COVID-19 In Maryland: February 23, 2021 (Evening Update)
Iran is threatening to end a deal struck with the U.N. nuclear watchdog last weekend temporarily salvaging much monitoring of its activities if the agency's board endorses a U.S.-led push to criticise Tehran next week, an Iranian position paper shows. Tehran this week scaled back cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, ending extra inspection measures introduced by its 2015 nuclear accord with major powers. Iran and U.S. President Joe Biden's administration are now locked in a standoff over who should move first to save the unravelling 2015 deal.
- The Daily Beast
Prince Harry Tells Friend James Corden He Left the Royal Family Because It Was Destroying His Mental Health
KOEN VAN WEELPrince Harry has said that he stepped back from royal duties because the British press was “toxic” and “destroying” his mental health.In an extraordinary interview unparalleled in the annals of royal history, Harry gave a candid interview to his close friend James Corden on The Late Late Show while they toured Los Angeles on an open-air double-decker bus. Corden was a guest at Harry and Meghan’s wedding in 2018 and arrived at the evening reception dressed as Henry VIII. Another guest at the wedding, Oprah Winfrey, has taped an interview primarily with Meghan that will be screened next weekend.Oprah Winfrey’s Interview With Meghan Markle and Harry Will ‘Shine a Light on What They Have Been Through’The two men were served afternoon tea, which Corden said he had provided to remind Harry of home, however the tea service was abandoned after the bus braked sharply, depositing the contents of a tea trolley on top of the prince.“Clear it up, Harry,” Corden joked as the prince picked up tea cups and scones.While the 17-minute long package had a humorous tone and was packed with jokes and gags, it also provided the most candid insight yet into why Harry withdrew from royal duties.Asked about his decision to leave royal life, Harry said he was left with no choice because the British press “was destroying my mental health.”He said of the “toxic” situation: “I did what any husband and father would do—I need to get my family out of here.”In what will be perceived as a dig at the royal establishment that refused to accept Harry and Meghan’s proposal of a hybrid public-private role, Harry said: “We never walked away, and as far as I’m concerned, what decisions are made on that side, I will never walk away.”Royal Family ‘Wringing Their Hands’ at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s ActivismHarry said that his life now would continue to be about “public service” and added that he and Meghan were “trying to bring some compassion and try to make people happy and try to change the world in any small way we can.”When Harry said he and Meghan often watched Jeopardy! and Netflix (with whom the couple recently signed a $100 million production deal) in the evenings after putting Archie to bed, Corden asked him about The Crown and its controversial portrayal of his family’s history.Harry, who joked he would like to be played in the series by Damian Lewis, said he preferred it to the tabloid media coverage of the royals because it “does not pretend to be news.”He added: “It’s fictional. But it’s loosely based on the truth.“Of course it’s not strictly accurate, but it gives you a rough idea about what that lifestyle—the pressures of putting duty and service above family and everything else—what can come from that.”He continued: “I’m way more comfortable with The Crown than I am seeing the stories written about my family, or my wife or myself, because it’s the difference between fiction—take it how you will—and being reported on as fact because you’re supposedly news. I have a real issue with that.”Harry also opened up about meeting Meghan and how he knew she was the one on their second date.“We hit it off with each other, and we were just so comfortable in each other’s company,” he said.“Dating me or any member of the royal family is kind of flipped upside down. All the dates become dinners or watching the TV or chatting at home.“We went from zero to 60 in the first two months.”Meghan, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child, made a cameo in the interview via FaceTime when Harry and Corden paid a trip to the house from the ’90s TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.When Corden suggested the couple should buy the house, Meghan said: “I think we’ve done enough moving.”During the visit to the house, Corden and Harry spoke to the owner and jokingly made an offer to buy it, before Harry asked if he could use the toilet.“I’m actually dying for a pee. Can I use your bathroom?” he asked.Showing that family relations are at least still somewhat functional, Harry said his grandmother, the queen, bought his son Archie a waffle maker for Christmas.He revealed Meghan now makes waffles with a “beautiful organic mix” and they eat them for breakfast with toppings including berries and syrup.He also said that both his grandparents know how to use Zoom, but joked that his grandfather slams the laptop shut physically to finish a call.Over to you, Oprah.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.
- Associated Press
When Wyoming U.S. Sen. John Barrasso snapped at Deb Haaland during her confirmation hearing, many in Indian Country were incensed. The exchange, coupled with descriptions of the Interior secretary nominee as “radical” — by other white, male Republicans — left some feeling Haaland is being treated differently because she is a Native American woman. At Wednesday's hearing, Barrasso wanted assurance that Haaland would follow the law when it comes to imperiled species.
- Business Insider
While President Biden visits storm-torn Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz will be giving a speech on 'cancel culture' in Florida
The president will tour the state with Gov. Greg Abbott.
Episode eight finally introduces Wanda Maximoff's comic-book name that's been hinted at throughout the first season of "WandaVision."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who excoriated former President Donald Trump over the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot less than two weeks ago, said on Thursday that he would "absolutely" vote for Trump if he became the 2024 Republican presidential nominee. McConnell, who Trump blasted last week as "a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack," said he expects to see an open contest for the Republican White House nomination in 2024 but showed no hesitation in backing Trump when asked whether he would vote for him as nominee.
- Business Insider
Experts say Dominion and Smartmatic could win their defamation lawsuits, but MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell says they have 'zero' chance
The Trump backers Rudy Giuliani, Sydney Powell, and Mike Lindell face defamation lawsuits from Dominion and Smartmatic that may succeed, experts say.
- Business Insider
Texas lieutenant governor says people getting huge energy bills 'gambled on a very, very low rate' - but suggests they won't have to pay the full amount
Texans on variable-rate energy deals were faced with enormous bills as the wholesale price of electricity spiked 10,000% during a winter storm.
The Weasleys are the largest family in the series, so even the biggest fans may not have heard all these fun facts and hidden secrets about them.
- Associated Press
Kyrie Irving had 27 points and nine assists, James Harden scored 20 points and the Nets extended their longest winning streak since moving to Brooklyn to eight games with a 129-92 rout of the Orlando Magic on Thursday night. The Nets have the longest current winning streak in the NBA and their longest since a franchise record-tying 14-game run late in the 2005-06 season. This roll has come almost entirely without Kevin Durant, who missed his sixth straight game with a strained left hamstring.
- Associated Press
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman underwent a “successful surgery” to remove his appendix Wednesday, the royal court said, and he left the hospital soon after the operation. The 35-year-old prince had surgery for appendicitis at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the Saudi capital of Riyadh in the morning, according to the royal court. Prince Mohammed, the son of King Salman, has amassed immense powers in the kingdom since being appointed heir to the throne in 2017.
- Business Insider
Donald Trump has fought hard to keep his personal tax returns, and the Trump Organization's a secret. The Supreme Court just let prosecutors get them.
- The Week
Prince Harry and James Corden tour L.A., crawl through the mud, discuss Harry's thoughts on The Crown
Prince Harry evidently thought he was going to be on "Carpool Karaoke." "This is subtle — where's the Range Rover?" he asked James Corden when Corden arrived in an open-air bus for a tour of Los Angeles on Thursday's Late Late Show. The non-working-royal prince did rap the theme to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but there was no singing on the tour. There was, however, high tea, an ill-advised real estate push invoking Meghan Markle, and a military-style obstacle course. Prince Harry seemed to enjoy parts of the tour: He said he's never been allowed to ride on an open-top bus and has always wanted to go sight-seeing, and since he and his wife arrived in the U.S. during coronavirus lockdown, "this is the first time I've had a chance to see L.A." He described a typical day in his quasi-royal Santa Barbara household, starting with breakfast from a waffle-maker gifted to son Archie by his great-grandmother, the queen, and ending with him and the duchess in bed watching Jeopardy! or "a little bit of Netflix." "And how do you feel about The Crown?" Corden asked. Unlike his brother, Harry has watched the show, and he had thoughts about how his family is portrayed: "They don't pretend to be news, it's fictional, but it's loosely based on the truth. Of course it's not strictly accurate," but "loosely, it gives you a rough idea about what that lifestyle, what the pressures of putting duty and service above family and everything else, what can come from that. I'm way more comfortable with The Crown than I am seeing the stories written about my family or my wife or myself," because one is "obviously fiction" and the latter is "being reported on as fact." When asked, Harry said he wants Damian Lewis to play him when his storyline starts in The Crown. Corden nominated himself to play Prince William, earning a dubious stare from Harry. "It's not great casting, but it is casting," he said. You can watch him get the last laugh below. More stories from theweek.comJournalist Tim O'Brien, who's seen Trump's taxes, thinks Trump's accountant will now flip in D.A. inquiryDemocrats should take the Romney-Cotton proposal seriouslyThe MyPillow guy might be Trump's ultimate chump
- Business Insider
China's massive Coast Guard and a new law expanding what it can do have worried its neighbors, maybe none of them more so than Japan.
- The Daily Beast
Erin Schaff/ReutersThe acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police just came with the receipts.Testifying before a House Appropriations subcommittee about the catastrophic breakdown that allowed thousands of MAGA rioters to breach the Capitol, Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman revealed that her predecessor called the House sergeant-at-arms, Paul Irving, at 12:58 p.m. to request the National Guard as rioters breaching the building and forced lawmakers into hiding.Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned after the riot, called Irving again seven minutes later, according to phone records pulled by Pittman—and then called him at least three more times until 1:45 p.m.“When there’s a breakdown you look for those commanders with boots on the ground to provide that instruction,” Pittman said. “That did not happen, primarily because those operational commanders at the time were so overwhelmed, they started to participate and assist the officers… versus providing that guidance and direction.”First Capitol Riot Hearing Only Raised More Questions About Jan. 6The receipts–which support the narrative that a series of unanswered calls, withheld information, and conflicting orders led to complete malfunction—directly contradicted Irving’s testimony.On Tuesday, Sund testified that he asked for National Guard backup just after 1 p.m. But Irving insisted that was wrong. He said he did not remember the conversation with Sund and claimed he didn’t get an official request until “shortly before 1:30 p.m.” Troops were not approved to help overwhelmed officers at the Capitol until 2:10 p.m.“Mr. Irving stated that he was concerned about the ‘optics’ of having the National Guard present and didn’t feel that the intelligence supported it,” Sund said Tuesday. Irving, who resigned in the wake of the riot, said that was “categorically false.”On Tuesday, Irving said that if Sund, Senate sergeant-at-arms Michael Stenger, or any other leaders concluded ahead of Jan. 6 that unarmed National Guardsmen were needed, he “would not have hesitated” to ensure the reinforcement was ready.Pittman’s testimony—and her insistence that Capitol Police did everything possible to contain the insurrection—was just the latest twist in a series of finger-pointing between the top law enforcers in charge of securing the Capitol. During hearings before lawmakers this week, officials have blamed one another for the widespread failures.One failure, Pittman conceded on Thursday, was that nobody in law enforcement knew the mob would be so violent.She told lawmakers that they were prepared for militia groups, white supremacists, and other extremists to be present, but the small organization was not prepared for thousands of “everyday” Americans “who took on a mob mentality.” (Acting D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee revealed on Tuesday that the FBI intel consisted merely of an email sent on Jan. 5.)Officials believe over 10,000 demonstrators were at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and that 800 breached the building. About 1,200 police officers responded, Pittman said.She also made the stunning admission that since Jan. 6, Capitol Police have maintained heightened security because they learned that militia groups have chatted about plans to “blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible” in connection with the State of the Union, which has no scheduled date yet. “We know that the insurrectionists that attacked the Capitol weren’t only interested in attacking members of Congress and officers. They wanted to send a symbolic message to the nation as [to] who was in charge of that legislative process,” Pittman said. On Tuesday, Irving insisted that Capitol Police were privy to intelligence provided by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security that “did not support” the likelihood of a coordinated assault at the Capitol.An NYPD Cop’s Road From Terror ‘Victim’ to Capitol Rioter“The department was not ignorant of intelligence indicating an attack of the size and scale we encountered on the sixth. There was no such intelligence,” Pittman said Thursday. “Although we knew the likelihood for violence by extremists, no credible threat indicated that tens of thousands would attack the U.S. Capitol. Nor did the intelligence received from the FBI or any other law enforcement partner indicate such a threat.”Pittman added that because officers at the Capitol were not prepared for a violent mob, lockdown procedure was not properly executed. She added that some officers were also not sure when to use lethal force, and that radio communications between law enforcers were not robust.Five individuals died during the violent riots. Four were pro-Trump protesters, including Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by a police officer after attempting to break into the Speaker’s Lobby. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died after allegedly clashing with rioters. In the days after the siege, at least two officers died by suicide.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 Czech Republic must tighten measures to combat the pandemic and prevent a "catastrophe" in hospitals in the coming weeks as the country faces one of the world's highest COVID-19 infection and death rates, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Wednesday. The number of hospital patients with COVD-19 who are in serious condition has risen to a record 1,389, leaving few spare beds in the country of 10.7 million. Some hospitals have had to transfer out patients while the health minister has warned hospitals risk being overwhelmed in the coming weeks.
- The Daily Beast
Ozan Kose/GettyMOSCOW—Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has announced that the military had attempted a coup on Thursday, the latest development in a country still recovering from last year’s lost war with Azerbaijan.Now, politicians and political analysts are speaking of Russia’s hand in the attempted coup, pointing to President Vladimir Putin’s strained relationship with Pashinyan. On Tuesday, Pushinyan had insulted Moscow by complaining about Russian missiles, an indirect criticism of the Kremlin’s strategy of waiting to intervene until Armenia was weakened in the conflict, despite its official status as a military ally.“They didn’t explode, or maybe 10 percent of them exploded,” Pashinyan said of the missiles on Tuesday. The military generals—already angry over Pashinyan’s firing of military generals in an effort to modernize the force—objected, setting off the conflict.According to political analyst Artur Paronyan, Russia’s General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov had made a call to his Armenian counterpart, General Onik Gasparyan, earlier in the day. “Moscow clearly signaled to General Gasparyan to get rid of our prime minister,” Paronyan told The Daily Beast.Led by General Gasparyan, dozens of generals signed a statement calling for Pashinyan’s removal over his alleged inability “to make adequate decisions in this crisis.” It marked the first direct intervention by the military in Armenia’s domestic politics since 2008, when 10 demonstrators were killed after the military clamped down on a protest in Yerevan’s Freedom Square.Armenia has healed from that tragedy, and has since changed course. Over the past decade, the country has developed a vibrant civil society, confronting some of its most acute social issues. But the threat of a war with Azerbaijan over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh has been up in the air for decades. Generations grew up preparing for the next war, and in September, the fighting began. It went on for six weeks, and Armenia was turned upside down.If Kim Kardashian Had an Armenian Man in Armenia, She’d Be At RiskAfter the war, thousands of bitter protesters crowded Yerevan’s center, blaming the government for the defeat and demanding Pashinyan’s resignation. A Russian-brokered ceasefire saved Armenia from defeat in Nagorno-Karabakh, but it also left Armenia desperately dependent on Russia for security.The opposition called for Pashinyan’s ouster, and was joined by the army on Wednesday. Many men in crowds of protesters wore military uniforms and said they would not leave Freedom Square until Pashinyan was gone. On Thursday, General Gasparyan published his statement formally calling for the prime minister’s resignation and criticizing him for “discrediting” the military.In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, Pashinyan’s key rival, former Minister of Defense Vazgen Manukyan, claimed he had powerful support from the Russian military. “We blame Pashinyan for the total diplomatic failure in peace negotiations with Baku and for our defeat in the war against Azerbaijan’s aggression.” He added that he was “in touch with all the commanders,” and that he knows that “some operations [led by Pashinyan] were more than dubious.”“Everything that my army managed to win from 1992 to 1993, he lost. We plan to put Pashinyan on trial and investigate why we have lost territories and 5,000 lives,” he said. Manukyan also stressed his support for peaceful demonstrations only, as a civil war would devastate an already vulnerable Armenia.Many of Manukyan’s supporters are openly championing Russian support for the coup. “The war showed us that neither the United States nor France were here to save us. Moscow negotiated peace for us. Even now, Russian peacekeepers are on guard in the conflict zone,” a pro-Manukyan analyst, Stepan Danielyan, told The Daily Beast.Armenian leaders have had a hard time earning the trust of a disillusioned public. The public demanded justice for years after the massacre in Freedom Square, blaming the president at the time, Robert Kocharyan, for ordering the shootings. A velvet revolution swept Nikol Pashinyan, once a political prisoner, to power in 2018. The same year, a court ordered former President Kocharyan arrested on charges related to the shooting incident.“Putin considers Pashinyan a traitor and an enemy who failed in his promises many times,” Sergei Markov, a Kremlin analyst, told The Daily Beast.Markov explained how the conflict between Putin and Pashinyan goes beyond the missile insults. According to media reports, Putin had unsuccessfully lobbied for the release of his friend, former president Kocharyan, after his 2019 arrest.“Putin called Kocharyan on his birthday a few months ago to demonstrate what he thought of that arrest,” says Markov. “Now the Kremlin would like to see [Pashinyan] drink the entire glass of shame so everybody would see what happens to an American puppet.”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 Daily Beast
NBCDonald Trump is back in the spotlight thanks to his highly anticipated speech at CPAC this coming weekend, which was good news for Seth Meyers, who went all-in Thursday night on the Republican Party’s refusal to leave the former president behind them—and no one exemplifies that trend more pathetically than Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).“Republicans stuck by Trump no matter how bad he was for the party because they agreed with him,” the Late Night host explained. “They were engaged in the same project and wanted the same things. With a few exceptions, they were all Trump.” In particular, he said, Graham “literally wore the same clothes when they went golfing, like a chihuahua whose owner makes him wear matching outfits.”Of course, Graham’s recent re-embrace of Trump comes after he finally, almost denounced him on the day of the Capitol riot last month with an impassioned speech on the floor of the Senate. “I believe he was reciting a monologue from the Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named De-Liar!” Meyers joked.“Well, it won’t surprise you to learn that Graham almost immediately did a 180,” he continued. “He probably thought that by calling out Trump’s bad behavior one time he’d get to co-host a podcast with Obama and Springsteen.” Why MAGA-Mocking Comedian Blaire Erskine Makes Liberals So Mad“And by the way, at the same time that he’s openly cheerleading a former president who tried to overturn an election, incited a violent insurrection, and routinely called for his political enemies to be jailed,” the host said, “Graham is also calling President Biden’s COVID relief package divisive, despite the fact that it’s overwhelming popular in polls.”Earlier this week, Graham called the plan the “furthest thing from unity I’ve seen.”“Really?! It’s the furthest thing from unity you’ve seen?” Meyers asked. “Was your vision obstructed from the Trump flag rioters hung at the Capitol?”For more, listen and subscribe to The Last Laugh podcast.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.
- Associated Press
A gathering of conservatives this weekend in Florida will serve as an unabashed endorsement of former President Donald Trump's desire to remain the leader of the Republican Party — and as a forum to fan his false claim that he lost the November election only because of widespread voter fraud. Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference and a Trump ally, said discussion panels on election integrity would highlight “huge” evidence of illegal voting in Georgia, Nevada and elsewhere that ultimately swung the election for Democrat Joe Biden. Such baseless claims fueled the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and have been repeatedly dismissed by the courts, the Trump administration's leading security officials and senior Republicans in Congress, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
- Associated Press
India's coast guard has found a boat adrift in the Andaman Sea carrying scores of Rohingya refugees, including eight who had died, officials said Thursday. The boat left Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh on Feb. 11 with 90 people, including 23 children, on board and its engine failed on Feb. 15, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said. Two Indian coast guard ships were sent to help the refugees, and the Indian government is in discussions with Bangladesh to ensure their safe return, Srivastava said.