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White House Debates ‘Radical’ Action To Lower US Energy Prices

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Biden Team Debates Whether to Act Fast on Oil Prices or Wait

BLOOMBERG

The White House is debating whether to act immediately to try to lower U.S. energy prices or hold off on dramatic measures in the hope markets settle, as President Joe Biden’s concern about inflation runs up against climate, trade and foreign policy considerations.

For several weeks, a small group of top Biden aides has discussed measures to bring down the cost of gasoline, according to people familiar with the matter. Consensus has so far been elusive, with some Energy Department officials pushing back against tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve while White House aides lobby for a release, or the even more radical step of halting oil exports, the people said.

They asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

The recent spike in U.S. gasoline prices to a seven-year high has put Biden in a quandary: He’s trying to boost fuel production and bring down costs while remaining credible on environmental issues as the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow enters its final, crucial stage. Energy price inflation took on fresh urgency Wednesday after government data showed the sector helping to drive the U.S. consumer price index to a 31-year high.

“It’s decision time for the Biden administration,” said Bob McNally president of consultant Rapidan Energy Group and a former White House official under President George W. Bush.

A White House representative pushed back on the notion of a divide in the administration and said it’s committed to taking action, if needed.

Officials designing the response include White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain; Brian Deese, the head of the National Economic Council; National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan; Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and her deputy, David Turk; and Amos Hochstein, an energy expert Biden hired earlier this year to work at the State Department.

The group has met regularly in recent days, people familiar with the matter said…

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(TLB) Header featured image (edited) credit: Gas pump (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

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China's Military 'Formidable Challenge' But U.S. Not Seeking 'Asian Version of NATO': Lloyd Austin

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As China’s military ramps up its capabilities—including with nuclear and hypersonic weapons—its U.S. counterpart says it is not intimidated.

“America isn’t a country that fears competition,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in prepared remarks for a Reagan National Defense Forum speech in California on Saturday, according to Voice of America.

“We’re facing a formidable challenge,” he said. “And we’re going to meet this one with confidence and resolve—not panic and pessimism.”

A report released by the Pentagon in November estimated that China is rapidly expanding its nuclear force.

The Pentagon estimates that the nation could increase its nuclear missile count to 1,000 by 2030.

“The PLA’s evolving capabilities and concepts continue to strengthen [China’s] ability to ‘fight and win wars’ against a ‘strong enemy,’ a likely euphemism for the United States,” the Pentagon report stated.

China’s recent tests of a hypersonic weapon have also raised concerns. General Mark Milley said the weapon tests were close to a “Sputnik moment,” referring to a satellite released by the Soviet Union in 1957.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says the U.S. isn’t intimidated as China ramps up its military capabilities. Above, he speaks at an event in the White House on November 10.
Anna Moneymaker

Milley told Bloomberg in October that China will pose the largest threat to the U.S. national security in the coming years.

“As we go forward—over the next 10, 20, 25 years—there’s no question in my mind that the biggest geostrategic challenge to the United States is going to be China. That I have no doubt at all,” he said.

Austin said this week that China was increasing tensions in Asia with its hypersonic weapon tests and that the U.S. will “continue to maintain the capabilities to defend and deter against a range of potential threats from the PRC to ourselves and to our allies.”

In his speech Saturday, Austin notes that the U.S. “has been stepping up its efforts” to respond to China. He says that officials are considering using more money for research and development, and that they are already spending funds on stealth and drone technology, Voice of America reports.

“When we maintain our technological edge, we maintain our military edge,” he says in the speech. “The United States has an advantage that no autocracy can match—our combination of free enterprise, free minds, and free people.”

While the U.S has strengthened existing alliances with countries including Japan and Australia, Austin says the U.S. isn’t looking to turn other nations against China: “We’re not seeking an Asian version of NATO or trying to build an anti-China coalition. And we’re not asking countries to choose between the United States and China.”

Newsweek has reached out to the Department of Defense for comment, but did not hear back in time for publication on Saturday.

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BREAKING: CNN Terminates Chris Cuomo ‘Effective Immediately’ Over Scandal

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CNN announced on Saturday afternoon that they fired star host Chris Cuomo in response to new information coming out about his alleged involvement in helping his brother, then-New York Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo, navigate a public relations crisis involving sexual misconduct allegations.

This is a breaking news story; refresh the page for updates.

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Cuomo ‘Livid’ After Shock Firing by CNN

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CNN fired star primetime anchor Chris Cuomo on Saturday after the network said “new information”emerged on the extent of his involvement with his brother’s battle against sexual harassment allegations.

Cuomo is “livid” at his termination and in talks with lawyers, a person familiar with the matter told The Daily Beast.

“This is not how I want my time at CNN to end. But I have already told you why and how I helped my brother,” Cuomo said in a statement immediately after the news broke.

The anchor told his brother’s aides he would use his own sources to investigate then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s accusers, a major breach of journalistic ethics. What’s more, a law firm hired by the cable network found in an internal review that what Cuomo had disclosed to his employer did not match what emerged in documents later, and CNN determined it had standing to can him, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The network issued a statement: “Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother’s defense. We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately. While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light. Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate.”

The law firm began its review mid-week and concluded it Friday, per a person familiar with the process, and CNN president Jeff Zucker informed Cuomo on Saturday that he would be fired.

The cable network initially did not discipline Cuomo, calling his relationship with the governor a “unique position” after it came to light that he participated in strategy calls with his brother and governor’s aides about how best to combat the mounting wave of pressure for Andrew to resign. Earlier this week, however, text messages released by New York’s attorney general showed that Cuomo asked his brother’s top aide Melissa DeRosa, “Please let me help with the prep.”

Chris also texted DeRosa “I have a lead on the wedding girl” after allegations emerged that Andrew made unwanted advances on a woman at a wedding. Andrew stepped down in August.

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