Gen. Don Bolduc, a Republican candidate, explains why he believes he’s the conservative best-positioned to win in November.
For the first time ever, the celebrity dermatologist let a patient take a smoke break halfway through the procedure to calm down.
- Associated Press
An Israeli-owned cargo ship that suffered a mysterious explosion last week has left Dubai’s port and was transiting the Gulf of Oman on Wednesday, satellite tracking data showed. The giant MV Helios Ray, a Bahamian-flagged roll-on, roll-off vehicle cargo ship, was sailing along the Omani coast toward the Arabian Sea, according to satellite-tracking data from website MarineTraffic.com, days after docking in Dubai for repairs.
- The Daily Beast
Sergei Ilnitsky/APHe’s sent Wagner mercenaries to Ukraine, Syria, and Libya; faced U.S. indictments for assigning his “troll farm” to interfere in the 2016 presidential election; and even dispatched white supremacists and neo-Nazis to sow anti-Western sentiment in African nations. Now Yevgeny Prigozhin, the catering magnate commonly referred to as “Putin’s chef,” has trained his attention a little closer to Russia’s doorstep: Europe and the Baltic States.A joint investigation by The Daily Beast, the Dossier Center, German broadcaster ARD, Delfi.ee in Estonia, and Siena.lt in Lithuania reveals that operatives closely associated with the Russian oligarch’s previously exposed influence operations organized a two-day conference in Berlin from Jan. 14-15 pegged to economic and environmental issues affecting Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Germany.The Baltic Sea Region Strategic Dialogue was the first of what is meant to be a series of so-called “foresight sessions” to “create a new vision of the post-pandemic future” for the aforementioned countries, with an ostensible focus on COVID-19, Brexit, environmental sustainability, e-governance, and digital technology. Participants included Rihards Kols, the head of the Foreign Relations Committee of Latvia’s parliament, as well as several members of the German Bundestag including Stefan Keuter, a member of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party.The event was organized by two organizations, both of them closely connected to the Association for Free Research and International Cooperation, or AFRIC.As The Daily Beast reported, AFRIC is run by Prigozhin’s St. Petersburg-based organization. According to internal documents obtained by the Dossier Center, AFRIC was conceived as a “network of agents of influence” meant to provide “expert evaluations and opinions beneficial to Russia” in Africa. Founded in 2018, AFRIC sent “election observers”—many of them well-known white supremacists and neo-Nazis from Europe—to try to sway democratic races in Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Africa, in races in which other arms of Prigozhin’s vast empire often supported one or more of the candidates.Russia Is Using Undercover Racists to Exploit Africa’s Anti-Racist Political RevoltLast week, the FBI announced that Prigozhin had been added to its Most Wanted list for his alleged “conspiracy to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the Federal Election Commission, the United States Department of Justice, and the United States Department of State” from 2014 to 2018. A $250,000 award was posted for any information leading to his arrest.As with most of Prigozhin’s foreign influence operations, this one consists of a series of nesting doll structures registered outside of Russian Federation territory and helmed, at least on paper, by non-Russians. The same cast of characters recurs, both at the hierarchical level of these operations and among the Western political figures they aim to cultivate.For instance, one of the organizers of the conference was ADMIS Consultancy, a company founded and operated by Vaiva Adomaityte, a Lithuanian national who is also a member of AFRIC’s administration. An occupational psychologist and self-described “global change expert,” Adomaityte has participated in at least one of AFRIC’s three conferences in Berlin, co-authored its “Africa Vision” report, and has been an AFRIC representative at the Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in 2019. She is also a confidante and associate of Yulia Afanasyeva, the Prigozhin operative who established AFRIC in 2018 out of the oligarch’s “back office” in St. Petersburg, as leaked documents obtained by the Dossier Center demonstrate.Adomaityte previously edited a questionnaire written by Afanasyeva for AFRIC’s similarly named “foresight session” in Berlin in 2019. She also wrote to the Hilton Hotel complaining about substandard accommodations and to settle AFRIC’s billing dispute with the management. Adomaityte even updated her résumé to account for her work on behalf of AFRIC. In one awkwardly worded letter dated March 3, 2020, she wrote to Afanasyeva in English, “Shall I start calling you my God Mother I wonder... sounds much ore badass then God Father.”AFRIC-related events, in fact, appear to be the only ones with which Adomaityte’s ADMIS Consultancy has ever worked. Afanasyeva even hired and paid for a Russian social media expert to work on ADMIS Consultancy’s social media pages, as per the correspondence obtained by the Dossier Center. The Baltic Sea event in January took place in the same Hilton Hotel in Berlin as previous AFRIC conferences. One of the earlier events was presided over by Aleksandr Malkevich, a top Prigozhin operative who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2018 for running a subsidiary company working on behalf of the oligarch’s Project Lakhta, a global political and election interference operation. Malkevich, according to the Treasury Department, ran a company called USA Really, which “engaged in efforts to post content focused on divisive political issues but is generally ridden with inaccuracies. In June 2018, USA Really attempted to hold a political rally in the United States, though its efforts were unsuccessful.”Still another co-organizer of the Baltic Sea conference was the Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade in Germany, better known by its acronym BWA. BWA and ADMIS consultancy co-hosted AFRIC’s last event in Berlin, an online conference on global consequences of COVID-19 in June 2020.BWA is headed by Michael Schumann, a German business consultant specializing in China. Under Schumann’s leadership, BWA has developed partnerships with a series of Russian outfits in Germany including the Association of Russian Businesses and the Dialogue of Civilizations think tank, which was founded in 2016 by Vladimir Yakunin, a former KGB officer and close confidant of Vladimir Putin. Yakunin was the vice president of Russia’s state rail monopoly until 2015, a year after he was sanctioned by the United States for his alleged involvement in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. So far he has evaded EU sanctions.Two other BWA members, Volker Tschapke and Urs Unkauf, acted as AFRIC election observers in Madagascar, DRC, Zimbabwe and South Africa in the past few years. Tschapke and Unkauf were also present at AFRIC’s second and third conferences in Berlin, in July 2019 and January 2020, respectively. Yulia Afanasyeva, Prigozhin’s St. Petersburg-based operative, is also a member of BWA. Misha Japaridze/AP Afanasyeva did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment on this story.Adomaityte said in a Zoom interview that she had no information about Afanasyeva’s involvement in the Baltic Sea conference and that she “felt uncomfortable” talking about AFRIC. She claimed that she was directly hired by BWA in Germany. “We did [earlier] work together with BWA with the AFRIC institution,” she said. “So that was the direct link. However, I was directly requested by the BWA to conduct the research study for the Baltic Sea region.”This account, however, is contradicted by documents obtained by the Dossier Center indicating that not only was Afanasyeva actively involved in organizing the Baltic Sea event, which she attended virtually, but she was in constant communication with Adomaityte about it. Afanasyeva was included in a back-and-forth exchange setting up the venue in the Berlin Hilton; Adomaityte further kept the Russian abreast of how everything had gone.“When we look at the backgrounds [of the people involved], the connection to Prigozhin is clearly visible,” said Indrek Kannik, the former head of analysis of Estonia’s Foreign Intelligence and now the director of the International Centre for Defence and Security in Tallinn. He said the Baltic intelligence services likely follow such influence operations closely.According to a person with direct knowledge of how the Baltic Sea conference was organized, Afanasyeva gave a direct order not to touch on matters of international security and instead focus on economics and ecology. That, too, Kannik said, is textbook tradecraft for the early stages of any successful influence operation.“It is noteworthy that they started with politically uncontroversial topics such as the green deal,” Kannik told The Daily Beast. “They start ‘soft’ and only when they gain some public trustworthiness and a moderately positive image, they take on more relevant topics for the Kremlin such as security, criticism of the Baltic states, Russia’s talking points about dialogue between Europe and Russia, not to mention everything else to do with Crimea and Ukraine.”Another classic tradecraft technique employed by the conferences was employing unwitting foreigners to make the events appear legitimate, in this case by producing ancillary literature. A “strategy recommendation” report, released subsequent to the Berlin conference and branded as an ADMIS Consultancy product, was written by unsuspecting freelancers hired over the internet, The Daily Beast has confirmed. In September, U.S. news outlets reported that Prigozhin’s Internet Research Agency, or “troll farm,” had set up two fake news websites—one catering to the far right, the other to the far left—which hired unwitting American writers to contribute. Even the avatars of the putative editors of these sites were bogus, their faces generated with AI software. The goal was clearly to launder disinformation and propaganda through native participants, whose worldviews intersect with Kremlin interests.The danger with bricks-and-mortar operations like the conferences is that they’re liable to snare respectable and credible participants who are fixtures at similarly themed events. And the participants don’t necessarily have to be influenced or persuaded by Russia propaganda; their mere presence is itself an operational success. Having, say, a government minister from an EU or NATO country photographed alongside a Prigozhin operative is a great way to signal back to Moscow that these exercises pay off.In October 2014, months after Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea, the psychological warfare of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, orchestrated an entire security conference in Athens using cut-outs and front groups including a local Greek think tank and a Russian institute purportedly devoted to Russian diaspora issues. According to Estonia’s foreign intelligence service, an officer from GRU Unit 54777 even participated in a panel discussion next to Panos Kammenos, a Moscow-friendly Greek politician who subsequently became Greece’s defense minister.One of the people invited to give a presentation at the Baltic Sea event was Mihkel Krusberg, an Estonian official from the Ministry of Environment. He received a personal invitation from Adomaityte a little over two weeks ahead of the conference. Because Krusberg is frequently asked to attend such forums and the other publicly named guests appeared legitimate, Krusberg told The Daily Beast he didn’t see any red flags in the offer. “Had I known about the background of the organizers, I would have politely turned down their invitation,” he said.The Baltic Sea Region Strategic Dialogue was not envisaged as a one-off affair. The same group of organizers is already planning a follow-up conference to focus on the relationship between the Baltic and Nordic countries. According to Adomaityte, it’s scheduled to take place online in late March. “However we are really hoping to have a physical conference in the summer,” she said.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.
- The Independent
‘It’s really sad, who says that?’: Lindsey Graham mocked for thanking Trump for ‘allowing me to be in his world’
‘Morning Joe’ hosts laugh at senator’s continued subservience to former president
Ariel Winter has worn a number of glamorous red-carpet looks, from dresses with sheer panels to glittery gowns with thigh-high slits.
From fun fashion moments to pets and "Schitt's Creek" references, here are interesting things you might not have seen during the award show.
- Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — “Trump needs you,” one fundraising email implored. “President Trump’s Legacy is in your hands," another pleaded. Others advertised “Miss Me Yet?” T-shirts featuring Donald Trump's smiling face.
- Associated Press
Three women who worked for a local radio and TV station in eastern Afghanistan were gunned down Tuesday in separate attacks, the news editor of the privately owned station said. Shokrullah Pasoon, of Enikass Radio and TV in Jalalabad, said one of the women, Mursal Wahidi, was walking home when gunmen opened fire, according to eyewitnesses. Afghanistan is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for media workers.
- Yahoo News
President Biden said Tuesday that he had accepted a request from Neera Tanden to withdraw her nomination for a Cabient position, the first such defeat of his administration.
- Associated Press
At least 10 rockets targeted a military base in western Iraq that hosts U.S.-led coalition troops on Wednesday, the coalition and the Iraqi military said. The rockets struck Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar province at 7:20 a.m., coalition spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto said. The Iraqi military released a statement saying the attack did not cause significant losses and that security forces had found the launch pad used for the rockets.
- USA TODAY
Nearly two months after the riot at the U.S. Capitol and the death of police Officer Brian Sicknick, information remains scarce about how he died.
- Raleigh News and Observer
Looking ahead to this weekend’s Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with Kurt Busch, William Byron and Michael McDowell
- Associated Press
Pennsylvania's Republican Party has expressed its disapproval of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey over his vote to convict Donald Trump during the former president’s second impeachment trial, while stopping short of issuing the more serious — albeit still symbolic — censure that some members had pushed for. The vote counting wrapped up late Monday night, completing a five-hour remote video meeting last week that had to be continued because of technical problems, state committee members said. The vote count was 128-124, with 13 abstaining, to approve a statement expressing disappointment with fellow Republican Toomey, but not a censure, state committee members said.
A U.S. House of Representatives panel has reissued a subpoena seeking Donald Trump's tax and financial records, saying in a memo made public on Tuesday it needs the documents to address "conflicts of interest" by future presidents. In a court filing on Tuesday, House lawyers told a judge that the House Oversight Committee reissued a subpoena to Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA LLP, on Feb. 25.
- The Telegraph
Coronavirus latest news: Joe Biden says US will have enough Covid-19 vaccines for every adult by May
Data boost prompts calls for faster freedoms Schools accused of 'blackmailing' parents into testing consent Search 'closing in' on unknown patient with Brazilian variant Covid generation will feel 'glad' to have lived through pandemic Subscribe to The Telegraph for a month-long free trial A “World War Two” style collaboration will give the United States enough Covid-19 vaccines for its entire adult population by the end of May, according to President Joe Biden. Vaccine developer Johnson & Johnson and rival Merck are set to join together to deliver 100 million vaccine doses two months earlier than expected. The president hailed the deal as “the type of collaboration between companies we saw in World War Two”. "We're now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May," said the US leader - who previously targeted late July to amass sufficient doses to inoculate all Americans. "That's progress. Important progress. But it is not enough to have the vaccine supply," Mr Biden said, stressing that a huge effort still lay ahead to administer the vaccines once acquired. Despite the companies’ fiercely competitive past, Merck agreed to produce Johnson & Johnson's inoculation, ultimately doubling the US’s ability to produce vaccines. Mr Biden said he hoped that the United States would be "back to normal" at this time next year, and potentially earlier thanks to the step up in production. "It depends upon if people continue, continue to be smart and understand that we still can have significant losses," he said. Follow the latest updates below.
- 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.
- The Daily Beast
Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via ReutersA criminal case against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and others in the Saudi hierarchy has been filed in a German court for the brutal 2018 murder, dismemberment, and disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite the kingdom’s denial of MBS’ direct involvement and the Biden administration’s flaccid response to the killing.The 500-page complaint filed by the press-freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is the first time a criminal case has been lodged outside of what was largely considered a show trial in Saudi Arabia. That trial saw the conviction of eight people who were later pardoned after members of the Khashoggi family were said to have forgiven them.Saudi’s Crown Prince Is a Killer. So Why Is Biden Just Shrugging?On Monday, the Saudi ambassador to the United Nations disputed a four-page CIA report released last week that pointed to MBS’ involvement, tweeting, “Let us all move forward to tackle the serious business of world issues!!”Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi called the American report, which has been widely criticized as weak, as being “based on could’ve, should’ve and would’ve and does not rise to anywhere close to proving the accusation beyond reasonable doubt.”The report, which was held back by the Trump administration and released last week by Biden, does not directly accuse MBS of ordering the hit on Khashoggi but does say he had “absolute control” over all activities carried out by the kingdom’s intelligence service. Al-Mouallimi argued in a Twitter tirade that “the Prince courageously accepted moral responsibility, presented the accused to the justice system, and pledged to reform the intelligence organizations. Case closed!”Khashoggi was ambushed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a 15-member hit squad that includes a bone-saw-wielding surgeon and seven members of MBS’ elite personal security team in October 2018. The journalist’s body has never been found.The complaint in Germany was filed Monday with public prosecutors in the city of Karlsruhe, according to an RSF statement. The dossier outlines the arbitrary detention of 34 journalists and the brutal murder of Khashoggi to underscore what it calls the kingdom’s “widespread and systematic” persecution of the press.“These journalists are the victims of unlawful killing, torture, sexual violence, and coercion and forced disappearance,” Christophe Deloire, RSF secretary-general, said at a press conference Tuesday morning. “Those responsible for the persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia, including the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, must be held accountable for their crimes.”The RSF statement names MBS and four other suspects: Saud Al-Qahtani, a close adviser to the crown prince who they allege took direct part in the planning and execution of the murder as well as in the implementation of the policy of persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia; Ahmad Mohammed Asiri, the former deputy head of intelligence, who is suspected of personally supervising Khashoggi’s murder; Mohammad Al-Otaibi, the consul general in Istanbul at the time of the murder; and Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, an intelligence officer who led the team that “tortured, killed, and forceably disappeared Jamal Khashoggi.”The complaint was filed in Germany because laws there can extend “universal jurisdiction” to some serious international crimes, even when the victims are not German. The case is bolstered by the recent conviction in a German court of a Syrian secret-service officer for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity for the torture of protesters at one of Bashar al-Assad’s prisons, according to The Guardian.“The official opening of a criminal investigation in Germany into the crimes against humanity in Saudi Arabia would be a world first,” RSF’s Germany director Christian Mihr said. “We ask the public prosecutor general to open a situation analysis, with a view to formally launching a prosecutorial investigation and issuing arrest warrants.”RSF ranks Saudi Arabia 170th out of 180 countries in its press-freedom index. “Saudi Arabia permits no independent media,” the RSF rationale states. “Despite his talk of reform, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has intensified the repression since his appointment as crown prince in June 2017. The number of journalists and citizen-journalists in detention has tripled since the start of 2017.”The German court has not yet accepted the claim and no court date has been set.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 man who refused to wear a mask at a high-school basketball game killed a police officer following a confrontation, authorities say
The police officer, Martinus Mitchum, was fatally shot while trying to break up an altercation between a man and a school employee over face masks.
- Associated Press
Roger Federer is withdrawing from this month's Miami Open so he can spend extra time preparing to “work his way back out on tour,” his agent told The Associated Press on Monday. Federer, who turns 40 in August, is scheduled to make his return to the tour next week in a hard-court tournament at Doha, Qatar. Federer also had been on the entry list for the Masters 1000 stop in Miami, where play starts on March 24.
Prince Harry compares his and Meghan Markle's royal step back to Princess Diana's experience in Oprah interview clip
In a first look at "Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A Primetime Special," Prince Harry said his biggest concern was "history repeating itself."