Can they clean house? Federal prosecutors yesterday announced conspiracy charges against two members of the far-right Proud Boys who were among more than 170 others facing relatively minor offenses in the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol attack. Meanwhile, House Democrats want to expel Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon conspiracy believer whose social media posts since 2018 have encouraged violent threats against officials, including declaring that “freedoms” can only be reclaimed “with the price of blood.” While a spokesperson for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the messaging “deeply disturbing,” the California Republican has yet to take any action against Greene.
Since President Joe Biden’s inauguration — and the shuttering of @realDonaldTrump on Twitter — former President Donald Trump has been noticeably quiet, while even many of his fellow Republicans spoke and voted against him for encouraging the mob that stormed the Capitol. But that phase appears to be over, now that only five Republican senators voted to advance Trump’s impeachment trial, indicating insufficient support for a conviction. He’s held court with the top House GOP leader and indicated he’s going to campaign in 2022 elections. So short of his private legal entanglements, there’s little to stop him from re-entering public life as Republicans’ guiding light.
Business is business. That seems to be the prevailing international attitude toward the increasing impunity with which China wipes out democratic guarantees in Hong Kong and reportedly does much worse to Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in its Xinjiang region. But the European Union has inked a trade pact with Beijing, waiving off the concerns of America’s new president, notes journalist Matthew Karnitschnig. And even overwhelmingly Muslim Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, is looking the other way as China invests its way into Islamabad’s heart. In both cases, economics has overridden conscience, and while that’s worked for Switzerland, it may be difficult for much larger entities to pull off.
4. Trader Who Upended Markets ‘Didn’t Expect This’
He’s the Che Guevara of capitalism. Keith Gill, who has some training in analyzing markets, touts his stock picks on Reddit and YouTube from his basement while his toddler is sleeping. The 34-year-old told the Wall Street Journal that the saga of small-time investors bringing massive short-selling hedge funds to their knees is “so much bigger than me.” As stocks in New York dropped again Friday, he explained that he really believed GameSpot was undervalued when he bought in at $5 a share. This month, thousands of individual investors followed Gill, who now has $20 million in his investment account, to riches as the stock traded above $300 a share yesterday.
Three Trump-appointed federal appeals court judges have lifted a lower court ban on sending unaccompanied children back across the southern U.S. border, but it’s unclear if the new administration will continue the practice. Chicago’s teachers’ union is negotiating on the resumption of in-person classes, which teachers have resisted amid rampant COVID-19 infections. And Johnson & Johnson has reported that its vaccine, while nearly 90 percent effective elsewhere, was only 49 percent effective in South Africa against its new coronavirus variant.
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It’s different this time. Many longtime Kremlin observers say Vladimir Putin has changed his attitude after the latest arrest of his chief rival, Alexei Navalny, and subsequent protests last weekend, writes Russia analyst Vadim Nikitin. Instead of dismissing Navalny as inconsequential, Putin actually made a point of denying ownership of a posh palace that Navalny, in a viral documentary, claims was financed with embezzled state funds. The video has had a curious effect, with protesters last Saturday waving toilet brushes at police, referencing the palace’s alleged $850 bathroom implements that are likely to reappear to mock the president at today’s rallies.
They call them pandejos, the Spanish version of “covidiot.” Spread across California, these largely white conservatives have loudly shrugged off pandemic precautions, but the victims are overwhelmingly Latino, writes columnist Gustavo Arellano. Because they fill the ranks of front-line workers and because they live with extended families, Latinos are particularly vulnerable to contagion, which has hit California worse than any other state this time around. While they make up 39 percent of Californians, Latinos suffer 55 percent of infections. And the pandejos spread just enough disinformation to make this vulnerable community uncertain, so even administering vaccines promises to be an uphill battle.
In this age of storm and stress in the restaurant industry, Ashleigh Shanti isn’t waiting for things to get better. Armed with an 1860s cookbook, the Ashville, North Carolina, chef is cooking up stewed beans, greens, rice and okra the way her Appalachian mother and grandmother did, OZY reports. And she’s bringing the original Southern cuisine to the table for patrons hungry for what Shanti calls “Afro-lachian.” She’s captured the imagination of restaurateurs and Asheville’s top food writer, but a seat at the table doesn’t interest her anymore: By taking on toxic kitchen culture and cultural appropriation, Shanti says, “I have this urge to knock over the table.”
4. Why Fauci Thought a 12-Month Vaccine Was Possible
Barney Graham was a big reason. Dr. Anthony Fauci said last winter that a coronavirus vaccine could be developed in 12 to 18 months. Few experts believed him. But Graham, who had spent decades working on a way to quickly develop a vaccine for a new virus, decided to begin working on the novel coronavirus spreading in Wuhan before anyone expected it to become a pandemic. For him, it was an experiment: He and his team designed the vaccine on their laptops the day after they got the virus’ genetic code: Jan. 11, 2020 — eight days before the first reported U.S. case.
5. Could Sniffer Dogs Get Fans Into Stadiums Again?
They’ve done it before. After 9/11, when America was consumed with fear of the next terror attack, dogs sniffed people entering sports stadiums for traces of explosives. Now research out of Germany, France and Lebanon indicates that trained dogs can sometimes detect secretions of volatile organic compounds from people infected with COVID-19. The accuracy of some dogs was better than that of commonly used virus tests. While that doesn’t mean a team of sniffers will be trained in time to screen the 22,000 people attending the Super Bowl on Feb. 7, it could provide some hope of effective protocols to control contagion at future live events.
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