A woman who paid off several customers' Walmart bills has come forward to be identified.
- The Independent
‘There was a protocol breach when the front doors were not held open’
- National Review
Biden Admonishes Reporter for Questioning Whether Vaccine Goal Is Ambitious Enough: ‘Give Me a Break’
President Biden pushed back on a reporter at a press briefing on Thursday, who questioned whether the new administration’s coronavirus vaccine goal is ambitious enough. Biden has set a goal to vaccinate 100 million Americans during his first 100 days in office. During the press conference, Biden called the Trump administration’s distribution of coronavirus vaccines a “dismal failure so far,” warning that “things are going to continue to get worse before they get better.” However, the seven-day rolling average for coronavirus vaccine doses administered to Americans currently sits at 912,000, according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker. (On Wednesday alone, 1.6 million doses were administered.) This indicates that the Biden administration is not far from its goal of vaccinating one million Americans per day. On Thursday, Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller asked Biden if the vaccination goal was “high enough,” since “that’s basically where the U.S. is right now.” “When I announced it you all said it wasn’t possible. Come on, give me a break, man,” Biden responded. “It’s a good start, a hundred million.” Internal projections from the Trump administration showed that the U.S. could administer at least 170 million doses by the end of April, two Trump administration officials told Bloomberg. During the press conference, Biden also announced that he would invoke the Defense Production Act to “accelerate the making of everything that’s needed to protect, test, and vaccinate and the care of our people.” Biden warned that the death toll from coronavirus infections would hit 500,000 in February. Over 408,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 as of Thursday.
- The Week
The evenly split Senate is having a hard time agreeing who's in charge.Georgia's two new Democratic senators were sworn in Wednesday, giving Republicans and Democrats 50 senators each, with Vice President Kamala Harris as a Democratic tiebreaker. The two parties are now working out a power-sharing agreement, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) commitment to the filibuster is standing in the way.McConnell on Thursday formally acknowledged Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as the chamber's new majority leader. But as he has been for days, McConnell again implored Democrats to preserve the filibuster that lets a senator extend debate and block a timely vote on a bill if there aren't 60 votes to stop it. Democrats "have no plans to gut the filibuster further, but argue it would be a mistake to take one of their tools off the table just as they're about to govern," Politico reports; More progressive senators do want to remove the option completely.If his filibuster demands aren't met, McConnell has threatened to block the Senate power-sharing agreement that would put Democrats in charge of the body's committees. But Democrats already seem confident in their newfound power, with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) telling Politico that "Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and he should be treated like majority leader." Giving in to McConnell "would be exactly the wrong way to begin," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) echoed.Other Democrats shared their resistance to McConnell's demands in tweets. > McConnell is threatening to filibuster the Organizing Resolution which allows Democrats to assume the committee Chair positions. It's an absolutely unprecedented, wacky, counterproductive request. We won the Senate. We get the gavels.> > -- Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 21, 2021> So after Mitch McConnell changed the Senate rules at a blistering pace during his 6 years in charge, he is threatening to filibuster the Senate's organizing resolution unless the Democratic majority agrees to never change the rules again.> > Huh.> > -- Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 21, 2021More stories from theweek.com Biden's next executive order will let people stay on unemployment if they quit an unsafe job 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency
America may not have won World War II and landed on the moon later if not for the contributions of a brilliant Chinese scientist named Qian Xuesen. Fearing communist presence after the war, the U.S., however, deported Qian to China, clueless that he would eventually spearhead programs that would target American troops and eventually propel China into space. Born to well-educated parents in 1911, it was evident from an early age that Qian had superior intellect.
- The Independent
Commenters quick to hit out at former president’s son’s boast
- The Telegraph
British Army Reservist serving with US National Guard provided security for President Biden's inauguration, MoD confirms
A British Army Reservist serving with the US National Guard provided security for President Biden's inauguration, the MoD has confirmed. Major Keiron Francis, a Royal Signals officer, is the first British reservist to be involved in a Presidential inauguration. Attached to the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, Major Francis supported the forward elements of the 25,000 troops brought into Washington DC to provide security for Wednesday's event. Under the Foreign Military Reserve Exchange Program, a scheme launched in 2017, Major Francis is able to continue to serve as a reservist whilst working in the US as a sales director in the defence industry. The reciprocal arrangement means that around 30 American, Australian, and Canadian soldiers are currently doing the same in the UK.
A Nigerian court threw out two blasphemy convictions on Thursday that had caused an international outcry, freeing a teenager from a 10-year prison sentence and ordering a new trial for a man sentenced to death. The two had been convicted in August by a sharia court in Nigeria's northern, mainly Muslim state of Kano. Teenager Omar Farouq was accused of making blasphemous comments during an argument, while Yahaya Aminu Sharif was accused of having shared a blasphemous message on WhatsApp.
- NBC News
With the dawn of the Biden administration comes Cholleti Vinay Reddy, the country’s first Indian American presidential speechwriter. Reddy’s roots originate from Pothireddypeta, a rural village in the Indian state of Telangana, whose residents have been celebrating his latest milestone: Biden’s inaugural address. Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Reddy is believed to have acquired his political acumen from his grandfather, Tirupathi, who served as the village sarpanch (head) for 30 years.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and asking for a temporary restraining order.Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security. Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America. * Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney, told Axios that the lawsuit is likely to fail at fully reinstating deportations because a judge cannot force Immigration and Customs Enforcement to remove any particular person. * The executive branch has broad authority over immigration enforcement, as was seen in both President Obama and President Trump's administrations. What they're saying: In the announcement of the moratorium on Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security said the pause on deportations would "allow DHS to ensure that its resources are dedicated to responding to the most pressing challenges that the United States faces." * In Paxton's request for a temporary restraining order, he claims, "Without emergency relief, Texas faces irreparable harm from having to provide costly educational, social, welfare, healthcare, and other services to illegal aliens who remain in Texas because Defendants have ceased removing them."The White House has not yet responded to Axios' request for comment.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- Yahoo News Video
A woman facing charges that she helped steal a laptop from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the attack on the U.S. Capitol will be released from jail, a federal judge decided Thursday.
- Associated Press
A former Transportation Security Administration agent who was accused of tricking a traveler into showing her breasts as she went through security at Los Angeles International Airport pleaded no contest Friday to false imprisonment, authorities said. Johnathon Lomeli entered the plea to a felony count and was sentenced to 60 days in county jail, 52 classes addressing sexual compulsion and two years of probation, California's attorney general's office announced. Lomeli was also barred from working as a security guard.
- The Independent
Infowars founder claimed shooting was 'a giant hoax’ and that grieving parents were actors
Germany on Friday rejected a claim by Argentina that a request by airline Lufthansa to fly over Argentina en route to the Falkland Islands implied a recognition of them as Argentine territory. Argentina and Britain have long disputed ownership of the Falklands, with Argentina claiming sovereignty over the British-run islands it calls the Malvinas.
- The Week
Biden has stopped construction on Trump's border wall, but the fate of outstanding contracts is unclear
Among the first 17 executive orders President Biden signed Wednesday evening was one hitting "pause" on construction of former President Donald Trump's border wall. "It shall be the policy of my administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall," Biden's order said. "I am also directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall."Biden gave the Pentagon and Homeland Security departments up to a week to stop all border construction, and for the most part, the frantic wall-building Trump had unleashed in his last months in office had stopped by Thursday, The Associated Press reports. The Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday it told its contractors to stop installing any additional barriers and do only what's "necessary to safely prepare each site for a suspension of work."Biden gave his administration 60 days to find and review all current contracts and determine which can be canceled, which must be renegotiated, and whether any of the remaining money can be used on other projects. Trump, as of Jan. 15, had spent $6.1 billion of the $10.8 billion in wall construction it had contracted out, a Senate Democratic aide told AP. Overall, the Trump administration had secured $16.45 billion for the wall, including $5.8 billion appropriated by Congress and the rest seized from the Treasury and Defense departments. Biden is targeting that latter pot of money.Trump says he built 450 miles of his wall, though almost all of that was replacement for other barriers. His administration signed contracts for constructing 664 miles, the Senate aide told AP. "Trump said the border wall would be 'virtually impenetrable' and paid for by Mexico, which never happened," AP notes. "While the wall is much more formidable than the barriers it replaced, it isn't uncommon for smugglers to guide people over or through it. Portions can be sawed with power tools sold at home improvement stores."More stories from theweek.com Biden's next executive order will let people stay on unemployment if they quit an unsafe job 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency
- The Telegraph
The South African Covid variant could make current vaccines 50 per cent less effective, Matt Hancock has claimed. In video footage of a webinar with travel agents, the Health Secretary warned that the importation of the variant could ruin Britain's vaccination drive and send the country "back to square one" without tough travel restrictions. Mr Hancock is among a number of ministers pushing for tougher travel restrictions modelled on Australia and New Zealand, which have closed their borders to non-residents and require all returning nationals to quarantine in Government-approved hotels. Speaking ahead of a Cabinet Covid-O Cabinet meeting at which ministers will consider similar UK border closures and quarantine hotels, Mr Hancock admitted that the data showing the South African variant reduced vaccine efficacy by 50 per cent was not certain "so I wouldn’t say this in public". He added: "Nevertheless, if you vaccinate the entire population and then you get in a new variant that evaded the vaccine, then you'd be back to square one. And so tougher international restrictions are the price that, for instance, Australia has paid for stronger domestic protection, as in more life getting back to normal domestically."
- Architectural Digest
- Associated Press
A Colorado geophysicist accused of dragging a police officer down steps to be beaten by an American flag outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was ordered held without bail Friday after a prosecutor said the man afterward tried to flee to Switzerland and commit suicide. U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Krause, based in White Plains, said during an electronic hearing that he found the alleged actions by Jeffrey Sabol, a 51-year-old born in Utica, New York, “beyond the pale and it is troubling to a degree that is really ... shocking." Sabol was arrested Friday morning at the Westchester Medical Center.
- National Review
Retired General Lloyd Austin, Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of defense, was legally barred from serving in the job without Congress granting him a special waiver under the National Security Act of 1947. General Austin retired from the Army in April 2016, which is less than the seven years out of uniform required by the statute before serving as secretary of defense. Both the House and Senate voted for that waiver on Thursday by lopsided margins, after having waived the same requirement for James Mattis four years ago. Granting two consecutive waivers was the wrong way to do this. A wiser course would have been to repeal the ban entirely, or at least dramatically shorten it. Congress should do so now. Section 113 of the act, enacted when the War and Navy departments were merged into a much-enlarged Defense Department overseeing a much-enlarged standing military after the Second World War, imposed a ten-year ban on uniformed officers serving as secretary of defense. That was shortened to seven years in 2008. The theory of the ban was to ensure civilian control of the military, both to avoid capture of Pentagon leadership by military-industrial interests and, more gravely, to prevent the growth of an unsupervised standing military that might someday threaten civilian government. Within a few years of its passage, a waiver was granted to let George Marshall take over as secretary of defense after the outbreak of the Korean War. Marshall was, by common agreement, uniquely qualified for the moment, having been chief of staff of the Army throughout World War II, and uniquely safe to entrust with the job, having served as a civilian as secretary of state before his appointment to run the Defense Department. Four years ago, I argued for a waiver for Mattis, the first granted since Marshall. A major part of my argument at the time was that the American republic had gotten by just fine with more-recently-serving military men running the War Department before the ban. Indeed, this stretched all the way back to Henry Knox, as well as with recent ex-generals such as Dwight Eisenhower and Ulysses S. Grant as president. However, there were three other reasons why a waiver for Mattis was particularly appropriate in 2017. First, Mattis was a man of unusual prominence and respect as a thoughtful warrior. He could legitimately be regarded as a man whose reputation inside and outside the armed forces lent credibility and stability to the Defense Department, in addition to qualifying him for the role. General Austin is undoubtedly a well-regarded man (notwithstanding questions about his involvement in Obama-era intelligence handling), but he does not occupy a similarly unique position. Second, there was a shortage of candidates of stature comparable to Mattis. A large proportion of the national-security establishment of the Republican Party (or of independents or conservative Democrats of the sort who might serve in a Republican administration) had been alienated from Donald Trump in the course of the 2016 presidential campaign. Between those who would refuse to serve under Trump and those whom Trump would refuse to hire, the pickings for a first-class defense secretary were slim. There was thus a particular need for Mattis to step up to the task. While the Democrats’ bench of potential defense picks is not exactly inspirational, Austin was not even the favorite among observers of the party; Michèle Flournoy was, having served in senior Pentagon posts under both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. It is not clear why General Austin would be markedly superior to Flournoy or other potential choices. Third, Trump was new to government and temperamentally unstable, but also potentially subject to the counsel and influence of a strong figure running the military. There was a particular risk that Trump would be in need of someone who knew the ropes. For all Biden’s many flaws, inexperience is not one of them. Nor is impulsiveness; Biden is more apt to be overcautious. Biden will need a serious person in the job who can push back against left-wing efforts to hobble our defense capabilities, but the identity of the defense secretary under Biden is not that likely to have a major influence on the direction of our foreign policy. There are two arguments suggested by Democrats — especially those among the 17 Senate Democrats and 150 House Democrats who voted against the Mattis waiver — for granting a waiver to Austin. One, which is entirely of Biden’s own making, was that declining a waiver for Austin would unduly delay installing a secretary of defense. But this is a hazard of any cabinet nomination that requires Senate approval. If Austin had lost the waiver vote, this would be no different from losing a confirmation vote. The second is the argument that Austin is uniquely valuable because there has never been an African-American defense secretary. Of course, there is some value in getting “firsts” behind us. There is, however, no reason to suspect that he is the only qualified black candidate for the job. Moreover, a country that has now had a black president and vice president and multiple black secretaries of state and national-security advisers is not in immediate, dire need of breaking this particular barrier. Flournoy, the chief alternative candidate, would have been the first woman in the job, and it is as likely as not that if Austin had been denied the waiver, Biden would have prioritized race, gender, or some other form of identity in making his choice. The point of waiving application of a general law is that the circumstances are exceptional. Granting consecutive waivers without identifying an exceptional reason moves us from exception to habit. When declining to enforce a law becomes a habit, Congress should rethink the law. My own preferred solution is to reduce the seven-year period to simply require that the officer be out of uniform until after an intervening presidential or congressional election, in order to reduce the risk of uniformed officers lobbying or campaigning for the job, or being granted political favor, while in uniform. A cooling-off period of that limited duration, similar to those used in various parts of the Constitution, might alleviate some of the potential constitutional objections to Section 113. There is, for now, no obvious reason why the Senate should not confirm Austin, but there was nothing exceptional to justify a waiver. Having voted twice to waive the law, Congress should be honest and change it.
- NBC News
Attorneys for Rittenhouse did not object to the changes. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two amid protests last year.