Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022
Good Thursday morning. Here’s what is happening:
Fox Business: Inflation surged 7 percent in December, the highest rate in 40 years.
The consumer price index rose 7% in December from a year ago, according to a new Labor Department report released Wednesday, marking the fastest increase since June 1982, when inflation hit 7.1%. The CPI – which measures a bevy of goods ranging from gasoline and health care to groceries and rents – jumped 0.5% in the one-month period from November.
Economists expected the index to show that prices surged 7% in December from the year-ago period and 0.4% from the previous month.
So-called core prices, which exclude more volatile measurements of food and energy, soared 5.5% in December from the previous year – a sharp increase from November, when it rose 4.9%. It was the steepest 12-month increase since 1991.
Despite the red-hot reading, stock market futures rose following the data release.
"Inflation at 7% is no joke," said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors. "It’s the highest annual CPI number since 1982 and driven not by energy prices, but by just about everything else." While Shah said December's number could mark the peak for annual inflation readings amid signs that supply strains are easing, other experts suggested the rampant spread of the omicron variant could bring about new difficulties for the global supply chain.INFLATION NATION: Where are rising prices hitting Americans the hardest?foxbusiness.comDecember inflation breakdown: Where are rising prices hitting consumers the hardest?American households are grappling with the steepest price increase in almost four decades, paying more for everything from cars to gasoline to food as uncomfortably hot inflation erodes most workers’ wage gains.
The New York Post: The sex-abuse lawsuit against Prince Andrew can move forward to trial, a Manhattan judge ruled Wednesday.
In a 46-page decision, Judge Lewis Kaplan “denied in all respects” the royal’s numerous attempts to dismiss Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s suit against him.
Crucially, the judge insisted that Giuffre’s $500,000 settlement with Epstein was too “ambiguous” to cover Andrew — reasoning that the late pedophile likely had only been out to protect himself. The Duke of York had tried to argue that the 2009 deal between Giuffre and Epstein shielded him from any liability stemming from her accusations.
The judge also dismissed the 61-year-old prince’s “meritless” suggestion that his accuser’s complaint needed to be “more definitive.”
“Ms. Giuffre’s complaint is neither ‘unintelligible’ nor ‘vague’ nor ‘ambiguous,'” Kaplan ruled of the detailed allegations that are “reprehensible” if true.
Wednesday’s ruling leaves the middle son of Queen Elizabeth II still facing trial in Manhattan federal court, scheduled for later this year.
One of Giuffre’s attorneys, Sigrid McCawley, hailed it as “another important step in Virginia‘s heroic and determined pursuit of justice as a survivor of sex trafficking.”
Fox News: An outside investigator found 'unintentional mistakes' in the Moab, Utah, police response to the Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie call.
An outside investigation into the Aug. 12 domestic violence incident between Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie in Moab, Utah, found "unintentional mistakes" – and issued a number of recommendations on how the department should move forward.
Among the top takeaways, both officers involved should be placed on probation, according to the investigator.
The domestic violence call, first reported by Fox News Digital, included allegations that Laundrie slapped and hit Petito, but both of them denied that version of events to responding officers. Police ultimately split them up for the night and let them go.
The Price Police Department launched an independent, outside investigation into the Moab Police Department’s handling of the incident after attorney Tanya Reeves filed a formal complaint and city officials requested assistance.
"I am confident and comfortable in stating the mistakes that were made were not made intentionally," Price Police Capt. Brandon Ratcliffe wrote in the highly anticipated report on his months-long investigation into Moab police’s handling of the call.Officer Pratt: "If I missed a big red flag that he was a murderer, then yes, I missed it. I didn't feel like she was a threat to him, and I didn't care if he ended up with a girl that was slapping him."foxnews.comGabby Petito and Brian Laundrie: Outside investigator found ‘unintentional mistakes’ in Moab police responseAn outside investigation into the Aug. 12 domestic violence incident between Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie in Moab, Utah, found “unintentional mistakes” – and issued a number of recommendations on how the department should move forward.
CNN: GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell Wednesday called President Biden's voting rights speech 'incoherent' and 'beneath his office.'
"How profoundly — profoundly — unpresidential," McConnell said Wednesday on Capitol Hill. "I've known, liked and personally respected Joe Biden for many years. I did not recognize the man at the podium yesterday."
McConnell said Biden's speech was a "rant," "incoherent," "incorrect," "beneath his office," and "unbecoming of a President of the United States."
Biden in Georgia on Tuesday equated supporters of Senate rule changes to civil rights icons and opponents to segregationists and a leader of the Confederacy.
"At consequential moments in history, they present a choice," said Biden in his speech. "Do you want to be the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?"
McConnell said that Biden's speech is further proof of why the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to advance most legislation, should stand..@LeaderMcConnell says President Biden's #VotingRights speech yesterday was "rhetoric unbecoming of a president of the United States."
The Hill: Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said Wednesday that President Biden may have gone ‘a little too far’ with his rhetoric during his voting rights speech in Georgia.
Axios: Democratic leaders have found a loophole to bypass an initial Republican filibuster and debate the party's elections reform bills.
Democratic leaders have found a mechanism to enable them to bypass an initial Republican filibuster and debate the party's sweeping elections reform bills, according to a new leadership memo obtained by Axios.
The strategy is the latest example of how Democrats are seeking new ways to try to bypass Senate procedures that are blocking their agenda. But the ultimate outcome will likely be the same: insufficient support to change the 60-vote threshold needed to pass sweeping voting rights reforms.
The House is expected to take up an amendment in the coming days related to NASA leasing “underutilized” property to private groups. Democratic leaders are referring to this as the "shell bill."
It will then strip that legislation of its existing language and replace it with the text for the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
The House would then pass the updated bill and send it to the Senate as a "message." Then, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will file a motion to concur with the House amendment.
Former President Barack Obama in USA Today: We need to follow John Lewis' example and fight for our democracy.
The Hill: President Joe Biden will meet with Senate Democrats on Thursday amid a push to change the filibuster and pass voting rights legislation.
Biden, according to the aide, will attend a closed-door Democratic caucus lunch "to discuss the push to pass voting rights and potential changes to Senate rules."
The meeting comes as Biden is stepping up his public push to get voting rights legislation through the Senate in the face of GOP opposition, as progressive groups have urged him to lean into the fight to win over members of his own party on changing the rules after Democrats missed self-imposed deadlines last year.
Biden traveled to Georgia this week, where he publicly urged Senate Democrats to pass a bill, including changing the legislative filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most legislation, in order to get it done.
Though he's previously expressed an openness to changing the Senate's rules, he gave a full-throated endorsement during his speech, saying that he supports changing the rules “whichever way they need to be changed to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights."
Biden's decision to attend the Senate Democratic lunch, giving him the chance to lobby Senate Democrats directly, is the latest escalation of a high-profile — yet uphill — bid to change the Senate's filibuster rule after Republicans previously used it to block to sweeping election bills and separate legislation named after the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) that would strengthen the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has vowed to bring up election-related legislation and if Republicans, as expected, block it, to hold a vote on changing the Senate's rules by Monday, Jan. 17.
Neither Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) nor Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have said they will vote to change the rules, though Democratic senators met with them on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
USA Today: President Biden's approval rating has dropped to new low of 33 percent on concerns about his handling of COVID-19 and the economy, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows.
The Herald-Times: Republican Rep. Trey Hollingsworth won't run for reelection in Indiana's 9th district.
Republican U.S. Congressman Trey Hollingsworth will not be seeking reelection to the state's 9th Congressional District representing parts of central and southern Indiana, he announced in an exclusive editorial to the IndyStar on Wednesday.
Hollingsworth, a Republican first elected in 2016, said in his editorial that much of his time in Congress has been spent "battling Washington itself."
"The problem of politicians using their office to catapult themselves to another office, to a Committee assignment, or to a high-paying lobbying job is the misaligned incentive that tears at the most fundamental promise of democracy: elected officials represent electorates," he wrote.
Hollingsworth, who has argued for strong term limits and said he made a pledge to limit himself to four terms, will step down at the end of his third."I want to be the change I want to see in this world, so, as I contemplate how I can work for you in new and better ways in the future, I won’t run for reelection this year," 9th District Rep. Trey Hollingsworth writes.heraldtimesonline.comRep. Trey Hollingsworth won’t run for reelection in Indiana’s 9th district. Here’s why.Trey Hollingsworth, Republican Party nominee for the United States House of Representatives in Indiana’s 9th congressional district, speaks with reporter Bobby King, Friday, Oct. 7, 2016. (Robert Scheer/IndyStar)
NBC News: Rep. Matt Gaetz's ex-girlfriend testified Wednesday before a federal grand jury investigating him for sex crimes, a major development that suggests the DOJ may be closer to indicting him.
The ex-girlfriend, whose name is being withheld by NBC News to respect her privacy, has been in talks for months with prosecutors about an immunity deal. Under a possible deal, she would avoid prosecution for obstruction of justice in return for testifying in the investigation into whether Gaetz in 2017 had sex with a 17-year-old female for money and whether months later he and others violated a federal law prohibiting people for paying for prostitutes overseas.
Legal sources familiar with the case say Gaetz is being investigated for three distinct crimes: sex trafficking the 17-year-old; violating the Mann Act, which prohibits taking women across state lines for prostitution; and obstructing justice.
Gaetz, R-Fla., has not been charged with a crime and has denied all accusations, saying he never paid for sex and never had sex with a minor when he was an adult. The firebrand conservative has called the federal investigation into him a DOJ “witch hunt.”
BBC News: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing calls from senior Tories to resign after he admitted attending a drinks party during lockdown.
The PM apologised for the way he had handled the event in the Downing Street garden in 2020 and said he understood the public's "rage" over it.
Cabinet members including deputy PM Dominic Raab rallied round Mr Johnson.
But Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross and senior backbenchers William Wragg and Caroline Nokes called on him to go.
Mr Ross, an MP and an MSP, said he had a "difficult conversation" with Mr Johnson after the PM's apology to MPs earlier on Wednesday.
He said he would write to the 1922 Committee - which organises Tory leadership contests - to register his lack of confidence in the PM.
"He is the prime minister, it is his government that put these rules in place, and he has to be held to account for his actions," he said.
If 54 backbench Conservative MPs send letters to the 1922 committee it will trigger a leadership challenge.
ABC News: West Virginia Gov. Justice says he is feeling 'extremely unwell' as he battles COVID-19.
Justice, who is vaccinated and boosted, said he sought out tests Tuesday following a "sudden onset of symptoms."
The governor's office described his symptoms as "moderate," but Justice -- who was set to give his State of the State address Wednesday -- wrote that he feels "extremely unwell."
"I feel extremely unwell at this point, and I have no choice but to postpone my State of the State address to the Legislature," he said in a statement Tuesday. "I woke up this morning with congestion and a cough. A little while later, I developed a headache and fever, so I decided to get tested right away."
Star Tribune: The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, will require proof of vaccination to get into bars and restaurants, making them the latest cities to implement the strict requirement.
The action comes as officials are trying to temper a spike in infections and hospitalizations fueled by the fast-spreading omicron variant, which is already causing staffing shortages across industries.
"This is a critical next step to avoid closures," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said at a virtual news conference. "We want to stay open, and we need to stay safer."
The new restrictions — which will apply to businesses where food or beverages are sold for on-site consumption — will go into effect for most businesses on Jan. 19. Patrons can provide either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken under medical supervision within the last 72 hours. Booster shots are not required.
The requirement would apply to stadiums, movie theaters, bowling alleys, convention centers and other venues that serve food or drink. St. Paul's mandate will apply only to businesses that are licensed by the city.
Children under the age of 2 are exempted from the policy. Those between the ages of 2 and 5 — who have not yet gotten the green light from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to receive their shots — will be required to get tested.
"Our expectation is that the vast majority of businesses will comply, will participate and will see this as an opportunity to keep their business open, to keep their employees working and to keep our whole community moving forward together," St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said at the news conference.
WCCO-TV: Minneapolis Public Schools will switch to all remote learning this Friday through the end of the month.
Mediaite: Former President Donald Trump said politicians who don’t disclose their booster shot status are 'gutless.'
He made the remarks on One America News in an interview aired on Tuesday night.
Host Dan Ball asked Trump about his comments encouraging people to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Ball cited the former president’s recent interview with Candace Owens in which Trump offered firm pushback against Owens’ anti-vax stance. “People aren’t dying when they take the vaccine,” he told her.
“Now after so many months of the vaccine being administered and these side affects, and Americans’ questions [sic] of it, do you reconsider your push for it? Or what’s your view on the vaccine in general?” Ball asked.
“Well, I’ve taken it,” said Trump. “I’ve had the booster. Many politicians–I watched a couple of politicians be interviewed and one of the questions was, ‘Did you get the booster?’ – because they had the vaccine – and they’re answering like–in other words, the answer is ‘yes’ but they don’t want to say it. Because they’re gutless. You gotta say it – whether you had it or not. Say it. But the fact is that I think the vaccines saved tens of millions throughout the world. I’ve had absolutely no side-effects.”
The former president reiterated what he’d said to Owens, and stated that being vaccinated greatly reduces one’s chances of being hospitalized or dying from Covid.
“If they get it, they’re not going to hospitals for the most part and dying,” Trump said. “Before it was a horror. and now they’re not.”
NPR: Pressed on his election lies, former President Donald Trump cut an interview with NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’ short Wednesday morning.
NPR’s Steve Inskeep interviews former President Donald Trump on ‘Morning Edition’ Wednesday.
POLITICO: GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s said he will not give testimony to the January 6 committee about interactions with former President Donald Trump during the 2021 Capitol attack.
In a letter to the GOP leader on Wednesday, Chair Bennie Thompson said the panel wants to know about the details of Trump’s phone call with McCarthy on Jan. 6, one the California Republican himself once described as “heated,” in which Trump initially downplayed the notion that his supporters were responsible for breaching the Capitol, according to some accounts.
When McCarthy asserted on the call to the outgoing president that it was Trump’s supporters who raided the Capitol, Trump replied: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” This account of the call was shared by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who publicly revealed her conversation with McCarthy ahead of the impeachment proceedings last year. McCarthy has not disputed the account.
In a statement issued later Wednesday, McCarthy said he would not cooperate with the request.
“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.
CNN: Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany met with January 6 committee.
The Associated Press: The Biden administration is sending more COVID-19 tests to schools in a bid to keep them open.
The White House announced Wednesday that a dedicated stream of 5 million rapid tests and 5 million lab-based PCR tests will be made available to schools starting this month to ease supply shortages and promote the safe reopening of schools.
It said Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, will join the COVID-19 team to oversee the enhanced testing push. The moves come just days before private insurers will be required to reimburse Americans for tests and the launch of a new federal website for Americans to order free tests to be shipped to their doors.
The test supply push, though, will likely be too late for many Americans trying to safely navigate the omicron-fueled case surge, which is already showing signs of cresting.
CBS News: A federal lawsuit accuses 16 elite universities of fixing prices and courting wealthy families.
The litigation, filed Sunday in federal court in the Northeast District of Illinois, alleges that 16 schools colluded to set financial aid packages, while some colleges are also accused of discriminating against low-income applicants. At least 170,000 alumni overpaid by "hundreds of millions of dollars," claims the suit, which was filed by five alumni of Duke, Northwestern and Vanderbilt who attended the schools between 2003 and 2019. They are seeking class-action status, which would let others join the suit.
The suit names 16 defendants: Ivy League schools Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, University of Pennsylvania and Yale University, as well as California Institute of Technology, Duke University, Emory University, Georgetown University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Rice University, University of Chicago, University of Notre Dame and Vanderbilt University.
All 16 institutions are, or have been, members of the 568 Presidents Group, a consortium that uses a common methodology to determine students' financial aid. An exception to federal antitrust law allows members of the group to work together to set financial aid policies.Federal lawsuit accuses 16 elite universities of fixing prices and courting wealthy familiescbsn.wsFederal lawsuit accuses 16 elite universities of fixing prices and courting wealthy familiesTop colleges collude to lower financial aid while giving special consideration to children of the rich, suit claims.
The Columbus Dispatch: The Ohio Supreme Court struck down state House and Senate maps, sending the redistricting commission back to the drawing board.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor was the key vote, breaking with her party to rule against the maps. O'Connor, a Republican, joined the court's three Democratic justices and the three GOP justices dissented.
The new plan shall be adopted within 10 days, and the Ohio Supreme Court retains jurisdiction for review of the new plan, according to a court filing.
Now, the seven-member commission faces a time crunch to craft new maps because Feb. 2 is the current deadline to file paperwork to run for the Ohio Legislature. State lawmakers could change that filing date without moving the May 3 primary.
Advocates of fair maps hailed the decision as a resounding victory for Ohio voters who overwhelmingly approved changes to the state constitution to limit partisan line-drawing.
Early Sept. 16, Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission approved maps that would allow the GOP to retain its veto-proof majority in the state Legislature over the objections of the commission's two Democrats.
ABC News: Lawmakers paid tribute to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Wednesday as he lies in state.
Reid died at age 82 on Dec. 28 following complications from pancreatic cancer.
As a military color guard carried Reid's casket, lawmakers gathered at the top of the Capitol steps with hands over their hearts.
Vice President Kamala Harris was among those attending the tribute.
Reid, a former amateur boxer from the small town of Searchlight, Nevada, and considered a sometimes ruthless yet revered politician, was being remembered by colleagues for his nearly four-decade-long career in Congress, which he built from the ground up, eventually carving out his role as one of the most powerful people in government. It was under Reid that the Senate passed then-President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act -- landmark legislation of his presidency.
While a visit to the Capitol Rotunda was not on President Joe Biden's schedule for Wednesday, he made an unannounced stop in the afternoon to pay his respects to a man he served with in the Senate.
Biden spent a moment in silence at Reid’s casket, made the Sign of the Cross and then laid his hand on the American flag draped over the casket and then on a wreath placed nearby, before slowly exiting the Rotunda.
Rolling Stone: Ronnie Spector, the leader of the ‘Ronettes,’ has died at 78.
Ronnie Spector, the leader of the girl group the Ronettes and the voice behind immortal classics like “Be My Baby” and “Walking in the Rain,” died Wednesday after a brief battle with cancer. She was 78.
“Ronnie lived her life with a twinkle in her eye, a spunky attitude, a wicked sense of humor, and a smile on her face,” her family said in a statement. “She was filled with love and gratitude. Her joyful sound, playful nature, and magical presence will live on in all who knew, heard, or saw her.”
The Ronettes were the quintessential act of the early-Sixties girl-group era, and Spector’s silk-meets-sandpaper voice powered all of their songs. Last year, “Be My Baby,” the genre’s defining track, was honored at Number 22 on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.We honor the late Ronnie Spector with a look back at 15 of her greatest songs, from immortal Ronettes classics to team-ups with everyone from Eddie Money to Joey Ramonerol.stRonnie Spector: 15 Essential SongsWe survey the full arc of the iconic singer’s five-decade pop odyssey, from her Ronettes classics to team-ups with everyone from Eddie Money to Joey Ramone
The Hollywood Reporter: Fox News has tapped Jeanine Pirro as a new co-host of ‘The Five,’ the network’s popular roundtable program.
The former prosecutor and vocal Donald Trump supporter will join Fox’s afternoon panel show The Five as a co-host, alongside Jesse Watters (who will soon be getting his own show at 7 p.m.), Dana Perino, and Greg Gutfeld.
In addition, Fox News says that the liberal co-host chair will be filled by three rotating regulars: Harold Ford Jr., Geraldo Rivera and Jessica Tarlov. The chair has been empty since last May, when Juan Williams left the program. The moves will take effect Jan. 24.
Pirro has been with Fox News since 2006, when she joined as a legal analyst, and added her own weekend show in 2011. Pirro will vacate that show when she joins The Five, with Fox in development on new weekend primetime programming.
WSB-TV: Parts of north Georgia are likely to see winter weather this weekend.
Parts of north Georgia are likely to see some winter weather this weekend, and those winter weather threats could even extend into parts of metro Atlanta.
Severe Weather Team 2 Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns said that early weather models show a wintry mix for parts of north Georgia late Saturday night into Sunday.
Burns said it’s too early to talk about what parts of north Georgia could see winter weather, but you’ll want to plan your weekend accordingly.
This day in history: it was this day in 2018 that officials in Hawaii errantly sent an alert to cell phones warning of an incoming ballistic missile attack. From NBC News: Hawaii 'ballistic missile threat' alert to phones was false alarm, officials say.
Hawaii residents were thrown into a panic Saturday morning after an emergency alert was mistakenly sent, warning them to "seek immediate shelter" from a ballistic missile threat, and it took emergency officials 38 minutes to send a new alert to mobile phones that the threat was a false alarm.
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Vern Miyagi said at a press conference with the governor Saturday afternoon that a single individual sent out the alert by mistake. The individual went so far as to click through a second message, intended as a safeguard, that asked whether the alert should go out.
But the blame should not fall on that man's shoulders alone, Miyagi said. "I accept responsibility for this," he said. "This is my team. We made a mistake. We are going to process this and study this to make sure this doesn’t happen again."
The lapse led to an uproar over how such an error — with potentially dangerous consequences — could occur during a time of high international tensions with North Korea.