Friday, January 22, 2021

World News Briefs -- January 22, 2021

More than 38,500 people are in UK hospitals with Covid-19, 78 percent more than during the first peak last year. © Toby Melville, Reuters 

Early evidence suggests the variant of coronavirus that emerged in the UK may be more deadly as well as being more contagious, British officials warned on Friday. 

"There is some evidence that the new variant (...) may be associated with a higher degree of mortality," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a Downing Street news conference. 

Patrick Vallance, the UK's Chief Scientific Adviser, said the new variant could be around 30 percent more deadly, although he stressed that only sparse data was available. 





Former Vatican bank chief sentenced to 9 years for embezzlement.



Baghdad suicide bombings highlight IS group's enduring threat. 


Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- January 22, 2021

Blowout vote: Austin passed 93-2 with senators saying they were confident civilian control of the military was secure in his hands
Into work: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, head for their Pentagon offices as Joe Biden's pick becomes the first ever black Pentagon chief 

 * Retired four star general Lloyd Austin will be Joe Biden's Defense Secretary and the first ever African American to lead the Pentagon 
 * Austin ran Central Command, which oversees forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan, until 2016  * 67-year-old West Point graduate had 41-year Army career including vice chief of Army staff and commander of all forces in Iraq 
 * Is second member of Biden cabinet to be confirmed after Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines 
 * Senate and House had to give waiver because of his recent military service - only third after George Marshall in 1950 and Jim Mattis in 2017 

Lloyd J. Austin, a West Point graduate who rose to the Army's elite ranks and marched through racial barriers in a 41-year career, won Senate confirmation Friday to become the nation's first Black secretary of defense. 

The 93-2 vote gave President Joe Biden his second Cabinet member; Avril Haines was confirmed on Wednesday as the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence. 

The two objections came from Republicans Josh Hawley and Mike Lee. 

Biden is expected to win approval for others on his national security team in coming days, including Antony Blinken as secretary of state.

 Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- January 22, 2021 

Former President Trump's Senate Impeachment Trial To Begin This Monday


 * House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to transmit article Monday 
 * Once managers read articles, trial begins * Senators would be sworn in and presiding officer 
 * Negotiations could push back the substantive start of the trial 
 * Democrats still want to act on Biden nominees and move COVID relief 
 * Trump will be the first president impeached after leaving office 
 * House impeached for 'incitement of insurrection' following MAGA riot 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will deliver a House-passed impeachment article to the Senate Monday – immediately kicking off a Senate trial for former President Donald Trump as President Joe Biden begins the first full week of his presidency. 

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer announced Pelosi's move on the Senate floor Friday at the start of the day's session, after new Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell put out a proposal that would have delayed a trial until mid February in part to give Trump's legal team time to prepare. 

'I have spoken to Speaker Pelosi who informed me that the articles will be delivered to the Senate on Monday,' Schumer said. He listed impeachment along with other pressing business as priorities, as President Joe Biden seeks to get a cabinet confirmed and move his agenda. 

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: Talk about a mad rush for a super fast trial. 

The Republican votes are not there for an impeachment conviction .... Senate Republicans uniting behind impeachment defense (Politico). 

The GOP Senators who will probably vote for impeachment are here .... GOP senators say only a few Republicans will vote to convict Trump (The Hill). 

 More News On Former President Trump's Senate Impeachment Trial Beginning This Monday

Politico Hints That President Biden Is 'Forgetful"

Writing a speech for Biden can be hell. And that was before the inaugural. 

There is a heightened urgency to Biden's inaugural speech, as he confronts multiple crises and seeks to bridge a deep political divide. 

Joe Biden paces as he dictates long portions of his speeches to aides, spinning out thoughts that quickly pile into six, seven or eight paragraphs of copy, only to later be scrapped. 

On the 2020 campaign trail, he’d keep groups of supporters waiting inside while he’d hole up in a black car with aides, refining lines of his prepared remarks. 

Revisions go up to crunch time; it isn’t uncommon for a staffer to be scurrying to the teleprompter with a flash drive just before an event is to begin. 

For higher-profile remarks, he’d obsessively rehearse portions until he committed them to memory. 

And at times through the various iterations of outlining remarks, Biden could grow downright ornery. 

“I would never say this,” Biden once snapped at an aide, aghast over the prepared remarks he was reviewing, according to a person in the room during a speech prep session last year. 

“Where did you get this from?’” The aide explained that Biden had just said it in a public speech a couple of weeks earlier. 

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: Wow! It looks like the speech writers are now leaking to the press what they are going through when it comes to writing a speech for President Biden. 

Long time readers of this blog know that I have been pointing out President Biden's mental decline since last year. I unfortunately have a lot of experience knowing the signs and symptoms of dementia, dealing first with my father who suffered from this when he had his stroke years ago, meeting and knowing people where my father was hospitalized who were suffering from dementia, and now with my mother. 

In the case of President Biden, one only has to look at the Vice-Presidential debate in 2012 between Biden and Ryan, and compare. Then Vice-President Biden was sharp, articulate, and totally dominated the debate (link here to the debate). Flash forward to yesterday's Covid-19 announcement by President Biden (link here), it was painful to watch seeing President Biden struggling after only 10 minutes.

The contrast in 8 years is incredible, but not surprising to those who have first hand experience in dealing with loved ones who have suffered and/or are suffering from this disease.

U.S. National Guard Soldiers Are Allowed Back Inside The Capitol After 5,000 Were Forced To Take Their Breaks In The Parking Garage With Only One Toilet, No WiFi, And One Power Outlet

Daily Mail: National Guard are allowed back inside the Capitol after 5,000 were forced to take their breaks in parking lot by Capitol Police - sparking outraged governors of Florida and New Hampshire to recall their troops 

 * Capitol Police apologized late Thursday after it emerged they'd asked troops brought in to protect DC to leave the Capitol building and take their rest breaks in a nearby designated parking lot instead 
 * Photos showed up to 5,000 Guardsmen sleeping on the floor of the packed Thurgood Marshall Building parking lot and in a park outside as temperatures hit a low of 40 degrees 
 * The scenes sparked immediate outrage among lawmakers as some Guardsmen revealed they felt 'incredibly betrayed' given they had just spent more than a week helping to fortify and protect the capital 
 * Some Guardsmen said the parking lot they were relocated to had a single power outlet, no internet and just one bathroom with two stalls 
 * It has prompted the governors of some states, including New Hampshire and Florida, to order the immediate return of their Guardsmen from DC 
 * Footage showed the Guardsmen filing out of the parking lot overnight after they were permitted around midnight to return to the Capitol building in the wake of the fierce backlash 
 * Troops do have hotel rooms but their 12 hour shift pattern means they can't easily return to their rooms during rest breaks. Before being located to the parking lot, the troops had been allowed to take breaks in the Capitol 
 * The troops will now take their breaks near the Emancipation Hall inside the Capitol building going forward 

Thousands of National Guardsmen have now been allowed to return to the US Capitol after images of them sleeping outside and in a nearby parking garage overnight sparked outrage 24 hours after the inauguration. 

Capitol Police apologized late on Thursday after it emerged they had asked the troops brought in to protect Washington DC to leave the Capitol building and take their rest breaks in a nearby designated parking lot instead. 

Photos showed up to 5,000 Guardsmen sleeping on the floor of the packed Thurgood Marshall Building parking lot and in a park outside as temperatures hit a low of 40 degrees. 

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: Not surprised that someone made the decision to reverse this travesty .... National Guard troops kicked out of Senate are back in Capitol following outrage from lawmakers, public (Army Times). Will we get to know who made the original stupid decision to put 5,000 National Guardsman in the parking lot? Here is my prediction. If it was a bureaucrat, we will know. If it was from a political leader's office, they will announce an investigation and bury it from there. 

Update #1: Yup. The Congressional leadership are trying to bury this story .... 'Unreal' and 'outrageous': Democrats and Republicans demand a swift investigation into how soldiers ended up sleeping in a parking lot (Insider) 

Update #2: President Trump has offered his hotel rooms to these soldiers. 

 More News On 5,000 National Guard Soldiers Being Forced To Take Their Breaks In The Parking Lot

Global Nuclear Weapons Ban Begins But Without The World's Nuclear Powers

In this August 9, 1945 file photo, a mushroom cloud rises moments after the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, southern Japan. On two days in August 1945, US planes dropped two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima, one on Nagasaki, the first and only time nuclear weapons have been used [File: AP Photo] 

Treaty signatories include Africa’s most populous country and Europe’s least populated, but Russia and Nato on the sidelines 

An international treaty banning all nuclear weapons that has been signed by 51 countries and that campaigners hope will help raise the profile of global deterrence efforts comes into force on Friday. 

Although in some respects the step is largely symbolic because the world’s nuclear powers have not signed up, the treaty will be legally binding on the smaller nations that have endorsed it, and it is backed by the UN leadership. 

The treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons (TPNW) outlaws the creation, ownership and deployment of nuclear weapons by signatory states and places obligations on them to assist other victims of nuclear weapons use and testing.

Read more .... 

 More News On Global Nuclear Weapons Ban Beginning 

2020 Is The Deadliest Year In U.S. History

Preliminary CDC figures suggest 2020 will be the deadliest year in U.S. history with more than 3.2 million deaths (above) 

 * Preliminary CDC figures suggest 2020 will be the deadliest year in U.S. history with a record 3,260,397 
 * The 2020 death toll is approximately 15% higher than the 2,835,533 Americans who died in 2019
 * Other deadly years include 1,430,079 deaths in 1918, the year of the Spanish Flu pandemic; 1,459,544 deaths in 1943, amid World War II; and 1 ,930,082 deaths in 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War 
 * It includes more than 347,000 people in the U.S. who died of COVID-19 
 * One study found an additional 75,000 people died indirectly due to the pandemic such as delaying seeking life-saving medical care 
 * CDC data also shows a record 81,000 died of drug overdoses, mainly due to opioids such as fentanyl 

Preliminary figures suggests 2020 will be the deadliest year in U.S. history. 

A record 3,260,397 people died last year, which public health experts says is due to COVID-19, indirect pandemic deaths and overdoses. 

That figure is about 15 percent higher than the 2,835,533 Americans who died in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: The scary part is that these death numbers could have been worse. Some models last year were predicting 2.2. million deaths from Covid-19 alone in their worst case scenarios .... How One Model Simulated 2.2 Million U.S. Deaths from COVID-19 (CATO Institute).

Will Former President Trump Run For Congress?

WNU Editor: He is not going to run. It will be a demotion for him. And I think his focus will be more on his businesses.

Tweets Of The Day

Picture Of The Day

WNU Editor: The above picture came from this photo-gallery .... Biden's new-look Oval Office is a nod to past US leadership (BBC News).