The hitchhiker's guide to the vote for House speaker

The 118th Congress convenes for the first time on Tuesday at noon. 

“Opening day” in Congress is always full of pageantry. Lawmakers pour into the Capitol with their families from all over the country. Toddlers and kids run up and down the aisles. Freshmen bring everyone to Capitol Hill. They pack their offices with constituents, supporters and families, serving punch and local delicacies from back home.

It’s a lot like the first day of school.

And this year will likely be like any other opening day in the House of Representatives – until about 2 p.m. 

That’s usually when the House votes on a speaker. The new speaker in turn swears-in the entire body, and we’re off to the races.

And for the first time in a century, things might not go down like that on Tuesday. It’s far from certain that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will become speaker. And, what’s even more cryptic is how long it may take the House to elect McCarthy as speaker or someone else. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks at a press conference at the Capitol building on August 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. Leader McCarthy said he wants House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to call Congress back in session and to take up legislation that would prevent President Biden from withdrawing troops until every U.S. Citizen is out of Afghanistan. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks at a press conference at the Capitol building on August 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. Leader McCarthy said he wants House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to call Congress back in session and to take up legislation that would prevent President Biden from withdrawing troops until every U.S. Citizen is out of Afghanistan. 
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

This could take a few hours. Or, it may even take a week or more. 

The first order of business in the House is electing a speaker. It can’t do anything – including swearing-in the new members until the House chooses a speaker. 

The last time the speaker vote even went to a second ballot was 1923. It took nine ballots and three days before the House re-elected Speaker Frederick Gillett, R-Mass. The House frittered away two weeks before electing Speaker Howell Cobb, D-Ga., in 1849. But that was efficient compared to the two months the House squandered in late 1855 and early 1856 before finally electing Speaker Nathaniel Banks, D-Mass., – on the 163rd ballot. 

This is what opening day will look like in the House – before things might get dicey.

Clerk of the House Cheryl Johnson will call the House to order promptly at noon on Tuesday. Johnson is the holdover from the Democratically-controlled House. She will preside from the dais – and be in charge of the House until its members select a speaker.

So, the longer it takes Republicans to figure out a speaker, the longer the House is run by an appointee of outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

The first thing the House must do is take attendance. All members elected in November are asked to come to the chamber and record their presence. The House starts at 434 members: 222 Republicans to 212 Democrats. There is one vacancy: the late Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., died just after the election. 

Then, it’s on to the selection of speaker. 

REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK: SANTOS ADDS BAGGAGE TO GOP’S HOUSE MAJORITY TAKEOFF

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., will nominate McCarthy. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., will nominate Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. 

Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., conducts a news conference after a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday, July 13, 2022.

Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., conducts a news conference after a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday, July 13, 2022.
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

If this were a typical year, that would be it. But Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., plans to challenge McCarthy for the speakership. It’s possible that someone could nominate Biggs or even another candidate. There’s no requirement that the speaker of the House be a member of the body – although that’s never happened. However, it is routine for a few members to vote for a few non-members in protest.

The vote is of the highest order at that moment in the House. The House then begins with the Reading Clerk alphabetically calling the roll of each name. Members respond verbally with their pick for speaker. The winner is the candidate who receives an outright majority of the House by those who voted for someone by name. In other words, if all 434 members vote for someone by name, the magic number is 218. But there are at least five known opponents of McCarthy. If they all vote for someone else by name, McCarthy only has a maximum of 217 votes. 

However, it gets trickier yet.

There are often a few absences. So the House may not start at 434 members. Or, it’s possible members just decline to vote for speaker. Lawmakers who vote “present” don’t count against the total. The “218” threshold begins to dwindle.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks about Republicans' "Commitment to America" agenda at DMI Companies in Monongahela, Pa., Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks about Republicans’ “Commitment to America” agenda at DMI Companies in Monongahela, Pa., Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

The problem for McCarthy is if several members cast ballots for someone else by name. Such a scenario blocks McCarthy from obtaining an outright majority of ballots cast for someone by name. He may have the most votes. But that’s not the rule.

The successful speaker candidate doesn’t need 218. Pelosi and former House Speakers Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and John Boehner, R-Ohio, each prevailed in at least one election with fewer than 218 votes. 

But the complicating factor is that the “magic number” for speaker is unknown until the first tally is complete. We then know the total number of ballots cast for someone by name. 

If there’s no winner, the House must vote again and again and again – until it selects a winner.

Things could get chaotic if McCarthy nor anyone else prevails on the first ballot. The House will find itself in a posture not seen in 100 years. There’s not a lot of precedent as to how things should unfold in the House.

This is all we know on Jan. 3: Cheryl Johnson, the Democratic Clerk of the House, remains in charge. And, there are no members of the House. 

Let me say that again: there are no members of the House. 

The House is not fully constituted because there is no speaker to swear them in. The members-elect only become members when they are sworn-in by the speaker.

U.S. Capitol Building 

U.S. Capitol Building 
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Remember all of those family members and constituents who flew to Washington to see their cousin, friend, college buddy become a House member? Hope you don’t need to go anywhere soon. You may be cooling your heels at the Hyatt Regency bar until you see them sworn-in. And forget about staged photo-ops with the new speaker. Those are on ice, too.

Fox is told this could become a staring contest that takes days to play out. The reason is that both sides are so dug in that no one concedes right away. There will be debates. Horse trading. Raised voices. Tempers will flare.

All the while, the Republican-led House could get off to one of the most inauspicious beginnings for any Congress in history. No bills to cut IRS agents. No legislation on abortion. The House can’t even fully constitute its committees.

And, if this speaker saga drags on through Jan. 13, the lawmakers themselves and certain aides won’t get paid. 

However, it’s possible the House could eventually elect a speaker without an outright majority of those casting ballots by name. In both the elections of Howell Cobb in 1849 and Nathaniel Banks in 1856, the repeated voting wore members down. For both Cobb and Banks, the House adopted a resolution that then allowed it to pick a speaker with a simple majority. In other words, the resolution said that the winner simply secured the most votes. It’s possible the House could do the same in these circumstances if it flails long enough to elect a speaker.

But we have not addressed a unique scenario which could unfold this Jan. 3: whether to seat Rep.-elect George Santos, R-N.Y.

George Santos on the campaign trail. 

George Santos on the campaign trail. 
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

We noted earlier that once the House concludes its initial quorum call, the next order of business is to select a speaker. Fox is told it’s possible members could try to challenge whether the House should seat Santos. Members of both parties view Santos as tainted. So why should he get to cast what could be a decisive ballot for speaker when he may be a fraud?

Late House Democratic Caucus Chairman Vic Fazio, D-Calif., attempted to sidetrack the vsote in 1997 because Newt Gingrich had faced an ethics investigation. However, it was ruled that the selection of the speaker was of the highest importance to begin the new Congress. So ethics questions must wait.

CONGRESS MISSES ITS DEADLINE TO FUND THE GOVERNMENT AGAIN

One could anticipate a similar situation – and outcome – if there’s a challenge to seat Santos before the speaker vote.

However, once the House picks a speaker – yet before the speaker swears-in the members – a lawmaker could contest whether the House should seat Santos. 

Regardless of Santos’ problems, 142,673 voters in New York’s 3rd Congressional District elected him as their congressman. Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution states that “No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been Seven Years a Citizen of the United States, who shall not, when elected be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.”

Santos meets that bar. We think.

But Article, I, Section 5 of the Constitution also says that the House and Senate have the final say as to who is seated. 

This brings us to a phenomenon in Congress known as “exclusion.” 

George Santos

George Santos
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The House has challenged the seating of dozens of members over the years. Lawmakers have raised questions about ethics, finances, bigamy, polygamy and residence. In 1985, the House refused to seat either late Rep. Frank McCloskey, D-Ind., or his GOP challenger Richard McIntyre because of a dispute over ballots. The House investigated and finally re-seated McCloskey months later. But McCloskey did not get to be a member on opening day.

In early 1967, House Speaker John McCormack, D-Mass., decided against seating Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, D-N.Y., due to a host of ethics and financial issues. Later that year, the House voted 307-116 to exclude Powell from taking his seat in the House. Powell then sued McCormack and the House and ran again for his vacant seat. Powell won, and the House seated him in January 1969. The Supreme Court ruled in Powell v. McCormack that the House overstepped its bounds by barring Powell from being seated in 1967.

The Constitution is clear about the requirements to become a member. But the House may not add requirements for people to be sworn-in. It says nothing about character.

So, any challenge regarding Santos may have to wait until after the speaker vote is complete – whenever that is.

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Moreover, once the House swears-in Santos, it could move to expel him. Nothing in the Constitution says how long you get to stay. That’s why Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution also grants the House and Senate the right to kick out members. Expulsion requires a two-thirds vote. The House has only expelled five members in its history.

So, this could be a doozy of a few days on Capitol Hill. And, it may be a while until America’s bicameral legislature has two functioning bodies. 

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Some House Republicans concerned McCarthy speakership would continue 'past and ongoing Republican failures'

Prospective House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is still tussling with some members of his party who are concerned electing him to be speaker would be a “continuation of past and ongoing Republican failures.”

Last week, the California Republican floated a congressional rule change that would make it easier to remove a House speaker in exchange for his rise to the post, a key demand from powerful GOP opponents.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks about Republicans' "Commitment to America" agenda at DMI Companies in Monongahela, Pa., Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks about Republicans’ “Commitment to America” agenda at DMI Companies in Monongahela, Pa., Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

Under current rules, which were imposed under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, only a member of the House leadership can offer a motion to vacate, while the new proposal would allow any member of the House to force a vote to remove the speaker, at any time.

KEVIN MCCARTHY FLOATS CONCESSION ON ALLOWING CONSERVATIVES TO REMOVE HOUSE SPEAKER

On Sunday afternoon, McCarthy met with GOP members to try and rally support for his speakership vote on Jan. 3, when the new Congress takes office. The embattled Republican leader conceded rank-and-file members will be allowed to call for the speaker’s removal, though he wasn’t clear about how many members would need to sign on to the motion, according to reports.

The meeting came after his letter on New Year’s Eve, titled “Restoring the People’s House and Ending Business as Usual,” which was his admission of the deep dysfunction of the House of Representatives and his pitch to make it right.

In response to McCarthy’s letter, GOP Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Chip Roy of Texas, Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Andy Harris of Maryland and Andrew Clyde of Georgia, along with Rep.-elects Andy Ogles of Tennessee, Anna Paulina Luna of Florida and Eli Crane of Arizona sent a letter of their own.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

“Regrettably, however, despite some progress achieved, Mr. McCarthy’s statement comes almost impossibly late to address continued deficiencies ahead of the opening of the 118th Congress on January 3rd,” the letter stated. “At this state, it cannot be a surprise that expressions of vague hopes reflected in far too many of the crucial points still under debate are insufficient. This is especially true with respect to Mr. McCarthy’s candidacy for speaker because the times call for radical departure from the status quo – not a continuation of past and ongoing, Republican failures.”

SEVEN MORE HOUSE REPUBLICANS THREATEN TO OPPOSE MCCARTHY WITHOUT CONCESSIONS ON HOUSE RULES

The letter continues to say that McCarthy’s 14-year presence in senior house leadership puts the burden of House dysfunction on him, which he now admits.

Rep. Andy Biggs announced in early December that he would run against McCarthy for speaker.

“We cannot let this all too rare opportunity to effectuate structural change pass us by because it is uncomfortable to challenge the Republican candidate who is a creature of the establishment status quo, or because the challenge is accompanied by some minimal risk,” Biggs wrote in an Op-Ed for the Daily Caller at the time.

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., said he will not support Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and will run against him for the position of speaker of the House.

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., said he will not support Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and will run against him for the position of speaker of the House.
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Biggs and four other Republicans pledged to vote against McCarthy, which could be problematic with the party’s slim majority — 218 votes are needed to clinch the speaker seat.

ANDY BIGGS TO CHALLENGE KEVIN MCCARTHY FOR SPEAKER ON HOUSE FLOOR

Biggs’ candidacy is largely seen as an opportunity to showcase that McCarthy cannot get the 218 votes required to be speaker. McCarthy’s opponents say that once that reality becomes clear, other alternatives will step up.

Republicans in the incoming House have a majority with 222 seats, and McCarthy needs 218 votes to clinch the speakership. With five opposed, theoretically he only needs one vote from those five to get that spot.

But those votes could be fluttering away.

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“Mr. McCarthy’s statement also continues to propose to restrict the availability of the traditional motion to vacate the chair as a means of holding leadership accountable to its promises; we have from the beginning made clear that we will not accept following Nancy Pelosi’s example by insulating leadership in this way,” the nine House GOP members said in their letter on Sunday. “We also note that the statement fails completely to address the issue of leadership working to defeat conservatives in open primaries. The progress made thus far has been helpful and should guide our thinking going forward.”

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[World] Rajouri: Tension in Kashmir after five killed

BBC News world 

Image source, ANI

Image caption,

Sunday’s attack on civilians has triggered protests in Kashmir

Parts of Indian-administered Kashmir are tense after five civilians were killed in two separate attacks in the same area in less than 24 hours.

Four people were killed and nine injured after militants fired at three houses in Rajouri district on Sunday evening.

On Monday, a child died and four people were hurt after a blast took place near the same houses.

The cause of the blast was not immediately clear.

Top police officials have started an investigation into the incidents.

Sunday’s attack has triggered protests and strikes in Rajouri as people blamed the local administration for the security lapse.

Manoj Sinha, the administrative head of the region, has condemned “the cowardly terror attack in Rajouri” and announced financial assistance for the families of the victims.

“I assure the people that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished,” he tweeted on Monday.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is hotly contested by both India and Pakistan, who both claim it in full but rule it in parts. The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two wars and a limited conflict over Kashmir since 1947, when India was partitioned and Pakistan was created.

For more than three decades, an armed revolt has been waged against India’s rule in the region, claiming tens of thousands of lives.

India blames Pakistan for stirring the unrest by backing separatist militants in Kashmir – a charge Islamabad denies.

Jammu and Kashmir was India’s only Muslim-majority state until August 2019, when the federal government revoked its autonomy and divided it into two separate territories.

The four people who were killed on Sunday were from the minority Hindu community in Muslim-majority Kashmir.

Over the past year, several Hindus in Kashmir have been killed in targeted attacks by militants, sparking fear in the community.

Read more India stories from the BBC:

 

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Storm pushes into Central US after walloping California with dangerous flooding and forcing water rescues and evacuations



CNN
 — 

A powerful storm system that battered California on New Year’s Eve, bringing widespread flooding and power outages, is pushing into the Central US Monday, as more than 15 million people from the West Coast to Illinois are under winter weather alerts.

The atmospheric river – a long, narrow region in the atmosphere which can carry moisture thousands of miles – fueled a parade of storms that dropped thick snow on the mountains and drenched northern California, shutting down roadways and prompting water rescues and evacuation orders.

At least two people died in the storm, including one who was found dead inside a completely submerged vehicle Saturday in Sacramento County, and a 72-year-old man who died after being struck by a fallen tree at a Santa Cruz park, according to officials.

Scores of others in northern California were rescued from flood waters as rivers swelled and roads became impassable.

There were 103,000 homes, businesses and other power customers without power across California and Nevada as of Sunday night, down from a high of more than 300,000 outages on Saturday, according to Poweroutage.US.

On Monday, snow is expected to fall across the Rockies, northern Plains, and eventually into parts of the Midwest where winter storm alerts are posted.

Widespread snowfall of 4 to 8 inches is forecast but higher elevations in the mountains could see 1 to 2 feet of snow.

On the southern edge of the storm, a severe storm outbreak is possible across the South Monday into Tuesday.

Parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana are at risk of severe storms on Monday, with damaging winds, strong tornadoes and hail possible. Storms are expected to begin in the afternoon and will last through the overnight hours.

Three vehicles are submerged on Dillard Road west of Highway 99 in south Sacramento County in Wilton, California, Sunday, after heavy rains on New Year's Eve.

The Sacramento County area was particularly hard hit, with emergency crews spending the weekend rescuing multiple flood victims by boats and helicopter and responding to fallen trees and disabled vehicles in the flood waters, the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District said.

An evacuation order was issued Sunday for the rural Sacramento County areas of Point Pleasant, while Glanville Tract and Franklin Pond were under an evacuation warning.

“It is expected that the flooding from the Cosumnes River and the Mokelumne River is moving southwest toward I-5 and could reach these areas in the middle of the night,” the agency tweeted.

The day before, rising flood waters forced evacuations in Wilton, California, as well as three communities near the city of Watsonville in Santa Cruz County.

A Flash Flood Watch was in place along and west of 5 Freeway to the Sacramento River, where there were worries about excessive rainfall and flooding on the Cosumnes and Mokelumne Rivers.

The storm snarled travel across multiple northern California highways, amid reports of inundated roadways and mudslides.

Flooding from the Cosumnes River forced the closure of Highway 99 south of Elk Grove in Sacramento County, the California Department of Transportation tweeted. “SR 99 is one of the state’s heavily traveled, and commercially important, corridors,” its website adds.

Aerial video from CNN affiliate KCRA showed cars submerged past their doorhandles in flood waters from Highway 99 and the Dillard Street area. Chris Schamber, a fire captain with the Cosumnes Fire Department, told the station “dozens upon dozens” of people had been rescued.

US Highway 101 – one of California’s most famous routes – was also temporarily closed in both directions in South San Francisco Saturday with the California Highway Patrol reporting “water is not receding due to non-stop rainfall & high tides preventing the water to displace.”

The weather system is expected to bring light to moderate valley rain and mountain snow to the area Monday and Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

It’s not clear how much this storm will make a dent in drought conditions that have persisted in California, which started 2022 with the driest beginning of the year on record and ended it with flooded roads and swelling rivers.

Northern California’s mountainous areas recorded impressive snow totals over the weekend.

Sierra locations above 5,000 feet received around 20-45 inches of snow Saturday through early Sunday morning – and another round of lighter snow is on the way.

The Sierra Snow Lab recorded 24-hour snow totals of 29.9 inches, Bear Valley Ski Resort recorded 21 inches, Boreal Ski Resort received 40 inches, Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort 42 inches and Soda Springs saw 40 inches, according to the Weather Service.


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Actor Jeremy Renner hospitalized in 'critical but stable condition' following snow plowing accident: report

Actor Jeremy Renner was reportedly hospitalized following a snow plowing accident on Sunday in Reno, Nevada.

A spokesperson for Renner told Deadline the actor was listed in “critical but stable condition with injuries suffered after experiencing a weather related accident while plowing snow earlier today.”

The spokesperson said he is with his family and “receiving excellent care,” according to Deadline.

Actor Jeremy Renner arrives for the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema's "Tag," held at Regency Village Theatre on June 7, 2018, in Westwood, California.

Actor Jeremy Renner arrives for the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema’s “Tag,” held at Regency Village Theatre on June 7, 2018, in Westwood, California.
(Albert L. Ortega)

Renner has a home near Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, an area that was hit on New Year’s Eve by a winter storm that saw 35,000 homes lose power. 

YOUTUBE STAR KEENAN CAHILL DEAD AT THE AGE OF 27 AFTER COMPLICATIONS FROM OPEN HEART SURGERY

Renner, best known for playing the superhero Clint Barton, or “Hawkeye,” in multiple Marvel movies and Disney+ television shows, was reportedly airlifted to the hospital. 

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Jeremy Renner arrives at the 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards, in Santa Monica, Calif. 

Jeremy Renner arrives at the 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards, in Santa Monica, Calif. 
(Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

The two-time Oscar nominee currently stars in the Paramount+ series “Mayor of Kingstown.”  The second season of the show is set to begin airing on January 15.

Renner was previously nominated for Best Actor at the 2010 Academy Award’s for his performance in “The Hurt Locker.” 

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The following year, Renner was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in “The Town.”

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[World] Lula sworn in as Brazil president as predecessor Bolsonaro flies to US

But diversity and inclusion too was a big part of today’s inauguration. With Mr Bolsonaro abandoning his final official duty of passing on the presidential sash, it was left to Eni Souza, a rubbish picker, to do the honours. And standing next to Lula was an indigenous leader, a black boy and a disabled influencer. In this country where racism is all too common, it was an important image that will endure.

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Ukraine faces grim start to 2023 after fresh Russian attacks

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainians faced a grim start to 2023 as Sunday brought more Russian missile and drone attacks following a blistering New Year’s Eve assault that killed at least three civilians across the country, authorities reported.

Air raid sirens sounded in the capital shortly after midnight, followed by a barrage of missiles that interrupted the small celebrations residents held at home due to wartime curfews. Ukrainian officials alleged Moscow was deliberately targeting civilians along with critical infrastructure to create a climate of fear and destroy morale during the long winter months.

In a video address Sunday night, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised his citizens’ “sense of unity, of authenticity, of life itself.” The Russians, he said, “will not take away a single year from Ukraine. They will not take away our independence. We will not give them anything.”

Ukrainian forces in the air and on the ground shot down 45 Iranian-made explosive drones fired by Russia on Saturday night and before dawn Sunday, Zelenskyy said.

Another strike at noon Sunday in the southern Zaporizhzhia region killed one person, according to the head of the regional military administration, Alexander Starukh. But Kyiv was largely quiet, and people there on New Year’s Day savored the snippets of peace.

“Of course it was hard to celebrate fully because we understand that our soldiers can’t be with their family,” Evheniya Shulzhenko said while sitting with her husband on a park bench overlooking the city.

But a “really powerful” New Year’s Eve speech by Zelenskyy lifted her spirits and made her proud to be Ukrainian, Shulzhenko said. She recently moved to Kyiv after living in Bakhmut and Kharkiv, two cities that have experienced some of the heaviest fighting of the war.

Multiple blasts rocked the capital and other areas of Ukraine on Saturday and through the night, wounding dozens. An AP photographer at the scene of an explosion in Kyiv saw a woman’s body as her husband and son stood nearby.

Ukraine’s largest university, the Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv, reported significant damage to its buildings and campus. Mayor Vitali Klitschko said two schools were damaged, including a kindergarten.

The strikes came 36 hours after widespread missile attacks Russia launched Thursday to damage energy infrastructure facilities. Saturday’s unusually quick follow-up alarmed Ukrainian officials. Russia has carried out airstrikes on Ukrainian power and water supplies almost weekly since October, increasing the suffering of Ukrainians, while its ground forces struggle to hold ground and advance.

Nighttime shelling in parts of the southern city of Kherson killed one person and blew out hundreds of windows in a children’s hospital, according to deputy presidential chief of staff Kyrylo Tymoshenko. Ukrainian forces reclaimed the city in November after Russia’s forces withdrew across the Dnieper River, which bisects the Kherson region.

When shells hit the children’s hospital on Saturday night, surgeons were operating on a 13-year-old boy who was seriously wounded in a nearby village that evening, Kherson Gov. Yaroslav Yanushevych said. The boy was transferred in serious condition to a hospital about 99 kilometers (62 miles) away in Mykolaiv.

Elsewhere, a 22-year-old woman died of wounds from a Saturday rocket attack Saturday in the eastern town of Khmelnytskyi, the city’s mayor said.

Instead of New Year’s fireworks, Oleksander Dugyn said he and his friends and family in Kyiv watched the sparks caused by Ukrainian air defense forces countering Russian attacks.

“We already know the sound of rockets, we know the moment they fly, we know the sound of drones. The sound is like the roar of a moped,” said Dugin, who was strolling with his family in the park. “We hold on the best we can.”

While Russia’s bombardments have left many Ukrainians without heating and electricity due to damage or controlled blackouts meant to preserve the remaining power supply, Ukraine’s state-owned grid operator said Sunday there would be no restrictions on electricity use for one day.

“The power industry is doing everything possible to ensure that the New Year’s holiday is with light, without restrictions,” utility company Ukrenergo said.

It said businesses and industry had cut back to allow the additional electricity for households.

Zelenskyy, in his nightly address, thanked utility workers for helping to keep the lights on during the latest assault. “It is very important how all Ukrainians recharged their inner energy this New Year’s Eve,” he said.

In separate tweets Sunday, the Ukrainian leader also reminded the European Union of his country’s wish to join the EU. He thanked the Czech Republic and congratulated Sweden, which just exchanged the EU’s rotating presidency, for their help in securing progress for Ukraine’s bid.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the Western military alliance’s 30 members need to “ramp up” arms production in the coming months both to maintain their own stockpiles and to keep supplying Ukraine with the weapons it needs to fend off Russia.

The war in Ukraine, now in its 11th month, is consuming an “enormous amount” of munitions, Stoltenberg told BBC Radio 4′s “The World This Weekend” in an interview that aired Sunday.

“It is a core responsibility for NATO to ensure that we have the stocks, the supplies, the weapons in place to ensure our own deterrence and defense, but also to be able to continue to provide support to Ukraine for the long haul,” he said.

Achieving the twin goals “is a huge undertaking. We need to ramp up production, and that is exactly what the NATO allies are doing,” Stoltenberg said.

The NATO chief said that while Russia has experienced battlefield setbacks and the fighting on the ground appears at a stalemate, “Russia has shown no sign of giving up its overall goal of taking control over Ukraine.” he said.

“The Ukrainian forces have had the momentum for several months but we also know that Russia has mobilized many more forces. Many of them are now training.

“All that indicates that they are prepared to continue the war and also potentially try to launch a new offensive,” Stoltenberg said.

He added that what Ukraine can achieve during negotiations to end the war will depend on the strength it shows on the battlefield.

“If we want a negotiated solution that ensures that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, independent, democratic state in Europe, then we need to provide support for Ukraine now,” Stoltenberg said,

___

For more AP stories on the war in Ukraine, go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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Biblical site where Jesus healed blind man excavated for public view: ‘Affirms Scripture’

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JERUSALEM — The Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel National Parks Authority and the City of David Foundation announced days before the new year that the Pool of Siloam, a biblical site cherished by Christians and Jews, will be open to the public for the first time in 2,000 years in the near future.

“The Pool of Siloam’s excavation is highly significant to Christians around the world,” American Pastor John Hagee, the founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel, told Fox News Digital. “It was at this site that Jesus healed the blind man (John:9), and it is at this site that, 2,000 years ago, Jewish pilgrims cleansed themselves prior to entering the Second Temple. 

“The Pool of Siloam and the Pilgrimage Road, both located within the City of David, are among the most inspiring archeological affirmations of the Bible. 

“Christians are deeply blessed by the City of David’s work and Israel’s enduring commitment to ensuring religious freedom to all who visit and live in the Holy Land, especially Jerusalem — the undivided capital of Israel.”

‘JESUS’ FACE’ UNCOVERED AT ANCIENT CHURCH IN THE ISRAELI DESERT

Ze’ev Orenstein, the director of international affairs for the City of David Foundation in Jerusalem, told Fox News Digital, “One of most significant sites affirming Jerusalem’s Biblical heritage — not simply as a matter of faith, but as a matter of fact — with significance to billions around the world, will be made fully accessible for the first time in 2,000 years.”

The Pool of Siloam is situated in the southern portion of the City of David and within the area of the Jerusalem Walls National Park.

CHURCH OF THE APOSTLES DISCOVERED NEAR SEA OF GALILEE, ARCHAEOLOGISTS SAY

A small section of the pool, which has been fully excavated, has been accessible to the public for several years. The vast majority of the pool is being excavated and will either be opened piecemeal or once the entire site is unearthed. The archeological project to fully excavate the pool will last a few years. There is a plan for space for visitors to the pool to view the ongoing excavation.

“Despite ongoing efforts at the United Nations and Palestinian leadership to erase Jerusalem’s heritage, in a few years time, the millions of people visiting the City of David annually will literally be able to walk in the footsteps of the Bible, connecting with the roots of their heritage and identity,” Orenstein noted. 

The pool was first built roughly 2,700 years ago as part of Jerusalem’s water system in the eighth century B.C. The construction unfolded during the reign of King Hezekia as cited in the Bible in the Book of Kings II, 20:20, according to the two Israeli agencies and the City of David Foundation. 

According to estimates, the Pool of Siloam passed through many stages of construction and reached the size of 1¼ acres.

“When I think of this news, I think of another phrase from the Hebrew Bible, ‘My ears have heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you,'” Rev. Johnnie Moore, president of the Congress of Christian Leaders, told Fox News Digital. 

ANCIENT CITY GATE FROM THE TIME OF KING DAVID DISCOVERED IN ISRAEL

“This news means that one of the most important archeological discoveries in history can soon be seen by visitors from all over the world. It will affirm all they believe. Having faith is part of worshipping God, but faith alone isn’t required to believe. There are historic facts attesting to the truth of Scripture.”

Moore, who is the on the advisory board of The Combat Antisemitism Movement, added, “In the Pool of Siloam, we find evidence of history preserved for us, revealed at just the right time. This is a truly historic event. Theologically, it affirms Scripture, geographically it affirms history and politically it affirms Israel’s unquestionable and unrivaled link to Jerusalem. Some discoveries are theoretical. This one is an undeniable. It is proof of the story of the Bible and of its people, Israel.”

A stroke of luck revealed the pool in 2004 when infrastructure work carried out by the Hagihon water company uncovered some of the pool’s steps. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), under supervision of professors Roni Reich and Eli Shukron, launched a survey. As a result, the northern perimeter, as well as a small section of the eastern perimeter of the Pool of Siloam, were uncovered.

“The perimeter of the pool was built as a series of steps, allowing the bathers to sit and immerse themselves in the waters of the pool,” according to the IAA.

Mayor of Jerusalem Moshe Lion, said, “The Pool of Siloam in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem is a site of historic, national and international significance. After many years of anticipation, we will soon merit being able to uncover this important site and make it accessible to the millions of visitors visiting Jerusalem each year.”

 

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2022 in review: The biggest lowlights and hot takes on MSNBC, CNN, from ‘reparations’ to Jesus the ‘groomer’

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MSNBC and CNN, have faced a tumultuous year in the media landscape, leading to the announcement of layoffs and the departure of big-name network figures.

At the beleaguered Warner Bros. Discovery-owned CNN, the network continued its downward trajectory of 2021, with the resignation of Jeff Zucker, the decision to scrap CNN+ streaming service after just one month, and a flurry of December layoffs. 

Meanwhile, MSNBC fared better by comparison, but still suffered losses as did much of the industry. NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News and MSNBC, will lay off employees in the broadcast and cable TV networks, according to a Business Insider report. MSNBC has also faced the difficult task of attempting to replace Rachel Maddow, who now only works one-night-a-week, lacking viewers that previously flocked to the network during her time slot.

THIS IS CNN? BELEAGUERED NETWORK HAS TUMULTUOUS YEAR, MARKED BY HIGH-PROFILE FIRINGS, CONTINUED RATINGS WOES

In addition to the behind-the-scenes difficulties, both CNN and MSNBC engaged in several on-air segments that left viewers shocked, angered, and logging into social media to take part in the controversy. 

In late November, MSNBC analysts Maria Hinijosa and Fernand Amandi agreed that there is no “crisis” at the border while appearing on “The Mehdi Hasan Show.”

During the segment, guest host Paola Ramos even objected to the border photos MSNBC was running behind her, saying, “Look, first of all, we should stop using the kind of, actually even the kind of imagery being shown right now. You know, we should not be perpetuating a conversation about a crisis that is a human drama but that this United States is not being overrun, flooded by uncontrollable situations on the border. That’s not happening in terms of tens of thousands of people trying to get [in] — no!” 

MSNBC also received backlash after analyst Matthew Dowd claimed that Jesus Christ, if he were alive today, would be called a “groomer,” “socialist,” and “woke” by conservatives. 

While appearing on “Deadline: White House,” Dowd was asked by Nicolle Wallace how some conservations were using the “perversion” of faith as a “political cudgel” in the “culture war” over policies affecting young kids. 

“The entire message of the gospels of the Easter holidays was love one another. And I have said this before, and I’ll say it again: If Jesus Christ was alive today, He would be called a groomer, He would be called woke, and He would be called a socialist if He was alive today,” Dowd replied.

MSNBC GUEST WANTS TO ‘MAKE SWEET LOVE’ TO SUPREME COURT LEAKER, ‘JOYFULLY ABORT’ FETUS IF SHE GETS PREGNANT

Following the Supreme Court leaked draft opinion that showed Roe v. Wade was headed for a reversal, MSNBC host Ayman Mohyeldin started laughing after a guest declared she want to “make sweet love” to whoever leaked the draft. However, she did not stop there. 

 “I would like to find out who the leaker is. So I can make sweet love to that person because that person is a hero,” guest Laurie Kilmartin said, prompting laughter from the MSNBC host.

“A lot of people are saying the leaker could be a conservative. If the leaker is a Republican, and if I get pregnant during our love making, I will joyfully abort our fetus,” Kilmartin added.

In the lead up to the midterm elections, MSNBC guest Elie Mystal received intense backlash for comments he directed at then-Republican Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker and the Republican Party.

During a segment on MSNBC’s “The Cross Connection with Tiffany Cross,” Mystal called out Walker as “what Republicans want from their Negroes” in a Black candidate. This came months after Mystal penned a column calling Walker’s campaign “an insult to Black people.”

Walker later responded to Mystal’s comments, saying, “Shame on MSNBC and shame on him. I’m going to pray for both of them because they need Jesus.”

Over on CNN, most of the segments that generated significant social media attention came from “Don Lemon Tonight” before the network host was moved to CNN’s new morning show, named “CNN This Morning.” Lemon insists he was not demoted. 

In one segment, Lemon was shut down by acting director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Hurricane Center after he asked about the effect climate change had on Hurricane Ian.

“I don’t think you can link climate change to any one event. On the whole, on the cumulative, climate change may be making storms worse. But to link it to any one event, I would caution against that,” Jamie Rhome told Lemon after being repeatedly asked how climate change was linked to the hurricane. 

Lemon then said he grew up in Florida and added that something was making these storms intensify, despite Rhome’s comments. 

DON LEMON ROASTED OVER ROYAL EXPERT’S ANSWER ON BRITAIN PAYING REPARATIONS: ‘HE WAS NOT READY FOR THIS’

In another segment, following the death of Queen Elizabeth, British royals expert Hilary Fordwich stunned the CNN anchor into silence with her argument that African slave owners owe “reparations” rather than the British Empire.

“Some people want to be paid back and members of the public are wondering, ‘Why are we suffering when you are, you have all this vast wealth?’ Those are legitimate concerns,” Lemon stated.

Fordwich agreed that the desire for reparations is alive and well, though those who want it can look to African slavers.

“I think you’re totally right. If reparations need to be paid, we need to go right back to the beginning of that supply chain and say, ‘Who was rounding up their own people and having them handcuffed in cages. Absolutely, that’s where they should start,” she said. 

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Fox News’ Lindsay Kornick and Hanna Panreck. 

 

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