Attorney General Bill Barr announced that federal capital punishment will resume and named the first five individuals that will be executed.
- The Independent
Dr Mary Trump thinks her uncle’s ego is too fragile to risk losing again - though he has much to gain by pretending he’ll run.
- Reuters Videos
Drawn from the biblical Book of Esther's account of how the Jews were spared genocide in ancient Persia, Purim is commemorated with the wearing of all kinds of fancy dress costumes, donating food for feasts - and drinking to excess.But this year, Israel, which began emerging from its third national lockdown on Feb. 21, reimposed night curfews for the long Purim weekend and limited access to Jerusalem.Purim parties were banned, with fines for anyone hosting them. That led to spontaneous street parties in Tel Aviv. Police commander Ziv Saguy said they were giving out 200 fines an hour.Long traffic jams formed on the road to Jerusalem as police tried to stop large groups of reaching the holy city for the festival. Some people ditched their vehicles and walked up the highway instead.Some ultra-Orthodox have also defied state-ordered closures of schools and synagogues, touching off clashes with police.
Ahead of the Golden Globes on Sunday, we took a look back at the most iconic red carpet looks of the last 60 years.
- Reuters Videos
New York's top prosecutor rejected a proposal by Governor Andrew Cuomo for her to pick a lawyer to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against him, after Cuomo's office backtracked on Sunday on a plan to choose its own investigator. State Attorney General Letitia James said it was essential that Cuomo instead formally refer the matter to her office for investigation, which would give her subpoena power and ensure an impartial probe. Cuomo has been accused of sexual harassment by two former aides, which he has denied. On Saturday, his administration said it had selected a former federal judge, Barbara Jones, to lead an investigation into the claims. But that failed to satisfy leading Democratic figures, including U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who tweeted that "There must be an independent investigation - not one led by an individual selected by the Governor." By Sunday, Cuomo’s office had asked the state's AG and Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals to pick the investigator, saying it wanted to avoid "even the perception of a lack of independence or inference of politics." But James responded by saying that the governor needs to make an official referral to her office under the state's executive law. Only a referral could enable "an investigation with real teeth," a spokesman for James said. The latest accusation against the governor came on Saturday when a former aide told the New York Times that Cuomo had asked her questions about her sex life, including whether she had ever had sex with older men. That claim came just days after another former aide alleged the governor made several "inappropriate gestures" toward her. Cuomo, one of the nation's most well-known Democratic politicians whose popularity soared during the early months of the pandemic, has faced a string of controversies in recent weeks, including how his administration handled high numbers of COVID-19 deaths in the state's nursing homes.
- The Week
Manhattan DA investigators are reportedly focusing on the Trump Organization's chief financial officer
Investigators with the Manhattan District Attorney's office are taking a closer look at Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, as they continue a probe into former President Donald Trump and his family business, people with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times. They are investigating potential financial fraud, and whether Trump and the Trump Organization manipulated property values in order to receive loans and reduce property taxes, the Times reports. Weisselberg, 73, has worked for the Trump Organization for decades, starting at the company when it was helmed by Fred Trump, the former president's father. Two people familiar with the matter said prosecutors have been asking witnesses about Weisselberg, and spoke with one person about Weisselberg's sons — Barry, the property manager of Trump Wollman Rink in Central Park, and Jack, who works at Ladder Capital, one of Trump's lenders. None of the Weisselbergs have been accused of wrongdoing, and there is no indication Barry and Jack are a focus of the probe, the Times says. The investigation began more than two years ago, with the district attorney looking into hush money payments made to two women who said they had affairs with Trump. Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, arranged the payments, and pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance charges. He testified before Congress that Weisselberg came up with a strategy to hide the fact that the Trump Organization was reimbursing Cohen for making payments to one of the women, pornographic actress Stormy Daniels. Trump has called the investigation "a witch hunt." More stories from theweek.comHistorian: Biden's support for Amazon workers voting to unionize is 'almost unprecedented'Trump is back. Did anyone miss him?The myth of the male bumbler
- Business Insider
As another stimulus package hangs in the balance, some programs like unemployment benefits are set to expire by the end of March
The current package includes $1,400 stimulus checks, $400 payments in federal unemployment benefits, and funds for coronavirus testing and vaccines.
- The Independent
Republican congressman appears at white nationalist conference whose founder called Capitol riot ‘awesome’
Only elected GOP official to attend alternative far-right conference said afterwards: ‘I denounce when we talk about white racism’
The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad held discussions on Monday with a senior Afghan official in Kabul over ways to accelerate the peace process, before heading to Qatar, where negotiations with Taliban representatives are ongoing. U.S.-brokered peace talks between the Afghan government and the militant group began in September but progress has slowed and violence has risen, while there is also uncertainty over whether international forces will pull out troops by May as originally planned. The State Department said in a statement on Sunday that Khalilzad and his team were visiting Kabul and Qatar.
- The Daily Beast
CNNChris Cuomo opened his primetime CNN show Monday night by acknowledging the growing sexual harassment scandal surrounding his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and telling viewers why he “obviously” would not be covering it. “Before we start tonight, let me say something that I’m sure is very obvious to you who watch my show,” the host began. “And thank you for that. You’re straight with me, I’ll be straight with you.”“Obviously, I’m aware of what’s going on with my brother,” Cuomo continued. “And obviously I cannot cover it, because he is my brother. Now, of course CNN has to cover it. They have covered it extensively and they will continue to do so.”>> @ChrisCuomo at the top of @CuomoPrimeTime tonight: "Obviously I am aware of what is going on with my brother. And obviously I cannot cover it because he is my brother. Now, of course CNN has to cover it. They have covered it extensively and they will continue to do so." pic.twitter.com/G49mZYTG4D— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) March 2, 2021 “I have always cared very deeply about these issues and profoundly so,” Cuomo added, declining to elaborate or name which “issues” he was talking about. “There’s a lot of news going on that matters also, so let’s get after that.”The host was speaking at the end of a day in which a third woman accused the New York governor of inappropriate sexual behavior. But as New York Times reporter Annie Karni posted on Twitter in response, while it may make sense for Cuomo to recuse himself from covering his brother, “What never made sense to me was Chris Cuomo covering him when things were going well for Andrew Cuomo.”Especially during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Cuomo was a frequent guest on his brother’s show, where they would joke around together about calling their mom and memorably performed a playful comedy sketch with a giant test swab at the same time the governor’s office was underreporting nursing home deaths. 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.
- National Review
The Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans is asking Catholics to avoid the recently-approved Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which it says is “morally compromised” by its “extensive use of abortion-derived cell lines.” In a statement on Friday, the archdiocese noted that while deciding whether to receive the vaccine is an individual choice, that “the latest vaccine from Janssen/Johnson & Johnson is morally compromised as it uses the abortion-derived cell line in development and production of the vaccine as well as the testing.” While a number of COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers have used cells originally derived from an aborted fetus in the 1970s, the archdiocese argues that Johnson & Johnson “extensive use” is worse than that of Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which used the cells lines only to test their vaccines, according to Religion News Service. This makes the “connection to abortion … extremely remote,” in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the statement argues, recommending that Catholics choose one of those instead, if provided a choice. While the archdiocese claims the decision is in line with guidance from the Vatican, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Catholic Bioethics Center, none of the three have issued statements denouncing the new vaccine. In December, the Vatican issued general guidelines regarding vaccines in which the Holy See said it was “morally acceptable” for Catholics to receive shots that used the HEK293 cells for research. While the HEK293 cells are reportedly originated from an aborted fetus from the 1970s, ethicists have said that the cells and similar cell lines are clones and not the original fetal tissue. The Vatican has made the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available for all Vatican City residents. Pope Francis reportedly received the shot in January. The Archdiocese of New Orleans’ statement comes after leaders of the USCCB and leaders from other religious organizations sent a letter to the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last spring regarding ethical concerns over the COVID-19 vaccines. “We are aware that, among the dozens of vaccines currently in development, some are being produced using old cell lines that were created from the cells of aborted babies,” the letter read. “For example, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has a substantial contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and is working on a vaccine that is being produced using one of these ethically problematic cell lines.” However, a USCCB memo written by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who chairs the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, who chairs the organization’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, argued that the vaccines are moral.
- Business Insider
Some people might prefer Johnson & Johnson's shot because it was tested on variants, has milder side effects, and is easier to get.
The baby was born nearly sixth months after Hilaria Baldwin gave birth to her son Eduardo "Edu" Pao Lucas.
- Business Insider
The White House says it never wants an assassination like Khashoggi's again, but won't punish MBS for ordering the killing
Biden's White House has essentially leaned on the importance of the diplomatic relationship with Saudi Arabia in defense of its actions.
- The Week
Wealthy alumni are threatening to pull their donations from the University of Texas at Austin because students have been protesting the university's controversial alma mater song, The Texas Tribune reports. "The Eyes of Texas," which plays after football games, is a cherished tradition for many, but it was historically performed at campus minstrel shows, and the title is linked to a saying from Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Students, therefore, have criticized the song as racist for a while now, the Tribune notes, but action has increased over the last year amid protests against police brutality and racial injustice. It appears, however, many donors consider the movement to be the product of "cancel culture" and "Marxist ideology," and emails obtained by the Tribune show they're willing to pull their financial support for the university over the issue. UT-Austin President Jay Hartzell has publicly confirmed the school will keep the song, but the emails suggest they want him to take an even stronger stand. A few donors even called for Black students to leave the university if they didn't appreciate the tradition. "It's time for you to put the foot down and make it perfectly clear that the heritage of Texas will not be lost," one donor whose name was redacted wrote to Hartzell. "It is sad that it is offending the blacks. As I said before the blacks are free and it's time for them to move on to another state where everything is in their favor." Larry Wilkinson, a donor and 1970 graduate of UT-Austin, argued in an email to Hartzell and an interview with the Tribune that because Black students make up only 6 percent of the student body, "the tail cannot be allowed to wag the dog ... Nothing forces those students to attend UT-Austin." Read more at The Texas Tribune. More stories from theweek.comManhattan DA investigators are reportedly focusing on the Trump Organization's chief financial officerHistorian: Biden's support for Amazon workers voting to unionize is 'almost unprecedented'Trump is back. Did anyone miss him?
- The Daily Beast
Middletown PoliceAn Ohio mother who police say tried to abandon her 6-year-old son at a local park, dragged him along the pavement when he tried to get back into the car, then dumped the boy’s lifeless body in a river the following day, confessed to killing the child but has shown little remorse, the Middletown police chief revealed Monday.Brittany Gosney, 29, is charged with murder, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence. Cops say Gosney’s two other children—both of whom are second-graders—were in the car at the time of the killing, but were not harmed. They have since been placed in foster care, according to authorities.“This has really touched my soul and my heart,” Police Chief David Birk said at a Monday press conference. “My kids are older, but my youngest is 16, but I’m just sitting there, you know, the poor six-year-old has no idea what’s going on and what’s happening, and for the other kids to go through this too. It’s just heartbreaking.”Birk said Gosney indicated that she had planned to abandon the other two, as well. Gosney reportedly lost custody of a fourth child who has been under the state’s care since before the 6-year-old’s killing.An arrest report provided to The Daily Beast by the Middletown PD says Gosney “admitted to taking her son, James Robert Hutchinson, to Rush Run Park in Preble County, where she placed him outside of her vehicle.” After forcing him out of the car, Gosney told Detective John Hoover that the boy “attempted to get back in the vehicle and she drove off at a high rate of speed, dragging the child for a distance. The defendant then left the park and returned approximately 30 to 40 minutes later finding the child in the middle of the parking lot with a head injury.”Gosney then took her son’s remains back home, and placed the body in an upstairs bedroom.“The following day she drove to the Ohio River and disposed of the child’s body in the river,” the report says.Gosney’s boyfriend, James Russell Hamilton, 42, is accused of helping Gosney dump her son’s body after the fact. He is facing charges of abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. Bail for Gosney was set at $1 million cash; Hamilton’s was set at $105,000. Both remain in custody, Middletown Police Department spokesperson Shelby Quinlivan told The Daily Beast.Gosney and Hamilton showed up at the police station around 10:15 a.m. Sunday morning to report her son missing, said Birk. He sensed something was wrong from the start, because the two couldn’t get their stories straight. Birk described the situation as “just red flags all over,”A few hours later, the two allegedly confessed. The child’s body has not yet been recovered.“I’m so heartbroken I don’t care if I had a million dollars I would not get her out but he is involved more than what’s being said he should get the same,” a man identified as Gosney’s stepfather posted to his Facebook page on Monday.In a letter to families of children at Rosa Parks Elementary School, where James Hutchinson attended first grade, Principal Tracy Neely wrote: “We are all mourning the loss of our friend James today. James was a happy and joyful soul who loved school. On the days he was in class, he would give hugs to all his teachers as he walked into school. A fun memory I have is the way his face would light up when he won the lucky lunch tray! First graders can find the joy in just about anything. I will always remember his bright joy.”The school will hold a celebration of life for James Hutchinson at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday. Gosney and Hamilton are due back in court on March 8.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
The Utah senator was visiting his grandchildren over the weekend when he fell
- The Daily Beast
GettyPresident Biden’s Afghanistan negotiator has begun a diplomatic trip that will include the first meeting of the new administration with the Taliban, sources familiar confirmed to The Daily Beast.The State Department did not immediately provide comment on the agenda Zalmay Khalilzad is bringing to the Taliban, which belatedly resumed peace talks with the U.S. client Afghan government last week. Khalilzad will first travel to Kabul for meetings with an Afghanistan government whose viability in a post-American Afghanistan is an open question. He’ll also visit other crucial regional capitals.Khalilzad “will resume discussions on the way ahead with the Islamic Republic and Afghan leaders, Taliban representatives, and regional countries whose interests are best served by the achievement of a just and durable political settlement and permanent and comprehensive ceasefire,” a State Department official said.Khalilzad, who has been an Afghanistan envoy for three different presidents, arrives in the region at a pivotal time. Two months remain before the Doha Accord, the deal Khalilzad negotiated with the Taliban last year, requires a full U.S. troop withdrawal. There is enormous international speculation over whether Biden will abide by a deal that extricates the U.S. from a 20-year war it will not admit it has lost.She Helped Escalate an Endless War. Will She End It?“I find that leaving right now is more compelling than it’s ever been in the past,” said Carter Malkasian, who has advised the U.S. military in Afghanistan for more than a decade.Almost immediately upon entering office, Biden placed the Afghanistan deal, struck by the Trump administration, under review. It represents the first critical foreign-policy decision of his presidency. While the review is reportedly nearing its terminal phase, sources familiar with it or close to the administration have said nothing – only that it is not completed, a course of action has not been decided, and they consider the process rigorous.Biden, an opponent of escalation in Afghanistan when he was Barack Obama’s vice president, is under significant elite pressure to forestall a pullout stipulated for May 1. Both Democratic foreign-policy eminances and prestige think-tank panels have urged a delay. “Keeping U.S. troops beyond May while sustaining Doha is possible,” argued Lisa Curtis.Curtis was the senior Afghanistan official on Trump’s National Security Council. She’s a critic of what she calls the “flawed peace deal” Khalilzad negotiated at Trump’s behest, as the obligations it places on the United States—the withdrawal—are more specific than for the Taliban, which is supposed to stop Afghanistan from being a staging ground for international terrorism and enter a dialogue with the Afghanistan government to resolve the country’s political future. Negotiators like Khalilzad should “emphasize [Doha’s] sections on a comprehensive ceasefire and political roadmap,” Curtis said.But delaying the pullout risks blowing up the only diplomatic way out of Afghanistan. “If Biden tears up the agreement, he will own the consequences, and the consequences will not be good,” said Christopher Kolenda, a retired Army colonel who in 2017 and 2018 conducted preparatory diplomacy with the Taliban in Doha.Curtis, Kolenda and all other Afghanistan observers agree on a basic fact, if not its implications. The Taliban, which kept up attacks on Afghan forces after signing the U.S. accord, have put themselves in place for a massive offensive that the U.S., its allies and the Afghanistan government may not be able to repel. Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that the Taliban have closed in on several of Afghanistan’s major cities and control the vital roads to many of them. Whatever Doha envisioned for a Taliban-Afghanistan government path to reconciliation, this is not that. The Taliban, having functionally defeated the U.S. at war, now appear on the horizon of outright victory.“They’re in position for a major offensive. That offensive will include mass-casualty attacks on Americans if we miss the deadline,” said Barnett Rubin, another longtime Afghanistan adviser to the U.S. and the United Nations. “They might be prepared to extend, but if we unilaterally say we’re not satisfied with you so we’re not leaving, that’s what they’ll do. And the muscle memory of the U.S. government is to do that.”Kolenda and other longtime Afghanistan observers argue that attempting to defer the pullout will have precisely the violent effect that Curtis and her side argues will follow the pullout. The Taliban, they argue, would likely see that the U.S. cannot be trusted to keep its word—friction between Washington and Kabul in 2012 doomed an earlier peace process in its infancy—ending any hope of a negotiated end to the war, to say nothing of a secure departure for the remaining U.S. troop presence.“If you’re the Biden administration, would you rather depart as agreed in a safe, orderly manner while leaning into a peace process, or would you prefer the optics of C-17s screaming out of Bagram on the heels of a Taliban offensive like Saigon 1975?” Kolenda said. “I don’t hear the stay-forever crowd talking about the possibility of a humiliating exit.”Curtis acknowledged that the Taliban abandoning diplomacy and attacking U.S. troops again “is a risk.” But, she said, “What is our goal and our objective? We don’t want a terrorist safe haven to reemerge. It’s not just covering us for a safe exit.”Malkasian, more than most, has spent many years attempting to prevent the reemergence of such a safe haven. He sees the risk of a subsequent terrorist attack launched from Afghanistan soil as a “bearable” one— something now grimly proven by COVID-19. “For a good number of days in the winter, we were losing more people per day than we lost on 9/11,” he said. “That means leaving is a viable strategy.”While the review is closely held, the early indications out of the Biden administration and its allies have not suggested an intention to stick with the scheduled pullout.On February 12, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said among the issues the review will examine are “whether the Taliban are fulfilling their commitments relating to counterterrorism, reducing violence, engaging in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan Government and other stakeholders.” On February 19, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, after meeting with NATO allies, said he sought a “responsible and sustainable end to this war” rather than emphasizing the deal currently in place. This past week, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), the Democratic chairman of the armed-services committee and a crucial White House ally, advocated for delaying withdrawal. A source described as familiar with the review told Vox that a full withdrawal is “off the table.”“I think the steps the president has taken, in terms of hinting that we might not pull the rest of our troops out on the 1st of May, is exactly right,” Bob Gates, the former Obama and George W. Bush defense secretary, told The Washington Post on Friday. “We may be in a position where we have to tell ourselves we will have an ongoing presence in Afghanistan for some period of time.”Rubin believes there is a way to sell the Taliban on a one-time troop extension of six months—something he acknowledges could backfire, but something he considers possible owing to the six-month delay between the February accord and the September commencement of pivotal Taliban-Afghan government negotiations, which have proceeded haltingly.The Taliban still want things from the U.S.-led coalition, Rubin pointed out, such as additional prisoner releases and the removal of sanctions placed on it not only by Washington but by the United Nations. Additionally, the administration can take advantage of recently energetic regional diplomacy, particularly by Russia, to accelerate the peace process. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, pledged a “robust and regional diplomatic effort” in a call last month to his Afghan counterpart, but it has yet to publicly manifest.“If one tries to extend the timeline, it should be cast as ‘we’re fully intending to leave Afghanistan, we have this agreement, we want to see it’s fully met, and then we’re returning to a timeline for us to fully leave,’” urged Malkasian. “There is no peace in Afghanistan as long as we stay. We are a driver of violence. The Taliban is able to cast us as an occupying power and it drives them to fight us. That doesn’t mean all Afghans, it’s just enough to get a critical mass to fight. If we want a peace agreement, we have to be willing to leave Afghanistan.”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.
- Associated Press
The plane laden with vaccines had just rolled to a stop at Santiago’s airport in late January, and Chile’s president, Sebastián Piñera, was beaming. The source of that hope: China – a country that Chile and dozens of other nations are depending on to help rescue them from the COVID-19 pandemic. China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has been a surprising success: It has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccine to more than 45 countries, according to a country-by-country tally by The Associated Press.
- Business Insider
The filibuster means that 60 votes are needed to pass most legislation in the Senate.
- LA Times
Trevor Bauer pitched two scoreless innings in his Dodgers debut and Kenley Jansen threw nine straight pitches in the strike zone Monday in a 10-0 spring training win over the Colorado Rockies.