Following the riot at the U.S. Capitol, security has ballooned on Capitol Hill in preparation for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and to quell and prevent any repeat violence from pro-Trump activists or other radicals seeking to cause chaos.
Authorities initially activated a few thousand unarmed National Guard troops for security, noting that they were serving at the Capitol in a support role. But that changed this week.
Since the Jan. 6 riot, government officials have become increasingly concerned over security in the days leading up to Inauguration Day — both in the District of Columbia and at capitols in all 50 states — as the FBI has warned of threats of violence across the nation.
In response to the credible threats of violence, federal officials ordered 20,000 National Guard troops to the nation’s capital, according to U.S. News & World Report.
On Tuesday, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy authorized the thousands of troops providing security in the area around the Capitol to use lethal force, New York Times reported.
“On January 12, 2021, National Guardsmen were given authorization to be armed in support of the U.S. Capitol Police to protect the U.S. Capitol and individual members of Congress and their staff,” D.C. National Guard said in a statement cited by U.S. News & World Report.
“Guardsmen are trained in the use of lethal and less-than-lethal force, de-escalation techniques, as well as the use of protective equipment. This is standard for civil disturbance response missions,” the statement continued. “The National Guard is proud to support the Secret Service, U.S. Capitol Police and Park Police who are leading the security efforts during the events for the 59th Presidential Inauguration.”
The move was “requested by federal authorities and authorized by the Secretary of the Army,” Military.com reported. The National Guard Bureau did not specify what weapons the troops would be carrying.
McCarthy made his decision after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “demanded that the Pentagon take a more muscular posture after a mob, egged on by President Trump last week, breached the Capitol,” the Times said.
According the the Times, Defense Department officials are worried about protests planned for Inauguration Day, saying that 16 groups have registered to stage protests, most of them “hard-line supporters” of President Donald Trump. And some of the groups have stated they will be armed, despite the fact that firearms are illegal in the district.
As countries race to get vaccinations into the arms of their people, one country is dominating the rest of the field: Israel.
According to data collected by Our World in Data, Israel has administered the COVID vaccine at a per capita rate of nearly 25 per 100 people. This equates to just over 23% of the population having received at least one vaccine dose.
Leading the world
Americans have watched in horror as many state governments have mishandled the administration of the COVID vaccine. Most notably, New York, thanks to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s disastrous rollout plan, saw health care facilities forced to throw out expired doses.
But Israel has somehow avoided such disasters and is making even the most successful states in the U.S. look like failures by comparison.
And they’re leaving the rest of the world in the dust.
In less than a month, the country has vaccinated nearly a quarter of its population. It has been delivering shots to nearly 150,000 people every day, Vox reported, and though the nation created a priority list, it made it a practice from the beginning to make sure doses did not go to waste. In fact, the nation was so successful that the worry was about running out of doses, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration made a deal with Pfizer.
Over the past few weeks, the country delivered shots to about 150,000 people per day. Priority went to people over 60 and health workers; however, in an attempt to avoid wasting any shots that might spoil, other Israelis got the vaccine if they happened to know the right clinic or happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Israel’s rapid campaign worked almost too well: The country soon began running low on doses, which threatened to slow the pace of new vaccinations. Israel also committed to reserving a second dose for everyone who received the first. Follow-up appointments are scheduled for 21 days after the first jab, often to the exact day, sometimes the hour.
But on January 7, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the country had reached an agreement with Pfizer to deliver more vaccines, with the goal of inoculating all citizens over the age of 16 by the end of March. With more than 70 percent of people over 60 already vaccinated, Netanyahu said Sunday that the campaign would soon expand to include all people 50 and older, and strive for 170,000 inoculations each day.
Israel got the Pfizer deal by agreeing to share with the company and the World Health Organization the age, gender, and medical history of everyone getting the vaccination, as well as how well the vaccinations work and any side effects, Politico reported.
So how is the rest of the world doing? Well, not great.
Coming in second place, with a per 100 rate of 15.45, is the United Arab Emirates. Third is Bahrain at 6.44. And it only gets worse from there.
And there’s a lot of work yet to go as a percentage of the population for every nation — even Israel.
Remember Hollywood megastar Tom Cruise’s expletive-laden rant against workers reportedly violating COVID-19 protocols on the set of his “Mission: Impossible 7” movie last month — the one where he screamed about how the “motherf***ers” who violated on-set pandemic policies would be fired if they ever did it again?
A refresher: “They’re back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us! Because they believe in us and what we’re doing! And I’m on the phone with every f***ing studio at night, insurance companies, producers, and they’re looking at us and using us to make their movies!” he screamed in December. “We are creating thousands of jobs you motherf***ers!”
It’s the rant he followed up with a second foul-mouthed shaming when his first diatribe made international headlines and was splashed on tabloid covers.
Well, it turns out he was super serious about making sure everyone follows every protocol put into place and has reportedly gone beyond just threatening that if he happens to see violators, they’re “f***ing gone”
Since he can’t be everywhere at once to police each employee’s’ every move, he has purchased robots to be his eyes and ears to keep an eye on scofflaws, the U.K.’s Sun reported Wednesday.
According to the Sun’s entertainment guru, Simon Boyle, sources revealed that Cruise paid big bucks for two robots to patrol the movie set in England and make sure workers are following COVID-19 directives.
“Tom is so serious about making sure the shoot isn’t shut down that he’s splashed out on these robots as he can’t be everywhere to ensure people are behaving themselves,” a source said.
The source told Boyle that the robots can also administer “on-the-spot” COVID-19 tests to workers.
“The robots are really sophisticated and rather intimidating. It’s like the Terminator only not as violent.”
Noting that the rant was probably over the top, the source admitted that Cruise was right on principle and that many observers sympathized with the star.
“He gets paid a lot for these films but he also knows that he is lucky to be working and staff on the film from top to bottom rely on this film going ahead,” the person added. “You don’t have to go far to see how just how much the pandemic has affected jobs.”
Cruise’s seemingly unhinged behavior during his multiple rants reportedly led at least five “Mission: Impossible” staffers to quit the movie.
We have all heard horror stories of unruly airline passengers making life miserable for hundreds of fellow passengers.
Flyers will fight with each other or with airline staff. And things have reportedly gotten much worse with the airlines’ adoption of mask mandates and the recent riot at the U.S. Capitol.
In response to increasing unruliness among passengers, the Federal Aviation Administration issued an order this week designed to crack down on travelers’ bad behavior.
What’s the deal with the new FAA order?
The new order signed by FAA chief Stephen Dickson on Wednesday empowers airlines to implement a no-nonsense, “stricter legal enforcement policy against unruly airline passengers,” the agency said in a statement.
According to the FAA, the airline industry “has seen a disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior.” The agency said the incidents partly stemmed from customers’ refusal to wear face masks during the pandemic and from the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol.
For example, air travel news site GateChecked.com reported that “almost 3,000 passengers have been put on temporary no-fly lists as a result of failing to wear masks on board. Tensions have risen due to the Capitol Hill riot, even resulting in an American Airlines pilot ‘threatening’ to dump passengers in Kansas if they don’t ‘behave.'”
The new policy scraps the warnings and counseling the agency has historically used to deal with unruly passengers. The FAA will now “pursue legal enforcement action” against anyone who gets out of line. Actions include massive fines and possible jail time.
“Passengers who interfere with, physically assault, or threaten to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft face stiff penalties, including fines of up to $35,000 and imprisonment,” the FAA statement said. “This dangerous behavior can distract, disrupt, and threaten crewmembers’ safety functions.”
The agency highlighted that, though it does not have the power to criminally charge passengers, it “works closely with federal law enforcement and national security partners on any reported security threats that may impact aviation safety.”
Dickson told CNBC on Thursday that the “zero-tolerance” policy was prompted by a surprising increase in the number of disruptions.
“This is about flight safety,” he said. “Any time we see a trend like this, we need to take action, because traveling on a commercial airline in the United States is the safest form of travel in human history. And I want to make sure it stays that way.”
Dickson admitted that in the past the FAA would adjudicate many of the unruly passenger situations with counseling or warnings, but he said that “with this order … I’m telling my inspectors, I’m telling my attorneys in the FAA chief counsel office that we need to expedite gathering the facts on all of these, and we’re going to take immediate enforcement action in appropriate situations.”
“That’s what we mean by a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy,” he said.
Folks in the airline industry heaped praise on the FAA’s move.
Airlines for America, the trade organization for airlines in the U.S., said in a tweet, “The safety and security of passengers and employees is the top priority of the U.S. airline industry, and we welcome the @FAANews’ order to implement a more stringent policy regarding unruly passenger behavior.”
The safety and security of passengers and employees is the top priority of the U.S. airline industry, and we welcom… https://t.co/6rB3hBVlsU
“First strike and you’re out,” Sara Nelson, the head of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said, ABC News reported. “We applaud FAA Administrator Dickson for taking this clear stand for our safety and security. This will help serve as a deterrent to unruly passengers who had been bucking the rules of aviation safety. We continue to work with our airlines, the FAA, the TSA and law enforcement to keep our skies safe.”
The new FAA order will be in place until March 30.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 29.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed across the states and territories. Only about one-third (10.3 million) of those doses have been administered. And most of those doses were given to health care workers and the staff and residents of long-term-care facilities, Fortune noted.
With only about 3% of U.S. population having received the vaccine so far, how are the individual states doing?
West Virginia is leading the way, significantly out-pacing other states with 6,177 doses administered per 100,000 residents as of Wednesday. It’s followed by South Dakota (5,732 per 100K), North Dakota (5,344), Alaska (5,287), and Vermont (4,739).
The four of the bottom five are Southern states, with Alabama coming in with the worst record so far on per capita vaccinations. The Yellowhammer State has administered 1,714 doses per 100,000 residents, according to the most recent CDC data. It is followed by Georgia (1,872 per 100K), South Carolina (1,940), Nevada (2,002), and Mississippi (2,059).
Below are the 10 states doing the best and the 10 states doing the worst — so far — on per capita vaccinations, based on CDC data accessed Wednesday, Jan. 13.
10 states with greatest share of population vaccinated so far
No. 1: West Virginia
? Rate per 100,000: 6,177
No. 2: South Dakota
? Rate per 100,000: 5,732
No. 3: North Dakota
? Rate per 100,000: 5,344
No. 4: Alaska
? Rate per 100,000: 5,287
No. 5: Vermont
? Rate per 100,000: 4,739
No. 6: Connecticut
? Rate per 100,000: 4,540
No. 7: Oklahoma
? Rate per 100,000: 4,357
No. 8: Maine
? Rate per 100,000: 4,259
No. 9: Colorado
? Rate per 100,000: 4,162
No. 10: Montana
? Rate per 100,000: 4,123
10 states with smallest share of population vaccinated so far
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives filed a single article of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday in the aftermath of the riot at the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday.
The impeachment article, “Incitement of Insurrection,” charges the president with inciting a mob of supporters to carry out a violent attack against Congress in an effort to stop the certification of the Electoral College vote that would officially make Joe Biden president-elect.
“Incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts,” the impeachment article states.
Naturally, House Democrats are on board with impeaching President Trump, but they’re not alone. Multiple House Republicans have said that they, too, will vote in support of impeachment.
Debate on the article of impeachment will happen during Wednesday’s session, with a vote expected Wednesday afternoon or evening. You can watch the proceedings live below:
U.S. House: Debate on Impeachment Resolution Against President Trump
In a scathing editorial posted Monday night, the New York Post editorial board demanded that teachers get back in the classrooms for in-person learning and unions get out of the way now that New York City is vaccinating teachers against COVID.
New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced over the weekend that teachers and education workers are being prioritized for vaccinations and urged all education employees to make appointments to get their shots.
We’re relieved that teachers & education workers are starting to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination like fellow N… https://t.co/ko23WkwyS6
— Chancellor Richard A. Carranza (@Chancellor Richard A. Carranza)1610317062.0
With that news, many advocates, parents, and members of the media began to call for all Big Apple schools to be fully reopened instead of the part-time and/or hybrid schedules the city elected to employ last fall.
The piece began by going after the teachers’ unions that have stood in the way of a return to full-time in-person instruction:
Good news: New York City began vaccinating teachers against COVID-19 on Monday. That leaves the teachers’ union no excuse for continuing to oppose in-person learning: Classrooms at all grade levels must reopen so our kids can get the education they’re entitled to — but have lost out on for nearly a year.
The United Federation of Teachers has long stood in the way of getting back into classrooms daily, despite the fact that experts repeatedly stated that kids are a very low-risk population for catching or transmitting the coronavirus. But, in the words of the Post, the union “doesn’t care about the science — or the students.”
The UFT, the paper said, threatened lawsuits and strikes to avoid getting back into the classrooms before the school year started. The union agreed to go back to work only after Mayor Bill de Blasio was forced to offer new concessions. But the UFT wasn’t done there, the editorial noted; it has repeatedly tried to get schools closed and to avoid any reopenings — even some “more radical factions” demanded that all Gotham schools remain closed “until the whole city is basically virus-free.”
The need to get back into the schools is obvious to the Post’s editorial board:
Middle- and high-school students haven’t seen the inside of a classroom since the city shut schools on Nov. 19. Though even that was only part-time. Pre-kindergarten and elementary students resumed a “hybrid” learning last month, while special-needs kids returned to classrooms full-time. Kudos to de Blasio for getting that much done; children needing special ed are particularly ill-served by remote classes.
But all kids need to go back, full-time. “Without in-person instruction, schools risk children falling behind academically and exacerbating educational inequities,” warned a National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine report last year. Nathaniel Beers, coauthor of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ report, explained that all children suffer under remote learning, even teens: “Adolescence is a period of time in life when you are to be exploring your own sense of self and developing your identity,” he said. “It’s difficult to do that if you are at home with your parents all the time.”
It’s far past time, the paper said, for students to get back into the classroom — and with vaccines in the arms of teachers, there’s no longer any reason not to.
“New York’s children have lost nearly a year of education,” the Post said. “It’s long past time they get to learn in a classroom again.”
California’s Bay Area has had its share of COVID shutdown woes and controversies — and the hits just keep on coming. Now the region’s residents will be under an indefinite stay-at-home lockdown order.
What is happening?
No one will forget Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s hypocritical decision to dine at a Napa wine country restaurant in the northern part of the Bay Area while businesses in his state were suffering due to coronavirus restrictions and families were being told not to gather for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
And the day after Newsom pulled his stunt, San Francisco’s own Democratic Mayor London Breed was caught dining in the same restaurant despite having previously admonished her subjects to curtail their activities and “do their part” to stop the spread of the virus.
Two weeks after those left-wing politicos were caught betraying their own instructions to Californians, the Golden State announced it would be locking down again with new regional stay-at-home orders.
The new lockdown orders forced more people to stay at home, business owners to close their shops, and sports — even without crowds — to be canceled or moved. The San Francisco 49ers were forced to play the remainder of their home games in Arizona because Santa Clara County, in an effort to try to meet state standards under the lockdown mandates, banned all contact sports.
Now things are getting worse for folks in the Bay Area: State officials announced over the weekend that the region’s COVID lockdown orders have been extended indefinitely, KNTV-TV reported.
With a continuing surge in cases, state public health officials declared citizens must stay home except for work, shopping, or other activities deemed essential until the region’s projected four-week ICU bed capacity is at least 15%.
The Bay Area’s most recent four-week ICU projection is 3%, according to the Contra Costa Herald. The region’s current actual ICU availability is just 0.7%, the state’s COVID tracking page said.
The region’s counties currently have wildly varying ICU capacity — but they’re all in under the same lockdown order.
In Sonoma County, KNTV said, ICU capacity is 27.6%. Interestingly, the county is experiencing almost double the rate of cases than before the stay-at-home order was first implemented.
But the ICU situation in Santa Clara County is a different story. The ICU capacity is at just 6%.
Leaders in both counties are seeking ways to both “slow the spread” and get their economies rolling again.
“Sonoma County residents and businesses have endured so much over the past year, and I know that everyone is anxiously awaiting the time when we can finally return to a sense of normalcy and safely reopen our economy,” Lynda Hopkins, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, told KNTV. “While we are hopeful that the vaccine will soon provide the means to end this pandemic, the virus is still raging through our community. We are asking everyone for a little more patience while we slow the spread and work through our vaccine distribution plan.”
Officials from Santa Clara County told the outlet, “With the current surge of COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations, the County expects to be under the restrictions of this State order for some time. Tt is more critical than ever to stay at home, wear a mask if you must leave home for essential activities, and keep a distance from those outside your households.”
Inauguration Day is usually one where hundreds of thousands of people from both parties pack the National Mall to celebrate the swearing in of the president. It’s marked by celebrations, parades, concerts, and other events.
But not this year.
President-elect Joe Biden and his team already announced the event would be scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Now the mayor of Washington, D.C., is looking to make it even smaller by asking everybody to stay put and avoid the capital city, and she is calling for a massive increase in the already significant federal security presence.
What did she say?
At a news conference Monday, Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser urged Americans to stay away from the Jan. 20 Inauguration.
The mayor said she was worried about a repeat of what the world saw at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday because, she said, “Trumpism won’t die on Jan. 20.”
“If I’m scared of anything, it’s for our democracy,” Bowser said, “because we have very extreme factions in our country that are armed and dangerous.”
Her statement echoed what she told CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday:
I think what we have seen is real domestic terrorism in our nation’s capital, and that’s what we need to call it. Who we saw charging the Capitol building were trained people in many cases — former military, former law enforcement. I think we may find other trained people, trained at marching and surging and sieging buildings. So we have to take it seriously. We, too, have to take seriously how we’re spreading our resources. That’s why we’re very focused on making sure that the federal government is providing enough coverage for federal facilities, including the Capitol, but many federal buildings across the district so that other law enforcement, our law enforcement can focus on other threats across the district’s eight wards.
With that mindset, the mayor declared, “Our goals right now are to encourage Americans to participate virtually and to protect the District of Columbia from a repeat of the violent insurrection experienced at the Capitol and its grounds.”
Bowser also asked the Department of Homeland Security extend the span of time and perimeter for the Inauguration’s “national special security event” designation and told CBS News that she want the president to “declare a pre-emergency declaration” for the district that will allow for greater federal coordination.
CNN reported that the Pentagon is considering boosting the number of guardsman in the city to 13,000 for the Inauguration, up from about 7,000 that were planned before Wednesday’s riots.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser: “We will get through this” but “Trumpism won’t die”
Following the riots at the U.S. Capitol last week, activists put extreme pressure on social media companies to ban President Donald Trump — and some of his supporters — from their platforms.
Big Tech acquiesced, and by Friday night, Twitter had permanently banned Trump, Facebook and Instagram suspended him indefinitely, and Snapchat disabled his account. Shopify and Twitch both suspended and banned any accounts even related to President Trump. PayPal, Discord, Tiktok, YouTube, Pinterest, Google, and Apple have taken actions against Trump, his supporters, and any activities or content related to the president.
Naturally, the president has received support from well-known figures on the right — regardless of whether they were on board with his claims of massive election fraud that led to Wednesday’s protests and riots — who denounced Big Tech’s efforts to silence the president.
Now the president is getting backing from a couple of unexpected places across the pond: Germany and France.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday through chief spokesman Steffen Seibert that Twitter’s Trump ban is a problem and that corporations should not be messing with free speech, Fortune reported.
“The chancellor sees the complete closing down of the account of an elected president as problematic,” Seibert said, according to Fortune, adding that the freedom of speech “can be interfered with, but by law and within the framework defined by the legislature — not according to a corporate decision.”
Seibert added that Merkel believes the U.S. should pass regulations to restrict online incitement rather than just leaving it up to Big Tech, the Financial Times reported. He went on to say that speech should be restricted by government, not “the management of social media platforms,” highlighting a difference between the U.S. approach to policing internet platforms and how the E.U. approaches the issue, as the Financial Times pointed out:
But Ms Merkel said through her spokesman that the US government should follow Germany’s lead in adopting laws that restrict online incitement, rather than leaving it up to platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to make up their own rules.
The intervention highlights a key area of disagreement between the US and Europe on how to regulate social media platforms. The EU wants to give regulators more powers to force Internet platforms such as Facebook or Twitter to remove illegal content.
In the US, technology companies have traditionally been left to themselves to police their own sites, though momentum is gathering behind political moves to curtail their regulatory freedoms. Several members of Congress are working on bills which would limit the legal protections social media companies have from being sued for third party content posted on their sites.
France Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire echoed Merkel’s criticism of Big Tech’s anti-speech moves. Le Maire told France Inter, the Financial Times said, that he was “shocked” by Twitter’s move.
“Digital regulation should not be done by the digital oligarchy itself,” he said, according to a translation provided by the Financial Times, adding,?”Regulation of the digital arena is a matter for the sovereign people, governments and the judiciary.”
There were ongoing questions since even before the election about whether President Trump would attend the Jan. 20, 2021, inauguration of his successor should he lose his re-election bid. That question is now answered.
And it comes at a time when the nation is still reeling from Wednesday’s protests and riots on Capitol Hill that went down as a joint session of Congress was meeting to count and debate the final Electoral College vote.
Critics of the president went after him for, they claimed, not taking a strong enough stance against the violence that was happening within the halls of Congress by reported Trump supporters despite tweets he sent calling for peace while also repeating his accusations of election fraud.
Shortly after the riots were quelled, Congress resumed its Electoral College duties and affirmed the certification of Joe Biden as president-elect.
Following Congress’ vote, President Trump issued a statement agreeing to an “orderly transition” of power.
Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th. I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!
On Thursday, the president issued a forceful denunciation of the conduct of the rioters and called for them to be prosecuted.
I would like to begin by addressing the heinous attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Like all Americans I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem. I immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders. America is and must always be a nation of law and order. The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy.
To those who engaged in the acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law, you will pay. …
Now Congress has certified the results. A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.
President Trump concedes, condemns supporters who rioted
The Capitol Police officer who shot and killed a pro-Trump rioter at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon has been suspended.
Newsweek reported that the Capitol Police chief announced Thursday that the cop had been placed on administrative leave.
During the riot at the Capitol when supporters of President Donald Trump broke into the halls of Congress, raided lawmakers’ offices, and took over the chambers of both houses, a Capitol Police officer fatally shot Ashli Babbitt as she attempted to crawl through a broken window near the Speaker’s Lobby on the House side of the Capitol.
According to Babbitt’s husband, she was “a strong supporter of President Trump and was a great patriot to all who knew her.”
In a statement from Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund posted to the agency’s website Thursday, the officer “has been placed on administrative leave and their police powers have been suspended” per Capitol Police policy. According to Sund, the unnamed officer’s suspension will last until a joint investigation by the D.C. Metro Police and the Capitol Police can be conducted.
In his statement, Chief Sund praised his officers’ efforts in the midst of the violent riots:
United States Capitol Police (USCP) officers and our law enforcement partners responded valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions as they stormed the United States Capitol Building. These individuals actively attacked United States Capitol Police Officers and other uniformed law enforcement officers with metal pipes, discharged chemical irritants, and took up other weapons against our officers. They were determined to enter into the Capitol Building by causing great damage.
As protesters were forcing their way toward the House Chamber where Members of Congress were sheltering in place, a sworn USCP employee discharged their service weapon, striking an adult female. Medical assistance was rendered immediately, and the female was transported to the hospital where she later succumbed to her injuries.
Sund went on to lament what he saw Wednesday, calling it something he’d never seen before in his 30 years as a D.C. cop and vowing to review the Capitol Police’s security planning:
Maintaining public safety in an open environment – specifically for First Amendment activities – has long been a challenge. The USCP had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities. But make no mistake – these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior. The actions of the USCP officers were heroic given the situation they faced, and I continue to have tremendous respect in the professionalism and dedication of the women and men of the United States Capitol Police.
The USCP is conducting a thorough review of this incident, security planning and policies and procedures.
KUSI News confirms identity of woman shot and killed inside US Capitol
The city of Manhattan Beach, California, is really worried about a recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
In fact, city fathers are so worried that they have issued a new edict for their subjects: No sitting on public property.
That’s right: Residents will no longer be permitted to use the city’s seating on publicly owned lands — the officials had all of the seats removed this weekend, the New York Post reported Sunday night.
What are they doing?
The coastal city, located about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles and inside L.A. County, saw its number of confirmed COVID-19 cases nearly double over the last two months.
According to the Manhattan Beach Twitter feed, the city had 425 cases on Nov. 1. As of last Saturday, the city had 821 cases. And the daily number of new cases set record highs on Dec. 31 (21 cases) and Jan. 1 (26 cases).
So city officials decided it was time to take action. That action came in the form of a sitting ban.
Image source: Twitter/Manhattan Beach City
As of 10 p.m. Sunday night, all outdoor seating on public property was closed to the public. The tables and chairs were removed until further notice.
Image source: Twitter/Manhattan Beach City
Mayor Suzanne Hadley said in the tweeted statement from the city, that people should stay home — except to go to work, pick up “essentials,” or exercise.
There was no word from the city on where people outside exercising might sit and rest if they need a break.
But officials who have helped cripple local businesses with their restrictions were quick to encourage citizens — whom they simultaneously told to stay home — to go out and support “our local businesses that are offering pick-up, curbside, take-out, and delivery services.”
More from the mayor:
We must continue to respond to the ever-changing dynamics of this pandemic. We are asking residents to stay home if possible, and mainly go out for work and essentials, or to exercise outdoors.
This recent spike in the virus is significant, despite the good news last month of our Manhattan Beach firefighters receiving some of the first COVID-19 vaccinations. Although public seating areas will be closed temporarily, please continue supporting our local businesses that offer pick-up, curbside, take-out, and delivery services.
Image source: Twitter/Manhattan Beach City
As the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to rise in MB and across the County, the City is closing outdoor seat… https://t.co/uK7MMY7oBL
A disturbing video posted Tuesday night shows a gang of bicyclists attacking a BMW in Manhattan in broad daylight and terrorizing the man and woman who were inside the vehicle.
One police officer noted that the attack was just another example of how far the city has fallen recently under current elected leadership.
The recorded attack happened around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the intersection of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue and 21st Street, the New York Post reported.
The video was posted to Instagram by Breaking911. The outlet’s post said the BMW bore “physician plates” and that the male driver was trying to take his mother to see Christmas lights around Manhattan when the pack of thugs launched their attack unprovoked.
“WELCOME TO DE BLASIO’S #NYC,” Breaking911 wrote, referring to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Gang of thugs vandalize BMW with physician plates as a son was reportedly taking his elderly mother to see Christmas lights in Manhattan. Bystanders say the driver did nothing to provoke the attack. The elderly woman was crying & scared for her life.”
The attackers can be seen trying to get into the BMW, doing body slams on the hood of the car, and beating the vehicle with their bikes.
Image source: Instragram/breaking911 video screenshot
Then one of the thugs gets a running start, launches himself off the hood of the car, and comes down with both feet slamming into the car’s windshield, shattering and caving it in.
Image source: Instragram/breaking911 video screenshot
Image source: Instragram/breaking911 video screenshot
All the while, the perpetrators were being cheered on by their peers.
An unnamed Manhattan cop didn’t mince words in his description of the attack to the Post — and what the crime symbolizes for the Big Apple.
“This was an animalistic attack in broad daylight,” the officer told the Post.
After noting that the pair in the car were clearly scared for their lives, the cop added, “It shows how far the city has deteriorated and the politicians better get their heads out of the sand and start to deal with these problems before there is nothing left.”
A source told the Post that the same group of thugs attacked a taxi not long after this incident was caught on video.
It remains unclear if any arrests have been made in connection to the attack, the Post said.
Last weekend, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) went after Dr. Anthony Fauci for knowingly misleading the American public about the herd immunity threshold for the coronavirus.
The senator ripped Fauci’s statements on face masks and herd immunity following an interview the doctor gave to the New York Times in which he admitted that he purposely misled Americans on just how many people would need to get the vaccination in order for the nation to reach herd immunity.
In a new op-ed posted at Fox News on Wednesday, Rubio went after Fauci again, this time detailing just what he found “appalling” about Fauci’s history of misleading the public with the intent to “manipulate their behavior.”
Rubio began by noting that most of the media have ignored Fauci’s admission to the Times, and he then laid out just what the doctor admitted to:
The story is straightforward. For most of this year, Dr. Fauci and other scientists in our public health establishment have been telling Americans that about 60 to 70 percent of the nation would need a vaccine in order for us to reach herd immunity and make the coronavirus a non-issue.
But, speaking with The New York Times, Dr. Fauci admitted that he believes the real number is in fact significantly higher — perhaps 75 to 90 percent — and he declined to be forthright because he felt the country wasn’t ready to hear it. Only now did he say that he feels he has the freedom to “nudge this up a bit” without discouraging the nation.
Though highly critical of Fauci’s actions, the Florida senator did acknowledge that he believed the medical expert’s intentions were good. But that didn’t change the basic fact about what Fauci was guilty of: “lying to the American people in order to manipulate their behavior.”
This is not how the government should operate, Rubio went on. The American people should be trusted with the truth and allowed to make decisions “for themselves armed with facts honestly presented by public officials.”
The trouble with having unelected people like Dr. Fauci taking it upon themselves to purposely mislead the public in order to impact community behavior is that there is no accountability, Rubio said:
The American people deserve the truth; they also deserve accountability. When elected representatives make decisions, they can be held responsible by the public. But when public health officials with decades of experience and leadership within our nation’s institutions short-circuit the political process and make these decisions themselves, they deny the American people that same opportunity — and to change course if desired.
After all, accountability is a central tenet of representative government. It’s the best way to ensure that the vision of what is being enforced by decision-makers matches the values of the population who have elected them.
When it’s time for tough decisions to be made as a community, “elected officials at every level of government must lead,” Rubio added, not “unelected technocrats.”
As evidence that such technocrats do not always make the best calls for public policy, nor do they have the only legitimate interpretation of facts, the senator pointed out Fauci’s and other experts’ history of recommendations on mask-wearing:
As the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear, things are never so clear-cut. For example, early on in the pandemic, there was a question of whether wearing a mask could be an effective tool to stop the spread.
In March, Dr. Fauci said “there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask” and cautioned that “there are unintended consequences” with wearing them. That guidance was confounding at the time, and it quickly became politicized.
But some of the first people to make decisions not based on science were the scientists who, as Dr. Fauci admitted this past June, initially decided not to recommend masks to the general public because they were supposedly “concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply.”
Rubio advised that, though Americans should still generally follow health guidelines, they should not place “blind faith in unelected celebrity scientists” and should “call them out” when they overstep their authority.
The senator closed by reiterating his disgust with Fauci’s admitted lies.
“I am appalled by his arrogance,” Rubio said. “If he wants to lead the nation, he should run for office.”
In the same year that President Donald Trump was impeached, received massive criticism from the media for his handling of of the coronavirus pandemic, and lost a presidential election, Gallup’s annual poll of Americans’ most admired men, which was published Tuesday, found the outgoing commander in chief atop the list.
Not even ever-popular former President Barack Obama, President-elect Joe Biden, the media’s sainted Dr. Anthony Fauci, or the pope could beat him.
And Trump won handily.
What were the results?
Every year for the last 74 years, Gallup has asked Americans to name — without prompting — which man living anywhere on the planet they most admire.
Since 1946, the president has been the top vote-getter 60 times in Gallup’s annual survey. But that has not been the case for most of President Trump’s term.
In 2017 and 2018, Trump came in second place to Obama. And last year, he tied Obama for the top spot.
This year — which has actually been a tough one for the president — Trump sits alone at the top of the list, beating Obama by three points, 18% to 15%.
The third-place finisher was Trump’s 2020 election opponent, but Biden was not even close to getting the numbers Trump received. In fact, at 6%, he got only one-third the number of votes in the survey that the president did.
Dr. Fauci, the man who has been the face of America’s response to the coronavirus — right or wrong — and a beloved figure among members of the mainstream media, came in a very distant fourth, with just 3% of Americans naming him as their most admired man.
In fifth place was Pope Francis. The man who has upset many Catholics — as well as a lot of Protestants — with his various statements that seem to run counter to traditional church teachings received 2% of the vote.
Gallup broke the results down by party:
? Forty-eight percent of Republicans name Trump this year, with no other public figure receiving more than 2% of Republicans’ votes.
? Obama is the top choice among Democrats, at 32%, but that is down from 41% last year. President-elect Joe Biden (13%) is also commonly named by Democrats.
? Additionally, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is named by 5% of Democrats but only 1% of Republicans, further contributing to Democrats’ relative dispersion of choices.
? Independents are evenly split between Trump (11%) and Obama (11%), with another 3% naming Biden and 2% Fauci.
Rounding out the top 10 list of most admired men of 2020, with 1% of the vote each, were Tesla’s Elon Musk, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, NBA star LeBron James, and the Dalai Lama.
Look who topped Gallup’s list of Most Admired Man of 2020. https://t.co/5VqO4L4Gmp
President Donald Trump signed a long-awaited $900 billion COVID relief bill Sunday night.
The news gained praise from millions of Americans who have lost income and business owners looking for a way to stay afloat due to government-imposed coronavirus restrictions.
One of the biggest names to offer a massive “thank you” for the bill was Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, who celebrated a $10 billion provision created to help concert venues that have had to shutter as officials have banned large crowds.
What was in the bill?
The relief legislation, which was combined with an omnibus appropriations bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, includes $600 payments for individuals and $300 per week “enhanced” unemployment payments for up to 11 weeks. It also provides $284 billion for Paycheck Protection Program loans, $25 billion in rental assistance, $13 billion increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits, and tens of billions of dollars for other priorities, Axios reported.
One of those priorities was the Save Our Stages Act, which, as Rolling Stone noted, sought $10 billion for independent concerts venues. The passage of the act, which was rolled into the COVID stimulus package (with an additional $5 billion for museums and movie theaters), received plaudits from Grohl for its immediate impact on local businesses that host concerts as well as its long-term impact on the music industry.
“A huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone who supported the Save Our Stages Act,” Grohl said in a statement the Foo Fighters posted Monday afternoon.
“The preservation of America’s smaller, independent venues is not only crucial to the millions of concert goers whose lives are bettered by experiencing their favorite artists in the flesh, but to the future of music itself, as it gives the next generation of young musicians a place to cut their teeth, hone their craft and grow into the voices of tomorrow,” he continued.
“The absence of live music this year has left us all longing for that communal feeling of connection, one that is best felt when joined in a song,” Grohl added. “The Save Our Stages Act brings us one step closer to sharing that feeling again, one that I hope we can all experience again very soon. Every day we’re one step closer. See you there.”
Russia has reported millions of COVID cases but has maintained a low mortality rate that has caused international observers to raise questions about the nation’s official pandemic reporting.
This week, new data from Moscow revealed that the country’s COVID death count is actually three times higher than previously reported, Sky News said Tuesday.
What is Russia’s real death figure?
Before Monday, Russia had reported slightly more than 3 million confirmed COVID cases and approximately 55,000 deaths.
But new data reported Monday from Moscow’s government statistics agency, Rosstat, revealed that the COVID death count is actually more than 186,000, according to Sky News. This would move Russia from being the country with the eighth-highest number of total deaths to the third-highest — ranking behind the U.S. (335,000) and Brazil (191,000).
Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously claimed that his country’s low number of deaths was because of his people’s effective handling of the pandemic.
However, analysts said the surprisingly small fatality rate was due to the fact that the government had required that, in order for a death to be counted as an official COVID fatality, COVID had to be listed on an autopsy as the main cause of death.
Rosstat revealed Monday that the number of total deaths from all causes in 2020 (from January through November) was up 229,700 compared to the same time last year. According to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, “more than 81%” of those extra deaths were due to COVID,” Sky News said, which means more than 186,000 Russians died from the virus over that 11-month period.
Golikova’s take on the data has yet to be reflected in any of Russia’s official COVID reports.
Russia is hoping its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, which the government claims is 95% effective, will have a serious impact on its growing COVID numbers.
But there’s a catch with the vaccine that is bad news for a lot of Russians: Patients need to abstain from alcohol for about two months during the inoculation process.
Golikova warned would-be vaccine patients that they must not only continue virus mitigation efforts — wearing face masks, socially distancing, using sanitizers — but also “refrain from drinking alcohol or taking immunosuppressant drugs.”
Christopher Young is a self-identified left-leaning progressive from Seattle who wants to legalize drugs and expand the welfare state.
He also happens to be a 26-year veteran Seattle police officer and detective and former member of the U.S. military. And he is fed up with the lies he has heard from the defund-the-police left in America. So in an op-ed for the New York Post published Sunday, Young took it upon himself to debunk “four core myths of the #DefundPolice movement.” He began:
As a progressive who wants to decriminalize drugs and advance the welfare state, I fit in well in my Pacific Northwest community. Except, that is, for my job: I’ve been a big-city cop here for 26 years. Before that, I served in the military. The raging #DefundthePolice movement doesn’t know me and my colleagues at all — and persistent myths about police and their critics do more harm than good.
Myth #1: “Police are killing large numbers of civilians.”
This one is just plain untrue, Young stated, adding that policing in the U.S. has steadily improved over the last half-century.
He pointed to New York City as evidence, noting that the NYPD, which makes up 5% of all American police forces, “has meticulously tracked every shot fired by its officers since 1971” and found a steady drop in killings by police from 93 in 1971 to five in 2018.
And crime has dropped at the same time. “[T]he NYPD has successfully used less lethal means of preserving — and improving — the rule of law,” Young wrote.
Myth #2: “The anti-cop movement is largely peaceful.”
Any person who paid actual attention to the riots that plagued American cities this year knows that to be false, the detective said. The daytime protests shown on TV were largely peaceful, but things got nasty when the sun went down.
[T]he dynamic changed dramatically at night. Protests became intentional riots, designed to draw a police response that allowed rioters to claim victim status.
They would begin with insults, shouted at the riot line for hours in the hope that exhausted officers would retort on video; some told officers to commit suicide. Then they would throw rocks, shine bright lasers in our eyes and throw fireworks and Molotov cocktails — forcing the police to respond.
The media, he noted, “adopted the comically false ‘peaceful-protest’ narrative and perpetuated the myth of pervasive police brutality” and offered little other anti-cop propaganda.
Myth #3: “Abolishing police wouldn’t lead to lawlessness.”
Young said that many of the defund-the-police activists are anarchists who want to get rid of government and believe that civilization would blossom because a “society of angels” would chose to serve each other.
No place was this notion exposed as “nonsense” more than in the CHAZ that plagued Seattle last summer.
The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone was a nightmare for Emerald City locals — and all because police were not allowed in. From Young:
Police weren’t allowed in the “occupied” protest zone for three weeks. It immediately became a hellscape and led to the shooting deaths of two young black men — the very people the movement claims to want to protect from the police.
Myth #4: “Today’s police are ‘militarized.'”
Young contrasted his time as a cop with his time as a U.S. soldier, noting that not once in his more than 25 years as a cop has he been tasked with sitting in an armed vehicle’s turret with a belt-fed machine gun, though he did so regularly as a member of the military. He also shared:
Contrary to activist complaints, SWAT teams’ armored vehicles, armored clothing and special training help them avoid deadly force, not commit it. A regular cop is often justified shooting someone who threateningly brandishes a gun. A SWAT officer wearing protection, however, will wait longer before resorting to deadly force. In Seattle, our SWAT team recently saved a suicidal young black man with a gun.
Young closed his op-ed by highlighting the need for cops on the street, even in relatively low-crime cities like Seattle. He added that the arguments from social justice warriors that policing is hopelessly broken and that police must be defunded should be ignored.
“Take it from a left-leaning cop,” he wrote. “Those arguments are either wildly exaggerated or just plain false.”
A Beverly Hills eatery popular with actors and other celebrities that has previously complained that COVID restrictions are hurting California restaurants reportedly planned to host a “discreet” New Year’s Eve party amid the COVID pandemic.
When authorities caught wind of the speakeasy-style event, they took steps shut it down, the Los Angeles Times reported over the weekend.
Indoor and outdoor dining are currently verboten in Los Angeles County, which includes Beverly Hills.
But evidently, that was not going to stop La Scala, an upscale Italian restaurant “known for its chopped salad and famous customers,” the Times said.
According to the paper, the eatery was slipping secret invitations to the edict-breaking event into customers’ take-out bags.
Pictures of the fancy invites, which asked recipients to keep the shindig on the down-low, naturally were quickly posted to social media for the world to see.
The reported notes quietly dropped into folks’ dinners noted the current state of the restaurant environment in L.A. County, beginning, “Welcome back to the 20’s Prohibition: Speak Easy — New Year’s Eve Dinner.”
The letter went on to gauge recipients’ interest in the illicit affair. “We are considering taking reservations for New Year’s Eve Dinner. Inside. If this is something you’d be interested in, Please let us know as soon as possible,” the note said. “If enough interest we’ll contact you back to secure a reservation.”
The note urged recipients to “Please keep this discreet, but tell all your friends.”
Merry Christmas everyone! La Scala’s Beverly Hills location is tucking these invitations to an indoor New Year’s Ev… https://t.co/3xw0vmrDSI
Several people who posted the images of the invites were quick to alert the local authorities, which led to local officials working to put the kibosh on any sort of nefarious repast.
A spokesman for the City of Beverly Hills told the Times that local authorities contacted La Scala to remind the management about the county’s current dining proscriptions.
Several social media users reportedly tagged the Beverly Hill Police Department to make sure they were aware of the scofflaws who dared to consider doing something to attempt to save their struggling business.
The BHPD thanked concerned citizens for making sure the department was aware of the rumored speakeasy event and assured them that “Code Enforcement is aware and will be handling this matter.”
@GottaSaveBucky @awalkerinLA Thank you for tagging the BHPD. Beverly Hills Code Enforcement is aware and will be ha… https://t.co/97SadTB8AC
The Times said it attempted to get a comment from La Scala, but received no response.
This speakeasy party wouldn’t be the first time the restaurant has taken an anti-lockdown stance.
On Sept. 14, La Scala posted a complaint to Instagram about Beverly Hills Mayor Lester Friedman’s COVID restrictions and their impact on local businesses.
“Hey @lesterfriedman_bh @bh_chamber you’re hurting our Restaurants! WTF!” La Scala posted with a pair of graphics calling out the mayor and complaining that “now we can’t even have our umbrellas that have been up & approved for 18 years!!”
The restaurant added the hashtags “#YouSuck” and “#BeverlyHillsLeadershipSucks.”
Apparently I’m a glutton for punishment. This year, at the risk of being labeled a Grinch, I’ve compiled the 10 worst Christmas songs of all time. And because I play fair, you can listen to each song below so that you, too, can judge each song for yourself … and then acknowledge my obvious correctness about the awfulness of each.
Just don’t let it ruin your Christmas.
#1: LAST CHRISTMAS — Wham!
This song is just objectively bad and an obvious first choice. There is not an American alive with two working ears and any sort of taste in music who would disagree that this is the world’s worst Christmas tune.
It’s everything that is wrong with ’80s music — from the bad vocals, obnoxious keyboards, sulky attitude, and goofy lyrics. And as if the song wasn’t bad enough, Wham! thought it would be a good idea to create this video to go with it.
#2: MERRY CHRISTMAS, DARLING — The Carpenters
I post this one at great personal risk. There are friends who will leave me and family members who will disown me for this, but honestly, the only redeeming quality for this Carpenters disaster is that it isn’t “Last Christmas” by Wham!
Sentimental Carpenters fans who long for Karen’s resurrection need to understand that there are not enough Christmas miracles in the world to keep this song from its placement at No. 2 on the all-time list of terrible songs. From dreaming of “Christmassing with you” to being filled with desire based on seeing logs on a fire, there is no saving this song from the weight of its own silliness — and lousy instrumentation and background vocals.
#3: WONDERFUL CHRISTMASTIME — Paul McCartney and Wings
C’mon, Paul. You’re better than this. You’re a Beatle for crying out loud.
Yes, I know it charted bigly. Yes, I know lots people have covered it. No, that does not make it a good song. As Craig Outhier wrote for the Phoenix New Times in his list of the worst Paul McCartney songs, this tune “torments” the public, and its chorus likely “is at least partially responsible for the yearly spike in holiday suicide rates.”
#4: THE CHRISTMAS SHOES — NewSong
I’m probably going straight to Hell for this one. But it had to be included.
Though it has a nice message about a boy buying fancy shoes for his dying mother and a stranger paying for the footwear when the young lad winds up not having enough money, it’s a depressing song that has no business being in anyone’s holiday playlist. All of that, combined with the sappy vocals, super-awkward video, and the fact that it is overplayed on Christian radio and 24-hour Christmas stations, make this song nausea-inducing and obnoxious.
#5: MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS — NSYNC
Justin Timberlake is one of the greatest entertainers of our generation: He can write, sing, act, and do comedy. Surely if there are any regrets he has in his career, this song has to be near the top of his list.
The song is like a poorly conceived musical number for a sub-par network holiday special. Speaking of sub-par, the video, featuring “Diff’rent Strokes” star Gary Coleman, is really … something.
#6: DOMINICK THE DONKEY — Lou Monte
Dominick is supposed to be the hero of the song, having saved Christmas by helping Santa because the reindeer can’t climb the hills of Italy. Instead, this silly song attempts a “Funiculi Funicula” vibe, but even for a novelty song — a genre that is typically given a lot of leeway when it comes to criticism — it is just painful.
Hee haw. Hee awful.
#7: HAPPY XMAS (WAR IS OVER) — John Lennon
It’s a sad day when two songs written by Beatles make a “worst songs” list, but such is life. You write a bad song, it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re going to get called out.
I know I’ll get raked over the coals by Beatles fans who feel Lennon could do no wrong, but this is a terrible Christmas song. The music is well done and everyone knows Lennon was a peacenik, but this tune has no business invading the joy of the holiday.
#8: A HAND FOR MRS. CLAUS — Idina Menzel & Ariana Grande
You know who the real hero of the North Pole — and therefore Christmas — really is? No, not St. Nick. Nope, not the elves or Rudolph.
The real hero is Santa’s ball-and-chain. She does all the real work up north — and Idina Menzel and Ariana Grande really want you to understand that in this badly written, poorly performed (particularly Ariana’s portion), and inferiorly produced pile of feminist nonsense.
#9: DO THEY KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS? — Band Aid
This song was created with the most talented artists alive in 1984, and that stable of amazing musicians makes this a tough one. And anyone with a soul can appreciate their efforts to help the people suffering in Ethiopia.
But that does not make it a good Christmas song. Despite the talent involved, the tune is mediocre at best — some took to calling the supergroup “Bland Aid” after the record’s release. And the words, again, do not capture the joy and magic of Christmas — which is what holiday songs are supposed to be about. When the song came out, NME called it a “turkey” and ripped the song as “Millions of Dead Stars write and perform rotten record for the right reasons” — which, honestly, was a pretty generous review.
#10: WARM AND FUZZY — Billy Gilman
Yes, only a monster would mock a record cut by a kid, and this is probably enough to get me labeled Mr. Potter reincarnated, but seriously …
This song serves no purpose, tells no story, and contains zero originality. It isn’t even cute. There’s nothing about this song that should give it any acclaim, yet here it is — every stinking year.
There are some songs that are pretty ridiculous or silly or just downright dumb. But unlike the songs listed above, they do bring some joy to the season.
I couldn’t bring myself to list them as terrible, but their questionableness should at least be noted.
Minnesota’s radical left-wing Democratic attorney general continues to go after his state’s bar and restaurant owners who dare to violate the governor’s COVID-19 edicts prohibiting indoor dining.
So now South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem is encouraging these put-upon business owners to move to her state, vowing that she will not make them close their doors.
Late last week, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced lawsuits against two bars that defied Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s order that bars and restaurants may not offer indoor dining services, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. Walz’s edict does allow eateries to serve customers outdoors — but with Minnesota’s typically bitter winters, most establishments have found that to be an unrealistic option.
Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville knowingly disobeyed the governor’s command last week. The bar flouted the ban and served people indoors, and even proclaimed its defiance on Facebook, saying: “OPEN TODAY. COME IN FOR FOOD AND DRINKS!” The attorney general filed a temporary restraining order in an attempt to force Alibi Drinkery closed, but to no avail.
Another bar in Princeton, Neighbors on the Rum, was targeted by Ellison of having 40 to 50 people indoors last week.
On Monday, Ellison announced another three bars were added to his naughty list. From WCCO-TV:
According to Ellison, the lawsuits include St. Patrick’s Tavern in New Prague, Pour House in Clarks Grove and The Interchange in Albert Lea.
Ellison says St. Patrick’s Tavern had 150 to 200 vehicles in its parking lot on Dec. 18 and witnesses reported the establishment was standing room only, with it “packed inside so tightly that it was difficult to move around inside.”
The state also received more than a dozen complaints about Pour House, including a report that the bar was operating at max capacity and no face coverings were being worn by any employee or customer.
The Interchange announced it would be opening for in-door dining on Dec. 15 and also held an indoor concert on Dec. 17. It was served a cease-and-desist order by the Minnesota Department of Health, but the restaurant owner vowed to continue on-side dining, Ellison’s office said.
Noem makes an offer
When Gov. Noem heard about the persecution of Minnesota restaurants and bars last week, she made them what was likely a pretty tempting offer: Move to a state that won’t force you to close and lose your business — a state like South Dakota.
“Come to South Dakota!” she tweeted in response to the Star Tribune report. “We respect your rights. We won’t shut you down.”
Come to South Dakota! We respect your rights. We won’t shut you down. https://t.co/FDaRj92Qmu
A new survey from Gallup posted Wednesday revealed that medical professionals are seeing significant boosts in their reputations during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of Congress haven’t been so lucky. In a divisive election year plagued by ongoing coronavirus restrictions, U.S. legislators now rank dead last on ethical ratings — tied with car salesmen.
Who did the best?
The new Gallup poll found that when asked to rank the honesty and ethical standards of various professions, nurses come in No. 1 with 89% of Americans rating them as having “very high” or “high” ethics. That’s a 4-point jump from last year.
Medical doctors saw the biggest year-to-year jump, moving up 12 points from 65% in 2019 to 77% in 2020.
Grade-school teachers — who have been hailed as heroes by many parents as they work to educate students remotely, in person, or via “hybrid” of the two — came in third, with a 75% rating. It’s the profession’s highest-ever rating and the first time teachers topped 70% since 2007.
Rounding out the top five were pharmacists at 71% (a 7-point boost over last year) and police officers at 52% — down only 2 points from 2019. Cops’ impressive showing on the list comes despite a year of anti-police protests and riots, and calls for cities to “defund the police.”
Who stunk it up?
Journalists were among the lower-ranked professions on the ethical rankings with 28%. But lawyers did even worse, nailing only a 21% ethical ranking.
But it is possible to do worse than lawyers — and members of Congress showed how it’s done, beating perennial bottom dwellers business executives (17%), advertising practitioners (10%), and car salespeople (8%) at their own game.
Congressmen tied car salesmen for the bottom spot at 8% by having the biggest drop of all professions, losing 4 points year to year. And last year’s 12% ranking had been a high point for our elected officials.
Well, look at that. Members of Congress now dead last (with car salesmen) on the list of ethical professions. https://t.co/omMUK3zn4f
Hypocrisy among elected officials when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions they advocated for and put into place is enough to drive citizens crazy, and no population is likely experiencing that more today than the people in Scotland.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the head of nation’s government, was caught violating her own COVID-19 law, and now she’s issuing public apologies for the flub.
Join the club
The notion of “COVID rules for thee, but not for me” is something Americans have witnessed repeatedly from their politicians. The problem has been especially notable recently as the surge in the virus has led to more government-imposed restrictions.
No one will forget California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s unmasked event at a fancy California restaurant.
Nor will folks from the Bay Area likely let news of San Francisco Democratic Mayor London Breed throwing a maskless party at the same restaurant a day later slip their minds.
Denver’s Democratic mayor, Michael Hancock, will long be remembered as the elected official who tweeted a warning to Mile High City residents to stay home for Thanksgiving just 30 minutes before his plane left to visit his daughter in Mississippi for the holiday.
New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo was caught violating his own Thanksgiving advice by planning to have his 89-year-old mother over for dinner. He was shamed into rescinding the invitation.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler, a Democrat, was forced to apologize after having the audacity to filming and sending a “stay at home” message to his constituents — from a tropical resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
And just a week ago, Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo was photographed at a wine bar not wearing a face mask days after telling Rhode Islanders to “stay home except for essential activities.”
It turns out, though, that embarrassing and glaring hypocrisy on COVID-19 restrictions is not a characteristic unique to U.S. officials.
What did the Scotland leader do?
The Scottish Sun reported Tuesday night that Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon broke her own mask laws Friday.
A “concerned member of the public” photographed Sturgeon chatting maskless at a pub in Edinburgh on Friday and shared the picture with the newspaper.
According to current Scottish laws, the Sun said, customers in “hospitality settings” — which would include pubs — are required to wear a mask unless seated at a table.
The photo published by the Sun showed a maskless Sturgeon standing and talking with three elderly women at the “hospitality setting” following a funeral wake that had taken place in another part of the facility.
Sturgeon, who has been a major advocate for masks and has repeatedly lectured about their importance, was extremely apologetic.
“Last Friday, while attending a funeral wake, I had my mask off briefly. This was a stupid mistake and I’m really sorry,” she told the Sun. “I talk every day about the importance of masks, so I’m not going to offer any excuses. I was in the wrong, I’m kicking myself and I’m sorry.”
According to the Sun, the law has been on the books for months:
The mandatory use of face masks for customers in hospitality settings has been law since September 14. It is now set down in the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.
Schedule 7 of the law details a “requirement to wear face coverings in certain indoor places”, including restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs.
Violations of the law are punishable by an $80 fine, and penalties double for repeat offenders, up to $1,300, the paper said, adding that violators “can also be prosecuted for breaches, with unlimited fines.”
Around the time the photo was taken, Sturgeon also announced a draconian three-week lockdown that will start the day after Christmas.
She also ordered that Scots can meet with loved ones for Christmas for only 24 hours on Dec. 25.