By Steve Scherer PESCARA DEL TRONTO, Italy (Reuters) - Within hours of the earth shaking and houses collapsing, thousands of volunteers from all over Italy had descended on the country's stricken central mountains to bring what help they could. Some were specialist rescuers, who train in their spare time to search for the living and the dead, others were young men and women from nearby communities who just wanted to lend a hand. The Civil Protection Department said that of the 5,400 people working under its command in the quake zone, including police, soldiers and firemen, more than half were volunteers. "We dedicate all our free time to training, often to the detriment of our families. Many of us are divorced," said Paolo Cortelli, a member of the Alpine Rescue national service who is a veterinarian by profession and comes from the nearby city of Terni. The magnitude 6.2 quake hit before dawn on Wednesday, wreaking havoc on a cluster of towns, villages and hamlets in the heart of Italy. By Thursday, the death toll was put at 241. Allies such as Germany, France and Israel all offered to send teams to support the disaster relief, but the government politely declined, saying its hugely experienced emergency service and army of unpaid workers did not need any back up. Pescara del Tronto, a small town perched on the side of a mountain valley, was flattened by the quake, homes folding in, one on top of the other. The majority of men and women who were digging through the dust and debris were volunteers. "We have helped dig out six or seven corpses," said Marco Palatroni, 23, who had driven over from his hometown about 40 minutes away with three of his friends to lend a hand. "I didn't think it would be as dramatic as it seemed on television, but now I think it is even worse." Palatroni and his friends brought blankets, food, clothes and water to hand out. Other volunteers came wearing motorcycle helmets instead of hardhats, wearing T-shirts and tennis shoes. The fire department chief directing rescue operations in the village, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media, welcomed the help of the young people and especially appreciated the expert work of the specialist volunteers from the Alpine Rescue and Civil Protection. "In the first 24 hours, it's a big help to have all the volunteers we can get, because time is of the essence in an emergency,” he said. Three dogs from the Alpine Rescue searched for human scent below the crumpled rubble, helping to find more than 20 bodies on Wednesday, said Cortelli. Two dogs, both Belgian Malinois Shepherds, were flown down by helicopter from northern Italy. Ax, a male, and Babi, a female, searched what was left of the town, sniffing between the heaps of shattered brick, terra cotta, wood and concrete. They signaled areas where human smell was still present. Afterward, the volunteers went to work digging, with their hands, with axes, chainsaws and hammers. "The dogs detect the odor of the living. The dead have a totally different smell, but they retain some of the smell of the living for a few hours," said Cortelli. Some of the volunteers were veterans of the rescue effort in Italy's last comparable quake, which hit the central city of L'Aquila in 2009 and killed more than 300 people. "This is worse than L'Aquila," said Stefano, 41, who had driven to the quake site some 70 km (45 miles) from his home. "This place is just a pile of rubble. There is nothing left." (Editing by Crispian Balmer)
- Yahoo News
Counterintelligence official Michael Orlando joins a growing chorus of voices on both sides of the political aisle who point to China as a major national security threat, particularly in terms of technology and cybersecurity.
- 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 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.
- Associated Press
The Democratic National Committee elected Jaime Harrison of South Carolina as chair on Thursday, signifying an early alignment between newly inaugurated President Joe Biden and state party leaders around the country. Vice chairs on the roster include Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth and U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela Jr. of Texas.
- Architectural Digest
800 feet up in the sky, the Dreamy 6,000 square foot space offers panoramic views from the East River to the HudsonOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- NBC News
A woman has been arrested and charged with murder after the dismembered remains of her missing roommate, Talina Galloway, were found in a freezer in the woods of Polk County, Arkansas last week. Talina, 53, was reported missing by her roommate, Kore Bommeli on April 17, 2020. Talina’s remains were found in the freezer on January 14, 2021. Bommeli, who has been a person of interest throughout the investigation, was located in Wisconsin and faces charges of murder and desecration of a corpse. Th
- The Week
The evenly split Senate is having a hard time agreeing who's in charge.Georgia's two new Democratic senators were sworn in Wednesday, giving Republicans and Democrats 50 senators each, with Vice President Kamala Harris as a Democratic tiebreaker. The two parties are now working out a power-sharing agreement, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) commitment to the filibuster is standing in the way.McConnell on Thursday formally acknowledged Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as the chamber's new majority leader. But as he has been for days, McConnell again implored Democrats to preserve the filibuster that lets a senator extend debate and block a timely vote on a bill if there aren't 60 votes to stop it. Democrats "have no plans to gut the filibuster further, but argue it would be a mistake to take one of their tools off the table just as they're about to govern," Politico reports; More progressive senators do want to remove the option completely.If his filibuster demands aren't met, McConnell has threatened to block the Senate power-sharing agreement that would put Democrats in charge of the body's committees. But Democrats already seem confident in their newfound power, with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) telling Politico that "Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and he should be treated like majority leader." Giving in to McConnell "would be exactly the wrong way to begin," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) echoed.Other Democrats shared their resistance to McConnell's demands in tweets. > McConnell is threatening to filibuster the Organizing Resolution which allows Democrats to assume the committee Chair positions. It's an absolutely unprecedented, wacky, counterproductive request. We won the Senate. We get the gavels.> > -- Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 21, 2021> So after Mitch McConnell changed the Senate rules at a blistering pace during his 6 years in charge, he is threatening to filibuster the Senate's organizing resolution unless the Democratic majority agrees to never change the rules again.> > Huh.> > -- Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 21, 2021More stories from theweek.com McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit Biden's next executive order will let people stay on unemployment if they quit an unsafe job
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Former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama delivered a recorded message to President Biden on Wednesday night.
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.
- The Independent
‘There was a protocol breach when the front doors were not held open’
- Associated Press
Libya’s coast guard intercepted on Friday more than 80 Europe-bound migrants in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the North African country, the U.N. migration agency said. The migrants were returned to Libyan soil, said the International Organization for Migration. “So far this year, some 300 people, including women and children, were returned to the country and ended up in detention,” said the IOM.
President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden showed their support for the Guard in their own way.
Venezuela's opposition accused President Nicolas Maduro's government on Friday of unilaterally changing the destination of medication and equipment provided by the Pan American Health Organization, in a "clear violation" of an agreement to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Last June, Venezuela's health ministry and technical advisers to the then opposition-dominated National Assembly signed an agreement to implement a COVID-19 response supported by PAHO. The ministry and technical advisers had agreed the tests and machines would be sent to 27 hospitals, Miguel Pizarro, designated by opposition leader Juan Guaido as representative to the United Nations, said in a statement.
- The Week
Majority of House GOP reportedly supports removing Liz Cheney from leadership after impeachment vote
House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney is facing an internal resistance after splitting from her party on former President Donald Trump's impeachment.Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, was one of only a handful of Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over his role in inciting the Capitol riot. More than a majority of GOP House members have since indicated they'd support ousting Cheney from her leadership spot, while at least two other Republicans have lined up to replace her, Politico reports.At least 107 House members — more than half the caucus — privately support removing Cheney from power, multiple GOP sources involved in the effort told Politico. Meanwhile New York Reps. Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin, who defended Trump during both of his impeachments, are reportedly looking to replace her.House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) have said they don't intend to remove Cheney. But McCarthy also echoed Republicans' reported anger that Cheney voiced her support of impeachment the day before the House vote, giving Democrats time to use her views in their own arguments. "Questions need to be answered," such as the "style in which things were delivered," McCarthy told reporters Thursday.Many other Republicans, including some who voted against impeachment, meanwhile don't want Cheney removed just for "vot[ing] her conscience," as Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) put it. Others argue removing Cheney would fly in the face of the party's unification message in the post-Trump era — something Cheney herself is trying to counter by making "making calls to all corners of the conference to hear lawmakers out," Politico reports.More stories from theweek.com McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit Biden's next executive order will let people stay on unemployment if they quit an unsafe job
- Associated Press
Iran's capital and major cities plunged into darkness in recent weeks as rolling outages left millions without electricity for hours. With toxic smog blanketing Tehran skies and the country buckling under the pandemic and other mounting crises, social media has been rife with speculation. Within days, as frustration spread among residents, the government launched a wide-ranging crackdown on Bitcoin processing centers, which require immense amounts of electricity to power their specialized computers and to keep them cool — a burden on Iran's power grid.
- 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
Thousands of national guardsmen were turfed out of the Capitol building on Thursday and sent to sleep in car parks, before being allowed back in late at night after complaints from lawmakers. Despite the quick reversal, two Republican governors commanded their troops home in protest. US Capitol police had ordered the reservists to vacate the building and set up camp outdoors or in nearby hotels, with thousands ending up stationed outside or in car parks. “Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service. Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed,” one of the guardsmen told Politico. The National Guard were brought into the US capital to provide security after Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6.
U.S. Capitol Police on Friday were investigating an incident in which a Republican lawmaker was found carrying a concealed gun while trying to enter the floor of the House of Representatives, a Capitol official said. Republican Representative Andy Harris, a staunch gun-rights advocate, set off a magnetometer going through security on his way to the House floor late on Thursday and was found to be carrying a firearm, according to a congressional press pool report. The Maryland Republican then tried to hand the gun off to Republican Representative John Katko, who refused, saying he did not have a license, the report said.
- Associated Press
Indonesian authorities on Thursday ended the search for remaining victims and debris from a Sriwijaya Air jet that nosedived into the Java Sea, killing all 62 people on board. Transportation minister Budi Karya Sumadi said retrieval operations have ended after nearly two weeks, but that a limited search for the missing memory unit from the cockpit voice recorder will continue. The memory unit apparently broke away from other parts of the voice recorder during the crash.
- The Independent
Change came just hours after President Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony