State Department cables obtained by The Washington Post warned about the safety and security of coronavirus testing on bats in China in 2018; Gillian Turner reports.
- Yahoo News
Black National Guardsman describes being deployed to protect Biden’s inauguration: 'I just felt this huge sense of pride'
As most of the 25,000 National Guardsmen who were called upon to protect Washington, D.C., during the presidential inauguration began heading home this week, one Black service member agreed to speak to Yahoo News about the experience of protecting the nation’s capital in the wake of a pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill.
- The Independent
Mike Pence is homeless after leaving office and ‘couch-surfing’ with Indiana politicians, report says
Mike Pence has been residing in public housing for the past eight years
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.
- 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 governorTrump's impeachment lawyer said he thinks 'the facts and the law will speak for themselves'Mitch McConnell is the GOAT
Nguyen Phu Trong, Vietnam's ruling Communist Party chief, has been nominated for a rare third term, a Party official said, according to several state media articles that were published on Wednesday then subsequently amended, removing the comments. On Monday, more than 1,600 delegates began nine days of mostly closed-doors meetings at the Party's five-yearly Congress, during which a new leadership team will be picked to bolster Vietnam's ongoing economic success - and the legitimacy of the Party's rule. Trong, 76, who is also Vietnam's president and architect of its anti-corruption campaign, had been widely tipped to continue as party chief despite health issues and old age - which should technically disqualify him for the position, although "special case" exceptions are granted.
- The Independent
‘There appeared to be no remorse,’ says Calcasieu Parish sheriff Tony Mancus
- The Telegraph
Russian authorities offer contradictory explanations for Kremlin-like security at alleged ‘Putin’s palace’
Russia’s top security agencies have offered contradictory explanations for heightened security measures around a billion-dollar property on the Black Sea, dubbed “Putin’s palace" by opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Faced with over 95 million views of Mr Navalny’s YouTube investigation into the residence, President Vladimir Putin had to issue a denial on Monday, insisting that neither he, nor his family own the property whose very existence enraged millions of Russia. Angry protests spread across the country’s 11 time zones on Saturday in response to the allegations about Mr Putin’s lavish lifestyle as well as the arrest of Mr Navalny who was locked up for violating the terms of his suspended sentence. The day after the politician was jailed, Mr Navalny’s team published the investigation into the property which detailed a web of its obscure owners as well President Putin’s close friends and relatives who have allegedly been pumping money into its construction and maintenance. The property, believed to be Russia’s largest private home, boasts a casino, private theatre and even a smoking room with a stripper pole. The waters along the coast are off limits for fishermen and the Kremlin security service, FSO, is known to be issuing permits for anyone wanting to get close, which has been seen as the ultimate evidence that President Putin does use the palace. Floor plans of the palace as well as rare photographs and 3D visualisations showing its opulent interior have become the butt of jokes and given rise to countless parodies and internet memes. Russian news outlet RBC on Wednesday quoted a statement from the country’s main intelligence agency FSB, explaining that it had to close the airspace over the property due to “growing spying activities of a number of neighbouring countries including NATO members.” The FSB, however, failed to comment on the fact that the no-fly zone was first established there in 2011. Separately, the FSO, whose job is to provide security to Russia’s top officials including the president, on Wednesday, denied that there are any facilities in the area under its protection.
- 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.
- National Review
President Joe Biden on Monday expressed support for the Chicago Teachers Union in its fight against reopening schools for in-person learning, saying, “I know they want to work.” The CTU voted Monday to defy the city school district and continue to work remotely. “They just want to work in a safe environment, and as safe as we can rationally make it, and we can do that,” Biden said. Biden’s comments came in response to a question about the union at a news conference after an event on American manufacturing, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. White House staffers were reportedly briefed about the ongoing standoff in the nation’s third-largest district by American Federation of Teachers chief Randi Weingarten. Asked if teachers should return to school, the president said, “we should make school classrooms safe and secure for the students, for the teachers and for the help that is in those schools maintaining those facilities.” The president added, “we should be able to open up every, every school, kindergarten through eighth grade, if in fact we administer these tests, and we’ll have the added advantage I might add, a putting millions of people back to work.” Biden did not mention Chicago or Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot in his response. He said widespread testing and functioning ventilation systems are key to reopening schools – both of which have fueled disagreements between Chicago Public Schools officials and the CTU, which is a local affiliate of the AFT. Weingarten said the White House is “really concerned about reopening and really concerned about doing it right.” “I felt it was my moral obligation to brief the White House this weekend, which I did,” she said, adding that she briefed Biden senior staffers on “what was going on in Chicago, from my perspective.” She indicated she was “very pleased” with his comments on Monday. Politically powerful national teachers unions make up a key part of Biden’s base. First Lady Jill Biden along with Weingarten and National Education Association President Becky Pringle held a virtual event with 11,000 teachers last week. About 70,000 elementary school students are scheduled to return to in-person learning on February 1 for the first time since schools closed in March 2020, according to the Chicago Public School’s coronavirus reopening plan. Around 10,000 elementary school teachers and staff were expected to report to work on Monday to prepare for the reopening. However, CTU members voted to stay at home due to disagreements with CPS over the reopening plan. Eighty-six percent of all CTU members cast ballots with 71 percent opting to continue to work from home. The union is advocating for members with medically vulnerable relatives at home to receive accommodations for remote work and for teachers to only be required to return to in-person instruction upon receiving a vaccination. It is also pushing for increased testing of staff and students as well as a public health metric that would determine when schools should reopen or close. Union members said they were encouraged to hear Biden’s comments on the situation, according to the Sun-Times. CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said Biden “is not taking sides” but is “prioritizing the safety of every stakeholder in every city in every state in this country.”
- Associated Press
The U.S. military said Wednesday it again flew a B-52 bomber over the Middle East “to deter potential aggression” amid tensions with Iran, the first such flight under President Joe Biden. The B-52 flew nonstop from Louisiana's Barksdale Air Force Base into the region earlier in the day. The U.S. military's Central Command later published images of the bomber flying alongside Royal Saudi Air Force F-15s.
- NBC News
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said that warrants have been issued for David Vowell, who faces two counts of first degree murder.
- The Telegraph
Hong Kong has begun using "ambush lockdowns" to suddenly close off and test everyone inside neighbourhoods where coronavirus cases have spiked, as a spate of recent outbreaks lay bare the rampant inequality in the wealthy Chinese finance hub. Police cordoned off a row of densely packed tenement buildings in the Yau Ma Tei area overnight on Tuesday through to Wednesday morning to conduct mandatory tests. The new tactic involves authorities giving no warning of an impending lockdown. City leader Carrie Lam said such "ambush style" lockdowns were needed to ensure people did not flee before testers move in. "I thank residents in the restricted area for their cooperation," she wrote on her Facebook page Wednesday as the lockdown was lifted. A similar two-day lockdown in a neighbourhood over the weekend was leaked to the media a day before police moved in. Tuesday night's operation was small. Some 330 tests were conducted in 20 buildings, with one coronavirus case found. But authorities say further ambush lockdowns may be necessary in the days ahead. Hong Kong was one of the first places to be struck by the coronavirus after it spilled out of central China. It has recorded just over 10,000 infections with some 170 deaths by imposing effective but economically ruinous social distancing measures for much of the last year. In recent weeks stubborn clusters have emerged in low-income neighbourhoods notorious for some of the world's most cramped housing. On paper Hong Kong is one of the richest cities in the world. But it suffers from pervasive inequality, an acute housing shortage and eye-watering rents that successive administrations have failed to solve. The average flat in Hong Kong is about 500 square feet (46 square metres) and sells for around HK$7 million (£650,000). Rents are punishing. Many therefore squeeze themselves into even smaller subdivided flats known as "cage homes" – cubicles that can be as tiny as 50 square feet or even less, with shared bathrooms and showers inside ageing walk-up buildings. It is in these kinds of building where many clusters have been located in recent weeks.
- The Week
President Biden announced Tuesday that his administration intends to order an additional 100 million doses of both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines. The extra 200 million doses, which Biden said should arrive by the summer, would boost the country's supply by about 50 percent to 600 million shots total, meaning that there would be enough shots available to inoculate 300 million people in the coming months without the Food and Drug Administration granting approval for any other vaccine candidates. Pres. Biden says his admin has ordered 200 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses that will be available by summer, increasing the total number ordered from 400 million to 600 million pic.twitter.com/VFZ3qTmUK9 — NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 26, 2021 It's another sign that the government is raising expectations for the vaccine rollout. On Monday, Biden upped the daily vaccination goal from 1 million to 1.5 million throughout his first 100 days in office and suggested that any American who wants a shot could be able to get one by the spring. FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver applauded the administration for getting more ambitious, though he noted it could be difficult — impossible, even, unless the shots are approved for children — to find 300 million willing Americans to get vaccinated by the end of summer. In practice it's going to be hard to find 300m Americans willing to get vaccinated by Sept. 22. (It's literally impossible until vaccines are approved for children.) And we'll probably eventually mix in some one-dose vaccines. Still, ramping up to 2-2.5m/day is a laudable goal. — Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) January 26, 2021 More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorTrump's impeachment lawyer said he thinks 'the facts and the law will speak for themselves'Mitch McConnell is the GOAT
- Associated Press
An Iranian-American has been sentenced by Iran to 10 years in prison on spying charges, despite his family alleging he never had a trial or an opportunity to defend himself. A family spokesman Tuesday confirmed the sentencing of Emad Shargi, the latest dual national to be held in Iran amid tensions with the West. Iran’s judiciary acknowledged the sentence without naming him or saying how many years in prison he'd face.
China said on Tuesday it will conduct military exercises in the South China Sea this week, just days after Beijing bristled at a U.S. aircraft carrier group's entry into the disputed waters. A notice issued by the country's Maritime Safety Administration prohibited entry into a portion of waters in the Gulf of Tonkin to the west of the Leizhou peninsula in southwestern China from Jan. 27 to Jan. 30, but it did not offer details on when the drills would take place or at what scale. A U.S. carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt entered the South China Sea on Saturday to promote "freedom of the seas," the U.S. military said, days after Joe Biden began his term as president.
- NBC News
"The member in question had been advised numerous times about the requirements and had refused to be tested," the House speaker said.
A 19-year-old Tibetan monk has reportedly died after battling two months of alleged mistreatment under Chinese authorities. Tenzin Nyima, also known as Tamay, served at Dza Wonpo monastery in Wonpo township, Kandze prefecture, a Tibetan area in the Sichuan province of China. Nyima was first arrested in November 2019 after distributing leaflets with three other monks according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
- Architectural Digest
Let’s get loudOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- The Independent
Biden tells Fox News reporter he talked to Putin about ‘You’ when asked about his call with Russian president
Leaders reportedly discussed Ukraine tensions, a massive cyberattack and Russia’s poisoned opposition leader
- Associated Press
Cyclone Eloise has affected 250,000 people in the Mozambique port city of Beira and surrounding areas and damaged or destroyed 76 health centers and 400 classrooms, a senior U.N. official said Tuesday. “We also see widespread floods that are still there,” Myrta Kaulard, the U.N. resident coordinator in the African country, told U.N. correspondents in a virtual briefing from the capital Maputo. “And what we can see is a lot of people trying to get out of the flooded areas.”