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Only half of Covid-19 vaccines delivered to US states have been used, but Biden administration officials say some of that is being reserved for the all-important second dose that completes the vaccine process. And FEMA is close to finishing a request for up to 10,000 service members to help administer vaccines. Meanwhile, Oklahoma is trying to return the state's $2 million stockpile of hydroxychloroquine, which had been touted by some as a treatment for Covid-19. In Peru, things are getting so bad that the country has instituted widespread lockdowns and is racing to secure more ICU beds. In India, a decline in cases has led to some easing of public activity restrictions. Cases are trending lower in the US as well, but estimates claim another 80,000 people could die of the virus in the next few weeks.
2. White House
President Biden declared yesterday "climate day" at the White House and signed executive orders supporting climate science and putting climate action at the center of US foreign policy and national security. On another front, Biden is expected to sign an executive order that would set up his goal of admitting tens of thousands more refugees to the US. In foreign policy, the new administration has paused arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as it conducts a wider review of high-dollar agreements made by the Trump administration. Secretary of State Tony Blinken says Biden's team wants to make sure such deals advance "our strategic objectives."
3. Domestic extremism
The Department of Homeland Security has issued a threat bulletin due to the ongoing potential for violence after the inauguration, including concerns that domestic extremists may be emboldened by the attack on the US Capitol. Indictments and investigations against alleged insurrectionists have revealed members of some paramilitary groups discussed training camps and tactical preparations for the siege. At least two cases open right now include defendants with alleged ties to military-style training. Members of Congress are still reporting threats, and concern is growing about the safety of some lawmakers when they travel outside Washington. As former President Trump's impeachment trial looms, some Democratic House staffers are drafting a message to the Senate, urging the body to seriously consider the impact and trauma the Capitol insurrection had on them.
It was a wild day on Wall Street as Reddit users coordinated a mass buying spree of GameStop stock, deliberately upending hedge funds and short sellers who were betting the beleaguered retailer's stock would crash. GameStop is up more than 1,700% since the start of January, and these rogue stock buyers have set their sights on other rickety stocks, like AMC. Both AMC and GameStop spiked so rapidly yesterday they triggered automatic halts designed to protect against volatility. The Reddit forum in which people organized these stock bets temporarily went private yesterday, sparking even more frenzy. Experts agree the whole situation is just creating a stock bubble, but it's provided a dramatic example of the frustration some younger Americans feel about the power and influence of the Wall Street elite.
5. Daniel Pearl
Pakistan's Supreme Court has freed the four men convicted of kidnapping and murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002. Pearl was working as the South Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal when he was kidnapped and killed in the Pakistani city of Karachi. Four men were arrested later that year and convicted, but a high court last year overturned the convictions of three of the four men and reduced the other's sentence. The court last month ordered all of them to be set free, eliciting shock from Pearl family's lawyers and concern over the future safety of journalists in the country.
JUST IN ...
Poland enacts near-total abortion ban
In an unexpected move, the Polish government has abruptly imposed a near-total ban on abortions, delivering a major blow to abortion-rights advocates and sparking nationwide protests.
Pamela Anderson announces marriage to her bodyguard
Halsey announces she's pregnant
NASA's Perseverance rover will begin 'epic journey' on Mars next month
It will collect samples of rocks and dirt from the red planet, and we will cheer it on every step of the way.
Youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman to recite a poem before the Super Bowl
Poetry and football: the collaboration we didn't know we needed.
Jennifer Lopez celebrates the 20th anniversary of 'The Wedding Planner'
20 YEARS?! Where does the time go?
Cloris Leachman, the award-winning sitcom star and comedic actress, has died at 94. In her extensive career, Leachman, who was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2011, earned 22 Emmy nominations and eight Primetime Emmy awards and a Daytime Emmy.
That's how much Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has raised for charity through the sale of inauguration meme-inspired merchandise.
"There is no place for comments like that in our political discourse."
House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, after a CNN report revealed that Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene repeatedly indicated support for executing prominent Democratic politicians in 2018 and 2019 before she was elected to Congress. A video also has surfaced of Greene confronting Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg in 2019.
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