By Susan Cornwell and Lisa Lambert WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden told congressional Democrats on Wednesday he would not back down on including $1,400 checks for struggling Americans in his COVID-19 relief plan but would consider tighter limits on who gets them, lawmakers and aides said. Biden held a conference call with House of Representatives Democrats and talked with Democratic senators at the White House as the party prepared to use a procedural maneuver to push Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package through without Republican votes if necessary. "We did have a conve...
Controversial podcaster Joe Rogan was ridiculed in the sky above Los Angeles on Saturday.
"A skywriting message marriage proposal was seen up above West Hollywood and the surrounding areas Saturday, which asked somebody named Mollie Pratt to marry them ... reportedly followed up with 'SHE SAID YES' ... and then one last random train of thought," TMZ reported. "After the Mollie stuff flew by -- which purportedly had trailing messages like 'I LOVE YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING' and 'UNTIL DEATH DO US PART' ... the writing followed with something to the effect of, 'ONE MORE THING ... JOE ROGAN IS LITEALLY (sic) 5 FOOT 3.'"
Pictures of the skywriting were posted to Twitter:
“Joe Rogan is literally 5-foot-3.” Sky written over WeHo. https://t.co/x6xEdxX9wx— Rebecca Keegan (@Rebecca Keegan) 1623532989.0
someone in LA just spent several thousand dollars to spell out "Joe Rogan is literally 5 Foot 3" in the sky https://t.co/3JfvcyFUCK— o (@o) 1623532803.0
Thank you to whoever paid to skywrite Joe Rogan is literally 5 foot 3 https://t.co/U252Vss9Jv— Melinda (@Melinda) 1623532776.0
Trump official battled colleagues to stop them from making ‘embarrassing’ claim about COVID-19: report
America narrowly avoided a major diplomatic crisis from the Trump administration according to the account of a former top official.
"In the final days of the Trump administration, the State Department was embroiled in a bitter dispute over China's role in the origins of COVID-19 that's now spilling into public view," BuzzFeed News reported Saturday. "In an open letter posted on Medium on Thursday, Christopher Ford, former Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation, said he intervened to prevent the US government from 'embarrassing and discrediting' itself by accusing China of having deliberately engineered the coronavirus — despite there being no evidence to make that case."
"It is highly unusual for a former senior State Department official to publish a personal account of recent internal disputes. But Ford's open letter comes in the midst of an acrimonious debate over the so-called 'lab leak' hypothesis for the emergence of COVID-19. The most extreme version of this theory suggests that Chinese scientists engineered SARS-CoV-2 as a bioweapon," BuzzFeed noted. "Sourcing his account to emails put into the public domain through reporting by Fox News and Vanity Fair, Ford's Medium post detailed his increasingly fraught relationship with David Asher, a contractor in the State Department who was running its investigation into the origins of COVID-19, and Thomas DiNanno, former acting head of the department's Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance (AVC)."
BuzzFeed interviewed Ford and described him as "a conservative with a record of being hawkish on the threats posed to the US by China."
"In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Ford said his colleagues were pushing to include allegations that China had breached the international Biological Weapons Convention in a State Department report to Congress, which could have set off a diplomatic crisis with one of the US's chief global rivals," BuzzFeed reported. "Ford also told BuzzFeed News that Asher and DiNanno wanted to include the claim that China had breached the Biological Weapons Convention in an annual report prepared for Congress by the State Department. The report, mandated by US law, details nations' compliance with international agreements on arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament."
Ford explained his perspective to BuzzFeed.
"They clearly appeared to be coming at this from a biological weapons angle. They got squirrelly if you pushed back on whether there was evidence to support a biological weaponry finding over the coronavirus, but they seemed to be trying to build a case," Ford said. "Their legal arguments sounded pretty weak to me. They never presented evidence of actual [bioweapons] work."
Read the full report.
Longtime Democratic strategist and New York magazine analyst Ed Kilgore on Saturday explained why he thought Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp was outmaneuvering Donald Trump in Georgia, but that it might not be enough to save Kemp's political future.
"There are two very evident dimensions of the 45th president's 2020 vengeance crusade. First, he has been impressively successful in getting a solid majority of Republican elected officials and rank-and-file activists alike to buy into, or at least refuse to contradict, his big-ass lie about having actually won — nay swept — the 2020 presidential election. Second, he and his bravos really want to draw blood from the Republican elected officials he blames for undermining his efforts to reverse the results before they were confirmed by Congress on January 6," Kilgore wrote. "Chief among them were Georgia secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who certified Biden's victory in the Peach State, and Georgia governor Brian Kemp, who ratified this certification."
Kilgore explained that Raffensperger appears to be toast in his GOP primary, saying "odds now are that Raffensperger won't even make the runoff if there is one."
While Trump helped convince Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) to run against Raffensperger, his candidate recruitment has so far largely failed in the governor's race.
"Yes, the suddenly Trump-y former Democrat Vernon Jones is in the race, with the former president's blessing (if not his endorsement, so far)," he noted. "But putting aside the issues with Trump, Kemp is a whole lot closer to the Georgia GOP's idea of a governor than a Black ex-Democrat who was pro-choice not long ago and has quite a bit of baggage (including a rape allegation he refuted by claiming a consensus three-way sexual encounter)."
Kilgore noted Trump had reportedly failed to get former Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Georgia state Sen. Burt Jones to challenge Kemp.
"Nor are Trump's 2022 stumbles in Georgia limited to the governorship. He very publicly encouraged University of Georgia football legend Herschel Walker (a friend of Trump's dating back to Walker's days playing for a pro football franchise owned by the mogul) to run against Raphael Warnock when the Democrat pursues a full Senate term next year. Trump's move all but froze the field as other Republicans waited to see what 'Herschel,' as he is universally known in Georgia, would do. But Walker, who currently lives in Texas, is taking his time as Warnock happily raises money, and Republicans could have to scramble for a candidate if the former Heisman Trophy winner ultimately gives the race a pass," Kilgore explained.
However, even if Kemp prevails in the GOP primary, he's still at risk of having his political career ended in the 2022 general election.
"As for Kemp, even if he outfoxes Trump and avoids a serious primary challenge, he will still have a tough general election ahead of him, probably against the woman he barely defeated (after purging quite a few of her voters from the rolls), Stacey Abrams. All the steps he takes, moreover, to convince MAGA voters that he is as savagely reactionary as ever will probably eliminate any credit swing voters might otherwise give him for independence from Trump. But I'm sure Kemp is living one day at a time politically, and so far he's surviving," Kilgore noted.
Read the full report.
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