Day 748: "Our plan is working."
1/ The FBI arrested two people and charged them with conspiracy to attack the electrical substations around Baltimore and “completely destroy” the city. Sarah Clendaniel and Brandon Russell planned to use firearms to “inflict maximum harm on the power grid,” according to the FBI. The plot was reportedly driven by ethnically or racially motivated extremist beliefs. Russell is the founder of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen. Clendaniel and Russell met while incarcerated at separate prisons: Russell for possessing bombmaking materials and Clendaniel for robbing convenience stores with a machete. If convicted, they each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. (NPR / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times)
2/ The U.S. shot down the Chinese surveillance balloon off the Carolina coast Saturday, about a week after it was spotted crossing the U.S. The Navy and Coast Guard are trying to recover the surveillance equipment the balloon was carrying. The Chinese foreign ministry declared its “strong discontent and protest” at Biden’s decision to shoot down the balloon, claiming that it was a civilian aircraft that had accidentally blown into the U.S. The chair of the House Intelligence Committee, meanwhile, criticized the Biden administration for lacking a sense of “urgency” and that the ballon “never should have been allowed to complete its mission.” During the Trump administration, however, at least three suspected Chinese spy balloons flew over the continental U.S. undetected, which weren’t discovered until after the Trump administration had already left. (NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico / New York Times)
3/ Jim Jordan issued subpoenas to the heads of the Justice Department, FBI, and Department of Education seeking documents related to local school board meetings. The House Judiciary chairman said the request is part of the committee’s investigation into whether a 2021 Justice Department memo addressing threats against school officials was used to label parents as domestic terrorists. The FBI has never charged a single parent in connection with the memo. Nevertheless, Jordan requested that Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to turn over all documents about how they “used federal counterterrorism resources against American parents” by March 1. (Politico / CNN / NBC News / The Hill)
4/ Some Supreme Court justices often use personal email accounts for work. Court employees reportedly said they were nervous about confronting the justices about using secure servers to transmit sensitive information. Despite the court calling the leak of a draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade a “grave assault” on the court’s legitimacy, three former court employees said that “burn bags” meant to ensure the safe destruction of sensitive materials were often left open and unattended in hallways. (CNN)
5/ The U.S. unemployment rate fell to a 53-year low at 3.4%. Employers, meanwhile, added 517,000 jobs in January – far higher than the 187,000 estimated. Biden called the jobs report “strikingly good news,” adding: “our plan is working because of the grit and resolve of the American worker.” (Associated Press / New York Times / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)
poll/ 41% of Americans say they’re not as well off financially as they were when Biden took office – the most since 1986. (ABC News)
poll/ 33% of Americans rate the current economy as “good,” compared to 66% who rate it as “bad.” 62% expect the economy to be slowing or in a recession next year, while 38% say the economy will be growing or at least holding steady. (CBS News)
poll/ 67% of Americans expect inflation to rise over the next six months; 48% predict the market will fall; 41% expect unemployment will rise; and 43% say gross domestic product will fall. (Gallup)
poll/ 68% of Americans said they have little or no confidence in Biden, and 70% said the same for Democrats in Congress. 71%, however, said they lack confidence in Kevin McCarthy and 72% said they have little faith in Republicans in Congress. (ABC News)
poll/ 62% of Americans think Biden has accomplished “not very much” or “little or nothing” during his time in office, while 36% say he’s accomplished “a great deal” or “a good amount.” (Washington Post)
poll/ 58% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning independents said they would prefer someone other than Biden as their nominee in 2024. 49% of Republican and Republican-leaning independents say they’d prefer someone other than Trump as their nominee. (Washington Post)
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