WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of Democratic and Republican U.S. senators introduced a bill on Thursday seeking to lift the half-century-old trade embargo against Cuba, nearly two months after President Barack Obama announced moves toward normalizing relations with the Communist-ruled island nation. The legislation seeks to repeal provisions of previous laws that prevent Americans from doing business with Cuba, but does not repeal portions of laws addressing human rights or property claims against Cuba's government, the measure's sponsors said. U.S. lawmakers who back more normal relations with Cuba are preparing a series of bills seeking to ease U.S. restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba. A bill aimed at ending legal restrictions on Americans' travel to Cuba was introduced last month. The bills will face some strong opposition in Congress, but supporters said they wanted to at least generate debate on U.S.-Cuba policy. Even if the standalone measures fail in the Senate and House of Representatives, they may be included later this year as provisions of larger appropriations bills. Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar is the lead sponsor of the bill unveiled on Thursday. The bill's co-sponsors include Republican Senators Jeff Flake and Mike Enzi, as well as Democrats Patrick Leahy, Richard Durbin and Debbie Stabenow. (Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Susan Heavey)
- 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.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedBiden's reverse triangulation
- NBC News
The suspension will last at least 30 days and has been in effect since last week, YouTube said in an email.
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.
- Associated Press
A group of U.N experts has criticized Sri Lanka's requirement that those who die of COVID-19 be cremated, even it goes against a family's religious beliefs, and warned that decisions based on “discrimination and aggressive nationalism” could incite hatred and violence. The experts, who are part of the Special Procedures of the U.N Human Rights Council, said in a statement Monday that rule amounts to a human rights violation. “We deplore the implementation of such public health decisions based on discrimination, aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism amounting to persecution of Muslims and other minorities in the country,” the experts said.
- 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, 2021 McConnell 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, 2021 Schumer 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, 2021 More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedBiden's reverse triangulation
- NBC News
"The member in question had been advised numerous times about the requirements and had refused to be tested," the House speaker said.
President Biden on Tuesday held his first call since taking office with Vladimir Putin, pressing the Russian president on the arrest of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the Russia-linked hack on U.S. government agencies, AP reports.The state of play: Biden also planned to raise arms control, bounties allegedly placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who said the call took place while she was delivering a press briefing. Psaki added that a full readout will be provided later Tuesday.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.Why it matters: Biden is on course for a deeply adversarial relationship with Putin's Russia, but he'll also have to engage with him on critical issues — most urgently, the extension of the New START nuclear treaty, which is due to expire on Feb. 5.Go deeper: Biden's Russia challenge.This story is developing. Please check back for updates.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
Donald Trump opened an office in Florida on Monday that will handle his duties as a former U.S. president and seek to further his administration's agenda. "The Office will be responsible for managing President Trump's correspondence, public statements, appearances, and official activities to advance the interests of the United States and to carry on the agenda of the Trump Administration through advocacy, organizing, and public activism," a statement said. The announcement came on the same day the House of Representatives delivered to the Senate an impeachment article charging Trump with inciting insurrection in a speech to supporters before the deadly attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6.
- Architectural Digest
Let’s get loudOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- The Independent
‘There appeared to be no remorse,’ says Calcasieu Parish sheriff Tony Mancus
- Associated Press
Indonesian authorities have detained the Iranian and Chinese crewmembers of two tankers that were seized for illegally transferring oil in Indonesian waters, an official said Tuesday. “MT Freya did the oil spilling,” Pramandita said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants President Biden to explore use of emergency executive powers to fight climate change, he told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow last night.Driving the news: Schumer said it "might be a good idea for President Biden to call a climate emergency," and noted, "Then he can do many, many things under the emergency powers of the president ... that he could do without legislation."Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * Schumer added, "Now, [President] Trump used this emergency for a stupid wall which wasn't an emergency. But if there ever was an emergency, climate is one."Why it matters: Via Bloomberg, "Declaring a climate emergency could unlock new powers for Biden, including the ability to redirect funding for clean energy projects, shut down crude oil exports, suspend offshore drilling and curtail the movement of fossil fuels on pipelines, trains, and ships."Yes, but: Use of emergency powers would face near-certain litigation.Where it stands: Schumer also said Democrats are looking at ways to move climate-related efforts via the budget reconciliation process, which enables some spending- and revenue-related policy measures to move via simple majority. * He flagged his proposal to spur electric vehicle purchases via discounts for consumers who trade in gasoline-powered cars and funding for charging infrastructure.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- The Week
With former President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial looming, several Republicans in the upper chamber are reportedly rallying around the argument that impeaching a president who is already out of office is unconstitutional. As The Dispatch and Politico note, scholars in legal circles that span the political spectrum generally disagree, and Trump himself suggested ex-presidents could be tried a year ago. Per The Washington Post, when Trump was impeached for the first time, he complained that Congress should be going after former President Barack Obama instead over comments he made about health care. "We should impeach him for that," Trump said. "Why aren't we impeaching him?" Some of his staunchest allies in Congress concurred, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who stated explicitly in 2019 that former presidents are subject to impeachment. Gaetz didn't change his mind this time around, though he made the case Trump's actions aren't impeachment-worthy. Regardless, the comments raise questions about the sincerity of the argument. Can’t overstate the importance of reporters conveying that this position was fabricated rapidly to give Republican senators dishonest cover to acquit Trump. Clearly evident in the genesis of the talking point. https://t.co/pC0nmIADoP — Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) January 26, 2021 More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedBiden's reverse triangulation
- Yahoo News Video
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 that he misdiagnosed.
- The Telegraph
North Korea’s acting ambassador to Kuwait reportedly defected with his family to South Korea in 2019, the latest in a series of revelations of escapes by top officials that are expected to infuriate the authoritarian regime. The secret defection of Ryu Hyun-woo was unveiled on Monday by two sources in the defector community, and raises questions about the loyalty of the country’s elite to the ruling Kim dynasty at a time when the country is beset with crippling financial woes. Mr Ryu was serving as the embassy’s charge d’affaires after So Chang-sik, the ambassador, was expelled from Kuwait because of a 2017 United Nations resolution aimed at curbing the pariah state’s overseas diplomatic missions. Mr Ryu's defection was first reported by South Korea’s Maeil Business newspaper and backed up by Thae Yong Ho, who was North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the UK and one of the highest profile defections when he fled in 2016 to Seoul. Mr Thae is now a legislator in the South. Mr Thae said Mr Ryu defected shortly after Jo Song Gil, a senior North Korean diplomat who disappeared from Italy in late 2018 with his wife and who later resurfaced in South Korea. Mr Ryu is believed to be the son-in-law of Jon Il Chun, who once oversaw a ruling Worker’s Party bureau responsible for managing the Kim family’s secret coffers, dubbed Room 39. Kuwait had been a key source of foreign currency for Pyongyang, which sent thousands of labourers, mostly for construction projects. Overseas workers were worth an estimated $500 million to Pyongyang before the United Nations ordered their repatriation by the end of 2019 under its sanctions regime to curb the North’s nuclear weapons programme. Mr Ryu was reported as saying that he had decided to defect to “let my children have a better future.” Mr Thae has also spoken of disillusionment with the totalitarian regime after living on the outside and of the desire to “give freedom” to his children, calling for other officials to follow suit. “I want to deliver to my colleagues working around the world and North Korean elites that there is an alternative to North Korea, and the door is open,” he said in an interview at the recent Reuters Next conference. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service declined to comment.
- The Independent
Biden news – live: 200m more Covid vaccine doses on order as only 5 GOP senators back Trump impeachment trial
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- Associated Press
The Justice Department’s inspector general is launching an investigation to examine whether any former or current department officials “engaged in an improper attempt” to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Monday that the investigation will investigate allegations concerning the conduct of former and current Justice Department officials but will not extend to other government officials. The Justice Department watchdog investigation follows a report in The New York Times that a former assistant attorney general, Jeffrey Clark, had been discussing a plan with then-President Donald Trump to oust the acting attorney general and try to challenge the results of the 2020 race by falsely saying there had been widespread election fraud.
- 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.
European Union member states could take AstraZeneca to court for a breach of supply contracts if the company does not honour the COVID-19 vaccine delivery schedule, Latvian foreign affairs minister Edgars Rinkevics said on Tuesday. "The possibility should be evaluated, and it should be coordinated among the EU countries," the minister told Reuters, via his spokesman. Each EU member state has a separate supply contract with the company.
- Los Angeles Times Opinion
Gov. Newsom needs to do a better job communicating California's statewide COVID restrictions with the public, and with other state officials.