Archive for Sinéad Baker

China tells citizens to avoid mail from abroad and open packages with gloves, claiming that Omicron is spreading through foreign post

Delivery workers sort parcels at a makeshift logistics station during Singles’ Day shopping festival in Beijing, China November 11, 2021.
Delivery workers sort parcels at a makeshift logistics station in Beijing, China.
  • China is advising people to avoid foreign mail and open packages outside, citing COVID-19 risks.
  • Beijing's disease center said an Omicron infection could have come through international mail.
  • Experts say the virus is unlikely to spread via mail, as it doesn't last long on surfaces.

Officials in Beijing are telling people to avoid international mail and to open their packages outdoors and with gloves, saying cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant could have spread through foreign mail.

Experts have repeatedly said that there is little risk of getting the coronavirus from mail. There is no indication that this has changed with the Omicron variant, though it is more infectious.

But Robin Brant, the BBC's China correspondent, tweeted on Monday that Beijing was telling residents not to order goods from abroad, and to open packages outside with gloves and a mask on.

The South China Morning Post also reported on Monday that Beijing's center for disease control and prevention said that people should order as little as possible from abroad, and that people should wear gloves and masks when opening any mail from high-risk countries.

It comes as the center said the first recorded case of the Omicron variant in Beijing could have entered via mail.

The man who was infected said he was sent mail from Canada on January 7, which had passed through Canada and Hong Kong before arriving in Beijing, the state-run People's Daily reported.

Pang Xinghuo, the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention's deputy director, said "we do not rule out the possibility that the person was infected through contacting an object from overseas," the Post reported. Pang said the Omicron variant was found on the letter, the report said.

Canada's post office noted, citing the country's public-health agency and the World Health Organization, that any risk of spreading coronavirus through mail is low as the virus does not live long on surfaces.

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Liz Cheney says Kevin McCarthy is ‘clearly trying to cover up what happened’ at the Capitol riot after he refused to work with investigators

Liz Cheney Kevin McCarthy
Rep. Liz Cheney speaks during a news conference with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to cooperate with Capitol-riot investigators.
  • Liz Cheney, who is on the committee, said he was trying to "cover up" what happened at the riot.
  • McCarthy called the committee "illegitimate" and said it was trying to hurt Republicans.

Rep. Liz Cheney said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was trying to "cover up" what happened at the Capitol riot by refusing to work with the House committee investigating it.

Cheney, one of two Republicans on the committee, told CNN on Wednesday: "I wish that he were a brave and honorable man. He's clearly trying to cover up what happened. He has an obligation to come forward and we'll get to the truth."

She also refused to rule out the option of subpoenaing him, CNN reported.

McCarthy had said in a statement earlier on Wednesday that he would not work with the committee. He called it "illegitimate," and accused it of trying to damage Republicans.

"As a representative and the leader of the minority party, it is with neither regret nor satisfaction that I have concluded to not participate with this select committee's abuse of power that stains this institution today and will harm it going forward," he said.

His statement came after the committee asked him to take part voluntarily, noting that he had previously said that he spoke with then-President Donald Trump while the riot was unfolding, and that he spoke about Trump's role on the House floor after the insurrection.

McCarthy said in that speech that Trump bore "responsibility" for the riot, though he has since downplayed it and said people need to move on from the attack.

Cheney has repeatedly criticized Trump over the riot, in stark contrast to other Republicans. She was the third-most senior House Republican before her party removed her from leadership over her comments on Trump.

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Kevin McCarthy says he won’t cooperate with the House Capitol-riot committee

kevin mccarthy
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the Jan. 6 committee is "illegitimate" and he won't contribute.
  • The committee, which is investigating the Capitol riot, had asked for his voluntary contribution.
  • McCarthy accused it of an "abuse of power" and designed to harm Republicans.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he would not cooperate with the January 6 committee.

McCarthy said in a Wednesday statement that the committee investigating the Capitol riot was "illegitimate."

"As a representative and the leader of the minority party, it is with neither regret nor satisfaction that I have concluded to not participate with this select committee's abuse of power that stains this institution today and will harm it going forward," he said.

He also criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and said that the committee was not doing "legitimate" work.

"This committee is not conducting a legitimate investigation as Speaker Pelosi took the unprecedented action of rejecting the Republican members I named to serve on the committee," he said.

"It is not serving any legislative purpose. The committee's only objective is to attempt to damage its political opponents – acting like the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee one day and the DOJ the next."

His statement came hours after the committee asked McCarthy for his voluntary contribution, a sign that the investigation is honing in on top Republicans.

In a Wednesday letter to McCarthy, the committee noted that he had acknowledged speaking to former President Donald Trump as the riot was underway, and that he spoke of Trump's actions on January 6 in a speech on the House floor a week later.

McCarthy said in his House-floor speech that Trump bore "responsibility" for the attack, and briefly suggested that Trump should be censured. But he has since defended efforts to overturn the election results, and called for people to move on from the insurrection.

McCarthy said in his Wednesday statement that the committee "now ... wants to interview me about public statements that have been shared with the world, and private conversations not remotely related to the violence that unfolded at the Capitol. I have nothing else to add."

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Kevin McCarthy says he’s considering barring lawmakers from trading stocks if Republicans retake Congress in 2022

kevin mccarthy
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in August 2021.
  • House Minority Leader McCarthy said he is considering changing how US lawmakers can hold or trade stocks.
  • He told Punchbowl News that he could even seek a ban if Republicans win the House in November.
  • The report comes as Insider's Conflicted Congress project revealed that 52 lawmakers infringed on the STOCK Act.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he is considering limiting or barring lawmakers from holding or trading stocks and equities if Republicans win a House majority in November.

McCarthy told Punchbowl News that he was considering the changes, but had not yet come to any conclusions on what kind of limits or bans would be put in place.

Punchbowl News reported that new rules could only let lawmakers hold professionally-managed mutual funds or stocks in the kinds of companies that are not relevant to the committee work that they do.

The report comes as Insider's Conflicted Congress project revealed that 52 congressional lawmakers and 182 senior congressional staffers had infringed on the STOCK Act, an Obama-era law crafted to clamp down on insider trading and defend against conflicts of interest.

McCarthy's statements present a huge contrast to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who last month publicly defended the practice after Insider's Bryan Metzger asked if she would support a stock-trading ban for members at a press conference.

"We are a free-market economy. They should be able to participate in that," the veteran California Democrat said at the time.

When Pelosi was asked about Conflicted Congress — Insider's five-month investigation into lawmakers' financial conflicts of interest — she indicated that she had not yet reviewed the body of work.

Democrats including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York have endorsed stock-trading bans.

Sen. Jon Ossoff, a Democrat from Georgia, is also preparing to introduce legislation that would ban members of Congress and their spouses from trading the individual stocks of corporations, many of which spend significant amounts of money lobbying the federal government and vie for lucrative government contracts.

A proposed bill that would end trades among members — the Ban Conflicted Trading Act — was introduced in the Senate last year by four lawmakers, including Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Georgia's other freshman senator, Raphael Warnock. A House version is backed by Ocasio-Cortez and Cloud, along with additional members from both parties.

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The CDC is considering telling people to upgrade from cloth face coverings to N95 or KN95 masks in light of Omicron, report says

A woman wearing an N95 mask
A medical assistant wears an N95 mask and a face shield in Puyallup, Washington.
  • The CDC is thinking of beefing up its mask guidance in light of the Omicron variant, The Washington Post reported.
  • It's considering asking people to wear N95 or KN95 masks, the report said.
  • N95 and KN95 masks give better protection than cloth masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering recommending that people upgrade their masks to N95 or KN95 models to help fight the fast-spreading Omicron variant, The Washington Post reported.

An official told The Post: "The agency is currently actively looking to update its recommendations for KN95 and N95 in light of Omicron. We know these masks provide better filtration."

The Post did not name the official, saying they did not have permission to speak publicly. The CDC did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

The CDC and World Health Organization currently recommend that the public wear cloth marks.

But medical-grade masks, like the N95 and KN95 models, are better at stopping particles from passing through the mask, which means the virus is less likely to spread when those masks are being used.

Some experts have said that cloth masks don't give enough protection against the Omicron variant, given that it is more transmissible than previous variants.

The CDC is expected to hedge any new guidance about mask quality by saying that the best mask to wear is one that people are comfortable wearing often and correctly, The Post reported.

The guidance is expected to say that if people can "tolerate wearing a KN95 or N95 mask all day, you should," according to The Post.

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Biden plans to support changing the filibuster to get voter-rights law through the Senate, reports say

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden.
  • President Joe Biden will back changing the filibuster to pass a voting-rights law, per reports. 
  • The rule has been used by Senate Republicans to block voting-rights bills. 
  • Democrats say voting rights are under attack from restrictive rules passed GOP at the state level.

President Joe Biden plans to lend his support to changing the Senate filibuster rules in order to pass new voting-rights legislation, several reports said.

Biden is due to outline this stance in a Tuesday speech in Atlanta, Georgia, The New York Times reported. The White House confirmed the plans to Reuters

The president would not call for totally getting rid of the filibuster, a senior administration official told the Times, but for a temporary suspension in order to push through a voting rights bill. 

A White House official told CNN that the rules needed to be changed to pass voting-rights legislation so that "this basic right is defended."

A bill to defend voting rights is one of Biden's key domestic priorities. Democrats say Republican-controlled state legislatures across the US have hampered access to voting  by passing new restrictions.

Democrats say the bills specifically target Black voters in states such as Georgia, and Biden has likened them to the racist Jim Crow laws of the segregationist South.

The issue has gained added urgency in recent weeks with the stalling of Biden's other key domestic priority, his Build Back Better social and climate change bill, due to opposition from Democratic moderate Sen. Joe Manchin. 

Republicans have blocked two attempts by Democrats to pass bills defending voting rights, most recently in November. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that the bills are an attempt by Democrats to secure an unfair advantage, and said they would violate the right of states to decide how they conduct elections. 

Republicans blocked the bills using the filibuster, a blocking measure that can only be overcome with 60 or more votes, numbers the Democrats are not close to securing from their own ranks of 50 senators.

The impasse in December led Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to declare that Democrats would seek to reform the filibuster.

However the move would require the unanimous backing of Democratic senators in order to pass, and Manchin plus fellow moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have said they are opposed.

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Video shows a plane getting hit by a commuter train moments after it crash-landed

A small plane on train tracks, with the train just about to hit into it
A still from LAPD video, just before the train crashes into the plane.
  • A pilot made an emergency landing on train tracks in Los Angeles on Sunday, police said.
  • Video shows officers dragging the pilot from the plane seconds before a train crashed into the wreckage.
  • The fire department said the pilot was taken to a trauma center, and his condition is unknown.

A small plane crash-landed on a railway track in Los Angeles on Sunday, and was then hit by train.

The Los Angeles Police Department shared body camera footage of the incident, which showed the pilot, who had blood on his face, being dragged from the plane just before the train hit. The pilot was the only person aboard the plane.

The video shows the officers shouting "go go go" as they drag out the pilot and the train gets closer.

Watch the video here. Some viewers may find the footage upsetting:

The police said that officers "displayed heroism and quick action by saving the life of a pilot who made an emergency landing ... just before an oncoming train collided with the aircraft."

The plane crash-landed on the tracks of the Metrolink Antelope Valley Line, which is a commuter rail line. ABC7 reported that the train belonged to the Metrolink rail system.

The Los Angeles Fire Department said the pilot was brought to a regional trauma center by paramedics, and that his condition was unknown.

Authorities did not name the man. The fire department said there were no reports of anyone else injured.

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Former Pence aides are actively cooperating with the Jan. 6 committee as it focuses on Trump’s role in the Capitol riot, report says

Capitol attack
Trump supporters at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
  • People close to Mike Pence have been actively sharing information with Congress' Jan. 6 committee, Axios reported.
  • They include Pence's for chief of staff Marc Short and press secretary Alyssa Farah, Axios reported.
  • Some of them have even testified without a subpoena, Axios reported.

Aides to former Vice President Mike Pence aides have been actively sharing information with the House committee examining former President Donald Trump's role in the Capitol riot, Axios reported.

Sources told Axios that people connected to Pence have been cooperating with the committee, and one source said that some of them were even testifying without a subpoena.

Axios reported that people cooperating with the committee include:

  • Marc Short, Pence's former chief of staff.
  • Alyssa Farah, Pence's former press secretary who later became the White House director of strategic communications.
  • Keith Kellogg, Pence's former national security advisor.

Axios reported, citing a source, that Short would not have helped the committee without Pence's agreement.

Farah told Axios that, from the two committee meetings she attended, she "could see how much information they already had."

"Those who are refusing to cooperate likely are doing so out of complete fealty to Donald Trump and not wanting to piss him off," she said.

"But, secondarily, because they're realizing the committee has quite a bit more information than they realized. And their involvement is known to a much greater degree than they realized."

In the run-up to January 6, 2021, Trump and his allies had pressured Pence to reject the Electoral College vote and overturn President Joe Biden's election win.

Some of the rioters who stormed the Capitol called for Pence's death, chanting "hang Mike Pence." 

But Pence has still downplayed the experience, recently describing the event to the Christian Broadcasting Network as "one tragic day in January" that was being used to undermine Trump voters.

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‘Do you realize you’re describing a coup?’: MSNBC host challenges Trump aide after he described plans to overturn the 2020 election

Ari Melber and Peter Navarro on MSNBC
Ari Melber and Peter Navarro on MSNBC's "The Beat."
  • Peter Navarro described Trump allies' plans to decertify the 2020 election results to MSNBC.
  • He detailed the plans to challenge the results in battleground states.
  • Host Ari Melber shot back, asking: "Do you realize you are describing a coup?" 

The MSNBC host Ari Melber challenged former Trump White House economic advisor Peter Navarro over his description of plans to challenge the 2020 presidential election result, saying that he was actually "describing a coup."

Navarro has promoted Trump's baseless claims that President Joe Biden, who has been in office for nearly a year, did not actually win the 2020 election.

In a Tuesday appearance on "The Beat," Melber asked Navarro about Trump allies' plans to challenge Biden's win.

Navarro told "The Beat" that the plan was to use over 100 US representatives and senators to "challenge the results of the election in the six battleground states" — Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Nevada.

"And, basically, these were the places where we believed that if the votes were sent back to those battleground states and looked at again, that there would be enough concern amongst the legislatures that most or all of those states would decertify the election," Navarro said.

He continued: "That would throw the election to the House of Representatives. And I would say to you here, Ari, that all of this, again, was in the lanes, legally. It was prescribed by the Constitution. There is a provision to go – rather than through the Electoral College – to the House of Representatives."

He said this process started when lawmakers began to challenge Arizona's results on January 6, 2021, and criticized the media.

Melber then shot back: "You just described this plan as a way to take an election where the outcome was established by independent secretaries of state, by the voters of those states, and legal remedies had been exhausted with the Supreme Court never even taking, let alone siding with any of the claims that you just referred to. So legally, they went nowhere."

He then described the plan that Navarro had outlined, and asked: "Do you realize you are describing a coup?"

Navarro responded: "No. I totally reject many of your premises there."

Watch the exchange here:


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Elon Musk called Elizabeth Warren ‘Senator Karen’ after she accused him of ‘freeloading’ over taxes

Elon Musk Tesla bitcoin
Elon Musk.
  • Elizabeth Warren called out Elon Musk over taxes when he was named Time's Person of the Year.
  • She said the laws should ensure Musk "actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else."
  • He said "please don't call the manager on me, Senator Karen" — a term some find sexist and ageist.

Elon Musk called Sen. Elizabeth Warren "Senator Karen" after she accused him of "freeloading" over taxes while commenting on him being named as the Time Person of the Year.

In response to Time's decision, Warren tweeted Tuesday: "Let's change the rigged tax code so The Person of the Year will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else."

Musk responded: "You remind me of when I was a kid and my friend's angry Mom would just randomly yell at everyone for no reason."

And then added in another tweet: "Please don't call the manager on me, Senator Karen."

The name "Karen" has come to refer to white women who are seen as acting inappropriately, rudely, or in an entitled manner, as Insider's Rachel E. Greenspan previously reported. Some people view the term as sexist and ageist as it typically refers to older women.

Warren, who ran for president in 2020, is a staunch proponent of taxing the ultra-wealthy highly.

Musk is worth $297 billion, and Warren has repeatedly said that she does not believe he pays his fair share of taxes.

Musk has opposed lawmakers' efforts to tax the richest members of society. He has fought against Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden's proposed "billionaire's tax," which seeks to tax the massive stock gains that the richest of the rich often make.

As Insider's Ayelet Sheffey previously reported, government subsidies helped Musk grow his business and his fortune.

A ProPublica investigation in June found Musk was one of several billionaires who did not pay federal taxes as of 2018 because they only had assets, and no income.

Musk also said in response to Warren on Wednesday that he will "pay more taxes than any American in history this year."

This may actually be the case, Insider's Huileng Tan reported, as he has exercised a large number of stock options this year. According to Bloomberg, Musk may end up paying as much as $10 billion in taxes in 2021.

Warren also shared a doctored version of the Time cover, with the words "Tax Me" over Musk's face.

She added "When someone makes it big in America — millionaire big, billionaire big, Person of the Year big — part of it has to include paying it forward so the next kid can get a chance, too."

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