Special

The Oracle of Omaha

Warren Buffett admits to a rare 'mistake'

In his annual letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB), investing guru Warren Buffett disclosed that the company took an $11 billion writedown last year on its 2016 purchase of Precision Castparts, describing it as "a mistake." The 90-year-old billionaire, Berkshire's chairman since 1970, said in the company's annual letter to shareholders that the "ugly" writedown had a simple explanation.

COVID-19

CDC signs off on Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Sunday formally accepted the recommendation from its advisory panel that Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine can be given to people ages 18 and older in the United States. The announcement by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will allow vaccinations to begin as soon as the doses are received. Walensky called the decision "another milestone toward an end to the pandemic."

Andrew Cuomo

Charlotte Bennett said New York governor harassed her last spring

A second woman has come forward to accuse New York governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment in a move that has prompted the under-fire Democrat to launch an independent investigation into the allegations. Charlotte Bennett, who was an executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration until November, told The New York Times that he had harassed her last spring, during the height of New York’s fight against the coronavirus – which Cuomo led and which at the time gave him an international reputation for good leadership.

Capitol Riots

Police: Militia attack groups want to ‘blow up Capitol’ during Biden speech

Militia groups involved in the 6 January insurrection want to stage another attack around Joe Biden’s upcoming address to Congress, aiming to “blow up” the complex and kill lawmakers, the acting chief of the US Capitol police has warned. In alarming testimony to a House subcommittee, Yogananda Pittman said that threats were circulating that directly targeted the president’s first formal speech to a joint session of Congress. A date for the event has not yet been announced.

Intel report

Saudi prince approved Khashoggi murder

The Biden administration on Friday released a long-secret intelligence report concluding that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. "We assess that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi," the report reads.

CPAC canceled an Anti-Semite

American fascists, extremists, bigots and violent members meet in Florida

The theme of the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference is “America Uncanceled.” But this week, just days before CPAC was set to kick off in Orlando, Florida, conference organizers announced they’d had to cancel one of their own scheduled speakers. “We have just learned that someone we invited to CPAC has expressed reprehensible views that have no home with our conference or our organization,” CPAC organizers tweeted Monday, referring to right-wing social media figure Young Pharaoh.

Prince Harry

Prince Harry defends Netflix's The Crown in James Corden interview

The Duke of Sussex has defended the Netflix series The Crown, saying that – while it was not “strictly accurate” – it portrayed the pressures of royal life. In an interview with James Corden for the US programme The Late Late Show, Prince Harry said he minded the intrusions of the media into his family’s life much more than the miniseries, which was “obviously fiction”.

"Go back to China Bitch"

Washington Post denounces abuse of reporter

The Washington Post on Thursday denounced online abuse that targeted one of its reporters after a photo of her speaking with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was shared on Twitter. The attacks on White House correspondent Seung Min Kim came after Huffington Post reporter Igor Bobic on Wednesday shared a photo of Kim showing Murkowski a tweet from Neera Tanden, President Biden's nominee for Office of Management and Budget director, in which Tanden criticized Murkowski.

Lindsey Boylan

Andrew Cuomo denies former aide's sexual harassment allegations

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is denying allegations from a former aide who accused him of sexual harassment, including an unwanted kiss, in a Medium post on Wednesday. Lindsey Boylan alleged that in 2018, the Democratic governor kissed her on the lips following a one-on-one briefing in his New York City office.

Mob Attack

Capitol Hill officer details racist abuse

A Capitol Police officer who was part of the response to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building says he experienced racist abuse from a crowd of rioters who had broken into the building. Harry Dunn, who is Black, told The New York Times for a report published Thursday that around 20 people called him a racist slur after one rioter initiated the chants in response to Dunn's declaration that he had voted for President Biden in the November election. The exact language the rioters used was not detailed in the report.

John Geddert

US Olympic gold medal-winning gymnastics coach shoots himself dead

John Geddert took his own life with a gun just hours after he was brought up on two dozen charges including sexual assault, human trafficking and running a criminal enterprise, WLNS-TV reported. Geddert's suicide was confirmed by the office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, according to NBC 25 News.

The GOP’s choice in 2024

Trump Ultra, Trump Lite or Trump Zero

At least eight 2024 hopefuls will speak at CPAC, the conservative movement’s premier conference this weekend in Florida, giving Republicans their clearest look yet at who’s competing in the traditional GOP presidential lanes. But there’s only one lane that really matters: the one currently occupied by former President Donald Trump.

Conservative War

Donald Trump: Republicans say finally goodbye to free speech for good

House conservatives are renewing their calls for Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) to step down from her leadership post after she split with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) over whether former President Trump should speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). House Freedom Caucus members are going after Cheney, chair of the House Republican Conference, following an awkward moment during a press conference Wednesday with the House GOP leader.

Criminal Investigation

Trump's tax returns and related records turned over to Manhattan district attorney

Prosecutors obtained the records on Monday, just hours after the US Supreme Court denied Trump's last-ditch effort to keep the records private, a spokesperson for the district attorney said. The millions of pages of documents, sources say, contain Trump's tax returns spanning from January 2011 to August 2019, as well as financial statements, engagement agreements, documents relating to the preparation and review of tax returns, and work papers and communications related to the tax returns.

Oversight Board

Facebook’s ‘Supreme Court’ to receive new powers

The outside group with the final say on whether Donald Trump can be reinstated on Facebook is expected to be given greater powers in the coming months to decide which content is allowed on the world's largest social network, according to Thomas Hughes, administrative director of the so-called Oversight Board.

Environment

Atlantic Ocean circulation at weakest in a millennium, say scientists

The Atlantic Ocean circulation that underpins the Gulf Stream, the weather system that brings warm and mild weather to Europe, is at its weakest in more than a millennium, and climate breakdown is the probable cause, according to new data.

G999 Josip Heit

Stiftung Warentest: A questionable offer with crypto coin G999

Now the German consumer protection organization Stiftung Warentest has also issued an urgent warning against the professional criminal Josip Heit and his fraud network around the cryptocurrency G999. Particularly fatal in this regard is the statement of the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), which clarified to Finanztest that GSB Gold Standard Banking Corporation AG "does not have a permit to offer banking and/or financial services transactions in Germany."

Steve Bannon

Investigation gains steam as Manhattan prosecutors subpoena financial records

The Manhattan district attorney's office has subpoenaed financial records related to Steve Bannon's crowd-funding border-wall effort, signaling that its criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump's chief strategist is advancing, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mohammed bin Salman

Jamal Khashoggi assassins used company seized by Saudi crown prince

The two private jets used by a Saudi Arabian assassination squad that killed and allegedly dismembered journalist Jamal Khashoggi were owned by a company that less than a year prior had been seized by the Kingdom's powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, according to recently filed court documents seen by CNN. The documents, filed as part of a Canadian civil lawsuit earlier this year, are labeled "Top Secret" and signed by a Saudi minister who relayed the orders of the crown prince, the young de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.

Payments

Federal Reserve suffers widespread disruption

The Federal Reserve suffered a widespread disruption in multiple payment services Wednesday, including a system that banks and businesses rely on to zip trillions of dollars around the financial system each day. After experiencing problems for several hours, the crucial payment system, known as Fedwire, resumed normal operations shortly before 3 p.m. ET, according to the Fed's website.

Lindsey Boylan

Former aide charges Andrew Cuomo kissed, sexually harassed her

A former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the governor kissed her without her consent and asked her to play strip poker, alleging a pattern of sexual harassment she detailed in a new account Wednesday. Lindsey Boylan, who is running for Manhattan borough president and formerly worked for Cuomo and the state’s economic development agency, wrote in a Medium post that Cuomo kissed her on the lips against her will at his office in Manhattan.

500 Dollar Fine

Bruce Springsteen has DWI and reckless driving charges dropped

Bruce Springsteen pleaded guilty Wednesday to drinking shots of tequila as a New Jersey federal park last year, but prosecutors dropped charges of DWI and reckless driving after he was found to be well within the legal limit. During a virtual arraignment hearing on Wednesday, prosecutors said they could not meet the legal burden for the drunken driving against The Boss, 71, who's blood alcohol content was found to be .02 - well below the state's threshold of 0.8.

Shortnews

COVID-19

Justice Department appeals order blocking federal eviction ban

The Justice Department is appealing a ruling by a U.S. judge in Texas blocking the federal eviction moratorium, the agency announced late Saturday, arguing that the ban remains broadly in effect in the meantime. The court in the Eastern District of Texas blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on Thursday, ruling that the federal government had overstepped its authority in imposing the sweeping ban. The decision “does not extend beyond the particular plaintiffs in that case, and it does not prohibit the application of the CDC’s eviction moratorium to other parties,” acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton argued. “For other landlords who rent to covered persons, the CDC’s eviction moratorium remains in effect."

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COVID-19

Justice Department appeals order blocking federal eviction ban

The Justice Department is appealing a ruling by a U.S. judge in Texas blocking the federal eviction moratorium, the agency announced late Saturday, arguing that the ban remains broadly in effect in the meantime. The court in the Eastern District of Texas blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on Thursday, ruling that the federal government had overstepped its authority in imposing the sweeping ban. The decision “does not extend beyond the particular plaintiffs in that case, and it does not prohibit the application of the CDC’s eviction moratorium to other parties,” acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton argued. “For other landlords who rent to covered persons, the CDC’s eviction moratorium remains in effect."

The CDC’s September order banning evictions amid the pandemic cited a 1944 public health law that gives the agency certain powers to prevent communicable diseases from crossing state lines. The Biden administration recently extended the moratorium through June.

“The federal government cannot say that it has ever before invoked its power over interstate commerce to impose a residential eviction moratorium,” U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker wrote in the decision.

“It did not do so during the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic,” Campbell said. “Nor did it invoke such a power during the exigencies of the Great Depression. The federal government has not claimed such a power at any point during our Nation’s history until last year.”

Barker, an appointee of President Donald Trump, also said the government’s justification for the ban under the commerce clause of the Constitution was open-ended: “The federal government thus claims authority to suspend residential evictions for any reason, including an agency’s views on ‘fairness,’” he wrote.

The Justice Department filed a notice of appeal Saturday.

Boynton noted that Congress had signed off on the ban in his statement on the appeal.

"The CDC’s eviction moratorium, which Congress extended last December, protects many renters who cannot make their monthly payments due to job loss or health care expenses,” he said. “By preventing people from becoming homeless or having to move into more-crowded housing, the moratorium helps to slow the spread of Covid-19.”

Intel report

Saudi prince approved Khashoggi murder

The Biden administration on Friday released a long-secret intelligence report concluding that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. "We assess that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi," the report reads.

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Intel report

Saudi prince approved Khashoggi murder

The Biden administration on Friday released a long-secret intelligence report concluding that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. "We assess that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi," the report reads.

The report was finally released more than a year after it was first completed by the intelligence community under former President Donald Trump and briefed to the relevant congressional committees, officials said on Thursday.
“We’ve made it clear that this administration will not sweep anything under the rug, and that President Biden will follow the law,” a senior administration official said ahead of the report’s release. The official added that the release was “in honor of Jamal and this horrific crime.”

“Our aim going forward is to make sure nothing like this ever happens again,” the official said.

Mob Attack

Capitol Hill officer details racist abuse

A Capitol Police officer who was part of the response to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building says he experienced racist abuse from a crowd of rioters who had broken into the building. Harry Dunn, who is Black, told The New York Times for a report published Thursday that around 20 people called him a racist slur after one rioter initiated the chants in response to Dunn's declaration that he had voted for President Biden in the November election. The exact language the rioters used was not detailed in the report.

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Mob Attack

Capitol Hill officer details racist abuse

A Capitol Police officer who was part of the response to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building says he experienced racist abuse from a crowd of rioters who had broken into the building. Harry Dunn, who is Black, told The New York Times for a report published Thursday that around 20 people called him a racist slur after one rioter initiated the chants in response to Dunn's declaration that he had voted for President Biden in the November election. The exact language the rioters used was not detailed in the report.

"They’re saying, 'Trump is our rightful president. Nobody voted for Joe Biden.' I needed to catch my breath. So I said, 'I voted for Joe Biden. What? My vote doesn’t matter?'" Dunn told the newspaper.

"A woman responded, 'This [slur] voted for Joe Biden!' Everybody that was there started joining in. 'Hey, [slur]!' It was over 20 people who said it," he added.

Dunn's account of the racism he faced during the Capitol siege was revealed publicly this week, though lawmakers had cited it during the Senate's impeachment trial of former President Trump.

Seven Republicans broke with their party and voted to convict Trump of inciting the attack on the Capitol, short of the 17 needed to reach a two-thirds threshold in the chamber.

Dunn told ABC News in a separate interview earlier this week that he saw people assaulting police officers with pro-law enforcement "Blue Lives Matter" flags during the attack, which left dozens of Capitol Police officers injured. One officer died during the riot.

"I got called a [N-word] a couple dozen times ... protecting this building," Dunn told ABC News on Monday. “Is this America? They beat police officers with Blue Lives Matter flags. They fought us, they had Confederate flags in the U.S. Capitol.”

Dunn's latest comments come as the Senate Homeland Security Committee and Senate Rules Committee held a joint hearing on Tuesday to investigate how rioters overwhelmed police during the attack and how relevant agencies should respond in the future.

Poll

Biden with 50 percent approval

About half of Americans approve of President Biden’s job performance nearly a month into his presidency, though Democrats and Republicans are sharply divided in their perceptions, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. The survey, which questioned more than 1,000 U.S. adults from Feb. 11 to Feb. 14, found that overall, Biden currently has a positive job approval rating of 50 percent, compared to 38 percent who disapprove.

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Poll

Biden with 50 percent approval

About half of Americans approve of President Biden’s job performance nearly a month into his presidency, though Democrats and Republicans are sharply divided in their perceptions, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. The survey, which questioned more than 1,000 U.S. adults from Feb. 11 to Feb. 14, found that overall, Biden currently has a positive job approval rating of 50 percent, compared to 38 percent who disapprove.

Biden’s approval rating remains relatively unchanged from Quinnipiac’s first poll of his presidency released earlier this month, which showed that about 49 percent of Americans approved of his job performance, compared to 36 percent who had a negative perception of the new administration.

Wednesday’s poll, which reported a margin of error of 3 percentage points, found that Democrats overwhelmingly support Biden’s performance, 91 percent to 2 percent, while Republicans disapprove 82 percent to 11 percent.

Among survey respondents who were registered voters, Biden’s job approval lies at 52 percent to 38 percent, which Quinnipiac noted is nearly the inverse of former President Trump’s at the same point in 2017, when the Republican had a negative job approval rating of 38 percent to 55 percent.

Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy said in a press release on the poll’s findings that Biden’s approval numbers are “solid, but not particularly dazzling.”

Malloy added, however, “there may be some solace in the knowledge that his predecessor spent four years in office without getting very close to 50 percent.”

When it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, 58 percent of those surveyed said they approved of Biden’s efforts to combat the virus, with 48 percent approving of his handling of the American economy, which has suffered for months as businesses have been forced to shut down and layoff workers during the pandemic.

Quinnipiac began conducting the poll the same day Biden announced that the U.S. had secured an additional 200 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, adding that the country should have enough doses from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech to inoculate every American by the end of July.

The administration is also engaged in ongoing negotiations with Congress on the president’s proposed $1.9 trillion relief package. Democratic leaders in Congress have indicated they are prepared to pass the bill, called the American Rescue Plan, with or without Republican votes in the coming weeks.

However, Americans are mixed when it comes to the administration’s plans for reopening schools amid the pandemic, with 42 percent approving and 38 percent indicating disapproval with Biden’s response.

Biden clarified Tuesday that his goal is to have the majority of K-8 schools physically reopened five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office. The remarks came after White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week that Biden aimed to have more than 50 percent of schools holding at least one day of in-person learning per week by the end of his first 100 days.

USA - Mexico

Biden formally ends Trump's border emergency

President Joe Biden on Thursday formally terminated former President Donald Trump's two-year-old declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border and halted the flow of government funds toward construction of the border wall. But roughly 3,600 troops deployed to the border won’t be coming home anytime soon, according to the Pentagon. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris, in her capacity as president of the Senate, Biden called the order by his predecessor "unwarranted." Biden also announced that government funds would no longer be diverted toward construction of a border wall, stating that he was "directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to that end."

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USA - Mexico

Biden formally ends Trump's border emergency

President Joe Biden on Thursday formally terminated former President Donald Trump's two-year-old declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border and halted the flow of government funds toward construction of the border wall. But roughly 3,600 troops deployed to the border won’t be coming home anytime soon, according to the Pentagon.

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris, in her capacity as president of the Senate, Biden called the order by his predecessor "unwarranted." Biden also announced that government funds would no longer be diverted toward construction of a border wall, stating that he was "directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to that end."

Biden's proclamation represents his latest effort to undo some of the previous administration's most controversial policies in his opening weeks in office, many of which were related to immigration and law enforcement at the southern border.

But for the troops on the ground, not much will change. Roughly 3,600 military personnel will continue providing support to the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection in the form of surveillance, maintenance, logistics and transportation until September, Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell said.

In response to the pandemic in March of last year, an additional 600 personnel were deployed to the border to operate 60 additional surveillance sites, Mitchell said. Those troops will leave by March 31.

Mitchell stressed that the troops are not helping with wall construction. That effort is overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers, which directed the contractors working on the border not to install any additional physical barriers. The only work that will occur is the construction activity necessary to close down each site, he said.

Trump's national emergency declaration in February 2019 came after a 35-day government shutdown that resulted in him signing a bipartisan government funding bill allocating $1.375 billion for border security.

That amount was far less than the $5.7 billion Trump had sought to build a wall separating the U.S. and Mexico, so the then-president circumvented Congress by declaring a national emergency at the border.

In total, Trump's declaration diverted more than $6 billion from the Pentagon and Treasury Department to construct or repair as many as 234 miles of border barrier. Of those funds, $3.6 billion were earmarked for military construction, $2.5 billion were dedicated to a Defense Department drug prevention program and $600 million were from a Treasury Department drug forfeiture fund.

The order was met by legal challenges and rebukes among members of Congress from both parties. Additionally, a bipartisan group of nearly five dozen former national security officials condemned the decision.