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Business

Capitol riot ‘incited by the President,’ says former DHS secretary

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Former Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” that the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6 was “incited” by President Donald Trump, and criticized him for fueling the “Big Lie” that the Nov. 3 election was stolen from him.

“He hasn’t said what would be the most helpful, which is, that he lost the election fair and square, and that  it is time for the peaceful transition of power as is the great tradition of our country,” said Yellen, who was Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013.  “…He hasn’t recognized that some of this violence is fueled by what is known as the ‘Big Lie’ and he is the chief proponent of that.”

An internal Homeland Security report leaked in 2009 warned that right-wing extremism was on the rise and that it could lead to violence. There were calls for Napolitano’s resignation, and she was forced to apologize for a portion of that report that said extremists may try to attract veterans. Napolitano told host Shepard Smith during a Tuesday evening interview that white nationalists have only become more dangerous since the report. 

“I think the assessment was generally right then, and it’s certainly been proven right over the succeeding years, and certainly during the past four years, and certainly during the past several weeks,” Napolitano said. “We’ve seen a rise in these right wing nationalist groups, fueled, in part, by social media and messaging via social media, and, in fact, on the 6th, in my view, incited by the President.”

There are growing concerns about an inside attack involving U.S. service members tasked with securing President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. The FBI is taking no chances and vetted the 25,000 National Guard troops who will be at the inauguration. 

Twelve National Guard members have since been removed from securing Biden’s inauguration after the FBI vetting, according to a Pentagon spokesperson. Officials say two of the National Guard troops were flagged due to “inappropriate” comments and texts while the other ten were removed for what they’re calling a “number of different reasons.” 

Napolitano said that the level of security at the Capitol is “necessary” because of the riot on Jan. 6 but that the measures will lead to a “very uneventful Inauguration Day.”


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New map shows where China’s latest virus cases are clustered

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More than half a year since Covid-19 stalled its spread within mainland China, new clusters of cases have emerged in and around the capital city of Beijing in the last few weeks.

Here’s a look at the provinces that have reported confirmed coronavirus cases since Dec. 1, with darker shades representing areas with higher number of cases:

The persistent spread of the virus, particularly in the province of Hebei that surrounds Beijing, has prompted authorities to lock down several regions and urge people nationwide not to travel during the upcoming Lunar New Year festival. The holiday officially falls this year in mid-February.

“Considering the swift responses by local governments, the efficient test and tracing systems and the ongoing vaccine rollout, we believe the situation will be eventually brought under control,” Ting Lu, chief China economist at Nomura, said in a Jan. 18 note. “However, the unusually cold weather and the incoming lunar new year (LNY) travel rush could make the task of containing the virus more challenging.”

“The hospitality sector is set to slow, while the industrial sector may remain solid,” Lu said, adding that “markets may need to lower their expectations for strong pent-up consumption demand during the upcoming LNY holidays in mid-February.”

Hebei province began disclosing a spike in coronavirus cases at the start of this year, with daily numbers topping 90 last week. The figures do not include the many asymptomatic cases found through mass testing.


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Richard Branson on travel recovery, rollout efforts

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Sir Richard Branson told CNBC on Tuesday he hopes so-called Covid vaccination passports will be available for prospective airline passengers who have been inoculated, potentially allowing them to bypass other virus mitigation measures before traveling.

“Vaccination is everything. Once vulnerable people, in particular, have been vaccinated, I think all kinds of businesses can start opening up again: restaurants, travel companies, cruise companies,” said Branson, who co-founded the airlines Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.

“Hopefully there will be a proof-of-vaccination piece of paper that people can use to be able to get on a plane without having to be tested or without having to quarantine,” the British businessman added in an interview on “Squawk on the Street.”

Branson’s comments come a week after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it would require airline passengers to show they recently tested negative for the coronavirus before flying to the country.

And on Monday, President-elect Joe Biden‘s spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a tweet the incoming administration will keep in place an entry ban on most visitors from Europe, the U.K. and Brazil. That announcement came shortly after President Donald Trump said he would lift the travel restrictions.

Covid vaccination passports are a way for people to prove they have been inoculated against the disease, and some believe they can aid the economic recovery from the pandemic. A group backed by Microsoft and Oracle called the Vaccination Credential Initiative was recently launched. The coalition is working to develop a way for people to get an encrypted digital version of vaccination records, which could then be stored in a digital wallet of choice, such as the Apple Wallet or Google Pay.

“As the world begins to recover from the pandemic, having electronic access to vaccination, testing, and other medical records will be vital to resuming travel and more,” Mike Sicilia, executive vice president of Oracle’s Global Business Units, said in a press release about the initiative.

Airlines and the travel industry writ large have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Industry executives have consistently pointed to widespread Covid vaccinations as key to a robust recovery.

While air travel not at its pandemic-era lows, Branson said he believes there will be an uptick in the coming months as vaccinations continue to be rolled out. He complimented efforts across Great Britain to administer vaccinations, as well as Biden’s pledge to have 100 million Americans vaccinated in 100 days.

“I would hope in three or four months time, once most of the vulnerable people have been vaccinated, that we can start looking forward to late spring or summer beginning to get back to normality again,” Branson said.


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