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- NBC News
In the final days of the Trump administration, Pompeo issued a flurry of decisions and touted his record as a loyal servant of the president.
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- The Independent
The latest updates from the White House and beyond on 17 January 2021
For some in Meissen the caskets piling up in the eastern German city's sole crematorium are a tragic reminder of what happens when the coronavirus is not taken seriously. Meissen, along with other places across old East Germany that are generally poorer, older and more supportive of a far-right opposed to lockdown, are the worst hit by the pandemic in the country, complicating Chancellor Angela Merkel's efforts to bring it under control. "It's heartbreaking," said manager Joerg Schaldach, whose furnaces cremated 1,400 bodies last month, double the figure from December last year.
- The Telegraph
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) called on his Republican Party to rebuild itself and "repudiate the nonsense that has set our party on fire" in an in an op-ed for The Atlantic Saturday on the QAnon conspiracy theory.Why it matters: Many of the mob involved in the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riots wore items signaling their support for the far-right QAnon and a prominent member of the cult was among those arrested following the siege.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * Several Republicans who ran for Congress last year publicly supported or defended the QAnon movement or some of its tenets — something Sasee noted in his op-ed, headlined "QAnon is Destroying the GOP From Within." * Sasse blames the violence on "the blossoming of a rotten seed that took root in the Republican Party some time ago and has been nourished by treachery, poor political judgment, and cowardice."Driving the news: Sasse wrote in his op-ed that "until last week, many party leaders and consultants thought they could preach the Constitution while winking at QAnon." * "They can't," he added. "The GOP must reject conspiracy theories or be consumed by them. Now is the time to decide what this party is about." * Sasse criticized House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for not denouncing QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) when she was running for Congress in 2020. * "She's already announced plans to try to impeach Joe Biden on his first full day as president," Sasse wrote. "She'll keep making fools out of herself, her constituents, and the Republican Party."Worth noting: Sasse said before the House impeached President Trump for a second time he'd consider "definitely consider" any articles of impeachment against him over his conduct and comments at a rally before the riots. * The Nebraska senator criticized Trump's embrace of QAnon supporters last August, warning that Democrats could "take the Senate" this "will be a big part of why they won." * Months later, the Democrats went on to win control of the Senate.The bottom line: Sasse wrote that his party faces a choice when Trump leaves office: "We can dedicate ourselves to defending the Constitution and perpetuating our best American institutions and traditions, or we can be a party of conspiracy theories."Go deeper: * The Capitol siege's QAnon roots * House freshmen at war after Capitol siegeSupport safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- The Week
Israel has vaccinated at least 25 percent of its population against the coronavirus so far, which leads the world and makes it "the country to watch for herd effects from" the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, says infectious disease expert David Fishman. Recently, the case rate in Israel appears to have declined sharply, and while there could be a few reasons for that, it's possible the vaccination effort is beginning to play a role.> Israel's reproduction number appears to have declined rather sharply in recent days, with around 25% of the country vaccinated, and some additional percentage having at least partial immunity via prior infection. pic.twitter.com/sVyCYYd9dj> > — David Fisman (@DFisman) January 17, 2021One study from Clalit that was published last week reports that 14 days after receiving the first Pfizer-BioNTech shot, infection rates among 200,000 Israelis older than 60 fell 33 percent among those vaccinated compared to 200,000 from the same demographic who hadn't received a jab.At first glance, Fishman writes, that might seem disappointing since clinical trials suggested the vaccine was more than 90 percent effective. But he actually believes the 33 percent figure is "auspicious." Because vaccinated and non-vaccinated people are mingling, there could be "herd effects of immunization." In other words, when inoculated people interact with people who haven't had their shot, the latter individual may still be protected because the other person is. On a larger scale, that would drive down the number of infections among non-vaccinated people, thus shrinking the gap between the two groups' infection rates.> Estimated vaccine efficacy is a function of relative risk of infection in the vaccinated...when there is indirect protection via herd effects, we expect efficacy estimates to decrease because the risk among unvaccinated individuals declines.> > — David Fisman (@DFisman) January 17, 2021More data needs to come in, and Fishman thinks "we'll know more" this week, but he's cautiously optimistic about how things are going.More stories from theweek.com Statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico only needs 50 votes 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious
- The Independent
‘It was my pleasure to crush a white nationalist insurrection’: DC officer injured in Capitol riot speaks out
Daniel Hodges recounted pro-Trump mob’s attempt to crush him inside a doorway during siege on 6 January
China's Sinovac Biotech said on Monday that a clinical trial in Brazil showed its COVID-19 vaccine was almost 20 percentage points more effective in a small sub-group of patients who received their two doses longer apart. The protection rate for 1,394 participants who received doses of either CoronaVac or placebo three weeks apart was nearly 70%, a Sinovac spokesman said. Brazilian researchers announced last week that the vaccine's overall efficacy was 50.4% based on results from more than 9,000 volunteers, most of whom received doses 14 days apart, as outlined in the trial protocol.
- The Conversation
Many of the resolutions and executive orders Trump signed early in his administration reversed Obama-era decisions involving the fossil fuels industry. AP Photo/Evan VucciThe Trump administration dedicated itself to deregulation with unprecedented fervor. It rolled back scores of regulations across government agencies, including more than 80 environmental rules. The Biden administration can reverse some of those actions quickly – for instance, as president, Joe Biden can undo Donald Trump’s executive orders with a stroke of the pen. He plans to restore U.S. involvement in the Paris climate agreement that way on his first day in office. Undoing most regulatory rollbacks, however, will require a review process that can take years, often followed by further delays during litigation. There is an alternative, but it comes with risks. Biden could take a leaf from the Republicans’ 2017 playbook, when congressional Republicans used a shortcut based on an obscure federal law called the Congressional Review Act to wipe out several Obama administration regulations. Some scholars have called these 2017 repeals arguably “the Trump administration’s chief domestic policy accomplishment of its first 100 days.” Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of interest in having the new Democratic-controlled Congress turn the tables and use the same procedure against Trump’s regulatory rollbacks. However, this procedure is far from a panacea for undoing Trump’s legacy. Its arcane rules can tie the hands of future administrations without providing clear standards for how it applies, and it offers little time for deliberation. How Congress could cancel Trump’s rollbacks The 1996 Congressional Review Act provides a way of undoing new rules issued by executive branch agencies without being mired in agency and court proceedings. Democrats could use it to cancel rollbacks by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department and others. The Congressional Review Act applies equally whether a rule expands regulation or rolls it back. Within 60 legislative days after a new rule comes out, Congress can disapprove it using streamlined procedures. Senate filibusters are not allowed, and Senate debate is limited to 10 hours. Since only days Congress is in session are counted, the act can apply to regulations that go back several months. Once a rule is disapproved, it’s dead forever. It can’t be reissued. But that isn’t all. The act says no rule can be issued in “substantially the same form” without additional authorization from Congress. How similar does a future rule have to be before it becomes “substantially the same”? There is no definitive answer, so there’s some risk that an unfriendly judge might invalidate a Biden rule dealing with the same subject as a repealed Trump rule. Assuming the Biden rule goes in the opposite direction from the Trump rule, this might not be a major risk. But we can’t really be sure. Time and numbers Democrats may find some appealing targets for the Congressional Review Act. Just in the past few weeks, the Trump administration has adopted rules limiting consideration of public health studies to set air pollution limits, requiring banks to make loans to the firearms and oil industries, and protecting industries other than electric utilities from climate change regulations. These are only some of the last-minute efforts by Trump to sabotage regulations favored by Democrats. The number of congressional votes needed to succeed, particularly in the Senate, will likely narrow the list, however. The Democrats have only 50 senators, and they will need 50 votes plus Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote to use the act. Unless they can find a moderate Republican like Susan Collins of Maine to cross the aisle, they will need every single one of their own senators. That includes Joe Manchin of West Virginia, often their most conservative senator, particularly on fossil fuel issues. Congressional Review Act repeals also take time. Each takes up to 10 hours on the Senate floor. Senate floor time is limited and desperately needed to confirm Biden’s nominees and consider Trump’s impeachment. That’s not to mention a coronavirus relief bill and other priorities. This a strong reason to be selective. Is it time to repeal the act? Progressives view the Congressional Review Act as a remnant of Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America,” designed as a conservative tool for deregulation. They also point out that the Congressional Review Act’s time limits on repealing a regulation and procedural shortcuts mean that there’s very little opportunity for congressional deliberation. As a law professor specializing in energy and the environment, I have studied Republicans’ use of the Congressional Review Act in 2017. My research shows that their selection of targets was haphazard at best, having little to do with the burdens created by individual regulations. Democrats may find that their selection of Congressional Review Act targets will be driven less by major policy concerns and more by the vagaries of swing voters such as Sen. Manchin. [Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.] Given reservations by some parts of the party about the Congressional Review Act and how much else Democrats now have on their agenda, it seems unlikely that Democrats will use the act to the same extent as the Republicans did in 2017. Maybe if the Congressional Review Act is now turned against Republican policies after being turned against Democratic policies, we may start to have a healthy debate on whether this mechanism for congressional oversight is worth keeping.This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Daniel Farber, University of California, Berkeley. Read more:Biden plans to fight climate change in a way no U.S. president has done beforeEPA staff say the Trump administration is changing their mission from protecting human health and the environment to protecting industry Daniel Farber does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Yosemite National Park officials are asking the public’s help for any information regarding a 41-year-old Asian woman who went missing after going on a day hike to the Upper Yosemite Fall last week. The woman was identified as "Alice" Yu Xie, a Chinese national living in the United States, according to a post shared by the park on Saturday. “If you were on the trail to the top of Yosemite Falls on January 14 or 15, 2021, even if you did not see this individual, or have any information regarding this individual, please call 209/372-0216 during business hours, or Yosemite Emergency Communications Center at 209/379-1992 after hours,” the park said.