By Warren Strobel WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. court has ruled that the eavesdropping National Security Agency can temporarily resume its bulk collection of Americans' telephone records, according to documents made public on Tuesday. The controversial programme, exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, was rocked in May by an appeals court ruling that the USA Patriot Act had never authorized the NSA to collect Americans' phone records in bulk. A new law, called the Freedom Act, which substantially reformed and narrowed the bulk phone data programme, was signed by U.S. President Barack Obama a day after the existing programme lapsed on June 1. The Freedom Act also allowed the existing surveillance programme to continue for a six-month transition period, but it remained in legal limbo pending Monday's ruling by a judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. "In passing the USA Freedom Act, Congress clearly intended to end bulk data collection ... But what it took away with one hand, it gave back - for a limited time - with another," wrote Michael Mosman, a judge on the surveillance court. In his ruling, first reported by the New York Times, Mosman rejected the May ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan that the Patriot Act had never authorized the NSA to collect Americans' phone records in bulk. "Second Circuit rulings are not binding on the F.I.S.C. and this court respectfully disagrees with that court’s analysis, especially in view of the intervening enactment of the U.S.A. Freedom Act," he wrote. The U.S. Justice Department welcomed the decision. "We agree with the Court’s conclusion that the programme is lawful, and that in passing the USA Freedom Act, Congress provided for a 180 day transition period for the government to continue the existing collection programme until the new mechanism of obtaining call detail records is implemented," said Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle. The NSA programme collects and analyses data about Americans' phone calls, such as the number dialled, and the time and length of the call, but not the calls' actual content. The Freedom Act requires companies such as Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc , to collect and store telephone records the same way that they do now for billing purposes. But instead of routinely feeding U.S. intelligence agencies such data, the companies will be required to turn it over only in response to a government request approved by the FISC. (Reporting by Eric Beech, Warren Strobel and Julia Edwards; editing by Bill Trott and Christian Plumb)
- The Independent
First family orders sesame bagels with cream cheese
- The Week
In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said his caucus won't allow Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to dictate the agenda in the Democratic-led 50-50 Senate or demand an end to the legislative filibuster as a precondition for a power-sharing pact. "We've told McConnell no on the organizing resolution, and that's that. So there's no negotiations on that," Schumer said, suggesting he had a secret plan. "There are ways to deal with him."Maddow included an update when she broadcast the interview Monday night. "While we were airing that right now, and you were watching it, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just put out a statement that he is folding on this" and willl "agree to go forward with what Sen. Schumer told him he must," she said. "Sen. Mitch McConnell has caved and Sen. Schumer has won that fight. That was quick. Let's see what else we can do."> No sooner has the portion of Rachel Maddow's interview with Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer aired than Mitch McConnell has put out a statement that he is folding, ending the stand-off. pic.twitter.com/9qR1jpKXkf> > -- Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021McConnell said he would allow the Senate to move forward because two Democrats had reiterated their opposition to ending the filibuster, effectively taking that option off the table. Maddow asked Schumer about that, too, and he didn't answer directly."The caucus is united with the belief that I have: We must get big, strong, bold things done," Schumer said. The Democratic caucus is also "totally united" that "we will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do," and "we have tools that we can use," notably the budget reconciliation process," he added. "We will come together as a caucus and figure it out."> "We will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do." Here's Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier in his interview with Rachel Maddow, talking about the filibuster specifically, and getting things done. pic.twitter.com/xOAKWfe2Fu> > -- Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021Schumer also suggested he is not interested in playing cat-and-mouse with McConnell's Republicans again. Watch below. > "We will not repeat that mistake." Senate Majority Leader Schumer cites Obama era lessons in prioritizing legislation over bad faith Republican 'bipartisanship.' pic.twitter.com/gpc1kBP45w> > -- Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021More stories from theweek.com Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing Surging global ice melt suggests sea level rise predictions are far too conservative Trump must be prosecuted
- The Telegraph
The acrimonious split within Republican ranks widened over the weekend as Donald Trump made his foray back into politics, backing the re-election of a hard-line supporter as chair of the party in Arizona. His wholehearted support for Kelli Ward was seen by allies as the former president firing a warning shot across the bows of any Republican senators considering backing his impeachment. Underlining Mr Trump’s grip on the Republican grassroots, the Arizona party also voted to censure John McCain’s widow, Cindy, former senator Jeff Flake and governor Doug Ducey, who refused to back the former president’s claims of election fraud. Mr Trump’s intervention came amid reports that he is considering setting up a “Patriot Party” which would spearhead primary challenges to his opponents in the 2022 mid-term elections. The former president has already amassed a massive war chest with his Save America political action committee declaring last month that it had raked in $207.5 million in donations.
- National Review
Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) is “against eliminating the filibuster, and she is not open to changing her mind,” according to a spokeswoman for the senator. The spokeswoman’s comments to the Washington Post come as the possibility of voting to end the Senate’s practice of imposing a 60-vote threshold for most legislation has moved to the forefront of conversation, as Democrats have taken control of the House, Senate and White House. Ending the filibuster would allow any legislation to pass with a simple majority. Sinema joins moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia as well as President Biden in opposing abolishing the filibuster. While Biden said in July that he would “take a look” at eliminating the rule dependent upon “how ostreperous they become,” speaking about Senate Republicans, he also added then that he had “not supported the elimination of the filibuster because it’s been used as often … the other way around [for Republicans’ benefit], but I think you have to just take a look at it.” Biden “has not changed his mind” and continues to oppose eliminating the filibuster, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday. However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said for years that “nothing’s off the table” once Democrats have the majority in the Senate and has previously said that Democrats would “do what it takes” to pass policy. “Job number one is for us to get the majority. We don’t take anything for granted but it’s looking better and better,” he said over the summer. “Once we get the majority, we’ll discuss it in our caucus. Nothing’s off the table.” Ahead of the election, a growing group of Democrats signaled they were open to the idea of ending the filibuster, including 18 of the original 26 democratic presidential candidates: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang who expressed full support, and Senators Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), Bernie Sanders (D., Vt.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D., Texas) who said they would be open to the idea. However, with Manchin and Sinema’s opposition, it is unlikely Democrats will receive enough support to abolish the filibuster. Meanwhile, Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have warned that eliminating the filibuster would cause long-lasting damage to the Senate. “This threat to permanently disfigure, to disfigure the Senate, has been the latest growing drumbeat in the modern Democratic Party’s war against our governing institutions,” McConnell said in September, according to The Hill.
- NBC News
Brittney Gilliam had taken her family for a "Sunday funday" when officers with guns drawn ordered her and the four underage girls with her to exit the car.
President Joe Biden will continue his flurry of executive orders on Monday, signing a new directive to require the federal government to “buy American” for products and services. Why it matters: The executive action is yet another attempt by Biden to accomplish goals administratively without waiting for the backing of Congress. The new order echoes Biden's $400 billion campaign pledge to increase government purchases of American goods.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.What they're saying: "President Biden is ensuring that when the federal government spends taxpayer dollars they are spent on American made goods by American workers and with American-made component parts," the White House said in a fact sheet.The big picture: Biden’s action kick offs another week in which the president will seek to undo many Trump policies with executive actions, while signaling the direction that he wants to take the country. * Biden will also reaffirm his support for the Jones Act, which requires maritime shipments between American ports to be carried on U.S. vessels. * Last week, Biden signed an order to attempt to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors and workers to $15 an hour.The bottom line: Former President Trump also attempted to force the federal government to rely on U.S. manufacturers for procurement with "buy American" provisions. * But supply chains — with some parts and components made outside of the U.S. — require long and complicated efforts to boost domestic manufacturing. Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- The Week
Biden did not, in fact, remove Trump's 'Diet Coke button' from the Resolute Desk, White House clarifies
The new Biden administration has yet not disclosed the secrets of Area 51 or explained what the Air Force really knows about UFOs, but it did clarify, at least, the mystery of the vanished "Diet Coke button" former President Donald Trump would use to summon refreshments in the Oval Office. The usher button, as it is formally known, is not gone, even if it is no longer used to summon Diet Cokes, a White House official tells Politico.The White House official "unfortunately wouldn't say what Biden will use the button for," Politico's Daniel Lippman writes, suggesting Biden might summon Orange Gatorade and not the obvious answer, ice cream — or, let's get real, coffee. What's more, there are evidently two usher buttons in the Oval Office, one at the Resolute Desk and the other next to the chair by the fireplace, a former White House official told Politico, adding that Trump didn't actually use the Diet Coke button all that much because "he would usually just verbally ask the valets, who were around all day, for what he needed."In any case, it is not the placement of the button that matters, of course, but how you use it. And Biden will presumably know better than to order ice cream treats during a top-secret national security briefing.More stories from theweek.com Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing Surging global ice melt suggests sea level rise predictions are far too conservative Trump must be prosecuted
- The Telegraph
Britain's Covid vaccine supply is in jeopardy after the EU threatened to block exports of the Belgian-made Pfizer jabs amid a row with UK-based AstraZeneca. Brussels decided to impose tighter controls on exports after reacting with fury to the news that AstraZeneca will deliver 50 million fewer doses to the EU than it had expected. Ministers now fear deliveries of the Pfizer jabs will – at best – be delayed by extra paperwork and that the EU could try to stop doses being sent to non-EU countries after saying it will "take any action required to protect its citizens". In March, the bloc imposed export restrictions on personal protective equipment after it struggled with supply to its member states. On Monday night, MPs accused the EU of acting out of "spite" and trying to deflect blame for its own mistakes in getting vaccination programmes off the ground.
The Philippines has confirmed domestic transmission of the new, highly contagious British variant of the coronavirus, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to abandon a plan to allow some minors to go outside their homes. "Right now, we have local transmission where this individual or these cases with the variant have already infected their community, their family," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told news channel ANC on Tuesday. The world is scrambling to contain the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant, despite travel bans, new lockdowns and a tightening quarantine measures in dozens of countries, amid concerns it could not only be more transmissible, but deadlier.
- NBC News
The eight other current and former police officers were indicted in what authorities described as a long-term scheme to steal overtime money.
All Guard members who test positive are quarantined and won't return to their home states until they're fully recovered.
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden has brought back Dr. Kevin O'Connor as his physician, replacing President Donald Trump's doctor with the one who oversaw his care when he was vice president. The White House confirmed that Dr. Sean Conley, the Navy commander who served as the head of the White House Medical Unit under Trump and oversaw his treatment when he was hospitalized with COVID-19, will assume a teaching role at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. O'Connor, a retired Army colonel, was Biden's doctor during his entire tenure as vice president, having remained in the role at Biden's request.
- Yahoo News Video
The Supreme Court on Monday brought an end to lawsuits over whether Donald Trump illegally profited off his presidency.
- The Telegraph
Why would the European Union threaten to block coronavirus vaccine exports? EU countries have long been waiting for the AstraZeneca vaccine – and now, at the last, it has been snatched from their grasp. In August, the European Commission announced that it had secured 300 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab, with an option for a further 100 million. With enough doses for 200 million people, the supply could have vaccinated roughly half of all EU citizens. It brought the European Commission's highly ambitious target of vaccinating 70 percent of all EU citizens by the summer, and even a revival of the tourism trade, into the realms of possibility. The European Medicines Agency is expected to grant market authorisation at the end of the week, meaning doses could be shipped out to the member states. But on Friday, AstraZeneca wrote to the EU executive saying it had supply chain problems and would not be able to fulfil its contractual obligations. The news was a bitter blow to the commission, which has led negotiations in the EU joint vaccine procurement process, but especially for the bloc's member states. National governments are now faced with the unenviable task of explaining to their voters why the promised vaccines are not coming. Many EU countries bet on the AstraZeneca jab, foregoing its more expensive and difficult to store rivals.That made it an attractive proposition for poorer member states, and easier to get to more remote areas than those requiring complicated storage technology. They were waiting for the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite growing pressure from their voters. Dissatisfaction with coronavirus restrictions is growing in Europe, with the Dutch rioting against a coronavirus curfew at the weekend.
- The Week
The possibility of conflict with Iran prompted the U.S. military to begin using several extra ports and bases in Saudi Arabia for the first time over the course of the last year, The Wall Street Journal reports.The decision appears geared toward expanding the ability to operate militarily and complicating Iran's options in Saudi Arabia should tensions with Tehran, which is at odds with both Washington and Riyadh, boil over in the future. "What it does is to give us options, and options are always a good thing for a commander to have," Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, told the Journal.McKenzie explained that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are negotiating infrastructure plans for the coastal port of Yanbu as well as two air bases to make them more usable for the U.S. military. He said additional sites that have not been revealed are under consideration.As the Journal notes, the Biden administration has promised to take a tougher stance on human rights issues within Saudi Arabia, but the military base expansion effort — which began under the Trump administration — suggests Washington will continue to count Saudi Arabia as a key ally. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.More stories from theweek.com Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing Surging global ice melt suggests sea level rise predictions are far too conservative Trump must be prosecuted
- NBC News
Gov. Doug Ducey says he authorized rewards of $35,000 each for information that would lead to their capture.
Tacoma Police spokeswoman Wendy Haddow said police were alerted to the street racers and a 100-person crowd blocking area streets, according to the News Tribune. When the patrol car responded, the crowd began pounding on the vehicle's windows, she told local media. “He was afraid they would break his glass,” Haddow told the News Tribune, saying the officer sped away from the scene for his own safety.
- The Independent
Giuliani slams ‘hate-filled left-wing’ as he responds to $1.3bn defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems
Donald Trump’s personal lawyer claims legal action is intended to ‘frighten people of faint heart’
- Associated Press
A former pathologist at an Arkansas veterans hospital has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter in the death of a patient he misdiagnosed. Robert Morris Levy, 54, of Fayetteville was sentenced Friday in federal court. Prosecutors said Levy diagnosed a patient with lymphoma when the patient actually had a small-cell carcinoma.
The will-he-or-won't-he speculation surrounding a possible gubernatorial run by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is destined to continue at least a bit longer.What he's saying: Lindell told Axios that his focus is currently on proving his (baseless) claims of election fraud. He won't make a decision until that fight is resolved.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * "Why would anybody want to run if they had the same machines with the election fraud?" Lindell said Friday. * "It will all get out there, and when it does, we'll see what elections are going to have to be done with paper ballots and no machines. Otherwise, it doesn't make sense to put in everybody's resources and time."Between the lines: While he's leaving the door open, Lindell's comments create a path for bowing out.Why it matters: If Lindell runs, name recognition and his ties to Trump could give him an edge among GOP voters. * Many top Republican officials and consultants think having the unpredictable pillow salesman at the top of the ticket would spell disaster for their efforts to win statewide in 2022.How we got here: Lindell has been flirting with a bid for months, but his commitment to promoting conspiracy theories about the 2020 election — including a much-covered White House visit — has triggered legal backlash and trouble for his business. * Last fall, Lindell said he'd run if Trump won another term. Then, in early January, he told the Star Tribune he was "90-95%" sure he'd jump in and would decide "once we know Donald Trump is our president."Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.