confirmed as the new DNI, she would have the opportunity to “immediately” turn the page on the “excessive secrecy” and “lawlessness” of the Trump administration, and submit an unclassified report on “who was responsible” for Khashoggi’s murder, as required under a February 2020 law that the Trump administration in effect blocked. Asked whether she would release the report, Haines replied: “Yes, senator, absolutely. We will follow the law.” In a statement, Wyden praised the move, saying it was “refreshing to hear a straightforward commitment to follow the law” from Haines. Biden's Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines says, if confirmed, she will provide Congress with an unclassified report on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. pic.twitter.com/ocPUsJUeti— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 19, 2021 Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and director at the Brookings Institution, said: “It is a useful way to put the question of accountability for Khashoggi’s murder in the public domain early in the new administration.” One of the most outspoken advocates for justice for the murder, Agnès Callamard, also praised the move, saying the information would provide the “one essential missing piece of the puzzle of the execution of Jamal Khashoggi”. Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, said she hoped other information would also come to light, such as any new details about the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s remains, and whether a risk assessment had ever been done by the US about whether Khashoggi was in danger before his trip to Turkey. Callamard, who will be named the new head of Amnesty International later this year, also pointed to other threats that have reportedly been lodged against human rights defenders and former Saudi officials in Canada and Norway by Prince Mohammed’s agents, who have been called a “death squad” in media reports. “At some point, if the US intelligence has information about those operatives, then I think they should really make that information publicly available,” Callamard said. The release of the Khashoggi report will also raise a host of new questions for both the US and Saudi Arabia. “If the document fingers MBS as responsible for the murder it will raise the question what is Biden going to do to hold him accountable?” said Riedel. During the 2020 election campaign, Biden issued scathing attacks against the crown prince, saying Saudi Arabia needed to be treated as “a pariah”. It is expected that the Biden administration would seek to curb weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, but it could also take more targeted actions against Prince Mohammed, including financial sanctions.
- Associated Press
A California sheriff’s deputy was killed and another deputy was wounded in a shootout with a suspect who gunned down a K-9 dog before he was fatally shot, authorities said. The gunbattle erupted in Sacramento near a racetrack at the Cal Expo event venue after a vehicle pursuit late Monday, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said. The deputy who died was identified as Adam Gibson, a six-year veteran of the department, Jones said.
Secretary of State designate Tony Blinken said in his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that the Biden administration is "a long way" from executing its plan to return to the Iran nuclear deal, and plans to consult with Israel and the Gulf states before doing so.Why it matters: America's partners in the Middle East have been publicly raising their concerns about a possible return to the 2015 agreement and calling on the Biden administration to consult with them first.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.The state of play: President-elect Biden's plan is to return to the deal, by lifting sanctions, if Iran returns to compliance with the restrictions on its nuclear program. In the next stage, Biden wants to negotiate a broader and longer-lasting agreement. * Blinken said those negotiations would include Iran’s missile program and regional activity.What they're saying: Blinken said Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal left Iran closer to obtaining a nuclear weapon because Tehran began to breach its terms. “Iran’s breakout time, which was a year under the nuclear deal, is only 3-4 months today," Blinken said in the hearing. * Yes, but: While Blinken stressed that the U.S. would live up to its commitments if Iran did, he said the new administration wouldn't rush back into the deal before assessing whether Iran was prepared to return to full compliance.Worth noting: Blinken said he “didn’t shed tears” about the killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassim Soleimani by the U.S. one year ago, but added that he believes it made America less safe.Go deeper: * Netanyahu aides fret that "Obama people" will shape Biden's Iran policy * Netanyahu may appoint envoy to Biden administration on Iran * Israel to push Biden to take it easy on Saudi Arabia, UAE and EgyptBe smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- The Week
President Trump's last big batch of pardons will get most of the attention, but he also issued an executive order in his last few hours in office that seeks to free all current and former hires from the ethics agreements they signed to work in his administration. Trump revoked his January 2017 "Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees" order, the White House announced early Wednesday, so "employees and former employees subject to the commitments in Executive Order 13770 will not be subject to those commitments after noon January 20, 2021."Those commitments included not lobbying the federal agencies they served under for five years after leaving government. The executive order, Yashar Ali notes, was the backbone of Trump's "drain the swamp" pledge.> Forget about draining the swamp...President Trump just filled it up.> > He has revoked his own executive order (13770) which had the following provisions (among others). > > The drain the swamp stuff was all smoke and mirrors anyway but here's Trump walking back his own EO... pic.twitter.com/ZvuW0CwszQ> > — Yashar Ali (@yashar) January 20, 2021President-elect Joe Biden takes office at noon on Wednesday, and presumably he could just issue a new executive order reversing Trump'sNorm Eisen, "ethics czar" to former President Barack Obama, said in a Politico column Tuesday that Obama's clear ethics rules led to "arguably the most scandal-free presidency in memory," but "Trump greatly watered down the standards with scandalous results" and "Biden has done the opposite, restoring the Obama rules and expanding them."Biden's planned executive order, Eisen wrote, "restores the fundamentals of the Obama plan, closing loopholes Trump opened—but going further, including new crackdowns on special interest influence. If implemented rigorously (always a big if) Biden’s plan promises to go further to 'drain the swamp' than either of his predecessors."More stories from theweek.com 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Lindsey Graham seemed very pleased with Biden's secretary of state nominee Colbert's Late Show remixes Biden's inauguration playlist into a not-subtle farewell message for Trump
- Associated Press
Already facing allegations of stealing more than $600,000 in federal funds from a health care school she directed, a Tennessee state senator has been charged in a new fraud case, the U.S. attorney’s office in Memphis said Tuesday. Democrat Katrina Robinson and two other people have been charged in a complaint with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, about six months after Robinson was indicted on federal charges that she used grant money earmarked for health care worker training to pay for her wedding and honeymoon, a Jeep Renegade for her daughter, her children’s snow cone business, and other things. In the case disclosed Tuesday, prosecutors said Brooke Boudreaux, an associate of Robinson, convinced someone to pay $14,470 in tuition to the school Robinson runs in Memphis on Boudreaux's behalf.
A Japanese politician from the Liberal Democratic Party is spearheading the push for a bill that would give workers a three-day weekend without affecting job security. About the bill: House of Councilors member Kuniko Inoguchi, who represents a district of Chiba Prefecture, saw the potential to introduce the bill after the successful implementation of four-day workweeks by a few Japanese companies in the past, according to Sankei Shimbun via SoraNews24. “We have seen that Japan has a latent ability to create flexible work environments and workstyles,” the politician said.