The results are in, and 76 out of 77 experts agree: There is no truth to the chemtrails conspiracy theory.
Those who subscribe to the theory believe that condensation trails formed high in the sky by jets are actually chemtrails, harmful chemicals being sprayed on an unsuspecting populace in order to control people and manipulate weather patterns. Researchers from the University of California at Irvine, the Carnegie Institute for Science, and the Near Zero organizations asked 77 experts if they have ever seen any evidence proving that chemicals and elements like aluminum and barium are being spewed by aircraft as part of a coordinated effort, and 76 said they have not. The survey results were published last week in Environmental Research Letters, in the first peer-reviewed journal paper addressing the theory.
"The chemtrails conspiracy theory maps pretty closely to the origin and growth of the internet, where you can still find a number of websites that promote this particular brand of pseudoscience," study co-author Steven Davis, associate professor of Earth system science at UCI, said in a statement. "Our survey found little agreement in the scientific community with claims that the government, the military, airlines, and others are colluding in a widespread, nefarious program to poison the planet from the skies." Some subscribers to the theory argue that toxins found in soil and water samples prove that chemtrails are real, but several experts say that those samples were obtained using faulty methods, like placing them in Mason jars with metal lids. Under such circumstances, the data becomes worthless.
"We don't imagine that we're going to sway the beliefs of hardcore adherents to the chemtrails conspiracy theory with this study," Davis said. "But we thought it was important to go on the record with fundamental scientific facts to refute claims that the government is deliberately spreading harmful chemicals from aircraft." Catherine Garcia
To combat rising anti-Semitism, the Austrian government has introduced measures to educate the country about Judaism, protect synagogues, and impose harsher punishments for hate crimes.
Karoline Edstadler, Austria's minister for the European Union, said the government is working to combat anti-Semitism of all forms, whether it is online in a message board comment or announced during a public protest. In 2019, there were 550 recorded anti-Semitic incidents in Austria, Edstadler said, and "that is twice as much as five years ago."
Oskar Deutsch is president of Vienna's Jewish community, and he told The Associated Press when there is discrimination, "Jews are always the first one who are affected." He said it's up to everyone in Austria, not just Jewish people, to fight against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate. Catherine Garcia
Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) set off a metal detector on Thursday as he tried to enter the House chamber while carrying a gun, HuffPost reports.
Reporter Matt Fuller witnessed Harris set off the metal detector and then stand as an officer used a wand to scan him. It was then discovered that Harris' suit coat was concealing a firearm. Harris was refused entrance to the Chamber, Fuller reports, and he asked Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) to take the gun so he could go onto the House floor for a vote. Katko responded that he didn't have "a license" and would not take the weapon, Fuller said.
Speaking to other lawmakers near him, Harris complained that he asked his staff to remind him about the metal detectors, and they had failed to do so, Fuller reports. Harris left, and upon his return 10 minutes later, he did not set off the metal detector. A Capitol Police spokesperson told Fuller the situation is under investigation.
The metal detectors were installed after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Several Republican lawmakers have tried to go around the metal detectors to avoid being scanned, and on Thursday, Fuller said he saw Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Rep. Rick Allen (R-Ga.), and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) refuse to be wanded down after setting off the metal detectors. Boebert earlier boasted that she will always have her gun on her while in D.C.
Members of the House are not permitted to carry firearms onto the floor, and Fuller tweeted that a person "who would have a good sense of this situation" told him there are "a lot more members than we think who go to the floor armed." Catherine Garcia
Presidents routinely file financial disclosures when they leave office, and forms recently submitted by former President Donald Trump show that 47 of his hotels, resorts, and other properties lost more than $120 million in revenue in 2020, The Washington Post reports.
The pandemic has hit the travel and hospitality industries hard, and two of Trump's most famous hotels struggled last year; the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., which has a $170 million loan outstanding, saw its revenue drop more than 60 percent, while the Doral in Miami saw its revenue decline 44 percent. Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach fared better — its revenue went up 13 percent.
An analysis by the Post found that combined, revenue at the 47 companies listed in Trump's financial disclosures dropped more than 35 percent in 2020. Banking consultant Bery Ely told the Post that Trump "faces some very serious problems that have been building in recent years and I think are going to come to a head now that he's left office." Trump, he added, has done "enormous reputational damage to himself."
While Trump does still own his company, the Post notes, it's unclear if he plans on going back to running day-to-day operations. The Trump Organization's website still lists his eldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, as the company's leaders. Read more at The Washington Post.Catherine Garcia
Back in March 2020, No Time to Die became the first major movie to be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its release date pushed back seven months to November 2020 before theaters were forced to close their doors throughout the U.S. By the fall, the film was moved again to April 2021, and now, amid a bleak theatrical landscape as COVID-19 cases remain high, No Time to Die is facing its third delay due to the pandemic.
The previous postponement of No Time to Die earlylast year was followed by many more film delays, so experts are bracing for most if not all major movies scheduled for an exclusive theatrical release in the early part of 2021 to adjust those plans, either by moving to a later date or releasing it concurrently on a streaming service. Indeed, the No Time to Die delay on Thursday was quickly followed by Sony announcing that the next Ghostbusters film, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, has also been delayed from June to November.
All eyes now turn to how Disney will handle the Marvel blockbuster Black Widow, which as of now is set to hit theaters in May. It appears the only theatrical movies that are a sure bet to be released in the coming months are those also launching on streaming, as is the case with all of this year's offerings from Warner Bros. Godzilla vs. Kong, for example, will debut both on HBO Max and in those theaters that are able to be open on the same day in March. Brendan Morrow
Seven Senate Democrats filed an ethics complaint against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Thursday, asking the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate whether they coordinated with leaders of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" rally that took place immediately before the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
In a letter, the Democrats — Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.), Tina Smith (Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tim Kaine (Va.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) — said the committee "should also offer recommendations for strong disciplinary action, including up to expulsion or censure, if warranted by the facts uncovered."
Prior to the rally and attack on the Capitol, Hawley and Cruz said they would object to the vote counts in several states lost by former President Donald Trump. This "amplified claims of election fraud that had resulted in threats of violence against state and local officials around the country," the letter stated, adding that Hawley and Cruz "touted their plan to challenge the electors to drum up campaign contributions."
The Democrats said the question that must be answered is whether Cruz and Hawley "failed to 'put loyalty to the highest moral principles and to country above loyalty to persons, party, or government department' or engaged in 'improper conduct reflecting on the Senate' in connection with the violence on Jan. 6."
Hawley and Cruz have both defended themselves by saying they believed they were protecting the integrity of the election. Catherine Garcia
Former President Donald Trump has hired attorney Butch Bowers to represent him in his Senate impeachment trial.
Trump adviser Jason Miller confirmed the news on Twitter, saying Bowers is "well respected by both Republicans and Democrats and will do an excellent job defending" the former president.
Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and attorney Jay Sekulow represented Trump during his first impeachment trial, and both men have told associates they won't be around for round two, a person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.
Bowers is based in South Carolina, and during the George W. Bush administration he served in the Justice Department as a special counsel for voting matters. He also was a counsel to former South Carolina Govs. Mark Sanford and Nikki Haley, both Republicans. Bowers was recommended to Trump by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the Journal reports.
Last week, the House voted to impeach Trump on a charge that he incited an insurrection. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday would not say when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to ask Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to start pretrial proceedings on Jan. 28, with the trial beginning in mid- to late-February, the Los Angeles Times reports.Catherine Garcia
Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted on Thursday to sometimes feeling "uncomfortable" during the Trump administration and described the ability to now speak honestly and openly as "liberating."
Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and President Biden's chief medical adviser, made the comments during his first White House press briefing under Biden. He also promised the new administration will make all of its decisions "based on science and evidence," while noting he "got in trouble sometimes" for his honesty under former President Donald Trump.
Asked directly if he feels "less constrained" under Biden than he did under Trump, Fauci acknowledged a change.
"I take no pleasure at all in being in a situation of contradicting the president, so it was really something that you didn't feel that you could actually say something and there wouldn't be any repercussions about it," Fauci said. "The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the science is, and know that's it, let the science speak, it is somewhat of a liberating feeling."
Fauci was known to contradict Trump's rosier or scientifically baseless comments about the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing the president's ire. Trump once attacked Fauci as an idiot and also floated the idea of firing him after the election. At Thursday's briefing, Fauci told reporters he felt "uncomfortable" by "things that were said" under Trump that were "not based on scientific fact," and he also pointed to another difference between the old and new administration.
"One of the new things in this administration is if you don't know the answer, don't guess," Fauci said. "Just say you don't know the answer."
Later, when a reporter noted that Fauci had "joked" a few times about the differences in two administrations, Fauci laughed and shot back, "I was very serious about it. I wasn't joking." Brendan Morrow
Dr. Anthony Fauci on former Pres. Trump: "You didn't feel that you could actually say something and there wouldn't be any repercussions."
"The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know...let the science speak—it is somewhat of a liberating feeling." pic.twitter.com/r8M2EbYZ4G