By Jessica Donati KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai will call for a security pact with the United States to be delayed until after an April election when he gives a closing speech to a grand assembly that will decide on the deal, his spokesman said on Saturday. With most foreign forces preparing to leave Afghanistan next year, the Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States will help define the terms under which U.S. troops stay on. Without an accord, the United States could pull out all its troops at the end of 2014 and leave Afghan forces to fight the Taliban insurgency on their own. The United States has repeatedly said it cannot wait until the April election for Afghan approval of the pact and it must be signed by the end of this year. But Karzai's spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said the president would call for a delay in approval of the pact when he addresses a grand council of tribal elders and political leaders in Kabul on Sunday, when the meeting is due to end. "On the last day of the Loya Jirga, in his speech, the president will explain in full details his reasons to the people, why he wants the signing of this document to be after the elections," Faizi told Reuters. The dispute over the timing of the pact has overshadowed the grand assembly, known as a Loya Jirga. Delegates are widely expected to reflect Karzai's wishes in their conclusion. Karzai wanted the United States to fulfill three conditions, including helping with next year's election, before the deal is signed, Faizi said. He also wanted peace and security to prevail and help with peace talks with the Taliban, he said. In his opening speech to the assembly, Karzai said the deal was in the country's best interest but he then threw it into doubt with the suggestion it should be signed after April. The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Karzai by telephone on Friday night and stressed the deal was needed promptly so Afghanistan's allies could begin preparations for a post-2014 military presence, Faizi said. Karzai, for his part, reiterated his intention to wait until after the election, in which he is not eligible to stand. Karzai has led Afghanistan since U.S.-led forces overthrew the Taliban in the weeks after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. "NO MORE OPERATIONS ON HOMES" While backed by the United States, Karzai has often had a tense relationship with the U.S. government. U.S. officials express frustration with his frequent about-faces and occasional denunciations of the U.S.-led NATO force helping Afghanistan fight the Taliban. U.S. missteps, including the killing of Afghan civilians, have put Karzai in a difficult political spot. In his conversation with Kerry, Karzai also complained about the killing of two Afghans by U.S. special forces in the eastern province of Nangarhar on Tuesday, Faizi said. "President Karzai insisted on the Afghanistan stance that no more military operations should be conducted on Afghan homes," Faizi said. The NATO-led force in Afghanistan confirmed an operation had taken place, but said those killed were insurgents. Raids on Afghan homes by U.S. forces have been one of the thorniest issues holding up the deal, which the two governments have wrangled over for about a year. Karzai eventually conceded U.S. troops be allowed into Afghan homes under exceptional circumstances. Another important concession won by the United States was immunity for its troops from Afghan prosecution. Karzai called for the Loya Jirga to muster public support for a pact regarded by many Afghans with contempt. The Taliban, fighting to expel foreign forces and impose their vision of Islamist rule, have condemned the Loya Jirga as a farce. (Additional reporting by Mirwais Harooni, Hamid Shalizi and Abdul Aziz ibrahimi; Editing by Robert Birsel)
- Business Insider
Merck will reportedly help produce Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine shots after failing to make its own
The Washington Post reported that President Joe Biden would announce the partnership between the two US pharmaceutical giants.
A U.N. human rights investigator said on Monday that it was "extremely dangerous" for the United States to have named Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler as having approved an operation to capture or kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi but not to have taken action against him. Agnes Callamard, special rapporteur on summary executions who led a U.N. investigation into Khashoggi's 2018 murder, reiterated her call for sanctions targeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's assets and his international engagements. He approved an operation to capture or kill Khashoggi, according to a declassified U.S. intelligence released on Friday as the United States imposed sanctions on some of those involved but spared the crown prince himself in an effort to preserve relations with the kingdom.
- The Independent
President’s warm tone towards Mexico has translated to substantial policy changes
- The Independent
Biden AG pick passes out of committee by bipartisan 15-7 vote
- The Daily Beast
Broward Sheriff’s OfficeThe FBI arrested a notorious white supremacist livestreamer in an early morning raid in Florida on Tuesday.FBI agents, working with Fort Lauderdale police and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, arrested Paul N. Miller, 32, on one charge of being a “convicted felon in possession of a firearm.” The FBI said in a press release that Miller was arrested without incident.Miller’s neighbors in Fort Lauderdale’s Riverside neighborhood reported hearing flashbangs during the raid, which took place around 5 a.m. ET, local TV station NBC 6 reported. One neighbor described seeing law enforcement officers carrying out a box that appeared to have “a shotgun on the front or an AK.”Biden Taps a War on Terror Veteran to Stop White SupremacistsMiller, who goes by the name “Gypsy Crusader” online, has amassed more than 40,000 followers on Telegram, a messaging app and social media network popular with far-right extremists. Many of Miller’s videos feature him dressing up as characters like the Joker or Nintendo’s Mario, then hurling racial abuse at strangers, including children, through the randomized chat app Omegle. Miller can be seen holding a gun in some of his videos.A grand jury indicted Miller on the firearms charge on Feb. 25, according to court records unsealed Tuesday. Miller is charged with illegally possessing a gun on Jan. 17, 2018. The indictment doesn’t describe the 2018 incident in which Miller allegedly had the firearm.Miller’s Tuesday arrest sent shockwaves through internet extremist circles. Miller had recently sold patches promoting his channel to his supporters, with his arrest raising fears among other extremists that the FBI could access his customer files and find out their own names and addresses.In messages captured by extremism researcher Hilary Sargent, Miller’s supporters worried about the possibility that they could soon become FBI targets themselves. If convicted, Miller faces up to 10 years in prison on the gun charge.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Former MLB executive says Albert Pujols was lying about his age when he signed a $240 million contract with the Angels
"Not one person in baseball believes Albert Pujols is the age he says he is," former Miami Marlins President David Samson.
- National Review
Senators Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) and Mike Lee (R., Utah) on Tuesday pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray on the procedures federal law enforcement officials have used to track down those who participated in the January 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol. “I’m anxious to see those who committed unlawful, violent acts on January 6 brought to justice,” Lee said during a Senate Judiciary Hearing on Tuesday. “I also believe that … with this circumstance, like every other circumstance, we have to make sure that the civil liberties of the American people are protected.” The Utah Republican explained that he had “heard a number of accounts” of people who were in Washington, D.C. on January 6 who never went near the Capitol but were “inexplicably” contacted by FBI agents who knew of their presence in the district that day “with no other explanation, perhaps, other than the use of geolocation data.” “Are you geolocating people, through the FBI, based on where they were on January 6?” Lee asked Wray. “I think there may be some instances in which geolocation has been an investigative tool, but I can’t speak to any specific situation,” Wray responded. “But what are you using to do that?” Lee asked. “What’s your basis for authority? Are you using national security letters?” Wray said, “I don’t believe in any instance we’re using national security letters for investigation of the Capitol—” Lee interrupted to ask the FBI director if he had gone to the FISA court, to which Wray responded he did not “remotely believe FISA is remotely implicated in our investigation.” The senator continued pressing Wray, asking if the FBI is “using warrants predicated on probable cause.” “We certainly have executed a number of warrants in the course of the investigation of January 6,” Wray said. “All of our investigative work in response to the Capitol [riot] has been under the legal authorities that we have in consultation with the [Department of Justice] and the prosecutors.” Later, Hawley continued Lee’s line of questioning regarding geolocation data, asking Wray if his position is that he doesn’t know “whether the bureau has scooped up geolocation data, metadata cell phone records from cell phone towers.” “Do you not know, or are you saying maybe it has or maybe it hasn’t? Tell me what you know about this,” Hawley said. “So when it comes to geolocation data specifically—again, not in a specific instance, but just even the use of geolocation data—I would not be surprised to learn—but I do not know for a fact—that we were using geolocation data under any situation with connection with the investigation of [January 6],” Wray said. “But again, we do use geolocation data under different authorities and specific instances.” The FBI, Department of Justice and local police in Washington, D.C. are investigating the origins and execution of the January rioting at the Capitol, with the probe resulting in hundreds of arrests so far. Republicans have expressed concern that the methods law enforcement has used to track down rioters could infringe upon personal liberty. Last month Bank of America sparked outcry after it said it would hand over banking information to the federal authorities for people suspected of having involvement in the riots. In the days after the riot, Bank of America handed over data to the FBI on thousands of customers who traveled to Washington, D.C. around January 6, Fox News reported.
- Business Insider
Texas Gov. Abbott says he's opening the state '100%' and lifting the mask mandate a day after the CDC warned states not to relax COVID-19 restrictions
Texas is experiencing an uptick in reported COVID-19 cases after the winter storm, and it has more hot-spot counties than any other state.
- Business Insider
10 hours in Cancún hurt Ted Cruz's job approval more than when he tried to flip the presidential election
New polling from Morning Consult shows Ted Cruz's job approval fell more after traveling to Mexico than when he objected to the election results.
I received my first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in New York City and had to battle a flawed booking system
An Insider reporter struggled to book an appointment and had to wait in line for hours to get the first dose of the Moderna vaccine.
- Associated Press
An SUV packed with 25 people pulled in front of an oncoming tractor-trailer on a two-lane highway cutting through farmland near the Mexican border early Tuesday, killing 13 and leaving bodies strewn across the roadway. When police arrived some of the passengers were trying to crawl out of the crumpled 1997 Ford Expedition, the front end of the rig still pushing into its left side and two empty trailers jackknifed behind it. Twelve people were found dead when first responders reached the highway, which winds through fields in the agricultural southeastern corner of California about 125 miles (201 kilometers) east of San Diego.
A recent piece by NBC Asian America reporter Kimmy Yam has readers divided for how it framed the recent attacks Asians are facing in the U.S. According to Yam, the 2,800 hate incidents collected by watchdog Stop AAPI Hate over five months last year “weren't necessarily hate crimes” as they included “less severe, yet insidious, forms of discrimination.”
CrossFit has publicly disavowed Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene over the Republican's previous support for QAnon and other conspiracy theories.
An Oklahoma woman was literally caught red-handed on first-degree burglary complaint charges thanks to Cheetos snack dust. Sharon Carr was arrested on Feb. 26 after police reported an attempted home burglary. While she did not take anything, officers claim she left behind a Cheetos bag.
- The Week
The Trump administration reportedly quietly funded Operation Warp Speed with money set aside for hospitals
By late summer last year, Operation Warp Speed accounts were running dry, so the Trump administration appears to have used a financial maneuver allowing Department of Health and Human Services officials to divert $10 billion from a fund meant to help hospitals and health care providers affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Stat News reports. Congress granted the HHS permission to move pandemic-related money between accounts, though the agreement stipulated the agency had to give lawmakers a heads up. In this case, it appears the HHS siphoned the funds quietly, albeit with permission from its top lawyer. Other attorneys told Stat that the agency likely did have the wiggle room to carry out the action. Former Office of Management and Director Russ Vought defended the decision and said "we would do it again," telling Stat that not only did the administration have the authority, it was also "the right thing to do in order to move as quickly as possible because lives were on the line." Other Trump officials seemed to agree, per Stat, arguing that successful vaccines would reduce hospitalizations, making Warp Speed the more consequential outlet. It's still unclear whether the decision has resulted in less money for health care providers, as the Biden administration remains mum on the subject, Stat reports. Read more at Stat News. More stories from theweek.comWill COVID-19 wind up saving lives?John Boehner rips Ted Cruz as a 'reckless a--hole' on book's back coverArizona GOP lawyer tells Supreme Court the party needs certain voting restrictions to compete with Democrats
- Business Insider
CNN's Chris Cuomo is facing backlash for refusing to cover his brother Gov. Andrew Cuomo's scandals after praising his pandemic response
The TV host said he "obviously" can't cover his brother's scandals because it presents a conflict of interest.
- Business Insider
Top US general in the Middle East says troops were evacuated at just the right moment before a ballistic missile attack so Iran wouldn't know they left
A US general says that he believes Iran "expected to destroy a number of US aircraft and to kill a number of US service members."
- USA TODAY Opinion
If Democrats are to hold the moral high ground on issues of gender equity, they cannot apply standards just to those on the opposite side of the aisle.
- USA TODAY
"I looked back and he took off leaving the child there, so I flipped a U-turn in the grass to get to the baby,” Louisiana man Luke Dufrene said.
See the mother-daughter duo serve up a sweet message in their first shared fashion campaign.