Fox News panelists on Friday’s edition of The Five suggested that workers who call in sick are “lazy” and then trivialized medical leave as generally unnecessary.

American workers have access to fewer paid sick days than their counterparts compared to other industrialized countries.

“A total of more than 30 days of vacation time allotted to workers in France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom stands in stark contrast to the 10 public holidays in the U.S., which are not guaranteed to come with pay,” CNBC noted in 2018. And while many employees admit to “faking” illnesses, research shows that upper management does so much more often.

READ MORE: ‘Worst game of chicken ever’: Fox News host blames Kevin McCarthy’s failed speakership bid on the media

Fox’s hosts, however, implied that the concept is deeply flawed.

“If you’re feeling sick, don’t do this. Two-in-five employees will sniffle and cough around the office just to prove to their coworkers that they’re actually under the weather instead of just taking a sick day. Judge, have you done that recently?” Harold Ford Jr. asked Jeanine Pirro.

“No but I’ll tell you why they do it. Does that mean I did it? They do it to prove to people they really are sick. You don’t want people to think you’re just lazy and want to stay home. And eat candy. Dark chocolate,” Pirro replied.

“You’ve been hacking up a lung this entire show,” joked Jesse Watters.

READ MORE: Fox News host suggests Xbox’s ‘woke’ power-saver mode is meant to brainwash kids about climate change

“Very specific,” Martha McCallum chimed in.

“You didn’t have to come in today. We could have had [Jessica] Tarlov or Geraldo [Rivera]. We get it,” Watters added.

“I dunno, ya know, I’m not big on sick days. I don’t think that you necessarily should have like, the six sick days every year. Then people say, ‘Oh, I’m taking a sick day tomorrow!’ which I think is really bogus,” MacCallum continued. “I don’t know. So we just come in and cough all over each other and push through. I mean, that’s the way we work.”

The Democratic National Committee approved a presidential primary calendar Saturday that placed South Carolina as the first nominating state in 2024, pushing back New Hampshire and Iowa from their traditional spots in a party-wide push to diversify the early calendar.

In a voice vote at the DNC’s winter meeting in Philadelphia, party members voted to place South Carolina first, on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, followed three days later by Nevada and New Hampshire on Feb. 6, and a week after that by Georgia and Michigan on Feb. 13.

Democratic National Committee chair Jamie Harrison speaks before introducing U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting on Feb. 3, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

“Folks, the Democratic Party looks like America, and so does this proposal,” said DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison.

The vote gave formal approval to a proposal first put forward by the Rules and Bylaws Committee in early December, which came after a year of presentations from state candidates. It also fulfilled a desire by President Joe Biden to emphasize South Carolina and Nevada over New Hampshire and Iowa, whose populations are majority white.

“We can’t go back in time to fix the mistakes of our past, but by golly, this will help allow us to put our hands on that arc of history and bend it towards justice,” said Pete Lee, the vice chairman of the Democratic Party of Oregon, during a debate ahead of the vote.

But the DNC vote clashes with the Republican National Committee’s vote in April 2022 to keep the traditional nominating order for its primaries: Iowa, followed by New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. It also set into motion what is likely to be a bitter conflict in New Hampshire and Iowa over their positions on the calendar.

Iowa Democrats react

In a statement after the DNC vote, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart said Iowa Democrats will follow state law in making their 2024 delegate selection plan. State law requires Iowa’s parties hold their caucuses before any other presidential nominating contest in the country.

While Iowa will move ahead with planning an unsanctioned contest, Hart kept the door open for further discussions with national Democrats. Neither New Hampshire nor Georgia have moved their primary dates to comply with the DNC requirements.

“As it stands today, of the five states which were granted waivers, one state appears unwilling, and one state appears unable, to meet the conditions on which they were predicated,” Hart said. “This uncertainty means that the matter is far from settled, and Iowa Democrats will continue to be part of the ongoing conversations about the calendar.”

But Dave Nagle, a former Iowa Democratic congressman from Waterloo, said he doubts the DNC will let Iowa back into the early state lineup, even if New Hampshire and Georgia are unable to meet the new waiver deadline.

The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee approved sanctions on states holding contests outside of the DNC’s approved calendar, cutting half of the state’s delegates to the 2024 Democratic National Convention. Nagle said he does not believe this punishment will deter Iowa from going first.

“The right to maintain an open process and give everybody a fair shot who wants to run for president is more important than 50 people getting on a plane and flying to a national convention in July,” he said.

Scott Brennan, a Rules and Bylaws Committee member and former Iowa Democratic Party chair, said Democrats are leaving Saturday’s meeting with “absolutely nothing settled.”

He pointed to the 2008 presidential nominating cycle, when Florida and Michigan moved their primary dates earlier. That kicked off a scramble that lasted until October 2007, less than three months before the 2008 Iowa caucus. At the 2008 convention, the DNC refused to seat half of the delegations from both states for moving their primaries without authorization.

“If past is prologue, some states proposed here will spend the coming year maneuvering for their preferred position and we have created an opportunity for other states to take a run at encroaching the pre-window,” Brennan said.

For its part, New Hampshire has a state law that requires both Republican and Democratic presidential primaries to be held together before any other state’s, and its secretary of state, Dave Scanlan, has vowed to hold it first no matter what.

On Saturday, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu reiterated that vow.

“Joe Biden and the power brokers at the DNC in Washington think New Hampshire’s time is up, but it’s not in our DNA to take orders from Washington,” Sununu wrote on Twitter. “New Hampshire will be going first in 2024.”

‘Done waiting’

Saturday’s vote came after nearly an hour of spirited debate between representatives of Iowa and New Hampshire – who urged the party to reconsider the vote – and committee members from other states, who argued the change was necessary and overdue.

Harrison, of South Carolina, said the calendar “reflects our values and will strengthen our party.” He argued each state in the new calendar brings out the party’s strengths – from Black Americans in South Carolina to Latino voters in Nevada to union workers in Michigan and Nevada.

“Folks, think about this: Forty percent of enslaved people came to this country, and they came through the Port of Charleston,” Harrison said. “… We know how important the Latino voice has been in terms of building this country. It is elevated by pushing Nevada (up).”

Artie Blanco of Nevada agreed. Democrats in her state had long argued that a newly diverse primary was “in the long-term best interest of this Democratic Party,” she said. And the new position would be a meaningful boost for Latino voters, she said.

“Fellow Democrats, you can’t say you’re elevating this coalition’s voice but still ask us to wait our turn,” she said. “I’m done waiting.”

Other state representatives said the calendar provided a new roadmap for Democrats to build support in areas of the country once thought unwinnable. Alan Clendenin, a Florida Democrat, praised the new calendar for bringing a new focus to Southern states and forcing the party to take it seriously.

“The road to victory is going to go through the South,” he said. “We are rising, and between South Carolina and putting Georgia on the map, we will achieve victory in 2024 and beyond.”

South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson argued his state’s new position would reward the presidential candidates who can compete in diverse environments, not just the ones who have raised the most money.

“The reality is this: 60 to 65 percent of traditional Democratic voters in the state of South Carolina don’t live in one county,” he said. “You have to come into our state and work in urban settings, in rural settings in order to put together an organization to win.”

In a fiery speech of her own, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan pushed back at arguments from Iowa and New Hampshire that they should keep their positions, countering that Michigan had been a better recent predictor of future presidents.

“Here’s the reality,” she said. “No one state should have a lock on going first.”

Last minute pleas from New Hampshire, Iowa

Representatives of New Hampshire, meanwhile, argued that the DNC’s move would have political consequences.

The DNC proposal approved Saturday granted each state its new slot provided it met a series of conditions. In New Hampshire, those conditions include the repeal of a 1975 law requiring its primary to be the first, as well as the passage of legislation to expand the number of people who can vote by absentee ballot. Both of those requests have been rejected by top Republicans in the state, who control the Legislature and governor’s office.

Michigan, Nevada, and South Carolina had met their conditions in time for the Philadelphia meeting, a DNC official said, but New Hampshire and Georgia have not. On Saturday, the DNC approved an extension to June 3 for those two states.

But Joanne Dowdell, New Hampshire’s DNC representative on the Rules and Bylaws Committee, argued that whatever the deadline, the demands on the state are impossible to meet. If the demands are not met, the new DNC rules dictate that New Hampshire’s presidential primary be pushed back to March, well after the early window.

“It is frustrating because the DNC is set to punish us despite the fact we don’t have the ability to unilaterally change state law,” she said. “And we are frustrated because as many times as we say it, no one seems to listen when we say that this will only hurt President Biden in our purple battleground state.”

Dowdell said that because New Hampshire will likely hold its primary first regardless, any punishments levied against the state would affect support for Biden’s re-election.

“If President Biden doesn’t file for the New Hampshire primary, it could provide an opening for an insurgent candidate to rise in the state and potentially win the first presidential primary of 2024, something that no one in this room wants to see,” Dowdell said.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley warned that if Granite State voters soured on Democrats, the repercussions could affect the balance of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, both of which are near-evenly divided.

“Try to get to 51 in the U.S. Senate without Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan,” said Buckley, referring to New Hampshire’s two Democratic senators.

Iowa Democrats – who are eliminated from the early nominating window entirely under the new calendar – also aired frustrations.

Jan Bauer, an Iowa DNC member, said the Rules and Bylaws Committee had ignored the state’s efforts to revamp its caucus system and effectively reshape it to act more like a primary. Those pledged changes came after a series of glitches caused days-long delays in delivering the results of the Iowa Democratic Caucuses in 2020.

Hart, elected last week as Iowa Democratic Party chair, said Iowa had been put in an “impossible” position of choosing between the DNC rules and its state laws. She also said the changes “feed the narrative that Democrats have turned their backs on Iowa and on rural America.”

“Iowans value common sense, and it just doesn’t make sense to entirely remove representation from rural Midwestern states in the pre-window,” Hart said.

But James Roosevelt, a Massachusetts committee member and co-chairman of the Rules and Bylaws Committee, praised the effort the committee had made to arrive at its decision.

“This has been a long process, but an open and a fair one,” said Roosevelt, who added that it had resulted from “extensive meetings, discussions, and research.”

“The new window shows that we are a party that adapts and grows,” he said.

This story was originally published by the New Hampshire Bulletin, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. New Hampshire Bulletin maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Dana Wormald for questions: Follow New Hampshire Bulletin on Facebook and Twitter.

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

Prominent conservatives are having a field day on social media over Rep. Marjorie Taylor, R-GA, having urged her followers to undertake the physically impossible task of shooting down a spy balloon.
Greene tweeted Friday, “Literally every regular person I know is talking about how to shoot down the Chinese Spy Balloon. It would be great if an average Joe shot it down because China Joe won’t. Regular Americans can do everything better than the government and actually care about our country.”

Greene wasn’t the only Republican serving up the bizarre idea, as Raw Story reported. But she was the only person with a Jewish space-laser theory on her resume, and some conservatives weren’t about to let her forget it.

“The responses generally highlighted the near-impossibility of actually hitting the balloon, given its altitude, and mockingly brought up her past comments about outlandish conspiracies,” the Charlotte Observer noted. One tweet of note was addressed to Greene from George a co-founder of The Lincoln Project:

“Sorry, but I don’t think they’re going to lend you the laser.”

RELATED: ‘Sorry, this is not a Chinese balloon’

MSNBC contributor Charlie Sykes stuck with that theme as well:

“Where are the Jewish space lasers when you need them?”

On a more down-to-earth note, the Observer said this, prior to the ballon being shot down over the Atlantic on Saturday:

“The surveillance balloon is estimated to be floating upwards of 60,000 feet in altitude, which is a little over 11 miles. The furthest successful shot ever recorded by a military sniper was roughly 2.14 miles, accomplished in 2017 by a Canadian soldier serving in Iraq. The record for farthest shot ever made with a rifle was set in last September by a team of long-range shooting experts in Wyoming, successfully hitting a target 4.4 miles away.”

Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele concurred.

“At 60,000 feet,” Steele tweeted. “Where to even begin with you, Marge…”

The Chinese spy balloon shot down today by the U.S. military had “generated deep concern” in Congress because of a classified report on aerial surveillance that was sent to it last month by intelligence agencies, the New York Times reported today.

“The (report) discussed at least two incidents of a rival power conducting aerial surveillance with what appeared to be unknown cutting-edge technology, according to U.S. officials,” the Times reported. “While the report did not attribute the incidents to any country, two American officials familiar with the research said the surveillance probably was conducted by China.”

The balloon was shot down by the U.S. military off the Carolina coast Saturday afternoon, as reported by Raw Story. The Biden Administration had decided to leave it in flight until it was over water to minimize the risk of debris plummeting to the ground.

The New York Times account provided new context about what had preceded the arrival of the spy balloon.

RELATED: ‘Sorry, this is not a Chinese balloon’

“The report on what the intelligence agencies call unidentified aerial phenomena focused on several incidents believed to be surveillance,” the Times noted. “Some of those incidents have involved balloons, while others have involved quadcopter drones.

“The Chinese government said on Friday the Chinese balloon discovered over the United States was mainly for weather research. However, American officials said they have assessed it to be a collection device, though not one that could gather the kind of sensitive information that advanced Chinese reconnaissance satellites already collect.”

It was not surprising that the Chinese spy balloon set off an especially strong reaction in Congress, according to the Times report.

“The surveillance balloon stirred outrage on Capitol Hill. Some officials said the information about adversarial spying contained in the classified report on unidentified aerial phenomena had already driven up concern earlier. Both Republicans and Democrats hawkish on China called the surveillance balloon a violation of American sovereignty that highlighted the threat from Beijing.”

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The derailing of a cargo train near East Palestine, Ohio caused a massive fire on February 4, 2023

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (AFP) – A cargo train derailed in the midwestern United States, sparking a massive fire and evacuation orders, officials and reports said Saturday.

No injuries or fatalities were reported after the 50-car train came off the tracks late Friday near the Ohio-Pennsylvania state border.

The train was shipping cargo from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania, when it derailed in East Palestine, Ohio.

Several explosions were heard as the cars continued to burn into Saturday, according to local media.

Low temperatures hampered the effort, as fire trucks pumping water froze up.

Officials said the train was carrying the chemical vinyl chloride, NBC’s local affiliate WFMJ-TV reported.

Firefighters wore hazmat suits as they tackled the blaze.

Roughly 2,000 residents — about half of the town’s population — were asked by authorities to evacuate their homes.

Officials asked anyone living within a one-mile (1.6-kilometer) radius of the scene to leave. They also enforced a shelter-in-place order for the entire town.

“We cannot stress enough that we need everyone to stay away from the scene,” East Palestine’s town manager wrote in a letter posted on Facebook.

NEW YORK (AFP) – An Arctic blast that brought “frostquakes” to parts of the United States saw the country record its lowest ever wind-chill temperature, meteorologists said Saturday.

Atop Mount Washington in the northeastern state of New Hampshire, the wind-chill factor reached minus 78 degrees Celsius (minus 108 degrees Fahrenheit) overnight, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

The service’s office in the town of Gray, Maine, said in a tweet that it set a new US record for the lowest wind-chill temperature in the United States.

CNN reported that it broke the previous record of minus 76 C set in Alaska.

The previous low at Mount Washington was minus 74 C, recorded there in 2004, the Weather Channel said.

At almost 6,300 feet (1,920 meters), Mount Washington is the highest peak in the northeastern US and is known for having some of the world’s worst weather.

Temperatures of minus 43 C and wind gusts of over 110 miles per hour (177 kmh) combined for the historic low.

The NWS office in Caribou, Maine, said a wind chill of minus 51 C was recorded in the small town of Frenchville, just south of the border with Canada.

The office said they had received reports of “frostquakes,” also called “cryoseisms,” in the region.

“Just like earthquakes, (they) generate tremors, thundering sensations. These are caused by sudden cracks in frozen soil or underground water when it’s very cold,” the NWS office wrote on Twitter.

Ahead of the blast, it had warned of an “epic, generational Arctic outbreak.”

The NWS said the chills would be “something northern and eastern Maine has not seen since similar outbreaks in 1982 and 1988.”

“Most stations are forecast to see their lowest wind chills in decades or, in some cases, the lowest ever recorded,” the service added.

It warned that frostbite to exposed skin can occur within five minutes in such conditions.

“The dangers of being caught unprepared without shelter from the elements and without proper winter survival gear cannot be stressed enough,” the service wrote.

The NWS said the blast brought temperatures 10 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit below average over parts of the US Northeast and the coastal Mid-Atlantic.

Extreme weather warnings covering several million people were in effect across much of New England, Quebec and eastern Canada.

A wind chill factor of minus 41 C was measured at Montreal International Airport.

The Hydro Quebec energy company said the polar blast had sparked record high electricity consumption late Friday and urged customers to turn down their heating by a degree or two.

In New York City, a “code blue” regulation was in effect, meaning no homeless shelter could turn anyone anyway.

In New York’s Central Park, the mercury dipped to minus 16 C, the NWS said.

Wind-chill temperatures fell below minus 34 C in Boston, where public schools were closed Friday as a precautionary measure.

Warmer air is due to move into the region late on Sunday.

A Chinese spy balloon that’s been drifting through U.S. airspace for days was shot down off the Carolina coast Saturday afternoon, President Joe Biden said.

The balloon had spent five days floating from Idaho to the Carolinas, sparking a diplomatic incident between the U.S. and China and a huge political debate in which many Republicans criticized Biden for not downing it quickly – with some encouraging civilians to shoot it down themselves.

Biden’s administration decided to leave it in flight until it was over water to minimize risk of debris plummeting to the ground.

The balloon was downed by the U.S. military shortly after the Federal Aviation Administration announced it had “paused departures from and arrivals to” airports in the area “to support the Department of Defense in a national security effort.” The Associated Press reported an operation was underway to recover the debris from the ocean.

Some on social media posted videos apparently showing the craft falling from the sky.

The Chinese government had claimed that the ballon was used for weather research and had drifted off course into U.S. airspace, but the Pentagon said it was a surveillance device.

Biden had said earlier Saturday that “we’re going to take of it.”

CONQUEIROS, Portugal (Reuters) – When his dog was born three decades ago in a tiny village in central Portugal, Leonel Costa was only eight years old. Little did he know that his beloved Bobi would one day be recorded as the world’s oldest dog.

When Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, celebrated its 30th birthday last year, Costa knew he had broken an almost century-old record held by an Australian cattle-dog that died at 29 years and five months in 1939.

Costa got in touch with the Guinness World of Records, submitted all the paperwork and a year later Bobi was officially named the oldest dog on record.

Bobi was 30 years and 269 days old as of Feb. 4.

“It’s a feeling of pride we can’t explain,” Costa, 38, told Reuters as he petted Bobi near a church in the village of Conqueiros in central Portugal.

“Some people told us we wouldn’t make it… but we knew Bobi’s age and were sure the exams would only prove what we already knew.”

The Guinness World of Records, which made the announcement on Thursday, described Bobi’s story as “miraculous”.

At the time Bobi was born, Costa’s family had many animals and little money so his father, a hunter, generally buried newborn puppies rather than keep them. But Bobi hid among a pile of firewood. Costa and his siblings found it a few days later and kept it a secret until the puppy opened its eyes.

“We knew that when he opened his eyes, my parents wouldn’t be able to bury him, ” he said.

Bobi’s breed usually has a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years and Costa attributed its longevity to a number of factors, including living in calm countryside, never having been chained or kept on a leash and always eating “human food”.

“Of course our love and affection throughout his life has also helped,” he said, giggling.

Although Bobi still loves walks, age is taking its toll: the dog is less adventurous, its fur is thinning, its eyesight has worsened and it needs to rest more than it used to.

Costa hopes Bobi has many more years of life and is thankful the dog has put the remote village of Conqueiros on the map.

“There were other animals here who lived long lives but Bobi surpassed everything.”

(Reporting by Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira in Conqueiros; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Police arrested a man late Friday for firing off blank rounds from a handgun earlier this week at a San Francisco synagogue.

The man, whose name has not been released, was arrested after police developed probable case to obtain a search warrant at the man’s home, where investigators said they found evidence from that incident and another one that happened nearly an hour later, reported KGO-TV.

Video shows the man entering Schneerson Jewish Center on Wednesday evening and firing gunshots, which turned out to be blank rounds, and then flee the synagogue.

“Terrorism doesn’t have to have killings,” said Rabbi Alon Chanukov, the vice president of the synagogue. “In my mind, what he did was he came and he did a terrorist attack. He came to terrorize people.”

Police said he took part in another unspecified incident nearly an hour later.

No injuries were reported in the synagogue shooting, but the congregation took additional security measures ahead of this weekend’s services.

The political future of longtime Sen. Dianne Feinstein, R-Calif, has reached a new stage of distress for Democrats as the 89-year-old, five-term U.S. Senator remains non-committal about whether she’ll retire in 2024, Politico reports.

Under the headline, “Dianne Feinstein’s extremely awkward, very uncomfortable exit from the political stage,” Politico pointed to a growing list of House Democrats who are already running for a Senate seat she has not said she will vacate when her term is up in 2024. Writer David Siders put it like this:

“An extreme awkwardness has fallen over California political circles, where virtually everyone is acting as if Feinstein is done, but without her explicitly saying so. It’s the electoral equivalent of clearing the dessert from the dinner table as one guest sits there, nibbling at the main course chicken dish that had been served hours prior.”

In an exclusive interview with Raw Story at the U.S. Capitol last week, Feinstein “announced she’s not not running. In fact, she has no plans to decide—let alone announce—her 2024 intentions until next year. ‘I need a little bit of time, so it’s not this year.’”

That uncertainty about Feinstein’s future is not setting well with many California Democrats, many of whom have believe “her brand of centrism fell out of step with her party’s progressive base,” Politico noted. It cited the refusal of the California Democratic Party to endorse her 2018 primary candidacy for re-election, which she won easily.

Siders also wrote this:

“More problematic for Feinstein has been the persistent questions about her health. Even Democrats sympathetic to the senator have been reading headlines about her cognitive fitness to serve. The stories about it pop up with such regularity now that they no longer elicit the shock value of the early versions, when publication of such matters seemed to be violating some unwritten code of D.C. conduct.”

The Politico report cited numerous observers with a common theme: Feinstein has overstayed her welcome.

“God bless her,” Garry South, a Democratic strategist who has worked on major statewide campaigns in California told Politico. “But the most pathetic part of politics is when somebody doesn’t know when it’s time to leave.”

And there was this from an unnamed Democratic strategist:

“What’s sad about this is that she’s always been somebody you didn’t dare mess around with,” the strategist said. “And it looks like that’s just gone.”