By Andrew Osborn MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia is militarily ready for a Cuban Missile-style crisis if the United States wanted one and threatened to place hypersonic nuclear missiles on ships or submarines near U.S. territorial waters. The Cuban Missile Crisis erupted in 1962 when Moscow responded to a U.S. missile deployment in Turkey by sending ballistic missiles to Cuba, sparking a standoff that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. More than five decades on, tensions are rising again over Russian fears that the United States might deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe, as a landmark Cold War-era arms-control treaty unravels. Putin's comments, made to Russian media late on Wednesday, follow his warning that Moscow will match any U.S. move to deploy new missiles closer to Russia by stationing its own missiles closer to the United States or by deploying faster missiles or both. Putin detailed his warning for the first time, saying Russia could deploy hypersonic missiles on ships and submarines which could lurk outside U.S. territorial waters if Washington now moved to deploy intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe. "(We're talking about) naval delivery vehicles: submarines or surface ships. And we can put them, given the speed and range (of our missiles)... in neutral waters. Plus they are not stationary, they move and they will have to find them," Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript. "You work it out: Mach nine (the speed of the missiles) and over 1,000 km (their range)." TREATY VIOLATIONS The State Department dismissed Putin's earlier warning as propaganda, saying it was designed to divert attention from what Washington alleges are Moscow's violations of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. It referred queries about Putin's latest remarks to the Pentagon, which did not immediately respond. The INF pact bans Russia and the United States from stationing short- and intermediate-range land-based missiles in Europe. Washington announced on Feb. 1 it will withdraw from the treaty in six months unless Moscow ends its alleged violations. Analyst Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association think tank said Putin may be seeking to signal that Russia can keep up with the United States, to distract from its internal problems or to deflect blame for the parlous state of the INF treaty. "He may also be trying to send the message that, look, neither side should want this world (of a new arms race) so we should sit down and resume discussions," Reif said. Putin has said he does not want an arms race but would have no choice but to act if Washington deployed new missiles in Europe, some of which he says could strike Moscow within 10 to 12 minutes. The United States does not currently have ground-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles that it could place in Europe but could develop and deploy them if the INF treaty collapses. Putin said his naval response to such a move would mean Russia could strike the United States faster than U.S. missiles deployed in Europe could hit Moscow because the flight time would be shorter. "It (the calculation) would not be in their favor, at least as things stand today. That's for sure." said Putin. Relations between Moscow and Washington were strained, he added, but the tensions were not comparable to those of the Cuban Missile Crisis. "They (the tensions) are not a reason to ratchet up confrontation to the levels of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s. In any case that's not what we want," said Putin. "If someone wants that, well OK they are welcome. I have set out today what that would mean. Let them count (the missile flight times)." Separately, Washington said on Thursday that it was carrying out an observation flight over Russia under the Open Skies Treaty, the first one since 2017. In a statement, the Pentagon said an unarmed OC-135B aircraft was being used and Russia was aware of the flight. (Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Editing by Gareth Jones, Bernadette Baum and James Dalgleish)
- 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.
- Yahoo News 360
Historians will face a daunting task in trying to assess Donald Trump’s presidency. What will he be remembered for?
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.
- Associated Press
The Kremlin on Tuesday brushed aside calls from the West to release opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was arrested upon his return to Russia from Germany following treatment for poisoning with a nerve agent. Moscow called his case “an absolutely internal matter.” Navalny blames his poisoning on President Vladimir Putin's government, which has denied it.
- The Week
President Trump has spent the last few days asking his friends, aides, and associates if they would like pardons — even those who are not facing any charges, a senior administration official told The Washington Post.In one case, the official said, Trump offered a pardon to a person who declined the chance at clemency, saying they weren't in any legal trouble and hadn't committed any crimes. "Trump's response was, 'Yeah, well, but you never know. They're going to come after us all. Maybe it's not a bad idea. Just let me know,'" the official recounted.Trump has taken a great interest in pardoning people, the Post reports, even calling families to personally let them know he granted a pardon. A person familiar with the matter told the Post that Trump was talked out of pardoning himself, family members, and controversial figures like Rudy Giuliani. An aide said there was also a brief discussion about possibly issuing pardons related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, but that idea went nowhere.While Trump has held a few ceremonial events in recent weeks, journalists have been kept away from the White House, largely because the president is "just not in a place where they would go well," one official told the Post. Trump is constantly flip-flopping, another administration official said, talking about his future but uncertain of where he will be. "He goes between, 'Well, I'm going to go to Florida and play golf, and life is honestly better,' and then in the next moment, it's like, 'But don't you think there's a chance to stay?'" the official said. Read more at The Washington Post.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 Trump issues last-minute order attempting to free his appointees from ethics commitments
- The Telegraph
Vaccine ‘passports’ would risk spreading coronavirus, the Government warned on Tuesday, despite the European Commission tentatively backing the idea. EU leaders will have their first discussions on the vaccination certificates at a video summit on Thursday. The Department of Health confirmed that vaccine passports were not being considered in Britain because it is not yet known whether the vaccines stop you being a carrier. That could mean British tourists missing out on EU holidays because they will not have the vaccination certificates, which the commission said could be used in the EU “and beyond”. It is unlikely that Britain would accept the certificates from EU citizens hoping to travel to the UK. Brussels said that using the vaccination certificates to allow greater travel and tourism in the EU was “premature” at this stage but left the door open for the plans to be picked up in the future. “We feel that now this is the time for these vaccine certificates to be recognised across the European Union, and even beyond the European Union.” said Margaritis Schinas, a commission vice-president. Mr Schinas said it was “perfectly imaginable that this can open avenues for other use, including facilitating travel”. But EU heads of state and government would have to agree to the idea and enough Europeans would have to be vaccinated first, he said. The commission said member states should set ambitious targets to vaccinate at least 80 percent of health and social care professionals and people over 80 years old by March 2021 and a minimum of 70 percent of the total adult population by summer. The bloc started jabs three weeks ago and has so far approved two vaccines - from BioNTech/Pfizer and from Moderna - with others soon expected to follow. But its pace of vaccination trails behind countries such as the US, Britain, Israel and the United Arab Emirates. In a swipe at Britain, Mr Schinas said the EU had opted for “safety first” instead of granting emergency approval for vaccines as the UK had. “It is not a race between countries but a race against time in Europe,” he said. The commission said the EU would agree the minimum data necessary for the vaccination certificate and ensure it would respect data privacy laws by the end of January. The common approach could be “scaled up globally” by becoming a model for the certification systems of the World Health Organisation. Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whose country is dependent on tourism, has called for the certificates to allow for vaccinated people to travel freely around Europe. Other countries, including Germany, are more cautious, especially after the arrival of the British variant on the Continent, and are against any plan which discriminates between those who have the jab and don’t. Chancellor Angela Merkel and leaders of Germany's 16 states were expected to extend and tighten a partial lockdown beyond January last night, as fears grow over virus variant strains believed to be more contagious. The former Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has told Times Radio he's feeling "optimistic" about being able to travel in 2021, and has already booked two summer holidays, including a trip to Italy in June.
- The Independent
‘If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors...traitors get shot,' he told his children
- National Review
Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) blocked a quick confirmation of Alejandro Mayorkas as Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security secretary, citing Mayorkas’s immigration policy stance. Mayorkas is a former Obama administration official considered the architect of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allowed illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children a renewable deportation deferment, without providing a path to citizenship. The confirmation hearings for Mayorkas come as Biden has pledged to undue many of the Trump administration’s restrictions on immigration, although it is unclear how quickly the Biden administration can act on those promises. “Mr. Mayorkas has not adequately explained how he will enforce federal law and secure the southern border given President-elect Biden’s promise to roll back major enforcement and security measures,” Hawley said in a statement. “Given this, I cannot consent to skip the standard vetting process and fast-track this nomination when so many questions remain unanswered.” Biden is reportedly set to propose an immigration-reform bill that would grant roughly eleven million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship over eight years. The bill could also grant citizenship to agricultural workers and illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. However, the proposal is not expected to include Republican-backed border security measures. The looming immigration debates in Congress come as a new migrant caravan continues to travel toward the U.S.-Mexico border. Several thousand people in the caravan clashed with Guatemalan security forces while crossing the border from Honduras on Sunday. “There’s help on the way, but now is not the time to make the journey,” a Biden official said in comments to NBC.
- Associated Press
A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization has criticized China and other countries for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier and questioned whether the U.N. health agency should have labeled it a pandemic sooner. In a report issued to the media Monday, the panel led by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said there were “lost opportunities" to adopt basic public health measures as early as possible. “What is clear to the panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January,” it said.
- The Week
New York City is on pace to run out of COVID-19 vaccine doses and be forced to cancel appointments within a matter of days, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) has warned. The New York mayor in a briefing Tuesday said that the city "desperately" needs more supply as COVID-19 vaccinations move "faster and faster.""At the rate we are going, we will begin to run out on Thursday -- this Thursday, two days from now," de Blasio said. "And we will have literally nothing left to give as of Friday. ... If we don't get more vaccine quickly, a new supply of vaccine, we will have to cancel appointments and no longer give shots after Thursday for the remainder of the week at a lot of our sites."De Blasio went on to say that "on the current schedule," New York City isn't set to be resupplied until next Tuesday, meaning "many of our sites" wouldn't be able to begin administering vaccines again until next Wednesday."This is crazy," de Blasio said. "This is not the way it should be. We have the ability to vaccinate a huge number of people. We need the vaccine to go with it."De Blasio called on the federal government to do everything possible "to get us the maximum supply" of vaccines, and one day ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, he expressed hope that the incoming administration "is going to fix a lot of this." > Mayor Bill de Blasio announces NYC will run out of vaccine doses by Thursday.pic.twitter.com/QItlrO5WeC> > -- The Recount (@therecount) January 19, 2021More 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 Trump issues last-minute order attempting to free his appointees from ethics commitments
- The Conversation
An important ceremony: the U.S. Capitol during President Donald Trump's 2017 inauguration. AP Photo/Patrick SemanskyAs one president’s term ends and another begins, there is a ceremony. Its importance is one of symbolism rather than substance. The Constitution is clear: On Jan. 20, there will be a transfer of power. There is no mention of an inauguration. By definition, ritual acts have no direct effect on the world. A ceremonial event is one that symbolically affirms something that happens by other, more direct means. In this case, the election – not the inauguration – makes the president, although an oath is required before exercising his power. Nonetheless, ceremonies matter. Having spent two decades studying ritual, I can attest to that. So can the recent history of inaugurations: In 2009, Barack Obama misplaced one word when reciting the presidential oath of office. As a result, he decided to retake the oath the next day. And in 2017, Donald Trump insisted that his inauguration was attended by a record-setting crowd, even as everyone’s eyes saw otherwise. He saw the size of the attendance as a measure of his legitimacy. The first inauguration of a president of the United States, George Washington, happened in New York City on April 30, 1789. Ramon de Elorriaga, via Wikimedia Commons Ritual efficacy Throughout history, all human societies have used rituals to mark major events and transitions: personal landmarks like birthdays and weddings, group accomplishments such as graduations, and government transitions of power. Those ceremonies send signals that command our attention and strengthen the perceived importance of those moments. Ritual actions involve formality, precision and repetition. A priest must wear a special garment; a prayer must be uttered word for word; and a mantra might be recited 108 times. These features make rituals appear similar to more goal-directed actions: A judge banging a gavel resembles a carpenter hammering a nail. Due to these similarities, our brains assign those acts actual power. This is what my collaborators and I found in a soon-to-be-published study. We showed people videos of basketball players shooting free throws and asked them to predict the outcome of each shot. Half of those videos showed the players performing a brief ritual, such as kissing the ball or touching their shoes before shooting. The other half did not include any ritual. Participants predicted that the ritualized shots would be more successful. They were not. But their minds unconsciously tied the arbitrary actions preceding those shots with their expectations for the outcome. President Ronald Reagan is sworn in, Jan. 20, 1981. U.S. National Archives Special moments Collective rituals carry the weight of tradition, which gives them an aura of historical continuity and legitimacy. Even though they do change from time to time, they are often perceived as unchanged and unchangeable. For instance, Thanksgiving celebrations have been modified several times, often by presidential decree. Yet, a recent study reported that people found the mere suggestion of altering holiday traditions morally offensive. Rituals “represent group values and hence seem sacred.” Public ceremonies like inaugurations are wrapped in pageantry. They involve music, banners, speeches and more – the more important the moment, the more extravagant the ceremony. When we attend a ritual loaded with splendor, it is as if a little voice inside our brain is telling us: “Pay attention, because something important and meaningful is happening.” The only provision in the Constitution is that the new president must be sworn in. Thirty-five words is all that is required: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” When Jan. 20 falls on a Sunday, the inauguration is held on the following day. In that case, the oath is administered twice: privately on the Sunday, when the actual transfer of power takes place, and publicly again on Monday, for ceremonial reasons. The exuberance and theatricality transforms what could be a mundane, ordinary moment into something memorable and noteworthy. Banners and flags adorn the U.S. Capitol during Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993. U.S. National Archives Intuitive appeal Ceremonies speak directly to some of our basic instincts, triggering intuitions about their efficacy, symbolism and importance. Human institutions have adapted to reflect – and harness – those instincts to strengthen the perceived importance of our social institutions and the unity of civil society. This is, in fact, why heads of state who are not popularly elected tend to hold more flamboyant public ceremonies than their democratically chosen counterparts. Even in countries where kings and queens are powerless, their enthronements are celebrated with far more splendor than the inaugurations of elected leaders. [Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.] But there is a flip side to this. Populist leaders, who are successful thanks to their ability to capitalize on people’s instincts, are almost always fond of ritual exuberance. For his inauguration, Donald Trump reportedly requested a military march, complete with tanks, missile launchers and jet fighters. The Department of Defense apparently declined most of these requests, out of worry that the inauguration would look like a totalitarian power display. But many of Trump’s supporters liked the idea precisely for that reason. When Trump finally managed to get tanks in the streets for a July Fourth parade in 2019, one of his fans wondered: “If Korea can have a military parade, why can’t we?” Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Joe Biden’s inauguration will be scaled down and mostly virtual. Donald Trump is not planning to attend, thereby missing the opportunity to see a smaller inauguration crowd than his own.This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Dimitris Xygalatas, University of Connecticut. Read more:A brief history of the term ‘president-elect’ in the United StatesCan Joe Biden win the transition? Dimitris Xygalatas does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
- NBC News
Suspect William McCall Calhoun Jr. faces a host of charges stemming from the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol Building.
- 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
The Philippines will maintain "close and friendly" relations with the United States under President-elect Joe Biden, a top Philippine official said on Wednesday, amid a period of strain in their decades-old alliance. "We congratulate again the incoming president and we look forward to having close and friendly relations with the Biden administration," presidential spokesman Harry Roque told CNN Philippines ahead of Biden's inauguration. Ties have been tested since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016 and embarked on months of expletive-laden tirades against the United States and threatened repeatedly to scrap their bilateral military agreements.
- Yahoo News Video
President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, leaving her poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
- Associated Press
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson narrowly avoided a defeat in Parliament on Tuesday after lawmakers voted against a controversial proposal seeking to bar trade deals with any country deemed by the U.K. High Court to be committing genocide. The amendment to the government’s post-Brexit trade bill was largely designed to force international action in addressing China’s alleged human rights abuses against the Uighur minority in the far western Xinjiang region.
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.
- Associated Press
A woman accused of entering the U.S. Capitol illegally during the Jan. 6 riot will likely be charged with stealing a computer from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a federal prosecutor said in court Tuesday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson in Harrisburg said he will consider bail and that he plans to conduct a preliminary hearing on Thursday in the case of Riley June Williams. Williams is charged with trespassing as well as violent entry of the Capitol and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors, and is being held in the county jail in Harrisburg.
- The Telegraph
Joe Biden’s daughter Ashley has said she will not have a job in her father's administration, unlike Ivanka Trump, in her first interview since the election. The only child of President-elect Biden and wife Jill, Ashley, a 39-year-old social worker in Delaware, said she instead wanted to use her new platform to ”advocate for social justice and mental health.” “I will not have a job in the administration,” she told NBC's Today Show, in what could be seen as a jibe at the current First Daughter, who, along with husband Jared Kushner, had adviser roles in the White House. “I do hope to bring awareness and education to some topics, subjects that are, you know, really important.” Ms Biden, who is married to plastic surgeon Howard Krein, was active in her father's presidential campaign, speaking at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, and hosting an event for women in Wisconsin.
- 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 Trump pardons dozens of people, including rappers and a GOP fundraiser