10 things you need to know today: February 1, 2021
Biden invites Republican senators to discuss coronavirus relief, Myanmar's military takes power in a coup, and more
Biden invites GOP senators to meeting on coronavirus relief
President Biden on Sunday invited a group of Republican senators to meet with him Monday to discuss his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan and their $600 billion counterproposal. A White House official said Biden was open to negotiations, but the 10 Republican senators' relief package was "not going to scratch the itch." The White House said Biden would consider scaling down stimulus checks for families with incomes above $150,000 per year. One official said that Biden would not accept slashing months of unemployment insurance or spending to help schools reopen, as GOP senators proposed. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said earlier Sunday that Democrats appear to have the votes to approve Biden's COVID-19 relief package through a process known as reconciliation, which requires a simple majority.
Myanmar military takes power, detains Aung San Suu Kyi
Myanmar's military took control in a coup and said it would run the country for one year. The statement came after security officials detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior figures in the governing National League for Democracy. Tensions had been rising between the civilian government and leaders of the military, which long ruled the country. The army called November elections fraudulent, although it failed to provide evidence, after a landslide NLD victory and a poor showing by the military-backed party. Parliament was due to convene on Monday in the capital, Naypyitaw. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the United States was "alarmed" by reports that the military had undermined the country's "democratic transition."
Trump names two new impeachment defense lawyers
Former President Donald Trump announced Sunday that former Pennsylvania prosecutor Bruce Castor Jr. and Alabama lawyer David Schoen would serve as his lead defense lawyers at his Senate impeachment trial, which is due to start next week. The news came a day after five leading members of Trump's previous legal team left. Trump reportedly wanted the defense lawyers to focus on his debunked election fraud claims, instead of whether it was unconstitutional to convict a present who has left office. Trump said Castor and Schoen will bring "national profiles and significant trial experience in high profile cases." Castor said in a statement that it was a "privilege" to represent Trump, and that the Constitution would "triumph over partisanship."
5,100 detained in Russia protests
Russian police detained more than 5,100 people on Sunday as tens of thousands of protesters gathered in cities across the country demanding the release of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The crowds chanted slogans against Russian President Vladimir Putin. A monitoring group said some of those hauled in by police were beaten. Navalny associates called for another mass protest on Tuesday. Navalny faces a court hearing that day that could result in a long prison sentence for the 44-year-old anti-corruption investigator and Putin critic. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Russia's "harsh tactics against peaceful protesters and journalists." Russia accused Blinken of "crude interference in Russia's internal affairs."
Rep. Adam Kinzinger forms PAC to challenge Trump's power over GOP
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) announced Sunday that he was launching a political action committee called Country 1st that will be focused on challenging former President Donald Trump's dominance of the Republican Party. Kinzinger, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for incitement of an insurrection, said his "movement" would counter the rise of conspiracy theorists within the GOP and the forces behind the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters. "This is no time for silence, not after the last month, not after the past few years," Kinzinger said in a video posted on country1st.com, his new PAC's website. He said his new PAC advocated a return to "conservative principles."
Chicago teachers ordered back to classrooms
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered Chicago Public Schools teachers to return to the classroom Monday unless they have permission to stay home because of medical concerns. "Our schools are safe," she said. CPS officials pushed back the mandatory date for teachers to report for in-person instruction from Monday to Tuesday for pre-K through eighth grade after the district and the teachers' union failed to reach a deal on returning to the classroom as the coronavirus pandemic continues. CPS CEO Janice Jackson said teachers who refuse to return to the classroom will lose access to Google Suite after school on Monday, cutting them off from remote instruction. Chicago Teachers Union leaders said if the district follows through with the threat, teachers will strike.
Lincoln Project condemns co-founder accused of online harassment
The Lincoln Project on Sunday condemned co-founder John Weaver after The New York Times reported allegations that he made unsolicited sexual advances toward 21 men. The longtime GOP strategist allegedly sent messages to a 14-year-old. Weaver allegedly asked questions about the boy's body when he was in high school, then sent more direct messages after he turned 18. Weaver allegedly sent overt sexual solicitations to several other men, offering some professional and personal assistance in exchange for sex. Weaver declined to comment Sunday but said two weeks ago in a statement to Axios that he had sent "inappropriate" messages and apologized. "The truth is that I'm gay. And that I have a wife and two kids who I love," he said.
Winter storm hits Northeast with up to 2 feet of snow
A winter storm started hitting the Northeast on Sunday, with Philadelphia and Boston due to get a foot of snow and New York getting up to 18 inches. The storm system has traveled across the country since dumping up to 15 inches of rain on parts of California last week, and more than 100 inches of snow in the Sierra Nevada. It then covered parts of the Midwest with a foot of snow before pushing into the Northeast. The storm is expected to stall out in the Northeast, as it did in California, leaving some areas covered in up to two feet of snow. New York City and New Jersey declared states of emergency on Sunday night; coronavirus vaccination sites were closed in the New York metro area on Monday. Washington, D.C., could get more snow in one day than it has seen in the last two winters.
Robinhood to continue limiting GameStop trades
Robinhood plans to continue limiting trading of shares of GameStop, AMC Entertainment, and several other previously struggling stocks that have surged with a boost from Reddit's WallStreetBets forum. Investors will be allowed to buy just one share of GameStop stock on Robinhood, and five options contracts. The stock trading app previously limited trading of 50 stocks, but starting Monday the list will include only eight, including GameStop, AMC Entertainment, and Nokia. GameStop shares gained 400 percent last week in volatile trading, capping a 1,625 percent rally for the struggling brick-and-mortar video game retailer as the Reddit forum urged people to buy the stock to defeat hedge funds betting that the stock would drop. Melvin Capital Management, one of the hardest hit funds, lost 53 percent in January.
U.K. centenarian who raised money for frontline workers hospitalized with COVID
Tom Moore, a 100-year-old World War II veteran who raised nearly $45 million for Britain's coronavirus frontline workers, was admitted to a hospital Sunday to be treated for COVID-19, his family announced. "Over the last few weeks he was being treated for pneumonia and last week tested positive for COVID-19," Captain Sir Tom Moore's daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore said in a post on her father's social media accounts. The centenarian veteran needed help with his breathing, his daughter said, but he was not sent to the intensive care unit. Moore was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his fundraising efforts during the pandemic. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among Britons who wished Moore well. "You've inspired the whole nation, and I know we are all wishing you a full recovery," Johnson tweeted.