"Satire will be there to keep lampooning politicians, to ridicule them, so that what is abnormal is not normalized."
- The Independent
Nancy Pelosi called pro-Trump rioters ‘Putin puppets’ and the Capitol siege a ‘gift’ to the Russian president
A boy who was killed in an alleged murder-suicide by his father has been identified as 9-year-old Pierce O’Loughlin. Family tragedy: The boy and his father, Stephen O'Loughlin, 49, were both found dead at their home on Scott Street, Marina District in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon, SF Chronicle reports. The boy’s mother, Lesley Hu, asked authorities to check on her son after learning that he did not show up for school that day.
A candidate COVID-19 vaccine known as EpiVacCorona, Russia's second to be registered, proved "100% effective" in early-stage trials, Russian consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor has told local media. The data, based on Phase I and II trials, were released before the start of a larger Phase III trial which would normally involve thousands of participants and a placebo group as a comparison. "The effectiveness of the vaccine is made up of its immunological effectiveness and preventative effectiveness," the TASS news agency reported, citing Rospotrebnadzor.
- 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
‘If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors...traitors get shot,' he told his children
- The Telegraph
Joe Biden’s second son was a primary target for attacks by Donald Trump during the bitter 2020 presidential campaign. Indeed, it was Trump’s accusations of impropriety on behalf of Hunter Biden that led him to threaten to withhold $391 million (£289 million) in military aid to Ukraine unless they investigated the Biden family’s business dealings. That threat led to the first impeachment of Trump. Born in 1970 to Joe and his first wife Neilia, Hunter’s early life was marred by tragedy. When he was just two years old, he was seriously injured in a car crash that killed his mother and younger sister, Naomi. Family tragedy would strike again in 2015, when his older brother Beau, who served as the Attorney General for the state of Delaware, died of brain cancer aged just 46. Unlike his father and brother, Hunter Biden has attempted to stay away from front-line politics. After graduating from Yale Law School, he joined MBNA Bank, which provided significant contributions to his father’s political campaigns. After a brief stint as a lobbyist, he was appointed by George W Bush to the board of directors of Amtrak, the state-owned railway network company. Live US news updates as Trump leaves office and Biden prepares to be sworn in
The United States called on China on Monday to allow an expert team from the World Health Organization (WHO) to interview "care givers, former patients and lab workers" in the central city of Wuhan, drawing a rebuke from Beijing. The team of WHO-led independent experts trying to determine the origins of the new coronavirus arrived on Jan. 14 in Wuhan where they are holding teleconferences with Chinese counterparts during a two-week quarantine before starting work on the ground. The United States, which has accused China of hiding the extent of its initial outbreak, has called for a "transparent" WHO-led investigation and criticised the terms of the visit, under which Chinese experts have done the first phase of research.
- 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.
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.
- 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 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Anthony Scaramucci says even he got an invite to Trump's D.C. sendoff Melania Trump released a farewell video. So did Colbert's Late Show Melania Trump.
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.
- 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.
Human trials of a coronavirus vaccine combining Russia's Sputnik V shot with that developed by Britain's AstraZeneca and Oxford University are expected to start in early February, the chairman of Russian drugmaker R-Pharm told Reuters. AstraZeneca first announced plans to explore the possibility of working with Russian scientists on a combined vaccine in December, interpreted by Moscow as a vote of confidence in its vaccine. There have been few details on where and how the trials will be run, but R-Pharm Chairman Alexei Repik, whose company will produce both Sputnik V and AstraZeneca shots, said human trials of a combined vaccine are expected to begin early next month.
- The Independent
The latest updates from the White House and beyond on 17 January 2021
- 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.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Monday the world is "on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure" because of unequal COVID-19 vaccine distribution.Why it matters: Tedros noted during an executive session that 39 million vaccine doses had been administered in 49 higher-income countries, while one lowest-income nation had "just 25 doses." Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America. * This "me-first" approach will ultimately "prolong the pandemic, the restrictions needed to contain it, and human and economic suffering," he added.Of note: The WHO itself faced criticism in an interim report on Monday for being slow to respond to the outbreak after it was first detected in late 2019 in China, which was also singled out for failings early on. * "The global pandemic alert system is not fit for purpose," said the preliminary report by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, an independent panel commissioned by the WHO. * "The WHO has been underpowered to do the job."What they're saying: China's public health measures "could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities" in January, said the report's panel of experts, led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. * The experts noted it was unclear why the WHO did not meet until the third week of January 2020, nor why it was unable to agree to declaring a Public Health Emergency of International Concern until a week later.What to watch: A World Health Organization team of researchers is in Wuhan, China, investigating the origins of the pandemic. * Tedros said his focus is on the roll-out of the global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX, which is due to begin next month. Over 180 countries have signed up to the WHO-led scheme. * He hopes that by World Health Day on April 7, COVID-19 vaccines "are being administered in every country, as a symbol of hope for overcoming both the pandemic and the inequalities that lie at the root of so many global health challenges."Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- National Review
After 50 years in the Illinois House of Representatives, Representative Michael Madigan, long thought to be untouchable, has been replaced as the body’s speaker. With his historic 36-year reign in that position now over, how can Illinoisans dismantle the system that has made their state government synonymous with corruption? Key to the task will be reconfiguring the machine, rather than just its operators. But to do that, we must first understand how things went so very wrong in Madigan’s Illinois. The public gained a window into Madigan’s system of influence-peddling and cronyism last year, when his associates and former Commonwealth Edison executives were charged by the Department of Justice in connection with a $1.3 million bribery scheme. In exchange for giving a ComEd board position and no-work jobs to Madigan allies, the utility had gained access to the speaker and secured his support for its preferred electricity rates and other legislation it wanted passed. ComEd ultimately admitted all this and accepted a $200 million fine as part of a deferred-prosecution agreement. The ComEd prosecution was only the most recent scandal to hit an Illinois political culture that has over the decades become synonymous with corruption. From 1983 to 2018, Illinois saw an average of one public official a week convicted on a federal corruption charge, the highest per capita average among the ten most populous states. The vast patronage system over which Madigan presided was described by the Chicago Tribune as “the lifeblood of [his] political organization.” Jobs or favors often paid for by taxpayers — such as positions with Metra or admission to the University of Illinois — were exchanged for campaign work, political loyalty, and donations. The speaker’s decades-long sway over Illinois’s legislative process and his control over campaign funds as the head of the Democratic Party of Illinois made his support crucial to getting bills passed, stopping them from being passed, or winning election as a Democrat in what remains a deep-blue state. The speaker used this power not only to reward his allies and punish his opponents, but also to benefit his law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner, which has grown to dominate property-tax appeals in Cook County, home to Chicago and thus the state’s most populous, politically important jurisdiction. Madigan’s firm works to reduce the assessed value of his clients’ property, saving them millions. From 2010 to 2018, this job was made easier by the fact that a hand-picked Madigan ally was in charge of property valuations. Madigan also enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with public-sector unions, changing pension and labor laws at their behest in exchange for donations to Democratic Party campaign funds and the provision of union volunteers for campaign work. During the past 26 years, government-worker unions have given over $10 million to campaign funds controlled by the former speaker. While unions obtained legislation that expanded collective-bargaining rights and awarded pension sweeteners, Illinois taxpayers saw the state’s credit rating crater over the past four decades as its unfunded-pension liability increased 753 percent. That liability now takes up more than a quarter of the state general-funds budget. Spending on pensions has grown by more than 500 percent since 2000 as spending on basics such as child-protection services, aid to state universities, and public safety has fallen by about one-third. None of that fiscal wreckage seemed to move other state politicians to get rid of Madigan. The rebellion came only after the ComEd scandal exposed Madigan’s corruption for all to see. Madigan was toxic, and 19 of his Democratic colleagues in the House eventually demanded a new speaker. They got one on January 13, but they — and the state — aren’t out of the woods just yet. Madigan’s replacement, Emanuel “Chris” Welch, will need to reverse decades of dysfunction and clean up the culture of influence-peddling and self-dealing in Springfield. If he can’t, the state will continue to suffer from higher taxes and debt, crumbling social services, and a tax base shrinking as fed-up residents move elsewhere. A crucial first step toward that goal would be procedural reforms to the way the House conducts its business that limit the power of the speaker. Ten-year term limits for speaker and minority leader would be a start and would mirror the limits in the Illinois Senate. Stripping the speaker of the sole power to appoint committee chairs — and dole out the $10,000 stipends that come with them — would also curb his ability to enforce loyalty among members. Beyond that, changes to the Rules Committee, which assigns legislation to substantive committees, will be key. The Committee is known as the place bills go to die. The Committee’s majority members and chair currently are all appointed by the speaker, and it is nearly impossible for a sponsoring member to get his or her bill heard by a substantive committee without the support of a majority of Committee members. Many ethics bills, including popular measures such as restrictions on lobbying by General Assembly members, languished in the Rules Committee unheard from 2019 until past the close of the lame-duck legislative session on the day Welch replaced Madigan. Allowing members to discharge bills more easily from Rules would prevent a speaker from leaning on the committee to quash bills he or she doesn’t like. Once the legislative process is improved, the House should break with Springfield’s corrupt past by passing key ethics reforms. Lawmakers’ statements of economic interest — derisively called “none sheets” in reference to their weak disclosure requirements — should require a more detailed accounting of members’ financial and business interests to show constituents potential ethical conflicts. Bans on state lawmakers lobbying other governmental bodies, as well as the imposition of a meaningful waiting period before a lawmaker can start lobbying work after leaving office, would also help. And giving the legislative inspector general the authority to initiate ethics investigations and publish reports of founded complaints against lawmakers would improve oversight and accountability. Beyond ethics reform, effective pension reform is necessary to address the debt crisis that is in part the result of politicians’ sitting across the negotiating table from the union officials who fill their campaigns’ coffers and volunteer lists. This would protect many Illinoisans, from those reliant on social services to public employees who deserve retirement security to taxpayers who can’t afford to pay more and more for unsustainable government spending. As welcome as Madigan’s ouster is, it won’t solve corruption in Illinois. To do that, the power that one person can accumulate in Springfield must be limited and the state’s representational government must be rebuilt. For the first time in nearly four decades, state lawmakers have an opportunity to fix the state’s grave problems and put an end to the cycle of tax hikes, debt, and corruption. They should take it.
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 Independent
Who is Timothy Harleth: The man that will defy history and welcome Biden to the White House instead of Trump
In break with tradition, president-elect will be welcomed to executive mansion by its chief usher
- The Telegraph
Pfizer vaccine recipients are unlikely to transmit the virus to others, according to the author of an Israeli study. Participants in the survey developed up to 20 times more antibodies within a week of receiving the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The survey, which reviewed data from 102 of about 1,000 of the Sheba Medical Centre’s medical staff who have received both shots, showed that only two subjects have developed low amounts of antibodies - one of the subjects suffered from a compromised immune system. There was no explanation for why the second person did not develop antibodies, and the hospital said it was investigating the matter. The rest - 98 per cent - have developed levels of antibodies that were even higher than patients who have recovered from a serious coronavirus-induced condition, the hospital said in a statement released on Monday.