Highlights of this day in history: Iconic photo captured in Iwo Jima; Persian Gulf War begins in Kuwait; Scottish scientists clone first mammal; Stan Laurel dies; Carlos Santana wins 8 Grammy awards. (Feb. 23)
- Business Insider
"Look, when a crisis hits my state, I'm there. I'm not going to go on some vacation," GOP Rep. Michael McCaul said on CNN's "State of the Union."
- Associated Press
South Dakota lawmakers are considering impeaching the state's attorney general as he faces misdemeanor charges for striking and killing a man with his car, Republican legislative leaders said Monday. Jason Ravnsborg, the state's top law enforcement officer, indicated he will not step down while he waits for the case against him to proceed. Prosecutors have charged him with three misdemeanors but no felonies in the September death of 55-year-old Joseph Boever.
Alarmed by signs that a second wave of the coronavirus epidemic is building, India's richest state of Maharashtra ordered fresh restrictions on people's movement and imposed night curfews in some cities, though not in the financial capital Mumbai. Maharastra alone reported nearly 7,000 new cases on Sunday, a steep rise from just 2,000 cases earlier this month, with fears heightened by the appearance of new strains of the virus in parts of the country. "We just cannot afford to impose a second lockdown, people will have to follow the guidelines or else we could see a massive second wave," said S.D Patil, a member of the Maharastra government team monitoring the spread of the disease in a state that accounts for nearly a fifth of India's confirmed cases.
- USA TODAY
'Don't waste vaccine!' After early confusion, experts say it's always better to use leftover shots than toss them
After early confusion, protocols for making sure leftover doses of COVID-19 vaccine are used are in place. Experts say shots should not be wasted.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected adult film actress Stormy Daniels' bid to revive her defamation lawsuit against former President Donald Trump over a Twitter post in which he accused her of a "con job" after she described being threatened over publicizing her account of a sexual relationship with him. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year agreed with a Los Angeles-based federal judge who decided in 2018 that Trump's remarks were not defamatory and were protected by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment's guarantee of free speech. "The ruling confirms what we have been saying all along: that Stormy Daniels' lawsuit against the President was frivolous and sanctionable," said Trump's lawyer, Charles Harder.
- The New York Times
SAN ANTONIO — As millions of Texans shivered in dark, cold homes over the past week while a winter storm devastated the state’s power grid and froze natural gas production, those who could still summon lights with the flick of a switch felt lucky. Now, many of them are paying a severe price for it. “My savings is gone,” said Scott Willoughby, a 63-year-old Army veteran who lives on Social Security payments in a Dallas suburb. He said he had nearly emptied his savings account so that he would be able to pay the $16,752 electric bill charged to his credit card — 70 times what he usually pays for all of his utilities combined. “There’s nothing I can do about it, but it’s broken me.” Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times Willoughby is among scores of Texans who have reported skyrocketing electric bills as the price of keeping lights on and refrigerators humming shot upward. For customers whose electricity prices are not fixed and are instead tied to the fluctuating wholesale price, the spikes have been astronomical. The outcry elicited angry calls for action from lawmakers from both parties and prompted Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, to hold an emergency meeting with legislators Saturday to discuss the enormous bills. “We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills that are a result of the severe winter weather and power outages,” Abbott, who has been reeling after the state’s infrastructure failure, said in a statement after the meeting. He added that Democrats and Republicans would work together to make sure people “do not get stuck with skyrocketing energy bills.” The electric bills are coming due at the end of a week in which Texans have faced a combination of crises caused by the frigid weather, beginning on Monday, when power grid failures and surging demand led to millions being left without electricity. Natural gas producers were not prepared for the freeze either, and many people’s homes were cut off from heat. Now, millions of people are discovering that they have no safe water because of burst pipes, frozen wells or water treatment plants that have been knocked offline. Power has returned in recent days for all but about 60,000 Texans as the storm moved east, where it has also caused power outages in Mississippi, Louisiana, West Virginia and Ohio. The steep electric bills in Texas are in part a result of the state’s uniquely unregulated energy market, which allows customers to pick their electricity providers among about 220 retailers in an entirely market-driven system. Under some of the plans, when demand increases, prices rise. The goal, architects of the system say, is to balance the market by encouraging consumers to reduce their usage and power suppliers to create more electricity. But when last week’s crisis hit and power systems faltered, the state’s Public Utilities Commission ordered that the price cap be raised to its maximum limit of $9 per kilowatt-hour, easily pushing many customers’ daily electric costs above $100. And in some cases, like Willoughby’s, bills rose by more than 50 times the normal cost. Many of the people who have reported extremely high charges, including Willoughby, are customers of Griddy, a small company in Houston that provides electricity at wholesale prices, which can quickly change based on supply and demand. The company passes the wholesale price directly to customers, charging an additional $9.99 monthly fee. Much of the time, the rate is considered affordable. But the model can be risky: Last week, foreseeing a huge jump in wholesale prices, the company encouraged all of its customers — about 29,000 people — to switch to another provider when the storm arrived. But many were unable to do so. Katrina Tanner, a Griddy customer who lives in Nevada, Texas, said she had been charged $6,200 already this month, more than five times what she paid in all of 2020. She began using Griddy at a friend’s suggestion a couple of years ago and was pleased at the time with how simple it was to sign up. As the storm rolled through during the past week, however, she kept opening the company’s app on her phone and seeing her bill “just rising, rising, rising,” Tanner said. Griddy was able to take the money she owed directly from her bank account, and she now has just $200 left. She suspects that she was only able to keep that much because her bank stopped Griddy from taking more. Some lawmakers and consumer advocates said the price spikes had made it clear that customers did not understand the complicated terms of the company’s model. “To the Texas Utilities Commission: What are you thinking, allowing the average type of household to sign up for this kind of program?” Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, said of Griddy. “The risk-reward is so out of whack that it never should have been permitted in the first place.” Phil King, a Republican state lawmaker who represents an area west of Fort Worth, said some of his constituents who were on variable-rate contracts were complaining about bills in the thousands. “When something like this happens, you’re in real trouble” with such contracts, King said. “There have got to be some emergency financial waivers and other actions taken until we can work through this and get to the bottom of it.” Responding to its outraged customers, Griddy, too, appeared to try to shift anger to the Public Utilities Commission in a statement. “We intend to fight this for, and alongside, our customers for equity and accountability — to reveal why such price increases were allowed to happen as millions of Texans went without power,” the statement said. William W. Hogan, considered the architect of the Texas energy market design, said in an interview this past week that the high prices reflected the market performing as it was designed. The rapid losses of power — more than a third of the state’s available electricity production was offline at one point — increased the risk that the entire system would collapse, causing prices to rise, said Hogan, a professor of global energy policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School. “As you get closer and closer to the bare minimum, these prices get higher and higher, which is what you want,” Hogan said. Robert McCullough, an energy consultant in Portland, Oregon, and a critic of Hogan’s, said that allowing the market to drive energy policy with few protections for consumers was “idiotic” and that similar actions had devastated retailers and consumers following the California energy crisis of 2000 and 2001. “The similar situation caused a wave of bankruptcies as retailers and customers discovered that they were on the hook for bills 30 times their normal levels,” McCullough said. “We are going to see this again.” DeAndré Upshaw said his power had been on and off in his Dallas apartment throughout the storm. A lot of his neighbors had it worse, so he felt fortunate to have electricity and heat, inviting some neighbors over to warm up. Then Upshaw, 33, saw that his utility bill from Griddy had risen to more than $6,700. He usually pays about $80 a month this time of year. He had been trying to conserve power as the storm raged on, but it didn’t seem to matter. He also signed up to switch to another utility company, but he is still being charged until the change goes into effect Monday. “It’s a utility — it’s something that you need to live,” Upshaw said. “I don’t feel like I’ve used $6,700 of electricity in the last decade. That’s not a cost that any reasonable person would have to pay for five days of intermittent electric service being used at the bare minimum.” As Texas slowly thaws out, Tanner is allowing herself a small luxury after days of keeping the thermostat at 60 degrees. “I finally decided the other day, if we were going to pay these high prices, we weren’t going to freeze,” she said. “So I cranked it up to 65.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
- Yahoo News Video
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a bid by adult film actress Stormy Daniels to revive her defamation lawsuit against former President Donald Trump over a Twitter post in which he accused her of a "con job" after she described being threatened over publicizing her account of a sexual relationship with him.
- Associated Press
Australia started its COVID-19 inoculation program on Monday, days after its neighbor New Zealand, with both governments deciding their pandemic experiences did not require the fast tracking of vaccine rollouts that occurred in many parts of the world. Catherine Bennett, an epidemiologist at Australia's Deakin University, said countries that do not face a virus crisis benefit from taking their time and learning from countries that have taken emergency vaccination measures such as the United States. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Sunday in a show of confidence in the product.
Mya Thwe Thwe Khaing was shot just before her 20th birthday, during rallies against a military coup.
- FOX News Videos
FOX News medical contributor Dr. Janette Nesheiwat weighs in on 'Fox & Friends Weekend'
Dominion Voting Systems Inc on Monday filed a defamation lawsuit against businessman Mike Lindell, chief executive of My Pillow Inc, for spreading false conspiracy theories that Dominion's machines rigged November's presidential election. The Denver-based company filed the case in federal court in Washington, seeking $1.3 billion in damages. Chaska, Minnesota-based My Pillow is named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit.
- The Independent
They travelled to Cancun on Wednesday as millions were without power in Texas amid Winter Storm Uri
- Reuters Videos
The ancient Mesopotamian site of Ur in Iraq will be the stage for an inter-religious prayer service held by Pope Francis next week.An event local archeologists hope will draw renewed attention to the place revered as the birthplace of Abraham.Popular with Western visitors in the 1970s and 1980s, Ur is scarcely visited today after decades of war and political instability shattered Iraq's international tourism industry. The global health crisis has also kept local tourists away.The state board's Antiquities and Heritage archaeological director is Ali Kadhim Ghanim."We are counting on the Pope's visit, because it will increase the number of tourists in the city of Ur. Not only tourists, but we believe there'll also be more Christians making a pilgrimage."Located about 200 miles south of the capital Baghdad, the site is made up of a pyramid-style ziggurat and a residential complex.It was excavated about 100 years ago by Leonard Woolley, a Briton who recovered treasures rivalling those found in Tutankhamen's tomb in Egypt. But little work has since been done on one of the world's oldest cities - a place where urban dwelling, writing and central state power began.The father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Abraham is described in the biblical book of Genesis as having lived in the city.Now it's hoped that the Pope's visit will attract international attention to the site to fund restoration works on its palaces and temples.
- Business Insider
An Oath Keepers leader arrested for participating in the Capitol riot said she met with Secret Service and was providing 'security' to legislators and other key figures
In a statement to Insider, a spokesperson US Secret Service said it did not employ the assistance of any private citizens on January 6.
A leader of the far-right "Oath Keepers" group charged in the deadly U.S. Capitol riots said she was in Washington on Jan. 6 to provide security for legislators and meet with Secret Service agents, according to a court filing. Jessica Watkins, 38, is one of nine associates of the anti-government group charged with conspiring to storm the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's election victory. Prosecutors said Watkins entered the Capitol building illegally.
- ABC News Videos
538's Nate Silver on how much retribution the senators who voted to convict Trump will face.
Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on various issues if they repaired their damaged bilateral relations, but Washington accused Beijing of trying to avert blame for its actions. Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue after ties sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump. But he urged Washington to respect China's core interests, stop "smearing" the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing's internal affairs, and stop "conniving" with separatist forces for Taiwan's independence.
- USA TODAY
Iran's foreign minister insisted again Sunday that the United States must lift economic sanctions before the 2015 nuclear agreement can be revived.
- The Daily Beast
The Daily WireGina Carano declared she wasn’t going down without a fight in her first interview since being fired from the Disney+ series The Mandalorian, accusing the company of bullying her and having a double standard.Carano broke her silence to her new boss Ben Shapiro, sitting down with the conservative commentator for a special Sunday episode of The Ben Shapiro Show where she claimed she’d learned over social media that she had been axed from the Star Wars franchise earlier this month.The former MMA fighter had faced widespread backlash when she reshared a post that suggested being a conservative in 2021 was similar to being Jewish during the Holocaust. Lucasfilm swiftly cut ties with her, saying Carano’s “social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.” Prior to that Holocaust post, Carano had also mocked trans usage of pronouns, shared QAnon and Pizzagate conspiracies, and is an avowed COVID skeptic who’s repeatedly downplayed both the pandemic and mask-wearing.There was radio silence from Carano about her firing until Shapiro announced she had teamed up with his conservative news and opinion site The Daily Wire to produce a movie that she would star in. He later said he’d be having an on-camera, sit-down interview to discuss her dismissal—news shared by Carano on Twitter, along with the message: “Become a member [of The Daily Wire] and get 25% off memberships using code: GINA.”Carano came out swinging against Disney, admitting the writing had been on the wall since she had crisis talks with higher-ups last year after she was accused of being transphobic.“I’ve been through so much, and I’ve seen so much now, clearly, of the bullying that’s been taking place, and I saw it before,” she said. “I’m not the only one that’s ever been bullied by this company, and I know that so deeply.”“I was prepared at any point to be let go because I’ve seen this happen to so many people. I’ve seen the looks on their faces. I’ve seen the bullying that takes place and so when this started… you know it’s only a matter of time. I’ve seen it happen to so many people and I just thought to myself ‘you’re coming for me, I know you are.’” (Carano did not name any of these supposed people.)Here’s Why Gina Carano Was Fired From ‘The Mandalorian’“Just a couple of weeks ago, Lucasfilm asked an artist that they employ to erase my character and put a different character in place, and he proudly announces this on Twitter, and erases my character and puts another character in place,” Carano added.She also accused Disney of having a double standard, saying executives had been “watching [her] like a hawk,” but other people “on the same production [could] say everything they want, and that’s where I had a problem.”“I had a problem because I wasn’t going along with the narrative,” Carano added. “I could share a story and would turn things around in the media, but I can’t do that because it would be selling out a friend that I don’t really have the same views as but I’m not gonna sell out someone to take the attention off me… everyone is afraid of losing their jobs.”Lucasfilm did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment by time of publication.Over the course of the hour-long interview, Carano said she considers herself conservative, admitting she only recently became interested in politics and one of Shapiro’s books had helped form her opinions.She only briefly touches on the post that got her fired, which included a photo of a Jewish woman in her undergarments screaming as she ran away from men and young boys armed with clubs in Ukraine in 1941 during the Lviv pogroms.“Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors… even by children,” the post that originated elsewhere read. “Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”Carano insisted she wasn’t trying to make comparisons, saying she’s “so inspired by the gentle spirit of the Jewish people going through” the Holocaust.She said her only intention was to “bring people together” and that she believed the post was “more about people tearing each other apart.”The Ugly Backstory of Ben Shapiro’s First Movie ‘Run Hide Fight’ When Shapiro tried to pivot the conversation to a lighter tone and talk about her journey to Hollywood and her fitness regime, Carano made one more attempt to do damage control.“I do want people to know that this has not been easy,” she said. “I’m a human being, I have so much to learn and grow, and I am. I am deeply understanding, it’s like the curtains got pulled and I’m seeing so much.”“Being cancelled might become trendy one day, but don’t think that when it happens to you, it’s gonna be easy because it’s not. It’s maybe going to be one of the hardest things that you’ve ever been through. But each day that goes by, you find your legs again, and you stop feeling sorry for yourself and you show up.”“My body is still shaking,” she added. “It’s devastating, but the thought of this happening to anybody else, especially to somebody who could not handle this the way I can, no, they don’t get to do that. They don’t get to make people feel like that.”Again, following her firing, Carano was immediately hired by Shapiro’s The Daily Wire, whose first production has a very messy backstory.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 Independent
Some Texans were charged as high as $17,000 for their electric usage last week