Brush fire in Price leads to evacuations, 2 people ticketed
- The Daily Beast
REUTERSIt was a blockbuster story about Russia’s return to the imperial “Great Game” in Afghanistan. The Kremlin had spread money around the longtime central Asian battlefield for militants to kill remaining U.S. forces. It sparked a massive outcry from Democrats and their #resistance amplifiers about the treasonous Russian puppet in the White House whose admiration for Vladimir Putin had endangered American troops.But on Thursday, the Biden administration announced that U.S. intelligence only had “low to moderate” confidence in the story after all. Translated from the jargon of spyworld, that means the intelligence agencies have found the story is, at best, unproven—and possibly untrue.“The United States intelligence community assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019 and perhaps earlier,” a senior administration official said.“This information puts a burden on the Russian government to explain its actions and take steps to address this disturbing pattern of behavior,” the official said, indicating that Biden is unprepared to walk the story back fully.Significantly, the Biden team announced a raft of sanctions on Thursday. But those sanctions, targeting Russia’s sovereign debt market, are prompted only by Russia’s interference in the 2020 election and its alleged role in the SolarWinds cyber espionage. (In contrast, Biden administration officials said that their assessment attributing the breach of technology company SolarWinds to hackers from Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service was “high confidence.”)“We have noted our conclusion of the review that we conducted on the bounties issue and we have conveyed through diplomatic, intelligence, and military channels strong, direct messages on this issue, but we are not specifically tying the actions we are taking today to that matter,” a senior administration official told reporters in reference to the bounty claims.According to the officials on Thursday’s call, the reporting about the alleged “bounties” came from “detainee reporting” – raising the specter that someone told their U.S.-aligned Afghan jailers what they thought was necessary to get out of a cage. Specifically, the official cited “information and evidence of connections to criminal agents in Afghanistan and elements of the Russian government” as sources for the intelligence community’s assessment.Without additional corroboration, such reporting is notoriously unreliable. Detainee reporting from a man known as Ibn Shaikh al-Libi, extracted from torture, infamously and bogusly fueled a Bush administration claim, used to invade Iraq, about Saddam Hussein training al-Qaeda to make poison gas.The senior Biden official added on Thursday that the “difficult operating environment in Afghanistan” complicated U.S. efforts to confirm what amounts to a rumor.Taliban Promises ‘Nightmare’ for U.S. Troops in Final Afghanistan StretchThere were reasons to doubt the story from the start. Not only did the initial stories emphasize its basis on detainee reporting, but the bounties represented a qualitative shift in recent Russian engagements with Afghan insurgents. Russian operatives have long been suspected of moving money to various Afghan militants: an out-of-favor former Taliban official told The Daily Beast on the record that Russia gave them cash for years. But the Russians had not been suspected of sponsoring attacks on U.S. forces outright – an escalation that risked confrontation with the U.S., and occurring long after it could have made a difference in the war.As well, there seemed to be no “causative link” to any actual U.S. deaths, in the judgment of Gen. Frank McKenzie, the senior U.S. general for the Middle East and South Asia. Former U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers told The Daily Beast last summer that they viewed the bounties account skeptically. One retired diplomat suspected, “someone leaked this to slow down the troop withdrawal.”Rarely discussed was the main reason to believe the story: the CIA actually did fund Afghan guerillas to kill Russian forces during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan of the 1980s.The Pentagon said at the time its massive intelligence apparatus, which includes both battlefield intelligence and the world’s most sophisticated surveillance network, did not generate the bounties story. In September, McKenzie said that the intelligence remained uncorroborated. “It just has not been proved to a level of certainty that satisfies me,” he told NBC News.But Democrats ran with the election-time story. Then-candidate Biden called it a “horrifying revelation” if true. The senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Robert Menendez (D-NJ), introduced a measure to sanction Russia for the alleged bounties. Congressional Democrats claimed to have been insufficiently briefed on the account, which the Trump White House called a “hoax,” and suggested there was a cover-up underway. When Trump himself denied being briefed on the story, House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) remarked, “Is this an issue where they cannot tell the president things he doesn't want to hear when it comes to Vladimir Putin and Russia?”Added House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) in June, “I think we knew the White House perspective, what we need to know is the intelligence perspective.” Now he knows.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.
- The Independent
Justin Trudeau claims UK is facing ‘very serious’ third Covid wave amid Canada’s slow vaccine rollout
Downing Street says UK’s case data ‘speaks for itself’ as infections continue to fall
- The Telegraph
Asmaa al-Natoor never thought she would be comparing her adopted homeland of Denmark to her native Syria from which she fled. "He kills us with missiles directly," she says of Syria's president Bashar Al-Assad. "But the Danish government is waging a psychological war.” Ms al-Natoor is one of dozens of Syrian refugees who have been told their temporary residency in the seemingly progressive haven of Denmark has been revoked. Denmark ruled Syria safe for return last month, the first country in Europe to do so. Ms al-Natoor was encouraged to speak up after a fellow Syrian refugee, 61-year-old Akram Bathish, died of a heart attack just weeks after receiving notice from the immigration services.
- Miami Herald
The Swiffer floor mopping product promises to “Trap + Lock” on its packaging. But we bet Procter & Gamble never envisioned the wet mops could be used for alligator removal.
- The Telegraph
When Prince Andrew suddenly re-appeared in public last weekend, giving an interview outside the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor, the public could understand his grief at losing a father. Yet his appearance also raised an unfortunate question mark. It was 512 days after having last spoken publicly, and it seemed that on Sunday the Duke of York had returned to the frontline of the monarchy – and was speaking on its behalf. Within a day an unceremonious controversy erupted. Prince Andrew had reportedly demanded to wear the uniform of an Admiral at his father’s funeral on Saturday and had gone so far as instructing his tailor to style it with the distinctive three rows of lace and four stars, crossed baton and sword of that rank. The prince was, like his father, tested in war – no doubt a unique bond and a source of pride for the Duke of Edinburgh. As the only one of the generation of royals younger than his father to serve in battle, Prince Andrew certainly deserved to wear a uniform, as Prince Philip did his as honorary Admiral of the Fleet, the navy’s highest rank. But his current rank is Vice-Admiral, not Admiral.
- The Independent
Trump supporters called Ivanka a ‘disappointment’ for getting the jab
- Business Insider
Jonathan Pentland's social-media accounts list him as a drill sergeant at the Fort Jackson garrison, the Associated Press reported.
- The Independent
The lawmakers voted with a majority of 92 against 6 in the Senate
- Business Insider
Matt Gaetz teased a 'fight back' ad, trying to shift attention from sex-trafficking allegations by alleging that CNN is out to get him
The ad includes hidden-camera footage produced by Project Vertias of an CNN employee discussing coverage of the congressman.
- Lexington Herald-Leader
“It’s not the end result we were hoping for,” her uncle said. “But at least we ... can start the healing process.”
- The State
The former ACC player of the year fills the job vacated by Nate James’ move to Austin Peay.
Colton Underwood joins eight other Bachelor stars from around the world who identify as LGBTQ.
A viral video of an army sergeant pushing a Black resident in South Carolina and demanding that he leaves the neighborhood has now resulted in criminal charges. Initially uploaded on Facebook on Monday, the three-minute clip has circulated various media channels before the aggressor was identified as Jonathan Pentland, a 42-year-old U.S. Army sergeant in Columbia, S.C. Pentland has since been charged with third-degree assault, Washington Post reports.
A new "Fast 9" trailer teases the return of some characters from "Tokyo Drift" and the bucket list item Helen Mirren has been waiting years to do.
- Associated Press
With coronavirus shots now in the arms of nearly half of American adults, the parts of the U.S. that are excelling and those that are struggling with vaccinations are starting to look like the nation’s political map: deeply divided between red and blue states. Out in front is New Hampshire, where 65% of the population age 18 and older has received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All have a history of voting Democratic and supported President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
Prosecutors will try to show that Kim Potter, 48, was "culpably negligent" and took an "unreasonable risk" in shooting Wright after pulling him over for expired license plates in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on Sunday. Police video of the shooting shows Potter threatening to stun Wright with her Taser before firing her handgun. In the video, Potter can be heard shouting: "Taser, Taser, Taser!" as she draws her weapon and opens fire on Wright in his car after he had just pulled away from a fellow officer.
- The Daily Beast
Chris Jackson/GettyHis grandfather’s funeral isn’t until Saturday, but this is shaping up to be, even by his extravagant standards of non-normalcy, a pretty extraordinary week for Prince Harry.As he sits in splendid isolation in Frogmore Cottage, Harry could be forgiven if his head is spinning.The lavishly restored period property into which he and Meghan moved just 24 months ago, and dreamed of making their home, now houses his cousin Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack and their baby. The tenants are still there, and the owner is holed up in what was once intended as Doria Ragland’s (Meghan Markle’s mom) self-contained apartment, The Daily Beast understands.Prince Harry and Prince William’s Feud Rumbles on as They Issue Dueling Statements on Philip’s Death He is literally just a few miles away from Windsor Castle, but if he has spoken to his father or the queen, no-one is saying so. And this despite the fact that, bizarrely, Her Majesty carried out an official duty Tuesday, overseeing the retirement of one of her senior aides, recorded thus by the official court circular: “The Earl Peel had an audience of The Queen today, delivered up his Wand and Insignia.” (Was Earl Peel was ordered to leave his wand on the desk on the way out?).We do know, courtesy of the Telegraph’s well-briefed correspondent Camilla Tominey, that Harry has spoken to his brother Prince William on the phone since he landed back in the U.K.This hardly seems like a great triumph in the arena of conflict resolution.We already know from Gayle King that other phone calls between Harry and his brother and father have taken place. King said they were regarded as “not productive.”If you love The Daily Beast’s royal coverage, then we hope you’ll enjoy The Royalist, a members-only series for Beast Inside. Become a member to get it in your inbox on Sunday.There is, frankly, no suggestion from royal aides that being in the same time zone has helped mend fences, no sense of joyous white smoke going up from Frogmore or 140 miles north at Anmer Hall, where William and Kate are rather pointedly spending the last days of the Easter holidays with their children, rather than waving at Harry from the garden of Frogmore Cottage like some of us might be inclined to do.Tominey touts Kate as taking on the role of fraternal peacemaker, quoting a source as saying, “Being so close to her own siblings, Pippa and James, and having witnessed first-hand the special bond between William and Harry, [Kate] has found the whole situation difficult and upsetting.”But while hopes of a major reconciliation between Harry and his family are being talked up by commentators, the reality on the ground is that expectations are at rock bottom. Emotions are strained and the wounds inflicted by Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey are still raw. The media may have moved on; the family will never forget what, as they see it, was Harry’s betrayal of them. There are also the unanswered questions over the identity of the royal family member who allegedly questioned the color of the then-unborn Archie’s skin, and who allegedly stopped Meghan being able to access help when she was feeling suicidal.There has been much wishful thinking this week that the death of their grandfather will bring the brothers together. Physically, of course, it will. They will walk side by side behind Philip’s coffin, recreating the tragic cortege they formed behind their mother’s coffin in 1997.This was, coincidentally, at Philip’s urging. The brothers were said to be reluctant to walk behind their mother’s coffin at her funeral but Philip took charge telling them, “I’ll walk if you walk.” Harry said years later that he was grateful for his grandfather’s guidance.But piecing together the tatters of Harry’s relationship with the royal family will be no easy task. Many of the 29 other royals attending the funeral on Saturday will feel the same way as one friend of the family who, The Daily Beast reported, said this week: “Philip was already seriously ill when the interview screened. He was 99, so the fact that he has died is of course very sad, but hardly surprising. His death may put things into perspective, but I’m not sure it really changes anything.”The logistical constraints imposed by the pandemic are unlikely to help; if they are remotely like any other family, one imagines the brothers need to have a frank, face to face discussion at a certain level of decibels to clear the air. But having arrived back in the U.K. on Sunday afternoon, Harry is not likely to be allowed to exit quarantine until the day of the funeral. Harry’s people have made it clear he will be following Covid quarantine rules to the letter.If Harry doesn’t already feel like he has gone through the looking glass, the curious apparent rehabilitation of Prince Andrew should do it.The first sign of this development came when Andrew, who has failed to make himself available to the American authorities for questioning over his links to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, winkled his way back on to TV screens at the weekend.He told a camera outside church that his mother was feeling a “huge void” in her life; it still hasn’t been established if his intervention was authorized. It seems hard to believe even Andrew would be stupid enough to do something like that if it wasn’t, as some briefing has suggested.Dan Wootton, the journalist who broke the news that Harry and Meghan were leaving the U.K., reported in the Daily Mail that sources had told him: “Prince Andrew might hope that this sad situation changes things, but Prince Charles is adamant there is no way back while allegations hang over him. He spoke on camera in a private capacity because this is a family event. No one can stop him doing that.”Neither the palace nor an advisory firm retained by Prince Andrew responded to inquiries from The Daily Beast on that question.Until today it looked as if Andrew was set to be allowed to wear military uniform to the funeral, the only question being whether he would be in the garb of a three-star vice admiral (his current rank, which was never removed from him when he was fired from the family as a working royal), or actually be promoted by his mother to a four star admiral, an elevation that was due to take place last year but was put on hold. The Daily Mail reported that he was lobbying hard to be awarded his overdue promotion.Harry is the only male member of the family not technically serving, so was thought to be the only male royal attending the funeral not in military uniform. There is nothing more integral to the royal family’s sense of its own legitimacy than its military associations, and Harry’s happiest days were spent in the army. Harry was forced to give up his captaincy of the Royal Marines along with all other military associations when he stepped back from life as a working royal, a defenestration that he has made clear he considers utterly unfair.According to The Sun on Wednesday, to spare Harry's blushes—and lots of embarrassing questions about Andrew—the queen has stipulated that no royals should wear military uniform at Philip’s funeral. A military source told The Sun: “It’s the most eloquent solution to the problem.” Another source confirmed that “current thinking is no uniforms.”Buckingham Palace and the Sussexes declined to comment to The Daily Beast for this article.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get 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.
A BBC team meets the Taliban, a group that clearly sees itself as Afghanistan's government-in-waiting.
- Business Insider
Coinbase says the entire crypto market could be destabilized if Bitcoin's anonymous creator is ever revealed or sells their $64 billion stake
Satoshi Nakamoto owns about 5% of all bitcoin. If their 1.1 million cache was transferred, it could compromise bitcoin's over $1 trillion market.
- Business Insider
NASA's InSight Mars lander is going into emergency hibernation. If it can't save its batteries, it could die.
The InSight lander is shutting down nonessential operations to save energy. An out-of-season dust storm could end its life on Mars.