A new survey shows this Fourth of July weekend, Americans are not as excited to celebrate the holiday.
- The Daily Beast
REUTERSBill Burns, the career diplomat tapped by President Biden to run the CIA, told a Senate panel Wednesday that his utmost priority as director will be to combat the technological and economic might of China.In a remarkably amicable exchange with the Senate intelligence committee, where controversies over intelligence failures and abuses have characterized nomination hearings for aspirant CIA directors since 9/11, Burns said the CIA would have to “relentlessly sharpen” its arsenal of digital weapons and its understanding of Beijing’s own.That and other aspects of Burns’ testimony received enthusiastic support from intelligence-committee Senators of both parties, which seem to have reached consensus that China seeks, as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), the vice chair of the panel, put it, to “replace the United States as the world’s most powerful and influential nation.” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) mused that during the Cold War, the U.S. had “an organizing principle” that the current geopolitical competition with China provides.But Burns, a former deputy secretary of state and ambassador to Russia, also said U.S. rivalry with China was dissimilar to “the competition with the Soviet Union in the Cold War.” Burns defined U.S.-China competition as less of a “security and ideological” clash than one over economic and technological primacy. He spoke less of prospective covert measures against China than he did of providing “the best possible intelligence on the nature of Chinese intelligence and capabilities.”Whether the U.S. can avoid a cold war with a rising global power is a central question facing U.S. foreign policy at the dawn of the Biden administration. Biden’s stated approach thus far has been to pursue “great power competition” without the trade war of the Trump administration and with the prospect of cooperation on climate change. Yet there is also an appetite in Washington for a far more aggressive confrontation. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) urged Burns not “take the pressure off” China in order to reach a deal on climate.Sasse, Bennet and other lawmakers also focused on China as a way to imply the diminution in priority of the CIA’s ongoing lethal counterterrorism operations, something Biden has placed under review. There was practically no discussion of CIA counterterrorism during the two hour hearing. Two senators who have been relentlessly critical of CIA counterterrorism abuses, Democrats Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich, usually the panel’s dissenters on agency nominees, both cheered Burns. Wyden noted Burns’ hearing was becoming a “full fledged bouquet tossing contest.”‘Financial Batman’ in the Lead to Run Biden’s CIAUnlike his predecessor Gina Haspel, Burns has no ties to the CIA’s post-9/11 human-rights abuses. “I believe the CIA’s former enhanced interrogation program included torture,” Burns affirmed in a questionaire for the committee.Notably, however, Burns did not turn a page on CIA counterterrorism, saying only that he would need to balance emergent challenges with “the continuing threat posed by terrorist groups, 20 years after 9/11.” He said those still at the agency who took part in the torture program would face no professional consequence. In the questionnaire, he stopped short of committing to providing the classified Senate torture review to Guantanamo defense attorneys representing people the CIA tortured. Wyden lambasted U.S. intelligence agencies’ purchase of commercially available data on Americans as an end-run around the Fourth Amendment. Burns pledged “transparency” over the purchases – but did not pledge to end them.Burns also emphasized restoring a respect for the “courage [and] expertise” of intelligence officials after the Trump administration persecuted whistleblowers, purged officials it considered disloyal and sought generally to suborn the intelligence apparatus to its agenda. He was not Biden’s first choice for the job – former national security adviser Tom Donilon declined it – but said Biden told him to “deliver intelligence to him straight.” He also acknowledged that he will not be Biden’s closest intelligence adviser; that will be Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, whom he called “my longtime friend and colleague.”As a foreign-policy traditionalist over his three decades in diplomatic life, one who held senior appointments under both parties, Burns was embraced as a signal of a restored status quo ante during a volatile period in American politics. His testimony followed encomia for him from two foreign-policy greybeards, George H.W. Bush Secretary of State James Baker and Obama CIA Director Leon Panetta. Baker called Burns’ nomination “a bipartisan no-brainer.”While Burns has been a consumer of intelligence rather than a producer during his government career, he wrote one of the most prescient pieces of analysis of the past generation. As the Bush administration was preparing to invade Iraq, Burns, as assistant secretary of state for the Mideast, wrote what has become known as the “Perfect Storm” memo. Burns accurately predicted in July 2002 that “a horrible wave of bloodletting and private vengeance” would result from a U.S. occupation. It was a warning to Secretary of State Colin Powell at a time when the White House disdained such concerns as disloyalty or defeatism and discouraged the CIA from producing similar analysis. Still, Burns did not resign when Bush invaded.“He is not going to try to impose any particular formula with regard to reform. He knows how to work with a professional workforce, having had a whole career in the foreigh service. He’ll be open to suggestions and initiatives from below,” said Paul Pillar, who was the CIA’s senior Middle East analyst when Burns was assistant secretary of state. “Ambassador Burns is, in my judgement, an excellent nominee for director of the CIA. He brings to the job utmost experience in what U.S. foreign policy most needs from the intelligence community: as a senior consumer at the State Department, he has an excellent feel for what the sorts of questions are that need to be addressed by the community.”During the hearing, Burns alluded to his 2002 memo with modesty. “It was imperfect. We got it about half-right and half-wrong,” he said. “But it was an honest effort to express our concerns… without that, policy choices suffer.”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.
- The Week
Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Tuesday unveiled a plan to gradually raise the minimum wage to $10, rather than the $15 their Democratic colleagues are targeting. The reaction among conservatives was mixed. Brad Polumbo, writing in The Washington Examiner, called the plan an "abandonment" of fiscal conservatism, likening it to "something out of" Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) office. The plan, Polumbo continues, "ignores everything conservatives are supposed to understand about economics and the perils of big government," asserting that while both Romney and Cotton market themselves as "pro-family social conservatives," their plan "would hurt working families if implemented." At The National Review, however, John McCormack writes that research has shown the plan wouldn't cost any jobs at its median estimates, and high-end estimates point to around 100,000 losses. McCormack's colleague Robert VerBruggen thinks it will "resonate with the public" as a middle ground policy that comes attached to an immigration enforcement measure — in addition to the gradual wage increase, the Romney-Cotton plan would require businesses to use the "E-verify system" to ensure their employees are in the country legally and eligible to work. At Bloomberg, Michael Strain, the director of of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, praised the Romney-Cotton plan for its patience, noting that it would delay the increase until after the coronavirus pandemic "is in the rear-view mirror," whereas the Democratic proposal backed by President Biden would start churning in June. But he doesn't believe it will prevent Democrats from continuing to lobby for further raises, and ultimately doesn't solve the fact that "Republicans would still be on the losing side of a popular issue." He is also skeptical of the immigration enforcement tradeoff. He described it as a "politically interesting pairing," but explained he'd "rather see a modest minimum wage increase paired with policies that would improve employment and skills." More stories from theweek.comThe MyPillow guy might be Trump's ultimate chumpThe 'most encouraging' aspect of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine may be its effectiveness in South Africa, BrazilLate night hosts laugh at Rudy Giuliani literally running from his $1.3 billion lawsuit, tie in CPAC
Two years ago, after a second fatal 737 MAX crash in five months, Boeing Co worked behind the scenes to urge aviation regulators not to ground the jet. Its efforts went as far as the White House, with Boeing's then-Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg calling former U.S. President Donald Trump to assure him the jet was safe. But Saturday's engine failure on a United Airlines 777, which produced jarring footage of an engine on fire and chunks of metal littering a Denver suburb - but no injuries - triggered a very different response inside Boeing.
- LA Times
Justin Upton and Shohei Ohtani never recovered from slow starts in the shortened 2020 season. Their track records give the Angels hope for a rebound.
A gauge of global equity markets edged up as U.S. Treasury yields jumped on Wednesday on fears a robust recovery will drive inflation higher, but reassurances from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to the contrary calmed market jitters. Crude oil rose to fresh 13-month highs while gold prices fell, as surging Treasury yields and a firmer dollar dented demand for the safe-haven metal. MSCI's all-country world index, a gauge of equity markets in 49 countries, added 0.07%, as rising stocks on Wall Street pushed the global benchmark to reverse losses.
Hong Kong plans to run a much lower budget deficit in the coming fiscal year as the economy is expected to recover from its longest recession on record, Finance Secretary Paul Chan said on Wednesday. Often-violent protests and U.S.-China trade tensions in 2019 had plunged the global financial hub into recession even before the pandemic hit. Chan told legislators he expected the budget deficit for the upcoming year to hit HK$101.6 billion ($13.10 billion), smaller than the record HK$257.6 billion expected for 2020/21.
- Reuters Videos
Hyundai has launched the first in a planned family of electric vehicles.The new Ioniq 5 midsize crossover is the linchpin of the company’s long-term goal –to rank 3rd among the world’s electric vehicle makers by 2025.The Ioniq 5 will have a maximum driving range of about 298 miles,up 20% from the Kona EV - which previously had the longest range among Hyundai’s EV lineup.The company says the model is based on a new electric vehicle-only platformthat uses its own battery module technology and requires fewer components than Hyundai’s existing electric cars, enabling faster production at lower cost.It will offer two battery pack options - 58-kilowatt-hour (kWh) or 72.6 kWh. Hyundai said in a statement that the Ioniq 5 will be available in selected regions starting in the first half of 2021.The company is targeting sales of 100,000 units globally in 2022 across Europe, North America and South Korea.The automaker did not disclose the price of the new model, but Hyundai Motor Europe President Michael Cole said in Europe it would start at about $51,000 before government incentives.The launch of Ioniq 5 is part of Hyundai’s long-term goal to capture 10% of global EV sales by 2025.Together with its sister company Kia Corp, Hyundai aims to sell 1 million EVs in 2025 alone.Hyundai Motor President Chang Jae-hoon said, “We expect this year’s global EV demand will increase more than 30% versus last year.”
U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought on Tuesday to turn the page on the Trump era, stressing the countries' deep ties and pledging to work together to counteract Chinese influence and address climate change. "The United States has no closer friend, no closer friend than Canada," Biden told Trudeau via an electronic video link with the Canadian leader and top aides. "That's why you were my first call as president (and) my first bilateral meeting," he said.
- The Independent
Virtual meeting with Justin Trudeau will kick off ‘an entire week’s worth of Canada’ with range of policies to foster cooperation on Covid-19 and the climate crisis
Germany approved three COVID-19 tests for home use as part Health Minister Jens Spahn's strategy to help Europe's biggest economy emerge from a lockdown that has been in place since mid-December. The infection rate in Germany fell steadily in the first weeks of the year but has stagnated in recent days, making it more difficult for leaders to ease restrictions when they meet next week to consider lockdown rules that run to March 7. Chancellor Angela Merkel has told lawmakers in her conservative party that making rapid tests more available and boosting testing capacity could make a return to normality more durable, two sources at the meeting told Reuters on Tuesday.
"I was in a state of just being numb. And as the days have passed, the numbness has left, and I'm really - it's very painful," Cooper-Jones said.
- Associated Press
Regional diplomatic efforts to resolve Myanmar's political crisis intensified Wednesday, while protests continued in Yangon and other cities calling for the country's coup makers to step down and return Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government to power. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi visited the Thai capital, Bangkok, and held three-way talks with her Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai and Myanmar’s new foreign minister, retired army colonel Wunna Maung Lwin, who also traveled to Thailand.
- USA TODAY
"Jaws of life" used to free Tiger Woods from car accident. An ominous FBI warning was not fully shared before the Capitol riot. It's Tuesday's news.
- Reuters Videos
Myanmar's military chief has threatened to crack down on any media outlets if they continue to use the word 'coup' to describe what his armed forced have done.Thats according to reports by military-run broadcaster, Myawaddy News on Monday evening who quoted General Min Aung Hlaing saying they "will take action and withdraw licenses from the media if they use the word 'coup' government."Myanmar's security forces have shown more restraint since the coup compared to previous crackdowns in almost half a century of military rule in the country.Even still - three protesters have been killed, and nearly 700 people have been arrested.Monday also saw a nation-wide protest and general strike where both local shops and international brands like KFC and delivery service Foodpanda closed for the day.From the central plains in the ancient city of Bagan to the largest city Yangon tens of thousands gathered to protest against the coup.Some stomped on posters of an alleged Myanmar army sniper. Some waved posters supporting civil disobedience movement and raised a three finger salute of resistance, a symbol borrowed from the Hunger Games films.It's now been three weeks since the armed forces overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government.Western leaders have stepped up pressure on military leaders with the U.S. adding two more generals to a sanctions list on Monday.The E.U said it is also considering targeted sanctions on businesses owned by the military.
- Raleigh News and Observer
The man had reportedly been released from prison weeks earlier.
- USA TODAY
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will support Merrick Garland's nomination. He maintains a block of Garland for the high court wasn't personal.
Eddie Murphy says Ryan Coogler tried to make a 'Coming to America' sequel starring Michael B. Jordan - but he didn't like the idea
Eddie Murphy said that Ryan Coogler's idea had Michael B. Jordan playing his son, "looking for a wife."
- Business Insider
You can spread COVID-19 by talking in hair salons or during a massage - even while wearing a mask, research suggests
Talking expels viral particles that gravity could carry from person to person. Employees standing or leaning over clients might infect them.
- Business Insider
Democrats want to enact a new stimulus package within weeks. Here's the possible calendar for passage of $1,400 direct payments.
A top House Democrat said the Biden stimulus plan would receive a floor vote on Friday. Final passage of the rescue plan could occur in early March.
- The Week
The United States could be days away from getting a third COVID-19 vaccine. A Food and Drug Administration review has confirmed that Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, which only requires a single shot, is safe and effective, meaning it could be authorized for emergency approval "as soon as this weekend," The Washington Post reports. The FDA review showed the vaccine was 66 percent effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 in a large clinical trial, though it was 85 percent effective at preventing severe illness. As Johnson & Johnson previously announced, the vaccine also "demonstrated complete protection against COVID-related hospitalization and death, 28 days post-vaccination." That, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry's Nancy M. Bennett told the Post, is "really what's important." The Johnson & Johnson vaccine comes with the key benefit of only requiring one dose, as opposed to two doses for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that were previously authorized for emergency approval in the United States. Plus, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can also be stored for three months in a refrigerator, rather than having to be kept frozen, The Associated Press notes. A committee is set to meet Friday to consider whether the FDA should authorize the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency approval. The company says that should the FDA do so, it expects to begin shipping the vaccine immediately and "deliver enough single-doses by the end of March to enable the vaccination of more than 20 million Americans." More stories from theweek.comThe MyPillow guy might be Trump's ultimate chumpThe 'most encouraging' aspect of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine may be its effectiveness in South Africa, BrazilLate night hosts laugh at Rudy Giuliani literally running from his $1.3 billion lawsuit, tie in CPAC