Special

National Security Guidance

Joe Biden signals another severe reversal from Donald Trump

The White House released its interim national security strategic guidance, stressing a need to build alliances and strengthen democracy, an implicit rebuff of former President Trump’s “America first" strategy. “We will only succeed in advancing American interests and upholding our universal values by working in common cause with our closest allies and partners, and by renewing our own enduring sources of national strength,” President Biden wrote in the guidance.

COVID-19

'Neanderthal thinking': Biden lays into states lifting restrictions

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that moves by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and others to lift statewide Covid restrictions showed 'Neanderthal thinking': “I think it’s a big mistake. I hope everyone has realized right now these masks make a difference," Biden said of the decision to lift mask mandates and other Covid mitigation measures. "We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we are able to get vaccines in people’s arms.”

New York governor

Andrew Cuomo stays quiet amid calls to quit over sexual harassment claims

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has avoided public appearances for days as some members of his own party call for him to resign over sexual harassment allegations. The governor hasn’t taken questions from reporters since a 19 February briefing, an unusually long gap for a Democrat whose daily, televised updates on the coronavirus pandemic were must-see TV last spring.

Alexei Navalny

US hits Russian officials with fresh sanctions

The US has announced sanctions on seven Russian government officials and 13 Russian and European companies in response to the poisoning of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny, which a US intelligence assessment confirmed to be the work of the FSB.

Ku Klux Klan

No charges for man who displayed Klan flag next to Black neighbor's home

A prosecutor has declined to file charges against a man who displayed a Ku Klux Klan flag in his window in suburban Detroit, next to the home of a Black family. Such “horrible conduct” doesn’t violate Michigan law, Wayne county prosecutor Kym Worthy said on Tuesday, adding that an ethnic intimidation charge would require physical contact, property damage or threats of such activity.

Boy Scouts of America

They will sell Norman Rockwell paintings to fund sexual abuse claim payments

The Boy Scouts of America has said it will establish a victims’ fund of at least $300m, to deal with payments arising from lawsuits over sexual abuse and funded in part by selling its portfolio of Norman Rockwell paintings. More than 85,000 former scouts have made legal claims against the 111-year-old organization about alleged sexual abuse by leaders, according to reports.

Republican Party

Donald Trump's reemergence poses risks for GOP

Former President Trump's reentry into public life at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Sunday exacerbates challenges for political leaders in both parties, as well as the media. Washington has been a relatively Trump-free zone for the first 40 days of President Biden's administration, particularly with Trump banned from Twitter, the megaphone that allowed him to gin up news cycle after news cycle.

Archdiocese New Orleans

Catholics should avoid Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans urged Catholics against taking a vaccine for COVID-19 manufactured by Johnson & Johnson because the vaccine is developed from stem cells obtained from two abortions. In a statement on the archdiocese's website, the organization argued that Johnson & Johnson's vaccine was "morally compromised."

FBI

Christopher Wray says no evidence of 'antifa' involvement in Jan. 6 attack

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday that the bureau has no evidence that far-left violent extremists were involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. “We have not to date seen any evidence of anarchist violent extremists or people subscribed to antifa in connection with the sixth,” Wray told lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee, using a term to refer to the left-wing anti-fascism movement.

Donald & Melania Trump vaccinated

Opinion: Maybe Donald Trump is just a huge asshole

Getting vaccinated publicly could have gone a long way toward dispelling Republican doubts about the Covid vaccine — so of course Trump didn’t do it. Former President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump both received the Covid-19 vaccine. They just didn’t tell anyone about it.

Poll

Joe Biden's approval tops 60 percent in new poll

President Joe Biden is starting his tenure in White House with the approval of 61 percent of voters, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill on Monday.

Andrew Cuomo

Governor says comments possibly ‘misinterpreted’ - calls to resign

A collective of former New York state legislative employees on Monday denounced Andrew Cuomo’s apology for his past behavior, after the governor was accused of sexually harassing two women, and called for his removal or resignation. Members of the Sexual Harassment Working Group also said they expected more allegations to follow – and accused Cuomo of “gaslighting” his accusers. New York attorney general Letitia James, meanwhile, announced the first step in mounting an external investigation of the governor’s behavior.

CPAC

Calls to can Goya Foods grow after CEO Unuane repeats Trump's election lies

Calls for a boycott of Goya beans, chickpeas and other foodstuffs have grown louder after chief executive Robert Unanue made a series of false claims about the presidential election in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, in Florida on Sunday. Unanue has previously courted controversy with praise for Donald Trump, which last year prompted Ivanka Trump to pose, infamously, with a can of Goya beans. Onstage in Orlando, Unanue called Donald Trump “the real, legitimate and still actual president of the United States”.

CPAC

Hyatt Hotels says stage resembling Nazi rune is 'abhorrent'

The Hyatt Hotels Corporation called symbols of hate “abhorrent” on Sunday after the design of a stage at the right-wing Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at one of its hotels drew comparisons to a Norse rune used by Nazis during the second world war.

The Oracle of Omaha

Warren Buffett admits to a rare 'mistake'

In his annual letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB), investing guru Warren Buffett disclosed that the company took an $11 billion writedown last year on its 2016 purchase of Precision Castparts, describing it as "a mistake." The 90-year-old billionaire, Berkshire's chairman since 1970, said in the company's annual letter to shareholders that the "ugly" writedown had a simple explanation.

COVID-19

CDC signs off on Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Sunday formally accepted the recommendation from its advisory panel that Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine can be given to people ages 18 and older in the United States. The announcement by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will allow vaccinations to begin as soon as the doses are received. Walensky called the decision "another milestone toward an end to the pandemic."

CPAC

News outlets diverge over airing Trump's speech

CNN and MSNBC did not air former President Trump's speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Sunday while Fox News and other conservative outlets such as Newsmax and OANN carried his remarks live. Fox News began airing Trump's speech after the former president took to to the stage at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday. CNN continued on with coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and MSNBC continued to air its "PoliticsNation" program, though it aired a short clip from the speech.

CPaC

Trump wins straw poll with 55 percent

Former President Trump won the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll on Sunday, with 55 percent of respondents saying they would vote for him in a hypothetical 2024 primary. In the straw poll that demonstrated Trump's hold on the GOP, 21 percent said they’d vote for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and 4 percent said they’d go with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R). Almost 7 in 10 of the poll’s participants said they would like to see Trump run for president in 2024, compared with 15 percent who said they would not and 17 percent who said they were unsure.

COVID-19

Justice Department appeals order blocking federal eviction ban

The Justice Department is appealing a ruling by a U.S. judge in Texas blocking the federal eviction moratorium, the agency announced late Saturday, arguing that the ban remains broadly in effect in the meantime. The court in the Eastern District of Texas blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on Thursday, ruling that the federal government had overstepped its authority in imposing the sweeping ban. The decision “does not extend beyond the particular plaintiffs in that case, and it does not prohibit the application of the CDC’s eviction moratorium to other parties,” acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton argued. “For other landlords who rent to covered persons, the CDC’s eviction moratorium remains in effect."

COVID-19

Fauci urges Americans to take any of three Covid vaccines available to them

The nation’s leading infectious disease expert has urged Americans to take whatever vaccine is immediately available to them, following this weekend’s approval of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose jab as a third option in the fight against Covid-19.

Republicans

Republican predicts Trump won’t be party’s presidential nominee in 2024

Bill Cassidy, the Louisiana Republican senator, predicted on Sunday morning that Donald Trump will not be the party’s nominee for president in 2024, pointing to the number of seats lost by Republicans in the House and Senate over the four years Trump was in office.

CPAC

Completely insane Donald Trump repeats his big lies at far-right summit

Donald Trump on Sunday launched his attempted political comeback, teasing a possible run for the presidency in 2024 and denouncing Joe Biden for “the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history”. The former president made his first speech since leaving the White House at the rightwing Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, to an effusive reception. Trump claims, entirely falsely, that he actually won the 2020 election but was fraudulently denied his victory.

Shortnews

COVID-19

'Neanderthal thinking': Biden lays into states lifting restrictions

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that moves by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and others to lift statewide Covid restrictions showed 'Neanderthal thinking': “I think it’s a big mistake. I hope everyone has realized right now these masks make a difference," Biden said of the decision to lift mask mandates and other Covid mitigation measures. "We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we are able to get vaccines in people’s arms.”

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COVID-19

'Neanderthal thinking': Biden lays into states lifting restrictions

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that moves by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and others to lift statewide Covid restrictions showed 'Neanderthal thinking': “I think it’s a big mistake. I hope everyone has realized right now these masks make a difference," Biden said of the decision to lift mask mandates and other Covid mitigation measures. "We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we are able to get vaccines in people’s arms.”

The president's remark came after both Texas and Mississippi issued executive orders Tuesday to eliminate mask mandates and let all businesses open at 100 percent capacity, flying in the face of health officials who have urged continued Covid restrictions. Biden has signed an executive order requiring mask-wearing on federal property but has little authority to overrule governors and other state and local officials.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, laid into Biden for his comments Wednesday.

"President Biden said allowing Mississippians to decide how to protect themselves is 'neanderthal thinking.' Mississippians don’t need handlers," Reeves wrote in a tweet. "As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them."

In a statement to POLITICO, Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze said Abbott was "clear in telling Texans that COVID hasn’t ended, and that all Texans should follow medical advice and safe practices to continue containing COVID."

"The fact is, Texas now has the tools and knowledge to combat COVID while also allowing Texans and small businesses to make their own decisions," Eze said. "It is clear from the recoveries, the vaccinations, the reduced hospitalizations, and the safe practices that Texans are using, that state mandates are no longer needed. We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans."

Ku Klux Klan

No charges for man who displayed Klan flag next to Black neighbor's home

A prosecutor has declined to file charges against a man who displayed a Ku Klux Klan flag in his window in suburban Detroit, next to the home of a Black family. Such “horrible conduct” doesn’t violate Michigan law, Wayne county prosecutor Kym Worthy said on Tuesday, adding that an ethnic intimidation charge would require physical contact, property damage or threats of such activity.

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Ku Klux Klan

No charges for man who displayed Klan flag next to Black neighbor's home

A prosecutor has declined to file charges against a man who displayed a Ku Klux Klan flag in his window in suburban Detroit, next to the home of a Black family. Such “horrible conduct” doesn’t violate Michigan law, Wayne county prosecutor Kym Worthy said on Tuesday, adding that an ethnic intimidation charge would require physical contact, property damage or threats of such activity.

“I strongly encourage the Michigan legislature to look, revise and create laws to protect citizens from this kind of horrible conduct,” said Worthy, who is Black.

JeDonna Dinges, 57, of Grosse Pointe Park, said the flag was hanging next door in a window directly across from her dining room. The incident occurred two weeks ago.

The flag was removed after police carrying large cloths visited the home and made a switch, the city manager, Nick Sizeland, told the Detroit Free Press last week.

The man’s girlfriend claimed they could not afford a curtain, Sizeland said.

“There is absolutely no question that what happened to Ms Dinges was despicable, traumatizing and completely unacceptable,” Worthy said. “But, very unfortunately in my view, not a crime. The KKK flag, while intending to be visible to Ms Dinges, was hanging inside of her neighbor’s house.”

The Klan was a secretive society organized in the southern US after the civil war to assert white supremacy, often using violence. It flourished well into the 20th century.

Dozens of people turned out for a 21 February march and rally to support Dinges. Before the flag incident, she said she was concerned about her safety after finding a full gas can inside her outdoor recycling bin.

Archdiocese New Orleans

Catholics should avoid Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans urged Catholics against taking a vaccine for COVID-19 manufactured by Johnson & Johnson because the vaccine is developed from stem cells obtained from two abortions. In a statement on the archdiocese's website, the organization argued that Johnson & Johnson's vaccine was "morally compromised."

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Archdiocese New Orleans

Catholics should avoid Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans urged Catholics against taking a vaccine for COVID-19 manufactured by Johnson & Johnson because the vaccine is developed from stem cells obtained from two abortions. In a statement on the archdiocese's website, the organization argued that Johnson & Johnson's vaccine was "morally compromised."

"The archdiocese must instruct Catholics that the latest vaccine from Janssen/Johnson & Johnson is morally compromised as it uses the abortion-derived cell line in development and production of the vaccine as well as the testing," the statement read.

"We advise that if the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine is available, Catholics should choose to receive either of those vaccines rather than to receive the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine because of its extensive use of abortion-derived cell lines," the archdiocese continued.

A request for comment from Johnson & Johnson was not immediately returned.

Catholic groups that oppose abortion have long criticized medical companies that use human cell lines from aborted fetuses, while companies including Johnson & Johnson have defended the process as leading to medical breakthroughs on the disease prevention front.

"As a research tool, human pluripotent stem cells promise to expand our understanding of normal physiologic processes such as cell growth and differentiation, and to enable new insights into disease, which may lead to new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat a wide variety of disorders," reads a statement on the company's website.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine became the third candidate authorized for emergency use in the U.S. earlier this month, joining two others on the market produced by drugmakers Moderna and Pfizer.

COVID-19

Justice Department appeals order blocking federal eviction ban

The Justice Department is appealing a ruling by a U.S. judge in Texas blocking the federal eviction moratorium, the agency announced late Saturday, arguing that the ban remains broadly in effect in the meantime. The court in the Eastern District of Texas blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on Thursday, ruling that the federal government had overstepped its authority in imposing the sweeping ban. The decision “does not extend beyond the particular plaintiffs in that case, and it does not prohibit the application of the CDC’s eviction moratorium to other parties,” acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton argued. “For other landlords who rent to covered persons, the CDC’s eviction moratorium remains in effect."

Read More
COVID-19

Justice Department appeals order blocking federal eviction ban

The Justice Department is appealing a ruling by a U.S. judge in Texas blocking the federal eviction moratorium, the agency announced late Saturday, arguing that the ban remains broadly in effect in the meantime. The court in the Eastern District of Texas blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on Thursday, ruling that the federal government had overstepped its authority in imposing the sweeping ban. The decision “does not extend beyond the particular plaintiffs in that case, and it does not prohibit the application of the CDC’s eviction moratorium to other parties,” acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton argued. “For other landlords who rent to covered persons, the CDC’s eviction moratorium remains in effect."

The CDC’s September order banning evictions amid the pandemic cited a 1944 public health law that gives the agency certain powers to prevent communicable diseases from crossing state lines. The Biden administration recently extended the moratorium through June.

“The federal government cannot say that it has ever before invoked its power over interstate commerce to impose a residential eviction moratorium,” U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker wrote in the decision.

“It did not do so during the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic,” Campbell said. “Nor did it invoke such a power during the exigencies of the Great Depression. The federal government has not claimed such a power at any point during our Nation’s history until last year.”

Barker, an appointee of President Donald Trump, also said the government’s justification for the ban under the commerce clause of the Constitution was open-ended: “The federal government thus claims authority to suspend residential evictions for any reason, including an agency’s views on ‘fairness,’” he wrote.

The Justice Department filed a notice of appeal Saturday.

Boynton noted that Congress had signed off on the ban in his statement on the appeal.

"The CDC’s eviction moratorium, which Congress extended last December, protects many renters who cannot make their monthly payments due to job loss or health care expenses,” he said. “By preventing people from becoming homeless or having to move into more-crowded housing, the moratorium helps to slow the spread of Covid-19.”

Intel report

Saudi prince approved Khashoggi murder

The Biden administration on Friday released a long-secret intelligence report concluding that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. "We assess that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi," the report reads.

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Intel report

Saudi prince approved Khashoggi murder

The Biden administration on Friday released a long-secret intelligence report concluding that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. "We assess that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi," the report reads.

The report was finally released more than a year after it was first completed by the intelligence community under former President Donald Trump and briefed to the relevant congressional committees, officials said on Thursday.
“We’ve made it clear that this administration will not sweep anything under the rug, and that President Biden will follow the law,” a senior administration official said ahead of the report’s release. The official added that the release was “in honor of Jamal and this horrific crime.”

“Our aim going forward is to make sure nothing like this ever happens again,” the official said.