[guest post by Dana]
Here are a few news items that might interest you. Please feel free to share anything that might interest readers, but make sure to include links.
First news item
In an interview with CBS News, Biden was blunt when asked if Trump should get continued access to top secret intel. “I think not,” he said, standing by his earlier warnings of Trump being “dangerous” and “reckless.” “I just think that there is no need for him to have the intelligence briefings. What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?” Biden said.
Second news item
The Trump Organization negotiated on behalf of then-president Donald Trump to make Parler his primary social network, but it had a condition: an ownership stake in return for joining, according to documents and four people familiar with the conversations. The deal was never finalized, but legal experts said the discussions alone, which occurred while Trump was still in office, raise legal concerns with regards to anti-bribery laws.
Talks between members of Trump’s campaign and Parler about Trump’s potential involvement began last summer, and were revisited in November by the Trump Organization after Trump lost the 2020 election to the Democratic nominee and current president, Joe Biden. Documents seen by BuzzFeed News show that Parler offered the Trump Organization a 40% stake in the company. It is unclear as to what extent the former president was involved with the discussions.
Third news item
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday it could be possible to get back to school safely without hinging the return to classrooms on vaccines.
“There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters at a briefing. “Vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for the safe reopening of schools.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki walked back comments from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky suggesting that schools might be able to reopen before all teachers have received a vaccine to prevent Covid-19.
“The director of the CDC … said they haven’t issued their final guidance, and we, of course, wait for that process to complete and see its way through,” Psaki told reporters at a White House briefing…Psaki subsequently suggested that Walensky was speaking in her “personal capacity,” the first time Psaki has resorted to arguing that an administration official represented an opinion that did not reflect the administration’s position…“Dr. Walensky spoke to this in her personal capacity,” Psaki said. “Obviously, she’s the head of the CDC, but we’re going to wait for the final guidance to come out.”
The increasingly heated school reopening debate is forcing President Joe Biden to balance two priorities: getting children back into the classroom and preserving the support of powerful labor groups that helped him get elected.
Fourth news item
President Joe Biden laid out his case Friday for moving fast to pass $1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief, but even as he opened the door to proceeding without Republicans, he conceded that a key element of his plan — hiking the minimum wage to $15 per hour — was unlikely to become law.
“I put it in, but I don’t think it’s going to survive,” Biden said in an interview with “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell, adding he would push to raise it in a standalone bill. “No one should work 40 hours a week and live below the poverty wage. And if you’re making less than $15 an hour, you’re living below the poverty wage.”
Fifth news item
“The party is his – it doesn’t belong to anybody else,” Marjorie Taylor Greene says of Trump.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 5, 2021
Sixth news item
Fox News Media has canceled “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” the program hosted by television’s staunchest supporter of Donald Trump and of his assertions of voter fraud in the 2020 election, The Times has learned…
Dobbs’ program, which airs twice nightly at 5 and 7 p.m. Eastern on the Fox Business Network, will have its final airing Friday, according to a Fox News representative who confirmed the cancellation.
The cancellation comes a day after voting software company Smartmatic filed a $2.7 billion defamation suit against Fox News and three of its hosts — Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro. The company claims the hosts perpetuated lies and disinformation about Smartmatic’s role in the election, damaging its business and reputation.
Seventh news item:
McCarthy’s task was to keep an angry, fractious conference together in the face of growing animus toward two very different members — Reps. Liz Cheney and Marjorie Taylor Greene. McCarthy, according to people on Capitol Hill familiar with his thinking, went into the week with one goal: no blood. That meant not taking sides between the establishment and pro-Trump wings of the party. The challenge was to save both wings and keep them unified.
To achieve this, McCarthy did what many Republicans outside of the House conference had long criticized him for — not taking a firm enough stand on certain issues and allowing individual members to drive the conversation, even when they were espousing conspiracies and pushing the lie that the election was stolen from Donald Trump.
While some Republicans saw his hands-off approach as a sign of weakness, the style was aimed at keeping the conference intact, even if some of the Republicans’ dirty laundry had to be aired in public.
But by Friday, it was clear the Republican leader’s strategy had paid off. The GOP conference was unified and his own position inside it was secure.
“You elected me leader,” McCarthy told the conference at the end of their hours-long meeting Wednesday night. “Let me lead.”
Eighth news item
Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, which never received a cent from the former president, moved an estimated $2.8 million of donor money into the Trump Organization—including at least $81,000 since Trump lost the election.
In addition, one of the campaign’s joint-fundraising committees, which collects money in partnership with the Republican Party, shifted about $4.3 million of donor money into Trump’s business from January 20, 2017, to December 31, 2020—at least $331,000 of which came after the election.
The money covered the cost of rent, airfare, lodging and other expenses. All the payments are laid out in filings the campaign submitted to the Federal Election Commission. Representatives for the Trump Organization, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Ninth news item
Summers, the former Treasury secretary for Bill Clinton and top economic adviser to Barack Obama, puts down on paper what many liberal wonks have been whispering about for weeks: that President Joe Biden’s stimulus bill may be too big, that its overall cost could sacrifice other progressive priorities and that it could harm the economy next year, when Democrats will be defending narrow congressional majorities in the midterms.
For weeks the key economic talking point from the White House has been that the risk of going too small is worse than the risk of going too big. Now comes Summers who says … that might not be true. “[M]uch of the policy discussion has not fully reckoned with the magnitude of what is being debated,” he wrote.
Tenth news item
Leading Christie’s Modern British Art Evening Sale on 1 March 2021 will be led by Sir Winston Churchill’s Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque (1943, estimate: £1,500,000-2,500,000)…
The painting is the only work that Churchill created during the Second World War, executing the painting in Marrakech following the Casablanca Conference in January 1943. Churchill invited Franklin D. Roosevelt to join him in Marrakech the day after the conference concluded, motivated by his desire to share the views of the city and the light at sunset, which he so revered, with Roosevelt.
The view impressed Roosevelt so much that Churchill decided to capture the scene for him as a memento of their excursion. This act was seen not only as an indication of their friendship but of the special relationship between the UK and the USA.
Sir Winston Churchill began painting scenes of Morocco after being encouraged to visit the country by his painting tutor, Sir John Lavery. Upon his first visit in 1935, he felt that the light and scenery were unrivalled, creating some 45 paintings of the country. Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque stands out as the only painting created between 1939 and 1945, and the work is expected to realise one of the top prices for Sir Winston Churchill’s paintings at auction.
Have a good weekend!