JUICE — Florida Politics’ Juicy Read — 1.26.20 — DeSantis Fires Back At Biden Over Vaccines — FL Dems Push To Oust Republicans Over Capitol Riot — Nilda Pedrosa, Rubio, Scott, Cruz, Gaetz — More…

JUICE — Florida Politics’ Juicy Read — 1.26.20 — DeSantis Fires Back At Biden Over Vaccines — FL Dems Push To Oust Republicans Over Capitol Riot — Nilda Pedrosa, Rubio, Scott, Cruz, Gaetz — More…

Taking Aim At Gov. Ron DeSantis

Javier Manjarres
Javier Manjarres
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January 26, 2021

Biden, Florida Democrats Begin Their 2022 Assault on DeSantis

 

With Florida Democrats pulling out all the stops to blame Gov. Ron DeSantis for just about any woe that happens in Florida as it pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was only a matter of time before the Biden Administration began to weigh in and take a pot shot or two against the popular first-term governor.

With President Trump out of office, Biden can now focus on going after the former president’s most loyal friends and supporters, and Monday’s White House press conference with Spox Jen Psaki gave us a taste of what to expect from a power-hungry administration.

Oh, let’s not forget that DeSantis is up for reelection next year, as is Senator Marco Rubio, so we can expect a full-court press from the weakened Florida Democratic Party and now The White House.

The Florida Dems have themselves a new poobah in Manny Diaz, but considering how they utterly failed to deliver Florida for Biden and their constituents in 2020, defeating DeSantis, Rubio, and any other Republican in 2022 is going to be one heck of a heavy lift.

Democrats need a little help, and that help could come from disgraced former Republican Rep. David Jolly, who says he is strongly considering a run against DeSantis as an Independent candidate.

Yeah, could Jolly make an Independent run against DeSantis as Rep. Charlie Crist did against Rubio back during the 2010 U.S. Senate race.

Jolly would probably only pull away from the Democrat candidate and hand DeSantis an easy win. Or, Jolly could just compromise the very little integrity he has left and make the full transformation of becoming a full-fledged Democrat.

Either way, if Jolly is the best shot Florida Democrats have to defeat DeSantis, 2022 will turn out to be a really bad election cycle for “Mambo Manny” and his group of Progressive followers who are still reeling in disbelief over how badly they performed last year.

Oh, and here is DeSantis shooting back (not literally shooting back with like a firearm) at the Biden Administration over their claim that he is sitting on COVID vaccines. MUST-READ

 

2021 Legislature

There are all kinds of not-so-smooth moving parts during the legislative committee weeks in Tallahassee. Everyone is complaining, frustrated about the lack of access as a result of the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Nothing much is getting done, but hopefully, when the session officially opens up, restrictions will have eased, and lobbyists, reporters, and other politicos can get on with their daily chores.

Meanwhile, Sen. Jason Brodeur and others are starting to introduce some bills. READ MORE

Lost to Soon

The news of Nilda Pedrosa’s passing has touched so many people in the political community, including us at The Floridian. Nilda was a great person, a loving wife, and a doting mother to her children.

We could always count on Nilda to make something happen, and her loyalty was second to none.

She is gone too soon and like many of us who have recently lost a loved one, it will take a very long time for the pain to go away, and the empty feeling we have in our hearts to be filled if it ever gets filled. Nilda will be missed,

 

Rick Scott @SenRickScott- .@POTUS is throwing the U.S. back into the Paris Agreement just to appease his liberal friends. This deal does nothing to hold real polluters like Communist China accountable & unfairly puts U.S. taxpayers on the hook.

Marco Rubio @marcorubio –Our enemies aren’t going to wait around for a new administration to staff critical positions. Which is why it was important to clear objections & confirm in an expedited manner @POTUS nominee to be the Director of National Intelligence tonight.

Rep. Ted Deutch @RepTedDeutch-Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement was an abdication of American leadership and an abandonment of our commitments to our allies. Today, President Biden let our allies know: #WeAreStillIn. I’m proud to stand with him in rejoining the Paris Agreement.

US Rep. Darren Soto @RepDarrenSoto-Hundreds of thousands of #Dreamers can finally breathe a sigh of relief. After years of uncertainty, #DACA is safe and here to stay! We look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration to put immigrant youth on a pathway to citizenship.

 

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Marco Rubio

“Rubio Question’s Biden’s Deportation Freeze” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – President Joe Biden (D) announced that there would be an “Immediate 100-Day Pause on Removals” as part of the President’s new immigration agenda for the country. In response, Florida Senators Rick Scott (R) and Marco Rubio (R) have responded by warning that this move on deportation could have negative lasting implications on the United States. Shortly after the announcement, Senator Rubio directed a letter to David Pekoske, the acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, requesting some clarification as to what the freeze entails. “I am concerned that such directives will prevent the removal of illegal immigrants with existing removal orders, including those with serious criminal records and convicted of violent crimes such as rape, sexual assault, and other aggravated felonies,” the Florida lawmaker wrote. He further warned that “it is deeply troubling that one of the first actions taken by the Biden Administration could undermine the safety and security of all Americans, including immigrants here lawfully.” Senator Scott also weighed in on what the freeze means to him, taking to social media to call the freeze “a radical immigration agenda of amnesty & open borders” that “won’t work.”

“Is Mucarsel-Powell Positioning for a 2022 Run?” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – The controversial 2020 general election resulted in President Donald Trump (R) losing his reelection bid while a number of Republicans turned blue districts red countrywide. One of those districts that switched was Florida’s 26th congressional district. In that race, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez (R) defeated Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D), and it appears that the one-term member of Congress might be touting another run in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections. At the close of his presidency, President Donald Trump (R) was impeached for a second time, the only President to undergo two impeachments. With Democratic lawmakers looking to convict the 45th President, Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) admitted that, should there be a trial, “the first chance I get to end this trial, I’ll do it. Because I think it’s really bad for America.” In response, Rep. Mucarsel-Powell commented that “the only thing that’s really bad for America are elected officials like Marco Rubio who enabled a President to incite violence in the Capitol.” Republicans and Democrats along with the American people grew more divided after the riot that took place on January 6th. Republicans faced infighting over claims that President Trump had incited the riot, and Democrats moved swiftly to convict the President.

“Supreme Court strikes down emoluments lawsuits Against President Trump” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down emoluments lawsuits filed against former President Donald Trump over whether he profited off of his position as president when his Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. accepted payments for hotel room rentals by both domestic and foreign officials. The cases alleged that President Trump illegally profited by allowing individuals to pay for stays at his hotel. The court has been sent down to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit “with instructions to dismiss the case as moot” because the president is no longer in office.

“New Republican Bill Could Revolutionize Farming in FL” by The Floridian’s Jim McCool – With the Florida Legislature moving into another committee week, the Florida Senate entertained State Senator Jason Brodeur’s (R-Sanford) SB88, a measure that would expand Florida’s Right to Farm Act. By filing SB 88, Brodeur hopes to renovate the long-outdated Right to Farm Act, which became legislation in 1979. Over the past 42 years, there have been great strides made to update the efficiency of agriculture. This is why Senate President Simpson (R-Trilby) described Brodeur’s move as, “important,” adding that ‘We frequently update our laws to recognize change in other industries.’ The Right to Farm Act is in place to shield farmers from lawsuits such as nuisance complaints if the management of the farm work meets the agriculture status quo. Brodeur’s bill intends to expand these protections and put Florida farmers first. Rather than just nuisance lawsuits, the billl expands its jurisdiction over other legal pursuits, such as negligence, trespass, personal injury, and strict liability. In order for a plaintiff to prevail in any aforementioned lawsuit, it would require them to prove that the infrastructure of the farm is faulty, and or not up to code. Brodeur’s measure would also alter the means of filing a nuisance lawsuit, as you would not be able to do so if you reside more than half a mile from said farming activity. Senator Brodeur says this is the essence of his legislation and believes Florida must compensate for the expected population rise in rural areas, claiming that “more people leave densely populated areas of the country and relocate to the rural areas of our state [Florida].”

“DeSantis fires back at Biden’s spokeswoman’s COVID-related ‘political talking point’ by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive office has quickly shot back at White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s questionable “facts” claim that Florida has “only distributed about 50% of the vaccines that they have been given in Florida.” “Well, the president is a pretty even-keeled guy so I would say that he doesn’t have much reaction other than he wants to ensure that the vaccine is distributed to people across the country including, of course, the millions of people living in Florida,” said Psaki. “And I will note ’cause we’re data first hear, facts first here. They’ve only distributed about 50% of the vaccines that they have been given in Florida, so clearly, they have a good deal of the vaccine.” “We are flattered that the White House took time out of a briefing today to spotlight the great things happening here in Florida,” responded Meredith Beatrice, DeSantis’ Communication Director. “While some may prefer to pick a number out of context for a political talking point, I’d like to present the facts.” Beatrice listed facts reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) where Florida was at the top of the ten most populous states that have been administering the vaccine. “Despite the challenge of limited vaccine supply at the federal level, Governor DeSantis has led the charge to create a robust and innovative infrastructure for vaccinations here in Florida and we are prepared if and when additional vaccine comes,” added Beatrice.

“CAIR Executive Shibly Beats Wife, Resigns, and Could Get Disbarred” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – Former Executive Director of the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Florida, Hassan Shibly (pictured) has literally taken what the Qur’an says about beating your wife and applied it to his own family. Verse 4:34 in the Qu’ran allows for Muslim men to “strike” their wives, and that is exactly what Hassan Shibly did to his wife Imane Sadrati, who has accused him in a fundraising video of beating her in front of her children, causing her living situation with Shibly as “unbearable.” “My children and I are in desperate need of your help,” stated Sadrati. “For years I’ve been in an abusive relationship, and the situation at home has become unbearable. I’ve finally decided to build the courage to start over.” This is the same Syria-born Shibly that hosted Rep. Ilhan Omar at a CAIR fundraiser in California, where he infamously stated, “some people did something” about the 9/11 Islamic terrorist attacks against the U.S. According to Frontpage Magazine’s Joe Kauffman, CAIR is nothing but a group that is rooting in Islamic terrorism, and Shibly is a devout Islamists that defended the “ISIS bride”, has called the terror group Hezbollah a “resistance movement,” tweeted that “Israel and its supporters are enemies of God,” and praised Palestinian terrorist Marvan Barghouti as a “hero.”

“Rubio will not vote to convict President Trump” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – Appearing on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Senator Marco Rubio stated that if there is an impeachment trial against President Donald Trump, he would vote to end the trial at the “first chance” he got. When asked about the expected Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, Rubio said that he thought the “trial is stupid” and counter-productive.” “First of all I think the trial is stupid,” said Sen. Rubio. “I think it’s counterproductive. We already have a flaming fire in this country and it’s like taking a bunch of gasoline and pouring it on top of the fire.” Rubio then pulled out a piece of history that no one saw coming when he invoked the pardon of President Richard Nixon by President Gerald Ford, saying that Nixon “clearly committed crimes and wrongdoing” and that Ford’s pardon of him “was important for the country to be able to move forward.” “The first chance I get to vote to end this trial, I’ll do it because I think it’s really bad for America.”- Sen. Marco Rubio It appears obvious that Democrats want a trial and a quick conviction of Trump so that he can’t run against them in 2024, and some members of Congress, like Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D), have made it abundantly clear that’s their real motive to convict.

“Patronis wants 2021 Olympics moved from Tokyo to Florida” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – With a new poll showing that Japanese citizens would like to see the 2021 Olympics and Paralympics be delayed or canceled, Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis tweeted a “very informal” interview request to the Olympic committee about pitching Florida as an alternative to Tokyo. Patronis told The Floridian that he thinks that “with our stadiums” and “our state university systems “ and because of the number of hotels and accommodations the state already has, “we could put it together quicker than most other markets could.” Patronis’ office now put out an official request or encouragement to the Olympic committee to relocate the 2021 Olympics to Florida. “I am writing to you as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the State of Florida. As a member of the Florida Cabinet, I sit on the Enterprise Florida Inc. Board of Directors, which is our state’s business development unit. Today, I am writing to encourage you to consider relocating the 2021 Olympics from Tokyo, Japan to the United States of America and more specifically to Florida. With media reports of leaders in Japan “privately” concluding that they are too concerned about the pandemic for the 2021 Olympics to take place, there is still time to deploy a site selection team to Florida to meet with statewide and local officials on holding the Olympics in the Sunshine State. I would welcome the opportunity to pitch Florida and help you make the right contacts to get this done”

 

“Wasserman Schultz wants Trump convicted, barred from running for president again” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – With the House Article of Impeachment expected to reach the U.S. Senate this week, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) says she wants former President Donald Trump banished into “obscurity,” but only after he is convicted in the Senate. Rep. Wasserman Schultz has been an extremely harsh critic of the former president over the past four years and was a leading voice of support for Trump’s first impeachment, an impeachment that has now been labeled as baseless after the Russian collusion accusations were debunked by FBI officials who said if they “knew what they knew now,” they would not have pursued the investigation. But that was then, and now after the recent Capitol riot that left 5 dead, Wasserman Schultz is hoping that the second time is a charm when it comes to convicted Trump of committing “high crimes and misdemeanors. Trump is accused of inciting the riot. “The Senate must impeach former President Trump for inciting a violent mob to overturn our electoral process,” tweeted Wasserman Schultz. “Then let’s doom him to the obscurity he deserves.” Wasserman Schultz appeared on CNN this weekend to discuss President Trump’s leaving the White House, where she indulged two of the network’s anchors jokes about Trump, telling that “the worst punishment for Donald Trump is obscurity.”

“Rubio reintroduces anti-Supreme Packing Constitutional Amendment” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – When Progressives in the U.S. Congress, including Vice President Kamala Harris, first threatened to pack the Supreme Court after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, Florida Senator Marco Rubio introduced a constitutional amendment to keep the number of Justices on the Supreme Court at nine. Sen. Rubio has now reintroduced his amendment, and has called on President Joe Biden to “protect the Supreme Court” form what Biden once called a “bonehead idea” “Packing the Supreme Court is a radical, left-wing idea that would further undermine America’s confidence in our institutions and our democracy,” Rubio said. “As a candidate, President Joe Biden promised to unify America and even said he was ‘not a fan’ of packing the Supreme Court, a radical proposal he once referred to as a ‘bonehead idea’ when he served in the Senate. If he is sincere about healing our country and protecting our institutions, he will support this effort to protect the Supreme Court.” President Donald Trump was able to the three-justice confirmed to the court, and now that President Biden has been sworn into office, those very Progressives will now begin to pressure the president to sign off on their entire agenda, including court-packing.

“Rubio and Scott Praise President Trump for Banning Offshore Oil Drilling” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – Florida’s congressional delegation is 100% in agreement with banning offshore oil drilling off of the state’s coast, and the two legislators pushing the ban are Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. Sen. Rubio first introduced this bill in Spring 2017 and reintroduced it in January 2019. It’s rare that Democratic and Republican members of Congress come together and agree on anything, but this is the one issue they all agree is worth the kumbaya moment. Sens. Rubio and Scott have reintroduced the Florida Shores Protection and Fairness Act, a measure that would ban or extend the current moratorium on oil and gas drilling off of Florida’s west coast from 2022 to 2032. During his term in office, President Donald Trump opened up oil exploration around the country but exempted Florida with a series of executive edicts that would protect the beaches of Florida. Both Rubio and Scott praised President Trump’s actions to keep Florida’s coastlines protected. “As Governor of Florida, I fought for and secured a commitment from the Trump Administration to keep oil drilling off Florida’s coasts, and I’m glad they extended the moratorium on oil drilling for another 10 years,” said Sen. Scott “I’m proud to join Senator Rubio today to put this ban into law. We will never stop fighting to preserve and protect Florida’s natural resources so the state can remain a top destination for families, visitors and businesses.”

 

“DeSantis orders Florida National Guard home after its made to rest in parking garage” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has ordered the Florida National Guard home from their deployment to the U.S. Capitol in response to threats of violence during President Joe Biden’s inauguration. After Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s failure to properly secure the Capitol in the days leading up to the January 6 riot that left 5 dead, 25,000 guardsmen from around the country were called in to secure the swearing-in ceremony. It’s been two days since the inauguration and now guardsmen have been holding up at the direction of the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP), to move their staging or rest area to the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Center parking garage. “They are not Nancy Pelosi’s servants,” said Gov. DeSantis Yes, National Guard soldiers have been made to rest in a parking garage by the same police force that failed to secure the Capitol in the first place. This move infuriated Gov. DeSantis and other governors, prompting them to make the call to order them back home. DeSantis also activated the Guard in Florida due to a credible risk of violence around the state.

“Scott Will Back GOP Incumbents, Not Trump Republican candidates” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – Since the storming of the Capitol, President Donald Trump (R) and his allies have faced criticism from members of both sides of the political aisle. As the GOP looks to move forward after defeats in both the general election and the Georgia Senate runoff races, some members of the party are hopeful that the party will be able to once again gain a foothold in American politics. However, others worry that Trump has already painted the future of the party. This has proven worrisome for some lawmakers after Trump allies said that those who did not support the President when it came time to voting to accept the certification of the 2020 election results should be “primaried.” One staunch supporter of the President is Senator Rick Scott (R), who even voted to oppose the Pennsylvania results. But, when asked if he would support incumbents in their reelection races or Trump-backed candidates, the former governor of Florida made it clear that he would be throwing his support behind GOP incumbents. As the chair of the NRSC, the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, he didn’t comment whether someone like Ivanka Trump could run against Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R). He also didn’t comment on President Trump’s threat to primary Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R).

“Governors Order Troops Home After Orders to Parking Garage” by Texas Politics’ Isabel Webb Carey – Following the relocation of National Guard troops on Thursday to a parking garage, the governors of Texas, Florida and New Hampshire ordered their troops to return home from Washington, D.C. “They’re soldiers, they’re not Nancy Pelosi‘s servants,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) stated. “This is a half-cocked mission at this point, and I think the appropriate thing is to bring them home.” Republican Govs. Greg Abbott (TX) and Chris Sununu (NH) joined DeSantis in calling for their troops to return. Both Abbott and DeSantis had previously lodged objections over background checks into National Guard service members. After providing security during the inauguration ceremony, some Guard members were later ordered to vacate Capitol facilities and sleep in a parking garage at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building. Temperatures dropped to low 40s during the night. Members of Congress were appalled by the decision and demanded that the National Guard members be returned to the Capitol building, with some offering to let the troops sleep in their offices. The troops were eventually moved back into the Capitol.

“Pushback Against Biden’s Suspension of Federal Oil and Gas” by Texas Politics’ Isabel Webb Carey – Following his inauguration, President Joe Biden suspended new leasing for fossil fuel production on federal property, as well as the issuance of new drilling permits. The move comes as President Biden promises to move swiftly on climate change, but could prove to be a major blow to the Texas oil and gas industry. The Acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega signed a 60-day Temporary Suspension of Delegated Authority order Wednesday night that suspended the issuance of federal onshore and offshore oil and natural gas leasing permits. The move is consistent with Biden’s campaign pledge to halt new drilling and will expire soon after Biden’s nomination for Interior Secretary Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-D) is confirmed. The ban is indicative of plans for long term environmental regulations that will likely result in the relocation of oil and gas companies. According to Texas Oil & Gas Association (TXOGA) president Todd Staples, “banning energy development on federal lands and in offshore waters not only threatens thousands of the best-paying jobs but needlessly erases much-needed revenue that helps pay for schools and other essential services.” While over recent years national bipartisan opposition to offshore drilling has increased dramatically, Texas’ dependency on its fossil fuel industry has meant that economic and environmental arguments have seen significantly less traction.

“Florida lawmakers say ‘no’ to renaming Palm Beach International after Trump” by Business Insider’s Joshua Zitser – Local commissioners in Florida have preemptively turned down the opportunity to rename Palm Beach International airport after former president Donald Trump. A majority of the seven Palm Beach County commissioners have said that they are against the idea, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Five said they would vote against it and the remaining two commissioners did not respond to requests for comment, the paper reported. This means that the idea is most likely dead in the water before it has even had the opportunity to go to a vote. Trump had previously asked advisors about how to get an airport named after him, according to the Daily Beast. A senior member of Florida’s GOP then floated the idea of rebranding Palm Beach International as Trump International Airport.mnThe commissioners, however, do not believe South Florida is the right place for it.

“Members are quitting Mar-a-Lago because it has become a ‘sad’ and ‘dispirited’ place since Trump moved in, author says” by Business Insider’s Joshua Zitser – Former President Donald Trump’s return to his glitzy Florida resort — Mar-a-Lago – has reportedly not been met with fanfare by the club’s wealthy members. Mar-a-Lago’s mood is “dispirited,” and people are canceling their memberships, the author of a book on the resort told MSNBC. “I’ve talked to a bunch of people the last couple of days,” Laurence Leamer told the cable channel. “A lot of people have quit Mar-a-Lago.” The author of “Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace” then remarked that members are leaving due to concerns that they might be featured in newspaper articles. Leamer says Trump’s declining popularity has also turned off members. He told MSNBC: “They don’t want anything to do with Donald Trump. Many of the members, they’re not going there very often because it’s a very dispirited place.” He continued: “It’s a sad place for Trump to be hanging out. It’s not what it was.”

“Florida legislation aims to legalize cannabis for adults, review pot-related convictions” by Click Orlando’s Emilee Speck – State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, of Orlando, introduced a bill in the Florida House this week that would make marijuana available for use by adults over 21 without needing a medical marijuana card, as part of a round of legislation that would also review certain marijuana-crime convictions. The Availability of Marijuana for Adult Use legislation, House Bill 343, would establish a “robust and free-market regulatory approach” to medical and adult-use of marijuana in Florida, according to Smith’s office. An identical, corresponding bill in the Senate by Republican state Sen. Jeff Brandes, of St. Petersburg, was also introduced. If approved the bill would revise licensing and functions of medical marijuana facilities in Florida authorizing anyone over 21 to possess and/or deliver cannabis in specific amounts. There are a number of related bills in both the House and Senate taking aim at how Florida handles pot-related crimes. Under House Bill 189 and Senate Bill 712, individuals with certain marijuana-related crimes would be able to petition the court to expunge their criminal history. The bill also calls on a sentence review for people sentenced to certain marijuana-related crimes. “The need to end Florida’s prohibition of responsible adult use of cannabis is long overdue. This bill creates a sensible bipartisan framework for legalization that can earn the support needed to pass the Florida legislature,” Smith said in a statement. “It doesn’t include everything I’d like to see, but it’s the fresh start Floridians deserve to finally move past the draconian cannabis prohibition era.”

“NYC teacher accused of flying to Florida to have sex with underage teen” by New York Daily News’ John Annese – A New York City middle-school teacher flew to Florida to have sex with a teenage girl he met online, Florida authorities said Sunday. Zeshaan Naqvi, 31, who teaches social studies at the all-girls Young Women’s Leadership School in Jamaica, Queens, flew to Tampa after chatting with the victim online for about three months, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Friday morning, he picked the teen up at her Florida home, then brought her back to his hotel room, where they “engaged in sexual acts,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. He brought the victim back home after a few hours. Deputies arrested Naqvi at the hotel later in the day, and he admitted knowing the victim was underage. The sheriff’s office did not release the girl’s age, citing a recently-passed victim’s rights law. It’s illegal for any adult 24 or older to have sex with a teen under the age of 18 in Florida, and the charges Naqvi faces typically apply to 16- and 17-year-old victims. “It never ceases to amaze us the lengths predators will go to, to get what they want,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a written statement. “In this case, a middle school history teacher booked a ticket, boarded a plane, and traveled across the country to meet with a minor who he had been chatting with for about three months. This behavior is deeply disturbing and serves as a grim warning to parents to monitor their child’s online activity.”

“Trying Trump in Senate ‘stupid,’ Florida senator says as House readies impeachment delivery” by Los Angeles Times’ Laura King – Republican senators staked out opposing views Sunday on the wisdom of holding an impeachment trial for former President Trump, with Marco Rubio declaring the idea “stupid” and Mitt Romney asserting “truth and justice” demanded that the chamber pass judgment on whether Trump incited a mob to storm the U.S. Capitol. With the House preparing to send a single article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday, Democrats remained united in condemnation of the departed president’s actions on Jan. 6 in whipping up a mob of partisans who besieged the Capitol as Congress was certifying President Biden’s victory. Senate Republicans, on the other hand, have largely avoided criticizing Trump’s alleged incitement of the crowd and have signaled they would prefer not to stand in judgment of a former president who commands an intensely loyal following of GOP voters. In the House, 10 Republicans joined Democrats in voting 232-197 on Jan. 13 to impeach Trump. Those GOP lawmakers have endured withering attacks from Trump allies. The Senate trial, by mutual agreement of the chamber’s leadership, is set to start during the second week of February. That provides Biden a short respite to attend to the most pressing legislative business, and gives Trump time to muster a legal defense. Even for Republicans who no longer need fear angry tweets — Trump has been banned from Twitter — the prospect of an open vote on whether to convict him is clearly unsettling.

“Florida cop fired over Facebook posts supporting Capitol riot” by New York Posts’ Tamar Lapin – A police officer in Florida was fired for supporting the deadly US Capitol riot on social media and warning about imminent “Civil War,” according to local reports. The Kissimmee Police Department canned Andrew Johnson last week following an internal investigation into dozens of his politically-charged Facebook posts, the Orlando Sentinel reported. One of the messages, posted on Jan. 6, the day of the insurrection, read: “The silent majority will rise!! Day one of the Revolutionary War!! Hang on, it’s only just begun.” “Civil War is right around the corner,” said another post from September. “It’s coming, prepare for it now.” Other missives mocked the Black Lives Matter movement, including a meme Johnson reportedly shared in August of a disabled parking space with the caption “BLM activists in Wisconsin paint street mural in support of Jacob Blake.” The police shooting of Blake — a black Wisconsin man who was left paralyzed — sparked protests in the city of Kenosha. In September, Johnson reposted a meme about then-17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who is charged with fatally shooting two protesters in Kenosha on Aug. 25. “A 17-year-old dropped 3 rioters. What do you think 5 or 6 combatives will do?,” the picture read — and Johnson reportedly commented “I’m sayin…”

“Meet Florida House Representative Andrew Learned, Serving District 59” by Osprey Observers’ Kathy Collis – Andrew Learned, Democrat, is the new Florida House Representative for District 59. This district covers a large area comprised of Brandon, Valrico, Riverview and Gibsonton. Learned is a longtime area resident. He graduated from the University of Tampa, served for 11 years as an officer in the U. S. Navy and is a local business owner. His strong military and business background make him a great representative for the diverse area he represents. Florida House Representatives are elected to two-year terms. Learned said, “I am a military veteran from the area. The politics of the election are behind us. My primary and sole focus is delivering constituent services and being the best representative for everyone in District 59.” Constituent services encompass a wide array of nonlegislative services, such as helping someone navigate their unemployment claim and assisting local businesses with PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) assistance and forgiveness. His office can also assist with problems involving regulations like business licensing. “If you call our office and we do not know the answer, we will help get you to the correct person. We are your local resource. We are here to help you in any way that we can. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have a problem,” said Learned. Additionally, Learned’s office can help with getting an Eagle Scout a proclamation or help an HOA get a county road project. The state representative is there to be the voice of the people of the district.

“Florida Sen. Marco Rubio coy on possible challenge from Ivanka Trump” by Daily News’ Shant Shahrigian – Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was coy Sunday when asked about a possible 2022 primary challenge for his Florida seat from former President Trump’s daughter and senior adviser. “I don’t really get into the parlor games of Washington,” he said on “Fox News Sunday” about speculation Ivanka Trump is gunning for his job. “If you’re going to run for the Florida Senate, you’re going to have a tough race, including a primary. That’s their right under the system.” Rubio continued. The interview came amid widespread speculation about the Trump family’s post-White House plans. Ivanka Trump is working on a possible Senate run behind the scenes since she moved to Florida, according to Politico, citing unnamed former Trump officials. One was quoted as saying her husband Jared Kushner, a former top adviser to President Trump, is “working singlemindedly to protect and promote his wife’s ‘political career.’ ” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was coy Sunday when asked about a possible 2022 primary challenge for his Florida seat from former President Trump’s daughter and senior adviser. The family is living at a luxury condo in Miami, according to CNN. Ivanka Trump visited Florida numerous times on the campaign trail to promote her father’s failed reelection bid, the news outlet noted.

“Polk County schools see COVID cases spike in January; Bartow High tops district” by The Ledgers’ Kimberly C. Moore – everal Polk County public schools saw a spike in COVID-19 cases in the past month, with cases at George Jenkins High School more than doubling during that time period. According to the Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard, George Jenkins had a total of 27 cases between Sept. 6 and Dec. 26, but spiked to 56 total cases by Jan. 16. Records show 53 cases were students, two were staff and one was unknown.  Lakeland High School nearly doubled its cases: 27 just after Christmas and 52 two weeks after the new year. Of those, 44 have been students, four teachers, one staff and three unknown. Bartow High still has the most cases in the district, with 63 total since Sept. 6, when the state began tracking the numbers. Polk County Public Schools students returned to learning on Aug. 24.  Ridge Community High School saw the largest increase in Polk the week of Jan. 10-16, adding eight cases, all of them students. Polk County has added 1,100 pediatric cases between Jan. 4 and Jan. 21. On Jan. 4, the state reported a total of 4,385 COVID-19 cases of children younger than 18 and 5,410 on Jan. 21.

“Final member of local drug trafficking organization sentenced to 78 months in federal prison” by WCTV’s Cristi McKee – According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office – Northern District of Florida, the fifth and final member of a local drug trafficking organization has been sentenced to federal prison. Kevin C. Bui of Fort Walton Beach was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison following his August conviction on drug and money laundering conspiracy charges. Bui, along with four other men, trafficked thousands of pounds of marijuana into North Florida from California and laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars in proceeds to send back to their supplier in California, according to the Office. “This man and his co-conspirators polluted North Florida with their drugs, then laundered the proceeds to be shipped out of state. Their federal prison sentences are key to disrupting and dismantling this drug trafficking organization,” U.S. Attorney Keefe, who announced the sentence, said. “This case is another example of how federal, state, and local law enforcement can work effectively to put organizations like this out of business.” A 14 month-long investigation, beginning in 2017, was led by federal, state and local law enforcement in the Northern District of Florida and resulted in all 5 men being arrested. Bui, along with three other Florida-based defendants, conspired with and relied upon a fifth defendant, the organization’s California-based supplier, to mail thousands of pounds of marijuana into the Northern District of Florida, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

National:

“Biden may force American taxpayers to foot bill for San Francisco homeless hotels” by Fox News’ Bradford Betz – San Francisco hotels used to house homeless people may be fully funded by the federal government this year, thanks to an executive order signed by President Joe Biden signed last Thursday. Under the order, certain kinds of emergency housing for the homeless are eligible to be fully reimbursed through September. San Francisco, which has one of the highest homeless populations in the nation, spends between $15 million to $18 million per month to house more than 2,200 people in about 25 hotels, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The city’s hotel rooms were mentioned in Thursday’s executive order. But details as to how its housing program will be funded remain unclear. “I think it’s safe to say it will apply from now until September, for those that are eligible,” said City Controller Ben Rosenfield. His team is waiting on more detailed guidance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) before announcing precisely how the program will be affected. The department said last year it would reimburse San Francisco’s program until the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it never made clear how it would define the end. Still, city officials welcomed the news on Thursday. The Trump administration never made clear when the funding would be cut off, prompting worry that the city would have to pay for the housing program entirely on their own and scramble to relocate the homeless.  KQED reported last year that the Bay Area has one of the largest gaps in California between its highest and lowest income earners.

“’Unleash this monster and one day it’ll come for you’: Glenn Greenwald sounds alarm over cancel culture” by Fox News’ Yael Halon – Nobody will be immune or exempt from the cancel culture mob as long as the media continues to wield it as a weapon to silence their critics and limit free speech, investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald warned over the weekend. Greenwald sounded off on Twitter Thursday after a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times was fired from his think tank job over a tweet that jokingly suggested former Vice President Mike Pence be lynched in order to unify the country. Greenwald aired his grievances in an op-ed published on Substack over the weekend, where he defended the author and ripped his “moronic” firing at the hands of “the technocratic centrist think tank for which he worked.” “In the prevailing climate, the rational choice is to avoid social scorn and ostracization no matter how baseless the grievances one must appease,” Greenwald wrote. The investigative journalist has long warned of the dangers of media distrust caused by a recent embrace of cancel culture, but the latest attack, he said, sends a strong message: You may believe yourself to be above the fray, but it’s a matter of time before the media mob “will come for you.” “Unleash this monster and one day it will come for you,” Greenwald wrote. “And you’ll have no principle to credibly invoke in protest when it does.”

“States push for allowing concealed carry of guns without permit” by Fox News’ Bradford Betz – GOP lawmakers in multiple states are aiming to relax certain gun restrictions by allowing people to carry concealed firearms without having to obtain a permit, continuing a trend that many gun control advocates say is frightening. Fifteen states already allow concealed carry without a permit, and lawmakers in nine others have proposed allowing or expanding the practice. GOP governors are backing the changes in Utah and Tennessee. Another bill expanding permitless carry in Montana has passed the state House. Most states require people to do things like get weapons training and undergo a background check to get a permit to carry a gun hidden by a jacket or inside a purse. Groups like the National Rifle Association and state lawmakers who support gun rights argue those requirements are ineffective and undermine Second Amendment protections. The proposed changes come after gun sales hit historic levels last summer — reflected in FBI background checks — amid uncertainty and safety concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the struggling economy and protests over racial injustice. Since then, a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. Against that backdrop, the efforts to loosen concealed carry requirements are a frightening trend for Shannon Watts, founder of the gun control group Moms Demand Action. “It is dangerous to allow people to carry hidden, loaded handguns possibly without a background check or any training,” she said, adding that the annual rate of aggravated assaults with a firearm has increased 71% in Alaska since the state became the first to allow concealed carry without a permit in 2003.

“Transportation officials weigh options to enforce Biden’s mask requirement for travelers” by CNN’s Gregory Wallace – Federal transportation officials are considering a range of options to enforce President Joe Biden’s new face mask requirement for interstate travelers, including the possibility of fines in the thousands of dollars, multiple sources told CNN. The normal rulemaking process can take months, at least, to complete, so officials are believed to be considering emergency actions that could take effect much sooner. Biden signed an executive order Thursday mandating interstate travelers wear a mask, and on his first day in office, he challenged Americans to wear masks for 100 days to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Agencies are considering enforcement measures for the executive order such as civil penalties for air travelers from the Federal Aviation Administration, a broader order from the Department of Transportation applying to multiple modes of transit, and a Transportation Security Administration directive, the sources said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive and initial discussions among agency officials and with the transportation industry. Several of the individuals described the conversations as preliminary and noted it was possible the approaches of each agency could change. A possible outcome is a patchwork of measures from different agencies that oversee rules for different types of travel such as trains, buses, airplanes, public transportation and ferries. In addition to the FAA, the Transportation Department includes the Federal Railroad Administration overseeing trains, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration overseeing buses, and the Federal Transit Administration, which is involved in transit system oversight. The Coast Guard regulates ferry safety.

“Trump adviser says former President not currently considering launching a third party” by CNN’s Jim Acosta and Paul LeBlanc – Former President Donald Trump remains committed to reelecting Republicans and is not currently considering launching a third party, a senior Trump adviser said Sunday while noting that things could change. Jason Miller, who had served as a senior campaign adviser to Trump, said that the former President “has made clear his goal is to win back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022. There’s nothing that’s actively being planned regarding an effort outside of that.” But, Miller maintained, “it’s completely up to Republican senators if this is something that becomes more serious” — a reference to Trump’s upcoming Senate impeachment trial. Multiple Trump advisers confirmed to CNN last week that he was contemplating launching a third party, but those advisers dismissed the idea as not serious. A separate adviser noted to CNN Sunday evening that Trump has talked about creating a third party for decades. The path in the Senate to convict Trump is extremely slim. A growing number of Republicans are expressing confidence that the party will acquit the former President on a charge that he incited the deadly insurrection aimed at stopping President Joe Biden’s electoral win.

“Sarah Sanders expected to announce bid for Arkansas governor on Monday” by CNN’s Dan Merica – Sarah Sanders, President Donald Trump’s former press secretary, is expected to announce Monday that she is running for governor of Arkansas, a source familiar with the plan told CNN. Sanders has been seen as a likely candidate ever since she left the White House in the summer of 2019. The daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will likely face a primary challenge — multiple top Republicans in the state have already announced a bid — but she is widely seen as an early favorite for the position. Asa Hutchinson, the current governor of Arkansas, is term limited. The governor’s mansion is expected to stay in Republican control. While the state has elected Democrats in recent history — from former governor and President Bill Clinton to former Sen. Mark Pryor more recently — Arkansas has politically veered right over the last decade. The state backed Trump with more than 62% of the vote in November.

Sanders began considering running for governor before she left the White House in 2019. CNN reported at the time that Sanders, in multiple private conversations, had floated the idea and told colleagues and friends that she believes running for office would be a good next move for her. Sanders’ run and expected primary challenge could represent a good test of Trump’s continued hold on the Republican Party. Not only is Sanders well-liked by the President — unlike many in Trump’s orbit, she left the White House on good terms and in the President’s good graces — but the primary experience she is expected to tout on the campaign trail is her work with Trump. “She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job,” Trump tweeted when Sanders was leaving the White House. “I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas—she would be fantastic.”

“China Overtakes U.S. as World’s Leading Destination for Foreign Direct Investment” by WSJ’s Paul Hannon and Eun-Young Jeong – China overtook the U.S. as the world’s top destination for new foreign direct investment last year, as the Covid-19 pandemic amplifies an eastward shift in the center of gravity of the global economy. New investments by overseas businesses into the U.S., which for decades held the No. 1 spot, fell 49% in 2020, according to U.N. figures released Sunday, as the country struggled to curb the spread of the new coronavirus and economic output slumped. China, long ranked No. 2, saw direct investments by foreign companies climb 4%, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said. Beijing used strict lockdowns to largely contain Covid-19 after the disease first emerged in a central Chinese city, and China’s gross domestic product grew even as most other major economies contracted last year. The 2020 investment numbers underline China’s move toward the center of a global economy long dominated by the U.S.—a shift accelerated during the pandemic as China has cemented its position as the world’s factory floor and expanded its share of global trade. While China attracted more new inflows last year, the total stock of foreign investment in the U.S. remains much larger, reflecting the decades it has spent as the most attractive location for foreign businesses looking to expand outside their home markets. Foreign investment in the U.S. peaked in 2016 at $472 billion, when foreign investment in China was $134 billion. Since then, investment in China has continued to rise, while in the U.S. it has fallen each year since 2017.

“New Coronavirus Variants Complicate the Battle Against the Pandemic” by WSJ’s Stephen Fidler – The emergence of new variants of the virus that causes Covid-19—including one in the U.K. that British officials say could be more deadly than earlier versions—signals a future in which health authorities are locked in a cat-and-mouse battle with a shape-shifting pathogen. Faster-spreading coronavirus strains that researchers fear could also make people sicker or render vaccines less effective threaten to extend lockdowns and lead to more hospitalizations and deaths, epidemiologists caution. But, they said, it doesn’t mean the contagion can’t be contained. “We’re living in a world where coronavirus is so prevalent and rapidly mutating that there are going to be new variants that pop up,” Anthony Harnden, a physician who advises the U.K. government, told Sky News. “We may well be in a situation where we end up having to have an annual coronavirus vaccine” to cope with emerging strains. As the new variant in the U.K. has spread across the country, hospitals have been under more strain than they were in the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, and the national Covid-19 death toll is expected to surpass 100,000 in coming days. But in the week ended Sunday, new daily cases were down 22% from the previous seven days. Matt Hancock, the U.K.’s health secretary, said that was because of national restrictions in place since the start of the year. But in a television interview, Mr. Hancock warned, “We are a long, long, long way” before cases would be low enough for restrictions to be lifted.

“Facebook and Amazon Boosted Lobbying Spending in 2020” by WSJ’s Ryan Tracy, Chad Day and Anthony DeBarros – Big technology companies are bracing for a new administration and new scrutiny of their businesses with a time-tested strategy: opening their pocketbooks. Facebook Inc. FB 0.60% and Amazon. AMZN -0.45% com Inc. topped all other U.S. companies in federal lobbying expenditures last year, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of the most recent disclosures. It was the second straight year they outspent all other companies, including stalwarts such as AT&T Inc. and Boeing Co. Facebook, facing federal and state antitrust lawsuits as well as a series of hearings summoning CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Washington, spent nearly $20 million in 2020, up nearly 18% from the previous year. Amazon, which saw CEO Jeff Bezos testify before Congress for the first time and continued pressing to expand its business as a government contractor, spent about $18 million last year, up about 11% from 2019 spending. “We’ve been clear that the internet needs updated regulations, which is why we’ll continue voicing our support for new rules that address today’s realities online,” a Facebook spokesman said. “Amazon provides a wide range of products and services for our customers, and we’re always looking for ways to innovate on their behalf. Our Washington, D.C., team is focused on ensuring we are advocating on issues that are important to policymakers, our employees and our customers,” an Amazon spokeswoman said.

“Trump’s coming impeachment trial aggravates rift among Republicans” by Reuters’ Susan Cornwell – The coming second impeachment trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump on a charge of inciting the deadly storming of the Capitol has aggravated a rift among his fellow Republicans that was on full display on Sunday. At least one Republican, Senator Mitt Romney, said he believed the trial, which could lead to a vote banning Trump from future office, was a necessary response to the former president’s inflammatory call to his supporters to “fight” his election defeat before the Jan. 6 attack. Ten Republicans joined the House of Representatives in voting to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting insurrection, and the House is to present the charges to the Senate on Monday. Leaders of the narrowly divided Senate agreed to start the trial in two weeks, leaving time to confirm some of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees and possibly address his call for a fresh round of stimulus for a coronavirus-hammered nation. “The article of impeachment that was sent over by the House suggest(s) impeachable conduct,” Romney, a frequent critic of Trump who voted to convict during the first impeachment trial, told Fox News on Sunday. “It’s pretty clear that over the last year or so, there has been an effort to corrupt the election of the United States and it was not by President Biden, it was by President Trump.” The night after Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol – an attack that left five dead, sent lawmakers into hiding and delayed Congress by a few hours in its duty to certify Biden’s election win – multiple Republicans condemned the violence.

“’We can’t wait:’ Biden administration fights for $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan” by Reuters’ Susan Cornell and Patricia Zengerle – Officials in President Joe Biden’s administration tried to head off Republican concerns that his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal was too expensive on a Sunday call with Republican and Democratic lawmakers, some of whom pushed for a smaller plan targeting vaccine distribution. Lawmakers from both parties said they had agreed that getting the COVID-19 vaccine to Americans should be a priority, but some Republicans objected to such a hefty package only a month after Congress passed a $900 billion relief measure. “It seems premature to be considering a package of this size and scope,” said Republican Senator Susan Collins, who was on the call with Brian Deese, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, and other top Biden aides. Collins said she agreed additional funding was needed for vaccine distribution, but in a “more limited” bill, and planned to discuss such a measure with other lawmakers. Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, said the call had shown that coronavirus relief was Biden’s top priority. “We can’t wait,” White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. “Just because Washington has been gridlocked before doesn’t mean it needs to continue to be gridlocked.”

“U.S. to reverse Trump’s ‘draconian’ immigration policies, Biden tells Mexican president” by Reuters’ Staff – The United States plans to reverse the Trump administration’s “draconian” immigration approach while working on policies addressing the causes of migration, President Joe Biden told his Mexican counterpart, the White House said on Saturday. In a Friday call with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Biden outlined his plan to create new legal pathways for immigration and improve the process for people requesting asylum, according to an account of the call released by the White House. Priorities include “reversing the previous administration’s draconian immigration policies,” the White House said. The two leaders agreed to work together towards reducing “irregular migration,” the White House release said. Mexico has a major role to play in Biden’s plans for immigration reform. Earlier this month, Mexico helped coordinate efforts in Central America to contain a large caravan of migrants heading for the United States. Mexico’s Foreign Ministry also said it had begun talks with Washington about a COVID-19-related order signed by Biden to establish firmer health protocols for people entering U.S. territory. The call was “pleasant and respectful,” López Obrador said in a brief Twitter post.

“State Republicans push new voting restrictions after Trump’s loss” by Politico’s Zach Montellaro – Republican legislators across the country are preparing a slew of new voting restrictions in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s defeat. Georgia will be the focal point of the GOP push to change state election laws, after Democrats narrowly took both Senate seats there and President Joe Biden carried the state by an even smaller margin. But state Republicans in deep-red states and battlegrounds alike are citing Trump’s meritless claims of voter fraud in 2020 — and the declining trust in election integrity Trump helped drive — as an excuse to tighten access to the polls. Some Republican officials have been blunt about their motivations: They don’t believe they can win unless the rules change. “They don’t have to change all of them, but they’ve got to change the major parts of them so that we at least have a shot at winning,” Alice O’Lenick, a Republican on the Gwinnett County, Ga., board of elections in suburban Atlanta, told the Gwinnett Daily Post last week. She has since resisted calls to resign. The chair of the Texas Republican Party has called on the legislature there to make “election integrity” the top legislative priority in 2021, calling, among other things, for a reduction in the number of days of early voting. Jason Miller, a top Trump adviser, told the conservative site Just The News that Trump plans to remain involved in “voting integrity” efforts, keeping the issue at the top of Republicans’ minds. And VoteRiders, a nonprofit group that helps prospective voters get an ID if they need one to cast a ballot, said it is expecting a serious push for new voter ID laws in at least five states, while North Carolina could potentially implement new voter ID policies that have been held up in court.

“House majority may hinge on the Rio Grande Valley” by Politico’s Ally Mutnick – Former President Donald Trump’s surge among Latinos and rural voters along Texas’ southern border has given Republicans a surprise opening that could help decide control of the House of Representatives in 2022. Democrats spent millions in 2020 in Texas’ suburbs, hoping to capitalize on anti-Trump fervor and grow their majority. But not only did that effort not yield any new Democrats in Congress, Democratic support also cratered in three traditionally deep-blue districts in the Rio Grande Valley. Now, House Republicans are eager to invest in the region for the first time in years. In the danger zone are Reps. Vicente Gonzalez, Filemón Vela and Henry Cuellar, whose three adjoining districts stretch from the southern tip of the state up toward the San Antonio-Austin corridor. Hillary Clinton won them with margins between 17 and 22 points in 2016. But Joe Biden carried them all by just a few points in 2020 — the largest rightward swings of any Texas congressional districts. “I think it was a wake-up call for everybody,” Cuellar said in an interview. The nine-term incumbent fared the best of the Democratic trio, winning nearly 60 percent of the vote, while Vela scraped 55 percent — the worst showing of his five terms — and Gonzalez barely got a majority. But Cuellar said the tight presidential race in his region was a sign the national party was not heeding warnings.

“Biden to ban travel from South Africa, reinstate restrictions on Brazil and U.K.” by Politico’s Stephanie Beasley – President Joe Biden will issue another round of Covid-related travel restrictions, including a new ban on most non-U.S. citizens traveling from South Africa and a reinstated ban on most non-U.S. travelers coming from Brazil, the United Kingdom and dozens of European countries. Reuters first reported that new restrictions on travel from South Africa would go into effect on Saturday. A White House official confirmed the veracity of the article. Biden is also expected to on Monday reinstate a ban on travel by most non-U.S. citizens from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and 26 other European countries, reversing a Jan. 18 order from President Donald Trump that lifted those restrictions. The move comes after Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, warned that new, more infectious Covid strains in South Africa and Brazil could reduce the potency of the two vaccines being administered in the U.S. No exemptions for airlines: The White House official also confirmed that the administration would not allow airlines to make exemptions to a separate order set to go into effect this week, which will require all international travelers to show proof of a negative Covid test before entering the U.S. Airlines had requested temporary waivers permitting them to carry some travelers coming from countries with limited testing capacity.

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Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres is a nationally renowned award-winning political journalist. Diverse New Media, Corp. publishes Floridianpress.com, Hispolitica.com, shark-tank.com, and Texaspolitics.com He enjoys traveling, playing soccer, mixed martial arts, weight-lifting, swimming, and biking. Javier is also a political consultant and has also authored "BROWN PEOPLE," which is a book about Hispanic Politics. Learn more at www.brownpeople.org Email him at [email protected]