By Cate Cadell and Joseph Menn BEIJING/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's Google plans to launch a version of its search engine in China that will block some websites and search terms, two sources said, in a move that could mark its return to a market it abandoned eight years ago on censorship concerns. The plan, which was criticized by human rights advocates, comes as China has stepped up scrutiny of business dealings involving U.S. tech firms including Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Qualcomm Inc amid intensifying trade tensions between Beijing and Washington. Google, which quit China's search engine market in 2010, has been actively seeking ways to re-enter China where many of its products are blocked by regulators. The Intercept earlier reported Google's China plans on Wednesday, citing internal Google documents and people familiar with the plans. The project is code named "Dragonfly" and has been underway since the spring of 2017, the news website said. Progress on the project picked up after a December meeting between Google's Chief Executive Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official, it added. Search terms about human rights, democracy, religion and peaceful protests will be among the words blacklisted in the search engine app, which The Intercept said had already been demonstrated to the Chinese government. The finalised version could be launched in the next six to nine months, pending approval from Chinese officials, it added. Chinese state-owned Securities Times, however, said reports of the return of Google's search engine to China were not true, citing information from "relevant departments". But a Google employee familiar with the censored version of the search engine confirmed to Reuters that the project was alive and genuine. On an internal message board, the employee wrote: "In my opinion, it is just as bad as the leak article mentions." The worker, who declined to be named, said that he had seen slides on the effort and that many executives at the vice president level were aware of it. He said he had transferred out of his unit to avoid being involved. Separately, a Chinese official with knowledge of the plans said that Google has been in contact with authorities at the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) about a modified search program. The official, who declined to be named, said the project does not currently have approval from authorities and that it is "very unlikely" such a project would be made available this year. A separate report, by technology news site The Information on Wednesday, said that Google was developing a news-aggregation app for use in China that would comply with the country's censorship laws. Google declined to comment on the accounts and the CAC did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters on Thursday. A day earlier, the search giant also declined to comment on specifics mentioned in The Intercept report, but noted that it has launched a number of mobile apps in China and works with local developers as part of maintaining its domestic presence. 'CHILLING PRECEDENT' But the report pummelled shares of U.S.-listed Baidu, which dominates China's search engine market. Baidu shares fell 7.7 percent on Wednesday, despite posting better than expected quarterly results. Human rights group Amnesty International said it was calling on Google to change course. "Google would be setting a chilling precedent and handing the Chinese government a victory," its China researcher, Patrick Poon, said in an e-mailed statement. "This also raises serious questions as to what safeguards Google is putting in place to protect users' privacy," he said. Google's main search platform has been blocked in China since 2010, but it has been attempting to make new inroads into China. In January, the search engine joined an investment in Chinese live-stream mobile game platform Chushou, and earlier this month, launched an artificial intelligence (AI) game on Tencent Holdings Ltd's social media app WeChat. Facebook's website is also banned in China but the company has also signaled its interest to enter the market. Reports of Google's possible re-entry spurred a strong reaction on Chinese social media outlets on Wednesday evening, including debates over the merits of a censored search engine versus accessing the U.S. version through illegal virtual private networks. "Let's carry on jumping the Firewall," said one anonymous poster. "I'd rather not have it than use a castrated version." (Additional Reporting by Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI and Paresh Dave in SAN FRANCISCO, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Muralikumar Anantharaman)
- NBC News
The imprisonment of a fourth American could derail a bid by the Biden administration to revive a nuclear agreement with Iran.
- Associated Press
The spokesman for Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert has quit less than two weeks after she was sworn into office, saying he was prompted to by the insurrection at the nation's Capitol. Ben Goldey confirmed his departure to The Colorado Sun after it was first reported on Saturday by Axios. The Sun reported that Goldey did not respond to additional questions, but he told Axios he was leaving in the wake of a deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
After a probe found "significant errors of judgment and procedure" in the termination of the employee, GitHub's head of human resources resigned, GitHub Chief Operating Officer Erica Brescia said on Sunday. "In light of these findings, we immediately reversed the decision to separate with the employee and are in communication with his representative," Brescia said in a blog https://bit.ly/2KnkVhI, adding that the company apologized to that employee.
- The Telegraph
Miners trapped underground in eastern China for more than a week after a blast at a gold mine have managed to send up a note to rescuers, the local government said on Monday. The blast occurred eight days ago on Sunday afternoon at a mine near Qixia city in eastern Shandong province, leaving 22 miners trapped underground more than 600 metres from the mine’s entrance. After a long period without any contact, rescuers were able to drill through the mine on Sunday afternoon and said they heard "knocking sounds". A note was then sent up from the trapped miners saying that 12 were still alive, the local government said in a statement Monday. "We are in urgent need of cold medicine, painkillers, medical tape, external anti-inflammatory drugs, and three people have high blood pressure," the note read.
Kevin McCarthy warned members to not call out colleagues by name, citing potential political violence
Members of the House Republican Conference ignored leader Kevin McCarthy last week when he warned them against criticizing colleagues by name based on intelligence that doing so could trigger more political violence. Why it matters: McCarthy made clear that name-dropping opponents, instead of spelling out complaints in more general terms, can put a literal target on a politician, especially with tensions so high following the events of Jan. 6.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.That's what happened to Rep. Liz Cheney, the GOP conference chairperson, after she said she would support impeaching President Trump. * She and several other members had to increase their security and take extra precautions because of death threats and other alarming warnings after their colleagues singled them out in their complaints.What McCarthy said: The House minority leader issued his warning during a conference call last Monday. He said his concern was driven by the FBI briefings he receives. * "It doesn’t matter which side of the position you were: I respect it, I respect why you did what you did. But what we are saying on television, when we say a member’s name. ... This is not the moment in time to do it." * "You can incite something else. The country is very divided and we know this. Let’s not put any member, I don’t care who they are Republican, Democrat or any person not even in Congress. Watch our words closely. I get these reports on a weekly basis. I’ve seen something I haven’t seen before.”Several minutes later, McCarthy repeated the message: “Emotions are high. What you say matters. Let’s not put other people in danger. Let’s watch what words we’re using and definitely not be using other members' names in any media.”Days later, some GOP members ignored him and openly criticized their colleagues * Rep. Adam Kinzinger tweeted that the name of his Republican colleague, Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene, "will be one forgotten by next January." * Rep. Lauren Boebart (R-Colo.) mocked Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the House's new mask fines.One of the most blatant attacks, leading to a media firestorm, was when several members of the House Freedom Caucus went after Cheney for voting to impeach Trump. * On the day of the vote, the members circulated a petition to remove her from her leadership role. * Cheney is now fielding a series of threats against her, many from fiery Trump supporters angered by her vote, a source with direct knowledge of the threat said. * “We don’t comment on security matters,” Cheney’s communications director, Jeremy Adler, told Axios.What we’re hearing: McCarthy's team told Axios he isn't looking for repercussions. Spokesman Matt Sparks said the leader wants to lower the temperature and is encouraging members to be mindful of the current environment.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- NBC News
In a freewheeling and at times combative interview with NBC News, Jenna Ryan said she has no regrets about participating in the Capitol incursion.
- Associated Press
A New Mexico county official and founder of the group Cowboys for Trump who had vowed to return to Washington after last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol to place a flag on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk has been arrested Sunday by the FBI. Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin was arrested on charges of illegally entering the U.S. Capitol. According to court documents, Griffin told investigators that he was “caught up” in the crowd, which pushed its way through the barricades and entered the restricted area of the U.S. Capitol, but he said he did not enter the building and instead remained on the U.S. Capitol steps.
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.
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
Some 25,000 National Guard troops are being dispatched to Washington, D.C., this week ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony Wednesday, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation plans to subject all of them to additional vetting amid concerns of an "insider attack," The Associated Press reports.Law enforcement agencies routinely scrutinize service members to root out those with any potential links to extremist views. But as AP reports, this practice has for years focused on "homegrown insurgents radicalized by al-Qaida, the Islamic State group, or similar groups." In this case, though, the FBI is worried about troops who might harbor animus toward the incoming administration "fueled by supporters of President Donald Trump, far-right militants, white supremacists, and other radical groups."Trump has been widely blamed for inciting the violent insurrection attempt on the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, which left five people dead. Ongoing threats of violence have led to increased security in Washington — where the National Mall will be closed for Inauguration Day — and around the country.Military and law enforcement personnel have been running drills in preparation for Inauguration Day, studying maps of the D.C. area, and plotting their routes. The FBI vetting process for National Guard members will likely involve scanning databases and watch lists for red flags, AP reports. Troops are also being trained on how to spot threats within their ranks."The question is, is that all of them? Are there others?" asked Army Secretary McCarthy. Read more at AP.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 Telegraph
Coronavirus latest news: Over-70s will only get vaccine when 'majority' of high priority have had jab, Downing Street says
Hancock to lead press conference at 5pm PM hails milestone as 5m more offered jab Exclusive: Mass testing of entire regions considered Almost a third of recovered patients return to hospital One Covid patient admitted to hospital 'every 30 seconds' Resistance over plans for 24/7 vaccine drive Travel latest: UK's tough new border rules come into force Subscribe to The Telegraph for a month-long free trial Those over 70 will only be offered a coronavirus vaccine when the "majority" of high priority have had jab in their area, Downing Street has said. Speaking to journalists the Prime Minister's official spokesman said those over 70 will receive invitations to get vaccinated "shortly" - but rollout will vary across the country. "Depending on where they are, the timing will be slightly different," he said. "But the important point is that this allows areas that have already vaccinated a majority of those over 80, care home residents, frontline NHS and care home staff to keep the momentum up and to start giving it to further-at-risk people." The comments come after the Vaccines Minister suggested that teachers, police officers and retail staff who cannot work from home "should be prioritised" in the second phase of the rollout. "My instinct is that anyone who, through no fault of their own, has to come into contact with the virus in much greater volume and probability should be protected - teachers, policemen and women, shop workers, all those who need that additional protection," Nadhim Zahawi told ITV. He added that plans are also in place to begin pilots for 24/7 vaccination centres before the end of the month. Follow the latest updates below.
The U.S. Army has identified a 1st Armored Division staff sergeant from Fort Bliss, Texas found dead at his home Thursday.
- Miami Herald
MONDAY MORNING UPDATE: Pembroke Pines police say they were notified at 12:40 a.m., Monday, that Jaddier Sanchez and Nicole Martinez were found in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, by Virginia State Police. Sanchez was taken into custody and Martinez was taken to a hospital to treat minor injuries.
- National Review
Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) on Sunday advised the president not to grant presidential pardons to the rioters who stormed the Capitol this month, warning that doing so would “destroy” Trump. “Mr. President, your policies will stand the test of time. You’re the most important figure in the Republican party. You can shape the direction of the party. Keep your movement alive,” Graham said on Fox News. “There are a lot of people urging the president to pardon folks who participated in defiling the Capitol, the rioters,” Graham continued. “I don’t care if you went there and spread flowers on the floor, you breached the security of the Capitol, you interrupted a joint session of Congress, you tried to intimidate us all, you should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and to seek a pardon of these people would be wrong. I think it would destroy President Trump and I hope we don’t go down that road.” On Wednesday, a large group of Trump supporters overpowered Capitol Police and forced their way into the halls of Congress. Pence and the assembled lawmakers evacuated the Senate floor, where a joint session of Congress was being held to certify the presidential election results. The violence followed a rally outside the White House earlier in the day where President Trump addressed the “Save America March” and repeated his claims that November’s election was rife with voter fraud that threatened to deprive him of his rightful second term. The violence on January 6 resulted in five dead, including a Capitol Police officer. Since then, dozens of criminal cases have been brought in connection with the riot. Graham defended Trump’s rhetoric at the rally, which received bipartisan condemnation and sparked a second impeachment against the president by House Democrats. “President Trump never said, ‘Go into the capitol and try to interrupt a joint session of Congress.’ That was the choice they made and they need to live with that choice,” Graham said. Graham added that there were “irregularities in mail-in voting,” but said “the election is over,” noting that the electoral votes have been certified.” “It is now time to move on,” the South Carolina Republican said. Graham also had a message for incoming president Joe Biden, calling on him to stand up against the second impeachment of Trump, which the Senate is expected to take up after he leaves office.
- Reuters Videos
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden may end the Keystone XL pipeline project as one of his first acts in office, a source familiar with his thinking told Reuters it could happen as early as day one. Biden, who will be inaugurated on Wednesday, was vice president when Barack Obama rejected the $9 billion project in 2015. Then two years later, Donald Trump issued a presidential permit that allowed the line to move forward. Since then the project has seen opposition by environmentalists seeking to check Canada's oil industry and Native Americans whose land faced encroachment. Construction of the pipeline is well underway and if completed, would move oil from Canada's Alberta province to the U.S. state of Nebraska. In his 2020 run for president, Biden vowed to scrap its permit once elected. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Saturday, the words 'rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit' appeared on his list of Biden's executive actions likely scheduled for his first day. Biden's team did not respond to a request for comment, but Canada's ambassador to the U.S. said she looks forward to a decision that fits both countries' environmental protection plans. In a statement, Ambassador Kirsten Hillman said: "There is no better partner for the U.S. on climate action than Canada as we work together for green transition." Meanwhile Alberta's Premier tweeted he was "deeply concerned" by the report, adding the decision would kill jobs, increase U.S. dependence on foreign oil, and weaken U.S.-Canada relations.
- The Independent
SLC’s ‘Save America’ rally also saw a defiant teenage protester and an attack on a local media member.
- 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
Lunar rocks retrieved by a historic Chinese mission to the moon weighed less than initially targeted, but China is still willing to study the samples with foreign scientists, the mission's spokesman said on Monday. China became the third country ever to secure lunar samples when its unmanned Chang'e-5 probe, named after the mythical moon goddess, brought back 1.731 kg (3.8 lb) of samples last month, falling short of the 2 kg (4.4 lb) planned. The probe had estimated the lunar rocks to have a density of 1.6 grams per cubic millimetre, based on data from past missions by other countries, said Pei Zhaoyu, the mission spokesman.
- The Telegraph
Scientists say Colombia must cull its so-called “cocaine hippos” that roam the Magdalena river basin as they are breeding voraciously and are an increasing menace. The marshlands of Colombia have been home to these giant mammals since they were illegally imported in the late 1980s by the notorious drug lord, Pablo Escobar. When he was shot dead in 1993, the Colombian government took control of his extravagant estate, including his personal zoo. Most of the animals were shipped away, but four hippos were left to fend for themselves in a pond, and now there are dozens of them living in the wild. Although nobody knows exactly how many there are, estimates put the total number between 80 and 100, making them the largest invasive species on the planet. Scientists forecast that the number of hippos will swell to almost 1,500 by 2040. They conclude, that at that point, environmental impacts will be irreversible and numbers impossible to control. “Nobody likes the idea of shooting a hippo, but we have to accept that no other strategy is going to work,” ecologist Nataly Castelblanco-Martínez told The Telegraph.
Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios special series takes you inside the collapse of a president. * This page will be updated as more episodes are published. * 🎧 Our podcast on the series is called "How it happened: Trump's last stand." Episodes will be released each Monday, beginning on Jan. 18.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America. Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the firePhoto illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesTrump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it. * Read the full story. Episode 2: Barbarians at the OvalPhoto illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty ImagesTrump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. * Read the full story. Episode 3: Descent into madnessPhoto illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesThe conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software. * Read the full story. About the seriesOur reporting is based on interviews with current and former White House, campaign, government and congressional officials as well as eyewitnesses and people close to the president. Sources have been granted anonymity to share sensitive observations or details they would not be authorized to disclose. President Trump and other officials to whom quotes and actions have been attributed by others were provided the opportunity to confirm, deny or respond to reporting elements prior to publication. "Off the rails" is reported by White House reporter Jonathan Swan, with writing, reporting and research assistance by Zach Basu. It was edited by Margaret Talev and Mike Allen. Illustrations by Sarah Grillo, Aïda Amer and Eniola Odetunde.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.