Don’t be lulled. Last week’s peaceful U.S. presidential transition may engender a false sense of security, the Department of Homeland Security said yesterday. Without citing specific plots, it warned that “violent domestic extremists'' pose an imminent threat stoked by anger over the transition and grievances “fueled by false narratives.” The statement was a departure from Trump administration policy, which reportedly downplayed domestic terrorism. One former Trump administration homeland security official said such warnings were useful, as they elicit support from “the watchful public” to identify threats. Conservative critics, meanwhile, claimed that the new administration was aiming to “harass and investigate” political rivals.
In a continuing series of single-issue days for his new administration, President Joe Biden devoted Wednesday to climate change, calling it an “existential” issue and firing off executive orders to address it. That included pausing oil and gas leases on federal land, creating jobs in renewable energy and supporting minority communities disproportionately impacted by pollution. “This is no time for small measures,” said Biden, who campaigned heavily on the climate issue last year. His plans go much further even than those of former President Barack Obama, including involving the Department of Defense and naming a climate czar: former Secretary of State John Kerry.
Will they see through the haze? Investigators from the World Health Organization have completed their quarantine and can begin probing the origins of the pandemic in China, questioning researchers, medical professionals and even produce vendors from the Wuhan seafood market where COVID-19 is believed to have originated. But Chinese media has recently promoted unlikely theories that the disease started elsewhere, like Italy or the U.S., while the earliest known infections have been traced to China. It’s unclear how much access they’ll have to those who’d volunteer information, like the son of a COVID-19 fatality who believes authorities withheld information at the pandemic’s outset.
Is it bubble trouble? Wall Street’s titans worry that the latest investment trend may derail their profitable pandemic ride. WallStreetBets, a group of traders on Reddit, rallied members to buy up GameStop share, nearly ruined top hedge fund Melvin Capital yesterday by forcing it to buy more of those shares to cover its failed bet that the video game store chain’s stock would decline. Analysts worry that such wild retail-level trading may signal a market bubble in danger of popping. Many other stocks went down yesterday as economic worries lopped at least 2 percent off of major indexes, dragging today’s Asian trading similarly lower.
Hollywood legend James Brolin joins Carlos to drop wisdom on how to live life to the fullest at 80. Find out why the Amityville Horror star might have been a shampoo salesman in another life — and why he nearly stood up Barbra Streisand on the blind date that ultimately led to their long and happy marriage. Subscribe now.
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Just when you think you know someone. Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the Proud Boys leader who was arrested before the Capitol attack, was a federal informant, Reuters reports, citing a 2014 court transcript. In it, Tarrio’s own attorney and a prosecutor say he provided information that helped government cases involving human trafficking, gambling and illegal drugs. Tarrio denied the report, saying “I don’t recall any of this.” Meanwhile, QAnon conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is again embarrassing fellow Republicans, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy plans to speak to her about her past Facebook posts, including one suggesting Hillary Clinton removed and wore a child’s face.
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2. What the Capitol Riot Looked Like From Space
Looking at Earth from above, “you develop an instant global consciousness,” as one astronaut described it. It’s what The Overview Effect explained in 1987: Philosophical differences seem so trivial looking down on the planet, and Frank White, its author, has spent decades promoting that perspective. But the book languished and White gained little traction — until now, OZY reports. His vision is seen by figures such as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson as a counterbalance to the divisive “tribes effect,” which fosters conflict like the Capitol attack. For White, “we have a choice as to whether we’re going to work together” to keep spaceship Earth functioning.
It’s “useful for any number of ailments.” Unfortunately for Oklahoma taxpayers, COVID-19 isn’t one of the ailments hydroxychloroquine demonstrably works on. Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt didn’t want to miss out on the medical marvel being touted by then-President Donald Trump. So while the only other state to pay for the drug, Utah, canceled its order, Oklahoma bought 1.2 million pills that cost $2 million and is now trying to return them to a California distributor for a refund. While it’s unclear if the state will succeed, it’s tasked its attorney general’s office with working on the issue.
Known for her wacky sitcom characters, Leachman, who died Tuesday at age 94 from natural causes, proved she could do anything. The Iowa native won the 1972 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as a lonely housewife in the coming-of-age drama The Last Picture Show, and went on to set an unbeaten record of eight Primetime Emmys, mostly for comedies like The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1970s, and three decades later, Malcolm in the Middle. Mel Brooks, who directed Leachman in three films, remembered her as “insanely talented. She could make you laugh or cry at the drop of a hat.”
To some, it’s an apocalyptic sign: The first poem ever delivered at the Super Bowl, the festival of American aggression and pop culture. But Gorman, a 2017 OZY Genius Award winner, penned her way into the U.S. psyche with “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, inspiring her nation to bridge its violent fault lines. The National Youth Poet Laureate will deliver another original work, honoring a teacher, an ICU nurse and a Marine veteran, which the NFL named as honorary game captains at the big game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Feb. 7.