The COVID-19 tests are free and will be administered Monday through Friday for the next three months.
- The Independent
Republicans ‘increasingly irritated’ by Marjorie Taylor Greene’s repeated efforts to disrupt work of Congress, report says
Reps Cheney, Issa, and Kinzinger were among GOP who voted against adjournment
- The Independent
Conservative youth activist Charlie Kirk promoted buses in now-deleted tweet two days before storming of Congress
- The Daily Beast
MATHIEU LEWIS-ROLLANDBy Elaine ShannonThe FBI-Homeland Security intelligence bulletin circulated at midnight Tuesday is ominous, but entirely predictable, given widely published reports of far-right chatter over the past several weeks: It alerts local law enforcement officials that extremists may try to breach the U.S. Capitol on Thursday and attack Democratic lawmakers.The warning is based on a malevolent fantasy spread by followers of QAnon, the cultish pro-Trump movement, that Donald Trump will reemerge to take power as the rightful president on March 4, which was Inauguration Day until 1933. Preposterous, but the FBI has learned not to dismiss any threat, no matter how irrational.“It does not take an armed takeover” by an organized group to do a lot of damage, says Tom O’Connor, an FBI agent who investigated suspected domestic terrorists for 23 years. “It takes one person who believes they need to act. How possible is that, I ask you?”Dead easy, as the FBI knows from the many cases in which lone actors or a couple or three angry people unleashed spectacular destruction, including Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Charleston church shooter Dylan Roof, and, most recently, Nashville bomber Tony Warner.The FBI’s ability to surveil American citizens and build domestic terrorism dossiers on them is tightly restricted by laws and regulations enacted in the post-Watergate era.Which is why the FBI has developed alternative tools and techniques for finding and discouraging people who might be thinking of escalating from radical anti-government speech, which is protected by the First Amendment, to violent action, which is a crime.FBI agents are currently deploying, among other strategies, preemptive interviews, also known as “knock and talk,” as a tactic for dealing with potential troublemakers when there’s insufficient evidence to file criminal charges—for instance, people who have been out bragging in bars or “shit-posting” online about their determination to come to Washington to help restore Trump to the White House, disrupt Congress or the Biden administration or intimidate lawmakers.The knock-and-talk drill is powerful, requires no intrusive technology and no warrant. It goes like this: FBI agents, sometimes with local police partners, knock on doors of people of interest and ask to interview them. The mere appearance of courteous but unsmiling and obviously well-informed badge-carriers, armed with notebooks and a long list of very specific questions, is often enough to chill someone from carrying out a half-baked scheme.“FBI agents and [Joint Terrorism] Task Force [police] officers routinely conduct these interviews with people who may have information or involvement in activity,” O’Connor told SpyTalk. “The effort is to let the interviewee know the FBI is aware they have potential involvement or information. This may slow the person’s potential involvement and most importantly, after building a relationship with the person, may produce information which will stop potential violence.”“These interviews are related to [uncovering] potential criminal violence,” he stressed, “and not First Amendment-protected activity. The FBI in no way is looking to chill a citizen’s rights to peaceful protest or free speech.”On Wednesday morning, Jill Sanborn, the FBI’s assistant director for counterterrorism, alluded to the FBI uses of the knock-and-talk technique to deter known violent extremists from traveling to the Capitol for the Jan. 6 event. Testifying before a joint session of the Senate Homeland Security and Rules committees, Sanborn explained that of the 257 people charged so far for taking part in the riot, only one person was already under criminal investigation for domestic terrorism-related activities. Asked why so few documented domestic terrorists were in the crowd, Sanborn replied, “We were aware of some of our subjects that intended to come here. We took overt action by going and talking to them to get them to not come. That worked in the majority of our already predicated cases.”FBI director Christopher Wray made a similar disclosure to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. “There were individuals on whom we had previously predicated investigations, that we saw getting ready to travel,” Wray said. “…We had agents…approach those individuals, interview them, and even if we didn’t have the basis to charge somebody, it persuaded a number of those people from traveling.”‘Ready to Die’: Two Months of MAGA Mob Warning SignsWray said the FBI has 2,000 open domestic terrorism investigations, a fourfold increse over 2017.Knock-and-talk is “not new and certainly not just for terrorism,” says a retired agent with extensive experience in domestic and foreign counterterrorism investigations. “It's been done for years on organized crime cases. Sometimes to keep people from possibly doing something and sometimes to shake the bushes and see what reaction you get. Put pressure on a group of people, make them worried, make them suspicious and see what they do. In some cases where you are employing [court approved] Title III judicial wiretaps, you do interviews to see who the guys you talked to call. Do they call their bosses or do they warn people? It's a great technique. It works on different levels and it sends the message, ‘We are watching you. We know who you are.’ People think the Internet makes them invisible. Sometimes they need to be reminded that's not true.”Last week, Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pitman disclosed another malign fantasy reported by a FBI-Homeland Security intelligence bulletin—that some domestic extremists were talking of bombing the U.S. Capitol while President Biden was addressing a joint session of Congress in a State of the Union-style event, to assassinate the president and his cabinet and kill every lawmaker in sight.“The State of the Union is the juiciest target this country ever had, but the logistics are challenging,” says a retired senior FBI counterterrorism agent.“We always took the attitude, if your purpose is to stop the State of the Union, all you have to do is set off a bomb somewhere in D.C. and that will shut everything down,” he said, speaking with SpyTalk on condition of anonymity. “If a car bomb goes off in front of Union Station,” four blocks from the Capitol building, “they’ll stop it.”Presumably, the Secret Service would whisk the president away to a bunker and congressional leaders would also go to ground.But, the ex-G-man adds, “If your mission is to blow up the whole Capitol and decapitate the government, you better use a cruise missile because that’s the only way you’re going to get it.”As during previous State of the Union events, when the president travels to the Hill, streets around the Capitol building will be closed. Many are already closed off from the Jan. 6 event. Some will be blocked with buses and trucks. Secret Service, FBI, Homeland Security and local law enforcement surveillance teams will be everywhere, in patrol cars and on foot.Choppers and SniffersCounterterror veterans say that military aircraft and customs and police helicopters will overfly the Capitol and nearby streets, looking for everything from light aircraft to armed drones. Radiation detectors will be mounted in aircraft, cars and in backpacks shouldered by plainclothes agents, so they can head off “dirty” bombs packed with radioactive trash as shrapnel.The Capitol Police force has the biggest bomb squad in Washington, D.C., the ex-G-man says, and if its bomb techs encounter a device they can’t defuse, they’ll be able to summon backup from the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, which includes specialists trained to render safe unusual explosive devices.“If somebody wanted to put a package bomb on a drone, it would be hard to catch, hard to stop, but it wouldn’t do much damage,” he says. “If somebody wants to put a plane down somewhere, it’s very hard to stop that.”“It is possible [to hit the Capitol building] with an improvised missile,” Dave Williams, a retired FBI bomb tech who now consults on security, told SpyTalk. “The payload would be limited depending on the delivery system, but 20 pounds of high explosive would get some attention. A drone attack is unlikely, due to electronic jamming systems that could/will be in place. But a homemade rocket/missile has been made by a number of people. And they could easily fire it from a good distance away, a mile or so. It’s not out of the question.”That’s a chilling scenario, because the domestic extremist movement has attracted a significant number of military veterans. Some of them, or some to be recruited in coming months, could have useful artillery skills. Any explosion would yield the kind of publicity terrorists crave.Nightmares of Bombings PastA truck bomb would be a terrorist’s preferred, low-tech method for demolishing part of a massive stone building. The bomb that blew up about a third of the Oklahoma City federal building on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people, consisted of about 4,000 pounds of ANFO— ammonium nitrate fertilizer mixed with fuel oil—concealed in a Ryder moving truck. Williams says it would take at least that much ANFO or another homemade explosive to wreak equivalent damage on the hallowed Capitol building. A car, pickup or van couldn’t hold that much. Large trucks are impossible to hide, and they’re under routine scrutiny in Washington, especially during special events.A smaller amount of stolen military high explosives such as C4, PETN or TNT might do the job, but Williams doubts a terror group could get its hands on enough to create a catastrophic event in Washington.The most diabolical scenario is an explosion, or a series of them, detonated by an insider— or an outsider who has gained access to the building.The pros say that’s been considered. They say that since the anthrax attacks in 2001, the Capitol complex’s air conditioning system has been outfitted with filters that capture particles down to nanograms. These filters are regularly checked with forensic instruments that can detect particles of chemical explosives and also biological and radiological agents.As well, the Capitol Police make regular rounds with dogs trained to sniff explosives. Dog’s noses are often more sensitive than machines, and they like the job.“It’s like play for these dogs,” says Williams.Buzz Kill“They have all kinds of detectors within the Capitol, with all kinds of different levels of sensors,” says the ex-G-man. “The military has mobile systems that you can run out of a Humvee to detect explosives. They’re designed to protect troops out in the field. They work in fields, jungle, deserts.” So, the thinking goes, they’ll work well on Capitol Hill.“At this point, all threats have to be run to ground,” says O’Connor, who retired from the FBI in 2019. “The threat does not have to be fully vetted and confirmed to have actions taken to guard against potential attacks. The threats of overrunning the Capitol were thought by many to be along the same lines. No agencies will be writing off any threats until they are proven non-credible.”Privately, though, some FBI counter-terror hands expect the attack-the-Capitol moment to go sideways.“Guys like this don't want to go toe-to-toe with security forces and police that they know are waiting for them and really, really want another shot at the rioters,” says a retired FBI agent. “The Capitol Police and the National Guard both want to prove to the world that they can do the job and would love for people to try and breach the Capitol again. I expect lots of online rhetoric. I expect several groups to declare Trump is president again. I expect stories of a ‘secret Inauguration' taking place.”And then?Nothing for a while. Then maybe a change of venue.“If I was Capitol Police,” says the ex-Gman, “I would be more concerned about direct actions taken against specific congressional leaders when they are at home or traveling back to their home offices. That is when they are most vulnerable now.”Co-published with SpyTalk, where Jeff Stein leads an all-star team of veteran investigative reporters, writers, and subject-matter experts who will take you behind the scenes of the national security state. Subscribe to get full access to the newsletter and website.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.
- Christian Science Monitor
In Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, residents banded together to oppose a road project that would cut down cherished trees.
- The Independent
John Brennan says ‘there are so few Republicans in Congress who value truth, honesty, and integrity’
The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the global travel landscape and U.S. no-frills carriers are pouncing. As legacy airlines shrink to contain costs, budget carriers Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Travel and privately-owned Frontier Airlines are resuming pilot hiring and expanding networks to seize turf dominated by larger rivals. The three airlines' combined U.S. market share, which barely topped 10% before the pandemic, could grow by 10 percentage points this year alone, said René Armas Maes of UK-based consultancy MIDAS Aviation.
- The Independent
Republicans in 43 states have introduced more than 250 bills restricting voting rights, underscoring urgency in Congress to pass sweeping elections legislation, Alex Woodward reports
- The Independent
5,000 National Guard troops remain in DC amid QAnon frenzy that Trump will be inaugurated again this week
QAnon followers believe that on 4 March, which was once the inauguration date of US presidents, Donald Trump will become president again
- Reuters Videos
Myanmar police opened fire and used water cannon to disperse protests against a military coup on Tuesday (March 2).As foreign ministers of neighboring countries - ASEAN members - held talks with the junta, via video call, and pressed it to release ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and stop what Singapore called its "disastrous" use of "lethal" force. Police fired live ammunition to disperse a crowd in the northwestern town of Kale, where four people were wounded. Protesters threw things at advancing police, a witness said.Hundreds of protesters, many in hard hats and clutching makeshift shields, also gathered in the main city of Yangon, chanting slogans against military rule. Some set up barricades, and police used stun grenades and tear gas. Supporters of democracy have criticized Tuesday's intervention by ASEAN, which has a policy of non-interference in each others' affairs.A committee of ousted Myanmar lawmakers declared the junta a "terrorist" group and said engaging with it could give it legitimacy.At least six journalists have been arrested since the coup one month ago. "Help, don't shoot me," says this Democratic Voice of Burma reporter, who live-streamed police firing near his apartment on Monday night before they seized him. The ouster has drawn condemnation and sanctions from the United States and other Western countries.Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi appeared at a court hearing via video link on Monday and looked in good health, one of her lawyers said.She hasn't been seen in public since the coup.
- The Telegraph
Prince Philip health update: Duke of Edinburgh undergoes successful procedure for pre-existing heart condition
The Duke of Edinburgh has undergone surgery for a pre-existing heart condition and will remain in hospital for several more days, Buckingham Palace has announced. Prince Philip, 99, was transferred from the private King Edward VII hospital to St Bartholomew’s Hospital, a leading cardiac unit, on Monday. The palace said in a statement: “The Duke of Edinburgh yesterday underwent a successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. “His Royal Highness will remain in hospital for treatment, rest and recuperation for a number of days.” The Duke was admitted to the King Edward VII in central London on February 16 for "rest and observation" after feeling unwell. It was not an emergency admission and he walked in unaided, with aides revealing they expected him to be released within days and that doctors were simply acting with “an abundance of caution.” But the palace later revealed he was being treated for an infection and would remain in hospital for several more days than expected. The Duke, who in 2011 received treatment for a blocked coronary artery, was subsequently transferred to St Bartholomew’s by ambulance, pictured below.
- Business Insider
A wealthy Florida Keys community received vaccines before the rest of the state. A month later, one resident sent $250,000 to the governor.
The Miami Herald report came amid criticism of Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who has been accused of playing favorites with vaccine distribution.
- Business Insider
The Trump administration didn't take any actions against Russia over the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, who is President Vladimir Putin's top critic.
Some former political appointees say they were promised lump-sum payouts and are now struggling to pay rent.
- The Daily Beast
WPA PoolMeghan Markle is expected to discuss racism in the U.K. in her sit-down with Oprah Winfrey that airs on Sunday.In a depressing illustration of the problem, which Prince Harry has previously described as “structural” in Britain, a prominent British journalist and frequent critic of Meghan Markle is under fire after launching an extraordinary and racist attack on her, in which he appeared to suggest the fact that he thinks she is “attractive” meant she could not be a victim of racism.Andrew Pierce, a senior editor at the Daily Mail who is a regular guest on British TV and radio shows, was hosting a talk radio show Wednesday when a caller suggested that Meghan had never been “fully accepted because of her skin color.”Pierce, who is white, responded, “Oh God, that one again! Do you look at her… and see a Black woman? Because I don’t. I see a very attractive, a very attractive woman. It’s never occurred to me. I never look at her and think, ‘Gosh she’s Black!’ in the way you look at Oprah Winfrey, you would be in no doubt. When they sit down and do that interview, you will see a Black woman called Oprah Winfrey and you will see a woman who describes [herself] as a woman of color. Her mother is Black, she’s from a mixed-race family of course. But I just don’t think people look at Meghan and think, ‘Oh I hate her, because of her skin color.’ I don’t see it. I don’t buy it.”Just a reminder of who Andrew Pierce is... (sound on) pic.twitter.com/wUKq6deFAY— Royal Suitor (@royal_suitor) March 3, 2021 Pierce, a frequent critic of Markle, had earlier in the day been a guest on British TV show Good Morning Britain. The segment in which he appeared was criticized for featuring five white men talking about Meghan. Pierce attacked Meghan as hypocritical on the show over allegations she bullied staff at Buckingham Palace and also attacked her later in the day on Twitter for wearing jewelry gifted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.#Meghan wore diamonds from Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia 3 weeks says @thetimes after he ordered murder of #JamalKhashoggi it's not just appalling timing, why is she taking diamonds from Saudi which treats women as 3rd class citizens. So much for her worldwide equality campaign— Andrew Pierce (@toryboypierce) March 3, 2021 The shocking comments by Pierce that appeared to question Meghan’s race based on her appearance echo a revealing article written for Elle magazine in 2015 by Markle in which she said her race made it difficult for her to break through in Hollywood: “I wasn’t Black enough for the Black roles and I wasn’t white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn’t book a job.”She added: “Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating.“While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that. To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.”On Martin Luther King Day 2016, Markle published a moving piece of writing on her now-shuttered blog The Tig that explored the overt and covert racism she and her family have experienced throughout their lives.Pierce’s remarks have generated outraged commentary on social media.This is what Meghan had to deal with. Listen to how Andrew Pierce defines the attractiveness and diversity of a black woman. Heartbreaking. @Oprah @GayleKing @meenaharris @RobinRoberts @MichelleObama @WhoopiGoldberg https://t.co/pDKD4tN6vH— Pam Ranberg (@PamRanberg) March 3, 2021 Nervousness at the palace about what Meghan might reveal in her interview with Oprah intensified today after a new promo clip of Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey was released. It shows Meghan accuse the British royal family of “perpetuating falsehoods” about her and her husband. Winfrey asks, “How do you feel about the palace hearing you speak your truth today?” Markle responds, “I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there is an active role that The Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us. And if that comes with risk of losing things, there is a lot that has been lost already.”Royals often use the term “The Firm” to refer to the monarchy.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.
During a recent interview on Good Morning America with host Robin Roberts, former First Lady Michelle Obama opened up about how she and her husband, former President Barack Obama, have open communications with their two young-adult daughters. “I always have wanted them to start practicing the power of their voices very early on,” Mrs. Obama shared of Sasha, 19, and Malia, 22.
- NBC News
All federal government agencies have until noon Friday to download the latest software update to block the perpetrator.
A lawyer for an accused Oath Keeper Capitol rioter says the group's 'quick reaction force' of weapon suppliers was actually just one guy
The Oath Keepers were one of the most prominent far-right militia groups the FBI said was involved in the January 6 Capitol riot.
- Associated Press
A national panel of vaccine experts in Canada recommended Wednesday that provinces extend the interval between the two doses of a COVID-19 shot to four months to quickly inoculate more people amid a shortage of doses in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also expressed optimism that vaccination timelines could be sped up. The current protocol is an interval of three to four weeks between doses for the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines.
- The Telegraph
The Duchess of Sussex wore earrings given to her by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia three weeks after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, against advice from palace aides, The Telegraph understands. The Duchess, 39, had been given the Butani earrings as an official wedding present from the Saudi Royal Family. When she wore them to a formal dinner in Fiji in October 2018, during a royal tour, the media were told that they were “borrowed” but unusually, declined to offer further information or guidance. The dinner took place three weeks after Mr Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Duchess’s lawyers insisted that at the time of the dinner, she was unaware of speculation that the crown prince was involved in the murder of the journalist. However, a royal source claimed that palace staff had advised the Duchess not to wear the jewellery. “Members of Royal Household staff sometimes advise people on their options,” one said. “But what they choose to do with that advice is a very different matter.”
- The Daily Beast
Seth Wenig/GettyAt his first press conference since three women accused him of unwanted sexual advances, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized while insisting he didn’t know his alleged actions—grabbing a woman’s face, bringing up an aide’s sexual assault, giving an aide a kiss on the cheek—made people uncomfortable.“I never touched anyone inappropriately. I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable. And if I did, I apologize for it. But let’s let the attorney general’s office decide the facts,” he said Wednesday, adding that he has no plans to resign.Cuomo discussed the most recent allegation, from former Biden campaign worker Anna Ruch, who said that the governor had grabbed her face and asked to kiss her shortly after they met at a 2019 wedding. She provided a picture and texts to corroborate her story.My Cuomo ‘Crush’ Turned Out to Be Stockholm SyndromeHe said the face-grabbing and kissing-on-the-cheek was a greeting habit he picked up from his father, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, who served from 1983 to 1994.“You can find hundreds of pictures of me making this gesture,” Gov. Cuomo says. “It was my father’s way of greeting people. You’re the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable.”“But it doesn’t matter,” he continued. “It doesn’t matter my intent. What matters is whether anybody was offended by it. I could intend no offense but if they were offended by it it was wrong."Beyond that, however, the governor was short on specifics. When asked by a reporter whom specifically he was apologizing to, Cuomo did not provide a name.“I am apologizing to the young woman who worked here who said I made her feel uncomfortable in the workplace,” Cuomo said. “I’m embarrassed that someone felt that way in my administration.”Two aides, Lindsay Boylan and Charlotte Bennett, both came forward in February describing repeated propositions from the governor. Boylan wrote in a Medium post that she resigned after Cuomo gave her an unwanted kiss on the lips; Bennett told The New York Times that Cuomo repeatedly brought up a past sexual assault of hers.Following news of Bennett and Ruch’s allegations, some Democratic lawmakers have called on Cuomo to resign, including one member of Congress, Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY). Cuomo, however, said Wednesday he didn’t plan on resigning, with no mention of whether or not he would run for a fourth term in 2022, as he has previously said he would do. In a statement following Wednesday’s news conference, Bennett’s lawyer Debra Katz—who also represented Dr. Christine Blasey Ford after she alleged she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh—wrote that Cuomo lied.“My client... reported his sexually harassing behavior immediately to his Chief of Staff and Chief Counsel. We are confident that they made him aware of her complaint,” Katz wrote. “We fully expect that the Attorney General’s investigation will demonstrate that Cuomo administration officials failed to act on Ms. Bennett’s serious allegations.”She pointed to reporting from Politico on Wednesday, detailing how two Cuomo aides—senior adviser Gareth Rhodes and deputy press secretary Will Burns—had resigned in the wake of the scandal. “As reports are emerging of other staff resigning from the Governor’s office in the wake of his scandals, the people charged with helping him execute the duties of his office are once again bearing the consequences of his actions,” Katz wrote. “If they know anything or have experienced this themselves, we call on them to come forward and report this misconduct.”Boylan also expressed her frustration with Cuomo on Twitter, shortly after the conference. “How can New Yorkers trust you @NYGovCuomo to lead our state if you ‘don’t know’ when you’ve been inappropriate with your own staff?” she wrote. 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.