By Siddharth Cavale and Subrat Patnaik (Reuters) - Chipotle Mexican Grill closed all of its U.S. restaurants during prime lunchtime hours on Monday to hold staff meetings on food safety guidelines, sparking offers from rivals eager to poach customers of the burrito chain as it recovers from several food-borne outbreaks. More than 50,000 Chipotle employees crowded into rented movie theaters and other locations to hear live video feeds of co-Chief Executives Steve Ells and Montgomery Moran laying out their program to improve restaurant safety. They described plans, already outlined to investors, to central processing of ingredients like tomatoes and bell peppers, increase testing of ingredients and to discourage sick workers from coming to the restaurant by offering paid sick leave. Chipotle's shares have lost nearly a third of their value and sales have plunged about 30 percent since November, when first reports of E. Coli sickness linked to the chain emerged. E. Coli sickened more than 50 people in 14 states. Chipotle also faced two separate norovirus outbreaks, and the company said earlier this month it was the subject of a national criminal investigation, related to an outbreak. Ells said he was deeply sorry that some people became ill after eating at Chipotle and was "committed to make sure it won't happen again," according to company tweets. Posters on Chipotle store windows offered a free "raincheck" burrito to customers who could not get lunch. Still, rivals including online food delivery service GrubHub and Moe's Southwest Grill, sought to grab customers. "We're open, especially on February 8," Moe's wrote in an ad on twitter and USA Today. The Chipotle executives also said the company would spend about $10 million to help local suppliers adhere to the company's new safety measures. One Chipotle worker, Francisco, 23, who said he worked on New York City's Upper West Side, described the meeting as going well and said that colleagues had asked questions about how to prepare food more safely. Excerpts of the meeting were broadcast over Twitter Inc's live-streaming app Periscope and in tweets. The meeting started at 11:00 a.m. ET and restaurants opened at 3 p.m. Last week, the chain reported its first decline in quarterly same-store sales as a public company, hurt by a sharp drop in customer visits due to the outbreaks. Chipotle's shares closed down 3.3 percent on Monday, compared with a 1.4 percent decline in the S&P 500 index. (Additional reporting by Kylie Gumpert in New York; Editing by Peter Henderson, Savio D'Souza, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Bernard Orr)
- The Independent
Sean Hannity denounces Biden’s first week as ‘disastrous’ before the president completed a full day of work
‘The Biden administration is off to a very rocky start,’ Fox News host says
- The Telegraph
A Republican congresswoman is facing calls to resign over reports that she helped to spread falsehoods about the Parkland school shooting. Marjorie Taylor Greene reportedly agreed with a conspiracy theory about the 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed. Facebook screenshots showed a discussion about why a police officer had not rushed into the building, and someone claimed that the mass shooting was a "false flag planned shooting." Greene replied: “Exactly!" The social media giant later removed the posts after they were reported to them. Cameron Kasky, a former Parkland pupil who co-founded the group Never Again MSD, said: "She should resign. She can apologise. I don’t think anybody will accept it.” The congresswoman was elected in Georgia in November, backed Donald Trump's claims of election fraud, and has previously expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory. Fred Guttenberg, who's 14-year-old daughter Jaime died in the Parkland shooting, said: "Your feelings on gun laws are irrelevant to your claim that Parkland never happened. You are a fraud who must resign. Be prepared to meet me directly in person to explain your conspiracy theory, and soon." The comments by the politician were first reported by Media Matters for America. In a statement Ms Greene accused Media Matters for America of being "communists' and "fake news". Meanwhile, US Capitol Police were investigating an incident in which a Republican congressman was found carrying a concealed gun while trying to enter the floor of the House of Representatives. Andy Harris, a staunch gun-rights advocate, set off a metal detector going through security on his way to the House floor . Metal detectors were installed outside the chamber to beef up security in the aftermath of the Capitol riots on Jan 6.
- National Review
Tulsi Gabbard, the former Democratic representative from Hawaii, on Friday expressed concern that a proposed measure to combat domestic terrorism could be used to undermine civil liberties. Gabbard’s comments came during an appearance on Fox News Primetime when host Brian Kilmeade asked her if she was “surprised they’re pushing forward with this extra surveillance on would-be domestic terror.” “It’s so dangerous as you guys have been talking about, this is an issue that all Democrats, Republicans, independents, Libertarians should be extremely concerned about, especially because we don’t have to guess about where this goes or how this ends,” Gabbard said. She continued: “When you have people like former CIA Director John Brennan openly talking about how he’s spoken with or heard from appointees and nominees in the Biden administration who are already starting to look across our country for these types of movements similar to the insurgencies they’ve seen overseas, that in his words, he says make up this unholy alliance of religious extremists, racists, bigots, he lists a few others and at the end, even libertarians.” She said her concern lies in how officials will define the characteristics they are searching for in potential threats. “What characteristics are we looking for as we are building this profile of a potential extremist, what are we talking about? Religious extremists, are we talking about Christians, evangelical Christians, what is a religious extremist? Is it somebody who is pro-life? Where do you take this?” Gabbard said. She said the proposed legislation could create “a very dangerous undermining of our civil liberties, our freedoms in our Constitution, and a targeting of almost half of the country.” “You start looking at obviously, have to be a white person, obviously likely male, libertarians, anyone who loves freedom, liberty, maybe has an American flag outside their house, or people who, you know, attended a Trump rally,” Gabbard said. The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021 was introduced in the House earlier this week in the aftermath of rioting at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month that left five dead. “Unlike after 9/11, the threat that reared its ugly head on January 6th is from domestic terror groups and extremists, often racially-motivated violent individuals,” Representative Brad Schneider (D., Ill.) said in a statement announcing the bipartisan legislation. “America must be vigilant to combat those radicalized to violence, and the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act gives our government the tools to identify, monitor and thwart their illegal activities. Combatting the threat of domestic terrorism and white supremacy is not a Democratic or Republican issue, not left versus right or urban versus rural. Domestic Terrorism is an American issue, a serious threat the we can and must address together,” he said.
America may not have won World War II and landed on the moon later if not for the contributions of a brilliant Chinese scientist named Qian Xuesen. Fearing communist presence after the war, the U.S., however, deported Qian to China, clueless that he would eventually spearhead programs that would target American troops and eventually propel China into space. Born to well-educated parents in 1911, it was evident from an early age that Qian had superior intellect.
- Associated Press
A former Transportation Security Administration agent who was accused of tricking a traveler into showing her breasts as she went through security at Los Angeles International Airport pleaded no contest Friday to false imprisonment, authorities said. Johnathon Lomeli entered the plea to a felony count and was sentenced to 60 days in county jail, 52 classes addressing sexual compulsion and two years of probation, California's attorney general's office announced. Lomeli was also barred from working as a security guard.
- Miami Herald
It’s been said of Abraham Lincoln that he had a “mystical” devotion to the idea of Union. His conviction that the American states were united in an indissoluble bond is what braced him through the monstrous burdens he bore. It’s not too much to say that the very existence of this country owes in large part to the stubborn faith of that sorrowful man. He held to Union even when military reversals, political reality and common sense all counseled against it.
- The Independent
Priest who attended pro-Trump rally ahead of Capitol insurrection is suspended from post and may be defrocked
Reverend Mark Hodges described event as ‘joyful, positive and orderly’
- The Week
It's not unusual for China to conduct military flights between the southern part of Taiwan — which it claims as its territory — and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea, Reuters reports. In fact, the flights have occurred on a daily basis in recent months. But what happened Saturday does appear out of the ordinary.Eight nuclear-capable Chinese bombers and four fighter jets entered the southwestern corner of Taiwan's air defense identifications zone, Taiwan's defense ministry said. Normally, China deploys just one or two reconnaissance aircraft at a time, so Saturday's event was somewhat startling. Taiwan's air force was able to warn the aircraft away and deployed missiles to monitor them.While there's been no word from Beijing yet, the seemingly aggressive move comes at a time when tensions between China and the United States are rising, with Washington's strengthening support for Taiwan playing a significant role. The Trump administration, which left office last week, was particularly committed to a closer relationship with Taiwan, and the Biden administration doesn't appear likely to reverse course on the issue, at least not drastically. Read more at Reuters.More stories from theweek.com 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency 'No way' McConnell has had a post-Trump 'epiphany,' political scientist says
- The Telegraph
Exclusive: Notorious Albanian gangster smuggles mobile phone into British prison cell to post birthday wishes to family
An Albanian gangster jailed for 27-years for smuggling huge quantities of heroin and cocaine into Britain has been making a mockery of justice by running a social media account from his prison cell. Posing with fellow gang members, Valjet Pepaj, has even used Instagram to flirt with women on the outside, boasting that he expects to be free in four years. The 31-year-old was given a lengthy sentence in April 2018 after admitting three counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. He was jailed alongside two other men following a six month undercover police operation which resulted in the seizure of 50 kilograms of heroin and cocaine, worth in excess of £2 million.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday expressed his "disappointment" with President Biden's executive order to rescind permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, in a readout of the president's first official call with a foreign leader.Why it matters: The prime minister has long backed the pipeline meant to carry crude oil from Alberta to Nebraska. Biden, however, campaigned on the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.What he's saying: In a news conference earlier Friday, Trudeau said: “We have so much alignment — not just me and President Biden, but Canadians and President Biden." He added, "I’m very much looking forward to working with President Biden,” per the New York Times. * On the call, however, Trudeau "raised Canada’s disappointment with the United States’ decision on the Keystone XL pipeline," according to the readout. * "The Prime Minister underscored the important economic and energy security benefits of our bilateral energy relationship as well as his support for energy workers."The big picture: The pipeline project originally came with an $8 billion price tag and was expected to carry roughly 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Canada through Nebraska, per The Washington Post. * Though President Obama rejected the pipeline, President Trump gave it the green light once in office. * Lawsuits slowed construction on the project throughout Trump's administration. * Two Native American communities sued the government over the pipeline last year, charging the government did not consult with tribes on the pipeline's proposed path, which crosses tribal lands. * Its permit repeal is one of several "critical first steps to address the climate crisis, create good union jobs, and advance environmental justice, while reversing the previous administration’s harmful policies," according to the Biden administration.In their Friday call, the two leaders discussed collaborating on COVID vaccines and the flow of critical medical supplies, efforts to work with Indigenous people and plans to address climate change through cross-border clean electricity transmission and net-zero emissions. * "Both leaders have made combating climate change, defending human rights and strengthening international institutions central to their platforms," the Times writes. * "The leaders reiterated their firm commitment to multilateral institutions and alliance," per the readout.Flashback: In 2017, Trudeau touted the Keystone XL pipeline, saying: "No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there. The resource will be developed. Our job is to ensure that this is done responsibly, safely and sustainably." Go deeper: Biden talks climate in calls with foreign leadersBe smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- Associated Press
Someone in Michigan bought the winning ticket for the $1.05 billion Mega Millions jackpot, which is the third-largest lottery prize in U.S. history. The winning numbers for Friday night’s drawing were 4, 26, 42, 50 and 60, with a Mega Ball of 24. The winning ticket was purchased at a Kroger store in the Detroit suburb of Novi, the Michigan Lottery said.
- The Independent
Judge denies release for 26-year-old accused of taking part in the deadly Capitol attacks then returning to Washington on Inauguration Day
- The Week
President Biden reeled in a record-breaking $145 million in so-called dark money from anonymous donors during his presidential campaign, topping the $113 million that went to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) before his failed presidential bid in 2012, Bloomberg reports.It's not surprising that Biden set the mark given that the $1.5 billion he hauled in overall was the most ever for a challenger to an incumbent president, but it's notable in large part because Democrats have been at the forefront of a movement to ban dark money in politics since it means that supporters can back a candidate without scrutiny. Plus, Bloomberg notes, anonymous donors "will have the same access to decision makers as those whose names were disclosed, but without public awareness of who they are or what influence they might wield." As Meredith McGehee, the executive director of campaign finance reform advocacy group Issue One, told Bloomberg, "the whole point of dark money is to avoid public disclosure while getting private credit."Still, it seems the Democratic Party was willing to embrace the strategy in the hopes of defeating former President Donald Trump, who only brought in $28.4 million from anonymous donors. Read more at Bloomberg.More stories from theweek.com 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency 'No way' McConnell has had a post-Trump 'epiphany,' political scientist says
- NBC News
Biden's acting attorney general signed off on reassigning prosecutor who objected to family separations
The incident would have made Wilkinson aware families were being separated long before the Texas pilot program for zero tolerance was known to the public.
- Business Insider
The Bidens were reportedly left waiting outside the White House on Inauguration Day because Trump sent the staff home
The Trumps sent the butlers home "so there would be no-one to help the Bidens when they arrived," a source told The National Journal.
- Yahoo News Video
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is proposing to push back the start of Donald Trump's impeachment trial by a week or longer to give Trump time to review the case.
- The Week
Biden has stopped construction on Trump's border wall, but the fate of outstanding contracts is unclear
Among the first 17 executive orders President Biden signed Wednesday evening was one hitting "pause" on construction of former President Donald Trump's border wall. "It shall be the policy of my administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall," Biden's order said. "I am also directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall."Biden gave the Pentagon and Homeland Security departments up to a week to stop all border construction, and for the most part, the frantic wall-building Trump had unleashed in his last months in office had stopped by Thursday, The Associated Press reports. The Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday it told its contractors to stop installing any additional barriers and do only what's "necessary to safely prepare each site for a suspension of work."Biden gave his administration 60 days to find and review all current contracts and determine which can be canceled, which must be renegotiated, and whether any of the remaining money can be used on other projects. Trump, as of Jan. 15, had spent $6.1 billion of the $10.8 billion in wall construction it had contracted out, a Senate Democratic aide told AP. Overall, the Trump administration had secured $16.45 billion for the wall, including $5.8 billion appropriated by Congress and the rest seized from the Treasury and Defense departments. Biden is targeting that latter pot of money.Trump says he built 450 miles of his wall, though almost all of that was replacement for other barriers. His administration signed contracts for constructing 664 miles, the Senate aide told AP. "Trump said the border wall would be 'virtually impenetrable' and paid for by Mexico, which never happened," AP notes. "While the wall is much more formidable than the barriers it replaced, it isn't uncommon for smugglers to guide people over or through it. Portions can be sawed with power tools sold at home improvement stores."More stories from theweek.com 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency 'No way' McConnell has had a post-Trump 'epiphany,' political scientist says
- Architectural Digest
“The materials and colors took center stage,” said David Lucas when it came to the design of the home.Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- The Independent
Infowars founder claimed shooting was 'a giant hoax’ and that grieving parents were actors
A billion-dollar Mega Millions jackpot that has been building for four months will be up for grabs on Friday, available to whoever can beat the one-in-302 million odds. "We generally see a lot of the sales occur on the day of the drawings," Mega Millions spokesman Seth Elkin, of the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said by telephone. The selection of the six numbers will be the 37th semi-weekly drawing since the last grand prize winner was picked on Sept. 15, the longest jackpot dry spell Mega Millions has ever had, Elkin said.