Biden reportedly ‘frustrated’ with his coronavirus team as advisers worry 100 million vaccinations goal won’t be met
President-elect Joe Biden has said he’ll get “at least 100 million COVID vaccine shots into the arms of the American people” during his first 100 days. But before his term begins, some advisers are reportedly worried this promise will ultimately be broken.Biden has “grown frustrated with the team in charge of plotting his coronavirus response” as there is increasing concern among some of his advisers that the 100 million vaccinations in 100 days goal won’t be met, Politico reported on Monday.”While some Biden advisers insist it’s possible to make good on the 100-million vow, others are privately worried that the federal response is already so chaotic that it will take a herculean effort to pull it off,” according to the report.Biden reportedly confronted COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients and his deputy to tell them “their team was underperforming,” Politico says. Transition officials blame a “lack of long-term planning” by the Trump administration, which didn’t come close to meeting its goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans by the end of 2020, as the vaccine rollout got off to a far slower-than-expected start in the United States.”They’re inheriting a mess,” former Obama administration acting Medicare and Medicaid chief Andy Slavitt told Politico. “I think they’re uncovering how bad it is.”Biden, Politico notes, has suggested that whether the 100 million vaccinations goal is reached will be dependent on further COVID-19 relief legislation, previously saying “if Congress provides” additional funding for state and local governments, “we’d be able to meet this incredible goal.” But Politico writes that some in the transition are “questioning whether Biden’s first big pandemic pledge placed too much confidence” in the Trump administration, and allies are warning transition officials about “the overriding political consequences of breaking one of Biden’s first major promises.” Read more at Politico.More stories from theweek.com What Mike Pence should learn from Judas 7 scathing cartoons about Trump’s Capitol riot Hey, Democrats: Awful Lindsey Graham is your friend
Talk-Radio Owner Threatens to Fire Hosts Who Dispute Election Results
A media company that employs right wing talk-radio hosts, including Mark Levin, Ben Shapiro, and Dan Bongino, circulated a memo after the pro-Trump riots on Capitol Hill telling hosts to dial down allegations of election fraud, or else face termination.Cumulus Media sent the internal memo to employees on Wednesday, according to Inside Music Media. The Atlanta-based company owns 416 radio stations throughout the country, many using a talk-radio format with local and national right-wing personalities. (Shapiro has not contested the results of the general election.)”We need to help induce national calm NOW,” Cumulus’s executive vice president of content Brian Philips wrote in the memo. The company “will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended. The election has been resolved and there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’”Philips added, “If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately.”The move by Cumulus came shortly before Google, Apple, and Amazon ceased hosting social media app Parler. Similar in form to Twitter, Parler became popular with users who chafed over perceived censorship of right-wing views.However, the site’s hosts claimed Parler was not doing enough to moderate its content for posts that included incitement to violence. Pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood has called for the execution of Vice President Mike Pence on the site, for example, although Parler CEO John Matze said that post was removed eventually.The pro-Trump riot on Wednesday, led by supporters who believe the election was rigged against the president, left dozens of police officers injured. One officer was killed while confronting rioters, and one rioter was shot and killed by police.
Illinois House speaker ‘suspends’ campaign for retention
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said Monday he would suspend his campaign for a 19th term in the leadership post amid fading support from fellow Democrats, largely because of a federal bribery investigation that’s implicated him. Madigan, the longest-serving leader of a legislative body in U.S. history, has thus far been unable to get a majority of votes from his caucus to remain speaker, but the statement he issued began: “This is not a withdrawal.” “As I have said many times in the past, I have always put the best interest of the House Democratic Caucus and our members first,” Madigan said.
New York City mayor hopeful Andrew Yang fled ‘too small’ apartment during pandemic
New York City mayor hopeful Andrew Yang’s campaign, expected to be formally announced this week, has hit a speedbump after he said he found his Manhattan home too small to work from during the pandemic. Mr Yang, a former Democratic presidential candidate, has come under fire after admitting that he and his family relocated from the city during the spring to have more space. “We live in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. And so, like, can you imagine trying to have two kids on virtual school in a two-bedroom apartment, and then trying to do work yourself?” Mr Yang said in an interview with the New York Times. The 45-year-old entrepreneur has a two-bedroom flat in Hell’s Kitchen and a larger residence in the small town of New Paltz in upstate New York’s Hudson Valley, according to reports. Asked by the NYT to respond to voters who expect their future mayor to have stayed in the city in its darkest moments, Mr. Yang suggested that his location was not relevant to his work at the time, and that New Yorkers would prioritize plans to move the city forward.
Most of the pro-Trump Capitol mob figures infamously captured on film have already been arrested
Many of the people who broke into and ransacked the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday acted like they did not think there would be any consequences. For many of them, there have been consequences. Some of them have lost work. And many of the people whose photos went viral online and on TV have been arrested. The FBI says it is searching for the rest.CNN’s Evan Perez notes that the big arrests so far have been the low-hanging fruit, the people who “were on social media boasting about this.”Public records for more than 120 people arrested so far document that “the insurrectionist mob that showed up at the president’s behest and stormed the U.S. Capitol was overwhelmingly made up of longtime Trump supporters, including Republican Party officials, GOP political donors, far-right militants, white supremacists, members of the military, and adherents of the QAnon myth that the government is secretly controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophile cannibals,” The Associated Press reports. “Records show that some were heavily armed and included convicted criminals.”Jake Chansley, the “QAnon Shaman,” surrendered to the FBI in Phoenix on Saturday.Embed from Getty ImagesFederal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., Sunday evening charged two men believed to have worn tactical gear and carried plastic restraints in the Senate chamber. Eric Gavelek Munchel was arrested in Tennessee.Embed from Getty ImagesAnd Larry Rendell Brock, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, was picked up in Texas.> UPDATE: Spokesman for Hillwood Airways confirmed to me tonight Larry Rendall Brock Jr. “no longer works for the company.” The @USAirForce Lt. Col. was IDed w/ zip-ties & combat gear on the Senate floor during the armed riot at the U.S. Capitol Wed. that killed 5 @CourthouseNews pic.twitter.com/pubhmiboeb> > — David Lee (@davejourno) January 10, 2021The FBI arrested Doug Jensen, photographed in a QAnon shirt, in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday.> CAPITOL RIOT ARREST UPDATE: > Iowa man who was videeotaped chasing a cop up the steps has been booked on 5 federal charges.https://t.co/yy4aZIKdW4 pic.twitter.com/Srwk45b6yT> > — Jim Roberts (@nycjim) January 10, 2021Adam Johnson, arrested in Florida on Friday, was allegedly the man photographed carrying the House speaker’s lectern.Embed from Getty ImagesThe FBI is seeking help identifying numerous other Capitol raiders, including the guy photographed carrying the Confederate battle flag. Others been identified but not arrested, like Josiah Colt of Idaho.> To the best of my knowledge, Josiah Colt (also pictured here) has not been arrested. pic.twitter.com/P9KgBdw8qG> > — Austin Kellerman (@AustinKellerman) January 11, 2021CNN identified the man in a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt as Robert Keith Packer of Virginia.> We’re very close to IDing this guy thanks to tipsters. pic.twitter.com/XKgDLhlZLR> > — Adam Goldman (@adamgoldmanNYT) January 10, 2021One of the evident planners of the assault on the Capitol, Ali Alexander, says he’s in hiding and needs money for armed guards, The Daily Beast reports.More stories from theweek.com What Mike Pence should learn from Judas 7 scathing cartoons about Trump’s Capitol riot Biden reportedly ‘frustrated’ with his coronavirus team as advisers worry 100 million vaccinations goal won’t be met
Supreme Court won’t hear PA abortion clinic free speech case
The Supreme Court is declining to get involved in a case about free speech outside a Pittsburgh abortion clinic. The court’s decision not to hear the case leaves in place a 2019 appeals court decision that upheld a Pittsburgh ordinance creating a 15-foot “buffer zone” where protests are barred around entrances to health care facilities. The decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed “sidewalk counseling” within that zone.
Congresswoman tests positive for COVID-19 after sheltering in place with mask-less colleagues during Capitol riot
The coronavirus pandemic and the Capitol riot may have officially crossed over.Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) announced Monday that she has tested positive for COVID-19. She believes she was exposed to the virus last Wednesday while sheltering in place with several of her House colleagues, some of whom she said refused to wear masks, while a mob of President Trump’s supporters stormed the United States Capitol during Congress’ Electoral College certification process.> Following the events of Wednesday, including sheltering with several colleagues who refused to wear masks, I decided to take a Covid test. > > I have tested positive.https://t.co/wivlbwrmV0> > — Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (@RepBonnie) January 11, 2021While there are no guarantees that Watson Coleman was infected in that moment, Rear Adm. Brian Monahan, the attending physician to Congress, on Sunday notified lawmakers many members of the House who were in protective isolation “in a large committee hearing space” may have been exposed to someone who had an infection. It’s not entirely clear if Watson Coleman was in that specific room, but a statement from her office indicates she was.More stories from theweek.com What Mike Pence should learn from Judas 7 scathing cartoons about Trump’s Capitol riot Biden reportedly ‘frustrated’ with his coronavirus team as advisers worry 100 million vaccinations goal won’t be met
Turkish ‘sex cult’ leader sentenced to 1,000 years in prison
A Turkish court has sentenced the leader of an evangelical sex cult to one thousand years in prison for a litany of sexual offences and fraud. Adnan Oktar, who promoted creationism on his conservative Islamic TV channel, was known for surrounding himself with scantily dressed women whom he called his “kittens” before his arrest in 2018. He was detained with around 200 other suspects by Istanbul police and on Monday was jailed for 1,075 years for crimes including sexual assault, sexual abuse of children, fraud and attempted political and military espionage. The 64-year-old was also found guilty of backing a group led by the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey says was behind an attempted military coup in 2016. The court sentenced two executives in Oktar’s organisation, Tarkan Yavas and Oktar Babuna, to 211 and 186 years, respectively. During the trial, which heard harrowing testimonies from victims of sexual abuse, Oktar denied being associated with Mr Gulen and also insisted he was not the head of a “sex cult”. At a hearing in September, Mr Oktar told a judge he had around 1,000 “girlfriends” which he attributed to his “overflowing of love in my heart for women.” He also claimed on a separate occasion to be “extraordinarily potent.” One victim who gave evidence at the trial, and was identified only as CC for legal reasons, said Oktar repeatedly sexually abused her and other women. The woman, who joined the cult aged 17, said some of the women raped by Oktar had been forced to take contraceptives afterwards.
Outgoing U.S. Capitol Police chief says his effort to get help was thwarted – paper
The former chief of the federal force, Steven Sund, told the Washington Post his supervisors were reluctant to take formal steps to put the Guard on call even as police intelligence suggested that the crowd President Donald Trump had invited to Washington to protest against his defeat was probably going to be much larger than earlier demonstrations. Sund’s remarks were in contrast with those from officials in other branches of government, who said after Trump’s supporters stormed into the Capitol building last Wednesday that they could have provided more people to secure it – but no one from the Capitol Police asked.
Police: 3 in stolen car fleeing Iowa police killed in crash
Three people died in a crash early Monday of a stolen car that reached speeds of more than 100 mph (161 kph) while fleeing police in central Iowa, officials said. The crash happened in the Des Moines suburb of Clive, after a woman in nearby Urbandale reported a car carrying several males after she spotted one rummaging through her car, police said in a news release. According to police, the car refused to stop, sped away and launched into the air as it crossed railroad tracks — flipping several times and hitting a utility pole and creek bank.
Trump’s demoralized staff count down the final days
President Donald Trump has lost the support of many former loyalists in his administration after a riot at the U.S. Capitol that he helped provoke, and his White House is in “meltdown” as it lurches through his final days, current and former officials said. While Democrats plan to introduce an article of impeachment against Trump on Monday, many White House staff members are upset and embarrassed by the turn of events, and are eager to move on. Some who weighed resigning in the last few days have decided to stay on to help ensure a smooth transfer of power and, within the agencies that report to the White House, to protect against rash moves by the president or his remaining inner circle.
A new migrant wave pleads for answers in Mexico
Cries of desperation on Mexico’s southern border. This is the town of Tapachula, where migrants who have crossed over from Guatemala are demanding humanitarian visas. Mexico’s national guard is deployed in full riot gear. Guatemala and Honduras have now announced they’re deploying their own troops, after news surfaced that new caravans of migrants are forming in Central America with the eventual goal of reaching the United States. ”We just want them to give us an answer,” this woman says, who is originally from Cuba. “We just want answers, without excuses.” This man, also from Cuba, says “Nobody will leave until we get some answers, to see what happens to us.” The new caravans forming have caught the attention of U.S. officials, which have called on the Central American countries to stop them. In recent years many migrants have chosen to form up in massive caravans instead of trekking alone, because staying in a group helps protect them from criminals who would prey on them. Luis Rey Garcia Villagran works for the migrant support center in the town. “Human mobility has to do with the serious problems that are occurring in their countries and that is why people are moving more than ever. (…) People are literally drowning. The problems with injustice, the problems with insecurity continue as well as problems with organized gangs who capture and kill people who are over there.” On Friday (January 8) a federal court in California blocked a last-ditch effort from the outgoing Trump administration to dramatically harden the U.S. asylum system even further. It would have cut off most access to migrants who reach the border, and broadly deny some types of asylum claims including domestic abuse and gang violence.
Fishermen kill minke whale trapped for 19 days in Japan’s ‘Cove’
Fishermen killed a whale off the Japanese port of Taiji early on Monday morning, 19 days after the juvenile minke whale had been penned into a cove with nets. Ren Yabuki, director of the animal rights organisation Life Investigation Agency, said two fishing boats from Taiji approached the whale – which has been weakened by not being able to feed since it was trapped as by-catch on Christmas Eve – at around 6.30am. “There were two ships that worked together to put a rope around the tail fin and force the whale’s head beneath the water”, Mr Yabuki told The Telegraph. “They kept it alongside the boat and it took about 20 minutes for the whale to drown. “That’s a really bad way for an animal to die and I’m shaking with sadness at what I have seen this morning.” His organisation and others around the world have been calling on the fishermen to release the whale and called on members of the public to message the governor of Wakayama Prefecture to demand that he intervene. Video footage obtained by a drone operated by Mr Yabuki showed the whale distressed and becoming visibly weaker The whale’s body was later hoisted onto the deck of one of the vessels, covered with a blue tarpaulin and the ship returned to the harbour. Mr Yabuki said he understands that the whale is being butchered within a building owned by the town’s fishing cooperative and that the meat will be sold at local supermarkets. Taiji has gained notoriety for its annual dolphin hunt, which was featured in the Oscar-winning 2009 documentary “The Cove”. The Australian branch of Humane Society International has also condemned the killing of the whale, with a spokesperson saying the organisation was “saddened by this dreadful outcome”. “It is soul-destroying to think that by merely lifting the net three weeks ago, this poor animal could have been swimming freed instead of being trapped in prolonged distress”. Angered at the international community’s refusal to permit Japan to resume commercial whaling, Tokyo resigned from the International Whaling Commission in 2019 and permits its fleet to harpoon 383 whales every year, including as by-catch in other fishing operations. “HSI believes that deliberately entrapping whales for prolonged periods under the guise of ‘by-catch’ is inhumane and we call on the people of Japan to speak out against this cruelty”, said Georgie Dolphin, head of the organisation’s Animal Welfare Programme.
AP PHOTOS: Only ash, shells of homes left on volcano island
The island is a ghost town, its trees just dead sticks in a gray landscape, its homes and school ash-covered and damaged by continuing earthquakes and the explosive volcanic eruption that occurred one year ago. Fisherman Rogelito Cacao regularly visits his home on the volcanic island south of the Philippine capital. “I miss our belongings but it is now covered in ash, our livestock like our cow, our horse, our pig, our boat and engines are all covered by the volcano, these are what I miss.”