Calling him a "good friend and a stand-up guy," President-elect Joe Biden on Friday introduced Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as his nominee for Labor Secretary.
- The Independent
The Kremlin said on Tuesday it would not heed calls by some Western countries for sanctions over Russia's detention of poisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny because his case was a purely domestic matter. Navalny was detained on Sunday after flying back to Russia for the first time since he was attacked with a military-grade nerve agent last summer while travelling in Russia's east, and has urged Russians to take to the streets in protest.
- National Review
The officer who may have saved the life of Vice President Mike Pence could now be giving him the side-eye. The cop hailed as a hero for leading a crowd of insurrectionists away from the Senate floor and potentially saving hundreds of lawmakers’ lives has, perhaps, left the vice president on read. Vice President Mike Pence has reportedly reached out to thank Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman for his heroism on Jan. 6, but they have yet to connect.
- Yahoo News Video
The spokesman for Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert has quit less than two weeks after she was sworn into office, saying he felt like he need to due to the insurrection at the nation's Capitol.
- The Week
- The Telegraph
A woman identified as having taken part in the storming of the US Capitol is accused of stealing a laptop belonging to top Democrat Nancy Pelosi which she hoped to sell to a Russian spy agency, according to the FBI. There is no indication Riley June Williams, a 22-year-old careworker from Pennsylvania, took a laptop from Ms Pelosi's office. The FBI, which is working off a tip, said in the court record the "matter remains under investigation." The complaint, filed late Sunday in US District Court in Washington, sought the arrest of Williams on grounds including "violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds." Relying on several photos and videos of the chaotic January 6 riot, an FBI agent said Williams was seen near the office of Ms Pelosi, US House Speaker. A witness, identified in the court document only as W1 but who claimed to be "the former romantic partner of Riley June Williams," alleged that Williams planned to send the laptop to a friend in Russia to sell it to the SVR foreign intelligence agency. That sale "fell through for unknown reasons, and Williams still has the computer device or destroyed it," the affidavit says.
- The Independent
- National Review
At the outset of the pandemic, the government undertook a deliberate effort to reduce economic activity in what was widely thought to be a necessary measure to slow the spread of COVID-19. Whereas most recessions call for policy that stimulates the economy, the COVID-19 recession called for the opposite — measures that would enable workers and businesses to hit pause until a vaccine or therapeutic became widely available. Now that vaccines are being administered, policy-makers face a different challenge — not keeping Americans inside, but getting them back to work as quickly as possible. In this context, President-elect Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package misses the mark. The proposal gives a nod to public health — with $20 billion allocated to vaccine distribution, $50 billion to testing, and $40 billion to medical supplies and emergency-response teams — but fails to address the most pressing hurdles to COVID-19 immunity. Vaccines sit unused not for lack of funding but thanks to burdensome rules determining which patients can receive shots and which doctors can administer them. Additional spending to speed up vaccine distribution is welcome, but its effects will be muted if bureaucratic hurdles remain in place. Even if the public-health provisions were to succeed in reopening the economy, much of the rest of Biden’s plan guarantees that it will reopen weaker. For one, an expanded unemployment-insurance top-up of $400 a week would mean more than 40 percent of those receiving unemployment benefits would make more off-the-job than on-the-job at least until September, and possibly for longer. The food-service and retail industries hit hardest by the pandemic would see the largest shortfalls in labor, exacerbating the challenges they’ve faced over the past year. Enhanced unemployment may have been reasonable when we wanted workers to stay home, but it’s catastrophic when we want them to go back to work. Meanwhile, Biden’s proposed minimum-wage increase to $15 nationally would eliminate an estimated 1.3 million jobs, hitting low-income states hardest. In Mississippi, where the median wage is $15, as many as half the state’s workers would be at risk. A minimum-wage hike may be high on the Democratic wish list, but it does not belong in an emergency-relief bill. The Biden plan isn’t all Democratic priorities, though. He took a page from Trump’s book and proposed $1,400 checks to households, bringing the second-round total to $2,000. With household income now 8 percent above the pre-pandemic trend, additional checks would do little more than pad savings accounts. Indeed, 80 percent of the recipients of last year’s checks put the money into savings or debt payments, not consumption. The flagship item in Biden’s plan would do little to spur economic growth even on Keynesian assumptions. The same goes for state and local aid, for which Biden is seeking $370 billion on top of $170 billion in public-education grants. The total of $540 billion far surpasses the roughly $50 billion hit to state and local tax revenues last year. As we wrote in December, states and cities are slow to spend federal grants, so the lion’s share of this stimulus would not show up until 2023. Rather than attempting to stimulate the economy, Biden is hoping to launder bailouts of profligate Democratic states through COVID-19 relief. Other parts of the bill — expansions of the earned-income and child-tax credits — are defensible long-term structural reforms, but as year-long emergency measures, they will have the same muted effect as direct checks. By including a slew of proposals unrelated to the pandemic, Biden has weakened his hand in negotiations and made it less likely that urgent measures pass quickly. In the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic policy-makers rose to the occasion. Following an unprecedented external shock, the U.S. economy has emerged in relatively good shape, with less unemployment and bankruptcy than most feared. But the policies implemented to curb COVID-19 are not suited for what will begin to become, over the course of this year, a post-pandemic economy. Biden may have campaigned during a recession, but he is taking office during a recovery. He should govern accordingly.
- NBC News
- CBS News
Mike Lindell says it would help him prove to the world his belief that the recent presidential election was rigged. He also says some major retailers are dropping his company's products.
- The Telegraph
A Christian girl has been taken into care in Pakistan after allegedly being abducted by a Muslim man who forced her to marry him and kept her chained up in a cattle pen. The girl spent five months chained up in the pen in the yard of her 45-year-old captor's home, where she was forced to work all day clearing the animals’ dung, her family claim. They said that when she was rescued by police last month, she had cuts on her ankles left by the shackles put on her by captor, who is also said to have raped her repeatedly. The case has now been taken up by human rights groups, who say the family's initial complaint to police went ignored for three months. They claim that every year, hundreds of girls from Pakistan's Christian and Hindu minority groups are abducted and forced into Muslim marriage, with the justice system often turning a blind eye for fear of offending Islamic hardliners. They say that Britain, which gives £302 million in aid last year to Pakistan, should insist that more is done to counter prejudices against minorities and challenge institutionalised tolerance of sexual abuse. In November, The Telegraph reported on the case a 14-year-old girl allegedly kidnapped by a Muslim man who then used threats of violence to make her sign false papers consenting to marriage. When she escaped from his custody, a court initially ruled the marriage legal and returned her to her abductor's home. She is now in hiding, with the British charity Aid to the Church in Need petitioning Boris Johnson to allow her to seek asylum in Britain.
- National Review
A senior Biden transition official is warning migrants hoping to cross the southern border into the U.S. during the early days of the new administration that “now is not the time” to come. “There’s help on the way, but now is not the time to make the journey,” an unnamed Biden official said, NBC News reported. The Biden administration is looking to end the Trump administration’s policy of requiring that migrants wait in Mexico as immigration courts consider their asylum applications. Those who have been waiting at the border will be considered first for entry over migrants who only recently arrived. Additionally, the Biden administration will scrap the stricter restrictions the previous administration imposed on asylum seekers, which limit who is eligible for entry. However, any immigration legislation proposed by the Biden administration will address illegal immigrants living in the U.S. rather than new migrants arriving at the border, the official said. “The situation at the border isn’t going to be transformed overnight,” the official explained, saying that migrants seeking to gain asylum right away “need to understand they’re not going to be able to come into the United States immediately.” A caravan of about 2,000 Honduran migrants desperate to reach the U.S. forced their way past Guatemalan authorities Friday night and are expected to reach the southern border within the next few weeks. The caravan “will not find when they get to the U.S. border that from Tuesday to Wednesday, things have changed overnight and ports are all open and they can come into the United States,” the official cautioned. “We have to provide a message that help and hope is on the way, but coming right now does not make sense for their own safety … while we put into place processes that they may be able to access in the future,” the official said. In 2018, just before the midterm elections, a caravan of thousands of Central American migrants headed for America’s southern border. Similarly, in early 2017, just before President Trump took office, a caravan made its way to the border, drawing the ire of Trump.
- The Independent
The latest updates from the White House and beyond on 17 January 2021
- Associated Press
Tribal clashes between Arabs and non-Arabs in Sudan’s West Darfur province killed around 130 people over the weekend, including children and women, doctors and an aid worker said Monday. Authorities In South Darfur, meanwhile, reported dozens of casualties from ethnic fighting in that province. The latest violence in West Darfur grew out of a fistfight Friday in a camp for displaced people in Genena, the provincial capital, and then escalated, lasting until Sunday.
- The Telegraph
A beauty firm executive has been ordered to pay £600 costs after his Irish Setter puppy mauled a deer in Richmond Park leading bystanders to form a human shield around the wounded animal. Franck Hiribarne was training his pet Alfie in the royal park in south-west London when the gun dog gave chase to the deer forcing it to run onto the road where it was struck by a car. Footage shared on social media showed Alfie circling the injured deer before biting and dragging in front of bystanders who responded by attempting to protect the animal by forming a human shield around it.
- National Review
Joe Biden has not yet been sworn in, but already, he is at war with American energy — which is to say, at war with American prosperity. Biden has promised to sabotage the Keystone XL pipeline, a privately financed, multi-billion-dollar project already under way, and “cancel it on his first day,” according to a briefing document cited by the BBC. The Keystone pipeline would, if it were allowed to, carry crude from the oil sands of Alberta to Nebraska, where the pipeline would link up with the existing distribution network to send that oil on to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. This would benefit Canadian producers and their investors, American refineries and their large, excellently paid work forces — those good, high-paying, blue-collar jobs Biden talks about — and, most important, American consumers, who would have access to yet another source of fuel at attractive prices from a nearby friendly country. This sort of thing is the point of international economic cooperation. The notional case against Keystone is environmental in the main part, and in the lesser part an issue of Indian lands and rights. The environmental case is unsound: Canada has ratified the Paris agreement and takes environmental issues relatively seriously. Innovation and technological improvements have substantially reduced the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with Canadian tar-sands productions — by 30 percent since the 1990s, as the Canadian government calculates. Of course, it matters relatively little whether a gallon of gasoline in the tank of a Cadillac Escalade in Houston is refined from Canadian tar-sands oil or from West Texas oil — the relevant emissions come overwhelmingly from the point of combustion. Of course there are environmental challenges associated with the oil sands, as there are with any usable source of energy, including wind and solar. These are regulatory and practical challenges that are perfectly manageable. (Which is not the same thing as a guarantee that U.S. or Canadian authorities, or businesses, will manage them perfectly — that kind of oversight is hard work and a serious business.) The same is true of “fracking” and other petroleum-extraction practices. There are many reasonable ways to manage tradeoffs between economic development and environmental priorities — if environmentalists were interested in reasonable tradeoffs, which they aren’t. Biden, already looking over his shoulder at a restive progressive caucus, apparently intends to buy environmentalists off with other people’s money. Why? Fossil fuels, far from being the great villain of the climate story, have been the main source of greenhouse-gas reductions in the United States over the past several decades, as relatively clean-burning natural gas displaces relatively dirty coal in electricity generation. But that is not the kind of intelligent tradeoff that interests American environmentalists, who are moralists and romantics and committed to the notion that hydrocarbon fuels are, simply, evil — and that they must be fought on every front. Hence, the American Left’s comprehensive and total war on any and all infrastructure associated with our most abundant energy sources — not only oil pipelines but natural-gas pipelines, too, along with rail-shipping facilities, refineries and other plants, and West Coast export depots intended to help U.S. producers in Asian markets. If it produces, consumes, moves, or processes oil or gas, the American Left opposes it. If Joe Biden is interested in improving the employment and wage outlook for middle-class Americans, he ought not make our industrial, chemical, manufacturing, transportation, and electricity sectors hostage to the narrow-minded concerns of a small group of fanatics. There is a worrying Hayekian lesson in this, too: It is impossible for American businesses to make big, long-term investments in a political environment in which every project is up for renegotiation — or summary economic execution — every time the White House changes hands. Why invest in building and moving physical goods, and taking on the political risk that goes along with such investments, when you could join the booming financial sector and put your money into the money business? This is not to sniff at finance or other work in the service economy, but, surely, in a continental nation as vast as ours, with an economy as complex as ours, it shouldn’t be possible for one man serving a short term in a temporary elected office to undo years of work and billions of dollars in investment. This is pure foolishness, and it will cost us. Joe Biden is getting ready to get off to a poor start. And if he thinks that he can buy off the green lobby by sacrificing Keystone, he is mistaken. Their ambitions are bigger and broader than that, and they will not be easily satisfied: L’appétit vient en mangeant. If you were wondering who actually has Joe Biden’s ear, now you know.
Talks aimed at overcoming a years-long deadlock over disarmament at the United Nations began in acrimony on Tuesday with two countries blocking rivals from taking part in widely criticised manoeuvres that sparked concern about the forum's future. Iran blocked Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from joining as observers, lashing out at the former's military record, while Turkey blocked Cyprus in a trend that marks a significant departure from normal U.N. protocol and might set a precedent for other bodies that operate on a consensus basis. Iran's delegate said that Saudi Arabia had used the forum as a platform for a "distraction and disinformation campaign" and called Riyadh "the largest military offender in the region".
- Associated Press
At least four people were injured Monday in a string of shootings that prompted an order to shelter in place for a Pennsylvania community in the Pocono Mountains, authorities said. Shots rang out not far from each other in at least four different areas of Monroe County, Pennsylvania. A woman was flown to a hospital with a gunshot wound to her back, while another victim appeared to be shot in the head, Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Chris Wagner said at a Monday night news conference, during which he said no suspects had been arrested.