WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Republican Representative Raul Labrador, a conservative Tea Party favorite, said on Friday that he is running for the post of House majority leader to replace Eric Cantor, who is stepping down. Labrador announced his candidacy for the No. 2 post in the U.S. House of Representatives in a statement. He said he had been stunned by Cantor's primary election loss earlier this week, but that the message from that episode was clear: "Americans are looking for change in the status quo." "Republicans need to address the growing challenges of immobility amongst the poor, insecurity in the middle class and stop protecting the special interests at the top," Labrador, 46, who was born in Puerto Rico but represents a district from Idaho in Congress, said in his statement. "We must restore the proper role of government to create space for free markets and civil society to prosper and flourish ... Republicans must be willing to take these challenges head on with new leadership, fresh ideas, and a different approach," he said. Labrador's allies had said earlier this week that he was being encouraged to run in the June 19 election by other members of Congress. They wanted to see a more conservative, less establishment-oriented lawmaker in the race than the only other contender now lobbying for the support of Republican lawmakers: Kevin McCarthy, who currently holds the No. 3 post. Part of the Tea Party "wave" of lawmakers elected to Congress in 2010, Labrador has been prominent among House conservatives willing to defy the Republican establishment. He was among a dozen Republicans who declined to vote for House Speaker John Boehner in 2013. Labrador abandoned bipartisan House talks on an immigration overhaul last year, and has said that Boehner should lose his gavel if he pursues immigration reform this year. (Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Eric Beech)
- The Independent
First family orders sesame bagels with cream cheese
- Associated Press
The U.S. has reaffirmed its support for Taiwan following China’s dispatch of warplanes near the island in an apparent attempt to intimidate its democratic government and test the resolve of the new American presidential administration. The U.S. State Department on Saturday said it was concerned by China's "pattern of ongoing attempts to intimidate its neighbors, including Taiwan.” “We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives," Ned Price, a spokesman for the department, said in the statement.
- The Telegraph
Britain faces a three-month lockdown "halfway house" after Easter, with a full reopening delayed until all over-50s have had their second dose of the vaccine, The Telegraph understands. Ministers are considering proposals to begin reopening swathes of the economy in April under similar restrictions to those in place over the summer, with “rule of six” and social distancing measures in force in pubs and restaurants. A return to full normality will be delayed for at least 12 to 14 weeks to allow for all over-50s to have their second dose of the vaccine, according to a source familiar with the discussions. Ministers are keen to reopen hospitality venues in some capacity before the G7 summit in the second week of June, when the UK will host world leaders in Carbis Bay, Cornwall. National measures will be eased in advance of the summit, allowing pubs, restaurants and tourism to begin to trade again. Boris Johnson has previously suggested that England will return to the geographic tier system after the lockdown ends, but sources suggested the tiers may apply to the whole country rather than to specific areas. “The appetite for regional tiers will only come if you have large swathes of the country that are significantly lower in case numbers and new variant case numbers and hospitalisations,” a source said.
A prominent U.S. Senate Republican warned on Saturday that former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial could lead to the prosecution of former Democratic presidents if Republicans retake the chamber in two years. Trump this month became the first U.S. president to be impeached twice after the Democratic-controlled House, with the support of 10 Republicans, voted to charge him with incitement of insurrection for a fiery Jan. 6 speech to his followers before they launched a deadly assault on the Capitol.
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden attended Mass for the first time since taking office, worshipping Sunday at the church he frequented when he was vice president. Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, picked Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood, a few miles from the White House. It's where the nation’s only other Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, often went to Mass.
U.S. Army Forces Command has reinstated the top enlisted leader at Fort Hood, Texas after an investigation cleared him of allegations that he used unprofessional language with subordinates last year.
- The Telegraph
Russia has opened criminal cases that could see protestors jailed for years after tens of thousands of people took to the streets at the weekend to demand the release of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The crackdown came as supporters of Mr Navalny, who is facing more than a decade behind bars on charges seen as politically motivated, defied the Kremlin with calls for further rallies. More than 3,000 people were arrested nationwide on Saturday, a record for Russian protests, in the biggest demonstrations the country has seen in years. Investigators said they were opening criminal probes over hooliganism and violence against the police, which could see some of those who attended the rallies sentenced to up to five years in prison. Police said 4,000 people turned out in Moscow on Saturday, but observers and media put that figure in the tens of thousands. More than 10,000 took to the streets in Saint Petersburg and there were demonstrations in dozens of other cities across the country, including in Yakutsk, Siberia where temperatures reached -50C. The rallies were called by Mr Navalny, Russia’s most prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, after he was arrested on his return to Moscow following months in Germany recovering from a poisoning he says was orchestrated by the state.
Pacific island nations are turning to China-led agencies to plug funding gaps in their pandemic-ravaged budgets after exhausting financing options from traditional western partners, stoking fears the region is becoming more dependent on Beijing. The Cook Islands, a tiny country of around 20,000 people in the South Pacific, turned to the Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) late last year after loans from the U.S. and Japanese-led Asian Development Bank (ADB) and grant from close ally New Zealand fell short. The US$20 million AIIB loan to the Cook Islands was the second to a strained Pacific economy in the last few months, after Fiji secured a US$50 million facility, signalling the arrival of a development bank closely linked to China's Belt and Road Initiative to the Pacific.
- Associated Press
A federal judge on Sunday blocked the release of a Tennessee man who authorities say carried flexible plastic handcuffs during the riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell for the District of Columbia set aside an order by a judge in Tennessee concerning the release of Eric Munchel of Nashville. After testimony at a detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Frensley for the Middle District of Tennessee determined Friday that Munchel wasn’t a flight risk and didn’t pose harm to the public.
- The Week
President Biden is enjoying a honeymoon period, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday suggests.Just a few days after assuming office, Biden has received high marks for his response to the coronavirus pandemic and his handling of the presidential transition. More than half of those polled also think he has a chance to unify the country, although only 22 percent have a "great deal" of confidence he'll be able to pull off that feat.Per the poll, Republicans don't seem pleased with some of the executive orders Biden has issued so far, including his reversal of a travel ban on several Muslim-majority nations and the termination of the national emergency declaration at the southern border, but GOP voters are, relatively speaking, somewhat amenable to his coronavirus response. The poll shows 40 percent of Republicans approve of Biden's pandemic leadership. For context, former President Donald Trump's highest approval rating (in regards to his COVID-19 response) among Democrats in the same poll was 30 percent, and that was all the way back in mid-March of 2020.> The more than two-thirds of Americans who approve of Pres. Biden's leadership on the coronavirus includes 40% of Republicans -- a notably high level of support from across the aisle a year into the pandemic. https://t.co/Foyzv1E8Ji> > — Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) January 24, 2021The friendly numbers may give Biden some breathing room, ABC News notes, but early tenure bliss generally doesn't last forever.The ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs' KnowledgePanel between Jan. 22 to 23, 2021 among a random national sample of 504 adults. The margin of error is 5 percentage points. Read more at ABC News.More stories from theweek.com 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Biden's COVID-19 push In candid interview, Birx says she knew working with Trump White House would be the end of her federal career 'No way' McConnell has had a post-Trump 'epiphany,' political scientist says
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), incoming chair of the Senate Budget Committee who caucuses with the Democrats, told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that Democrats plan to push a coronavirus relief package through the chamber with a simple majority vote. Why it matters: "Budget reconciliation" would allow Democrats to forgo the Senate's 60-vote requirement and could potentially speed-up the next relief package for millions of unemployed Americans. Democrats hold the the 50-50 split in the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.What he's saying: "What we cannot do is wait weeks and weeks and months to go forward. We have got to act now," Sanders said. * "We're going to use reconciliation — that's 50 votes in the Senate, plus the vice president — to pass legislation desperately needed by working families in this country right now." * When asked if he wants a relief bill passed before former President Trump's impeachment trial begins the week of Feb. 8, he said: "We've got to do everything. This is not — you don't have the time to sit around, weeks on impeachment and not get vaccines into the arms of people."Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
China has found harmless traces of the novel coronavirus in some COVID-19 inoculation sites potentially linked to vaccine liquid, its disease control centre said. Samples taken from tables, walls, doorknobs and hallways of the sites tested positive for the virus but were not infectious, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) said in a statement late on Sunday. The traces had identical genome sequences as the strain found in used vaccine vials but were different from the strains currently spreading, China CDC said.
- Associated Press
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Sunday he has tested positive for COVID-19 and that the symptoms are mild. Mexico's president, who has been criticized for his handling of his country's pandemic and for not setting an example of prevention in public, said on his official Twitter account that he is under medical treatment. José Luis Alomía Zegarra, Mexico’s director of epidemiology, said López Obrador had a “light” case of COVID-19 and was “isolating at home.”
- 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.
- Yahoo News Video
It's a club Donald Trump was never really interested in joining and certainly not so soon: the cadre of former commanders in chief who revere the presidency enough to put aside often bitter political differences and even join together in common cause.
- NBC News
The Biden administration aims for 100 million vaccinations within his first 100 days as president.
- Associated Press
A 34-year-old grizzly bear captured in southwestern Wyoming has been confirmed as the oldest on record in the Yellowstone region, Wyoming wildlife officials said. Grizzly bear 168 was captured last summer after it preyed on calves in the Upper Green River Basin area. Biologists learned of the bear’s longevity after euthanizing the bruin, which had preyed on cattle and then finally, calves.
- The Week
In candid interview, Birx says she knew working with Trump White House would be the end of her federal career
Dr. Deborah Birx, who served as the White House coronavirus response coordinator while former President Donald Trump was still in office, opened up about her time working with the Trump administration during an exclusive interview with CBS News' Margaret Brennan on Sunday.Birx was often criticized for not pushing back enough on Trump's comments about the pandemic, and while she suggested her reactions could be misinterpreted -- like the time Trump asked her about whether COVID-19 could be treated with a bleach injection -- she did anticipate the gig would likely be the end of her federal career. "You can't go into something that's that polarized and not believe you won't be tainted by that experience," she told Brennan, adding that she'll "need to retire" within the next few weeks.> WATCH: Birx reacts to claims that she became an "apologist" for Trump and *that* moment where the former president suggested using disinfectant as a potential treatment for COVID19> > "I wasn't prepared for that. I didn't even know what to do in that moment." pic.twitter.com/2ddCblGllH> > -- Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 24, 2021> "I know that I wouldn't be allowed to really continue successfully within the federal government," Birx tells @margbrennan, calling her role leading the COVID19 task force a "terminal event" for her career> > Adds she will probably retire in the next 4-6 weeks from @cdcgov pic.twitter.com/dHHT2styEN> > -- Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 24, 2021Birx did say she wished she had "been more publicly outspoken" about certain things like COVID-19 testing, especially because she's been known to "push the envelope" in private. But she suggested that, ultimately, the culture of the White House proved too unfamiliar. > Birx's biggest mistake leading the Trump coronavirus task force? > > "I always feel like I could have done more, been more outspoken, maybe been more outspoken publicly. I didn't know all the consequences of all of these issues."> > More of her interview on today's @FaceTheNation pic.twitter.com/egZeFZCQ0W> > -- Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 24, 2021More stories from theweek.com 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Biden's COVID-19 push 'No way' McConnell has had a post-Trump 'epiphany,' political scientist says White House, bipartisan group of lawmakers discuss Biden's COVID-19 relief plan
- The Telegraph
China ramped up its pressure on democratic Taiwan over the weekend, with an unusually large number of fighter jets approaching the island in a "test" for the new administration of US President Joe Biden. On Sunday, 12 Chinese fighter jets entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, along with a reconnaissance aircraft and two anti-submarine aircraft, Taiwan’s defence ministry said. A day earlier, China sent eight bomber planes capable of carrying nuclear weapons and four fighter jets to the same area to the southwest of the island, as well as one reconnaissance aircraft. On both occasions, Taiwan sent up aircraft, issued radio warnings to the Chinese aircraft, and deployed air defence missile systems to monitor their activity. Beijing claims self-governing Taiwan as part of its territory, and has been angered by a show of increased US support for Taiwan during Donald Trump’s administration. In recent months, China has carried out frequent, at times daily, incursions aimed at pressuring President Tsai Ing-wen’s government to accept Beijing’s demand that it recognise Taiwan as part of China. These incursions have usually consisted of just one or two reconnaissance planes in recent weeks, rather than the warplanes seen over the weekend.
- FOX News Videos
Former acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf reacts to President Biden's day one actions on immigration.