Japan on Tuesday ruled out any immediate plan to join the Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), categorically denying a news report that its ambassador to China said Tokyo is likely to take part. The Financial Times reported that Masato Kitera, Tokyo's envoy in Beijing, said in an interview Japan is likely to join the AIIB within a few months, a move that would leave Washington as the only big holdout. But Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday the ambassador had not made any such comment and Japan's position on the AIIB had not changed. "I have been informed that it is not true that Ambassador Kitera made such remarks forecasting (Japan's) participation," Suga told a news conference. The report comes just before the end-March deadline China has set for participation in the bank as a founding member. Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia have all said they intend to join the Beijing-headquartered $50 billion institution, despite scepticism in Washington and Tokyo. China's neighbour and long-time foe Taiwan said Monday it would also make a formal application to join. "Japan is dubious about whether (the AIIB) would be properly governed or whether it would damage other creditors," Suga said. Japan is a key player in the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which would be a rival. "Anyway, I think it's impossible for Japan to take part today," the government's top spokesman said, adding that Tokyo would work together with Washington, its top ally, and other countries to ask Beijing for clarification. The new multinational lender is seen as a threat to the World Bank and the ADB, two institutions that are heavily influenced by the US and Japan. Washington has been left increasingly isolated in its opposition to the AIIB, which opponents claim could end up as a Chinese vehicle that has low standards on governance, the environment and social issues. President Barack Obama's administration has waged an intense but low-profile lobbying campaign against it, but has watched with frustration as allies around the world pile in, with some hoping to curry favour in Beijing and others not wanting to miss out on a lucrative part of the world. China is expected to foot the bulk of the initial money needed to get the AIIB started, with donations from other members set to increase the size of the overall fund to more than $100 billion.
- Associated Press
Lady Gaga's dog walker, who was shot last week during a robbery in Hollywood when two of the singer’s French bulldogs were stolen, described the violence and his recovery “from a very close call with death" in social media posts Monday. Ryan Fischer’s posts included pictures taken from his hospital bed, where he says “(a) lot of healing still needs to happen” but he looks forward to reuniting with the dogs. Fischer was shot once as he walked three of Lady Gaga's dogs on Wednesday night on a street just off the famed Sunset Boulevard.
- Business Insider
Trump and former first lady Melania Trump got the COVID-19 vaccine at the White House, according to multiple reports.
- Raleigh News and Observer
Roughly 41,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, also known as the Janssen vaccine, are slated for the Palmetto State this week, DHEC said.
- The Independent
‘We have to start breaking down systemic racism and barriers that have held people of colour back and especially African Americans’
As Bolivia struggled late last year to secure deals with large drug firms to supply COVID-19 vaccines, the incoming president, Luis Arce, turned to Russia for help. By the end of December, Bolivia clinched its first major COVID-19 vaccine deal, with enough shots for some 20% of the population. The first Sputnik V doses arrived in the country in late January, just as virus cases were spiking.
- The Independent
Lindell equates getting coronavirus vaccine to receiving ‘mark of the beast’ pledging allegiance to the devil
Kourtney Kardashian admits Kim made her cry when she called her the 'least exciting to look at': 'I took it really personally'
The eldest Kardashian was getting her makeup done by sister Kylie Jenner, who asked her about the vicious argument she and Kim had in 2018.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was inoculated with the first dose of a domestically developed coronavirus vaccine on Monday, kicking off an expansion of the country's immunisation campaign that began in mid-January with healthcare workers. The mayor of Auckland called for residents to be prioritised for COVID-19 vaccines after New Zealand's biggest city was thrown into its fourth pandemic lockdown over the weekend. The seven-day lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on a city of 2 million was prompted by a single new COVID-19 case.
Prince Harry, who shocked Britain last year when he and his wife Meghan stepped back from royal duties, told U.S. interviewer Oprah Winfrey that he had worried about history repeating itself, according to excerpts released on Sunday. The CBS broadcast network released two brief clips from Winfrey's interview of the couple, which is scheduled to air on March 7. "My biggest concern was history repeating itself," Harry said, apparently referring to his mother Princess Diana, who was hounded by the British press and died at age 36 in a car crash in Paris after her divorce from Prince Charles.
China on Monday denied accusations by Taiwan that a ban on pineapples from the island was about politics, saying it was purely a matter of biosecurity, in an escalating war of words that has added to existing tensions. China announced the ban last week, citing "harmful creatures" it said could come with the fruit, threatening China's own agriculture. Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, says there is nothing wrong with its pineapples and that Beijing is using the fruit as another way to coerce the island.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is expected to ask President Joe Biden to consider sharing part of the U.S. coronavirus vaccine supply with its poorer southern neighbor when the two leaders hold a virtual summit on Monday, U.S. and Mexican officials said. Biden is open to discussing the matter as part of a broader regional effort to cooperate in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic but will maintain as his “number one priority” the need to first vaccinate as many Americans as possible, a White House official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Lopez Obrador has been one of the most vocal leaders in the developing world pressing the richest countries to improve poorer nations’ access to the vaccines.
- The Week
Following his first post-presidency speech, former President Donald Trump described the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the deadly Capitol riot as "beautiful" a "love fest." Trump spoke with Fox News on Sunday after delivering a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, in which he continued to falsely claim he won the 2020 presidential election. In the Fox interview, Trump was asked if there's anything he would have in retrospect done differently prior to a crowd of his supporters storming the Capitol building on Jan. 6, but the former president instead spoke favorably about the rally he delivered remarks at before the deadly riot. "That rally was massive," Trump said. "...It was tremendous numbers of people. Not the Capitol, I'm talking about the rally itself. And it was a love fest. It was a beautiful thing." Trump spoke at a rally in Washington, D.C., on the day Congress was meeting to certify the election results, urging his supporters to march down to the Capitol building and "show strength" before a deadly riot ultimately occurred. The House of Representatives subsequently impeached Trump for "incitement of insurrection" for his actions surrounding the riot, though he was acquitted by the Senate. In reference to the violence that occurred at the Capitol following the rally, Trump told Fox he "hated to see" it. Trump during his CPAC speech didn't back down from his false claim that the 2020 election was fraudulent, and "Republicans in Washington let out a collective groan," Politico writes, as this "puts them right back in the position of rebuking Trump or looking spineless." Trump called in to Fox News after his CPAC speech and was asked by Steve Hilton about his response to the January 6 insurrection. He tried to shift blame to Pelosi before resorting to Black Lives Matter whataboutism. pic.twitter.com/5tjXcs12hF — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 1, 2021 More stories from theweek.comTrump is back. Did anyone miss him?Trump still has the Republican Party by the throatMost awkward awards show ever?
Demand for manufactured goods drove extended growth in factories across Europe and Asia in February, but a slowdown in China underscored the challenges countries face as they seek a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic blow. On the flip side, China's factory activity grew at the slowest pace in nine months, hit by a domestic flare-up of COVID-19 and soft demand from countries under renewed lock-down measures.
The lawyer for the 'QAnon Shaman' wants to use Trump's speech before the insurrection as part of his defense
"QAnon Shaman" Jacob Chansley's lawyer has blamed Donald Trump for inciting his client to storm the Capitol building on January 6.
- Associated Press
The United States wasted billions of dollars in war-torn Afghanistan on buildings and vehicles that were either abandoned or destroyed, according to a report released Monday by a U.S. government watchdog. The agency said it reviewed $7.8 billion spent since 2008 on buildings and vehicles. Only $343.2 million worth of buildings and vehicles “were maintained in good condition,” said the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, which oversees American taxpayer money spent on the protracted conflict.
- Associated Press
Prince Harry says the process of separating from royal life has been very difficult for him and his wife, Meghan. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry invoked the memory of his late mother, Princess Diana, who had to find her way alone after she and Prince Charles divorced. Diana was shown in a photo holding toddler Harry as he made the comments.
The Golden Globes were done virtually, which led to plenty of technical difficulties and a few fumbled attempts to address diversity criticisms.
- Associated Press
Israel's Supreme Court on Monday dealt a major blow to the country's powerful Orthodox establishment, ruling that people who convert to Judaism through the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel are also Jewish and entitled to become citizens. The landmark ruling, 15 years in the making, centered around the combustible question of who is Jewish and marked an important victory for the Reform and Conservative movements.
Louis Nix's family confirmed his death after officials found his vehicle in a retention pond near his Jacksonville apartment on Saturday.
- The Daily Beast
Elijah Nouvelage/GettyHe was a one-term “loser.” He helped lose his party the White House, the Senate, and the House. He left office with a domestic body count in the hundreds of thousands, and an economy in the toilet.Just last month, he instigated a deadly riot on Capitol Hill that endangered the lives of senior members of his own party, as he sat back and smirked from the comfort and safety of the West Wing. And his administration ended in such a historically disastrous state of his own making that fellow leaders in the Republican Party were directly blaming him for the deaths and anti-democratic mob violence, and some of his former senior advisers were openly accusing him of attempting to stage a coup or pleading with him to disappear to Florida “and stay” there.But that was a whole month ago. On Sunday, former President Donald Trump re-emerged at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), held this year in his new home base of Florida, where he was greeted as the beloved, unequivocal leader in the GOP. Whatever blood there was on the 45th U.S. president’s hands, the Republican Party and conservative movement had already done their best to rinse it all away. And they were more than happy to try.“Actually you know, [the Democrats] just lost the White House,” Trump said—obviously incorrectly—on stage early Sunday evening. “Who knows? I might decide to beat them for a third time,” he added, dangling a potential 2024 presidential run.Much of the former president’s CPAC speech was a lazy, predictable retread of grievance and his perennial whining. “They’re the biggest fakers there are,” he alleged, bashing his enemies in the press. “Never let [Democrats and the Biden administration] take the credit” for the coronavirus vaccines, Trump said, regurgitating his concerns dating back to November that a President Joe Biden would get credit for ending the COVID-19 crisis in the United States. He again took his shots at foes like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Biden, yet again accusing the latter of having mental difficulties.Trump harangued trans women for competing in sports as women. He kept peppering his speech with lies that he triumphed in the 2020 election. He used those lies to call on Republicans to enact more and more restrictions on legitimate voting, and did so to rapturous applause from the audience. He repeatedly trashed the U.S. Supreme Court—which has a sizable conservative majority of his presidency’s creation—for lacking the “courage” to obliterate democracy at his behest last year. He baselessly alleged that the Democratic Party was trying to bring on “communism.” He bleated over and over about “cancel culture” and Big Tech. He rattled off a list of Republican lawmakers (Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney, Adam Kinzinger, and so on…) whom he found insufficiently subservient to him and his ego.And he had the nerve to claim that “Trumpism” means “no riots in the streets.”In the days of the conference prior to Trump’s address, the content and mood of the annual gathering reflected the sentiment pervading the national GOP, its base of voters, Republican honchos in Washington, D.C., state parties, and the influential hubs of conservative media: that this twice impeached president, as well as Trumpism, are the dominant present and future of American conservatism. And for this, they’re enthusiastically frontloading many of Trump’s policy and messaging priorities.For instance, much of this year’s CPAC was devoted to pushing Trump’s lie that he actually won the 2020 presidential contest against Biden, an election Trump clearly lost. That lie fueled Trump and Republicans’ months-long legal crusade during the presidential transition period to groundlessly throw out countless votes in key states, in a failed effort to overturn the will and decision of the electorate. Top Trump allies publicly flirted with the concept of martial law, and other authoritarian power-grabbing ideas that thankfully went nowhere, despite Trump’s sustained attempts. This broad push culminated in the bloody Jan. 6 riot.And yet various major players in the Republican Party still refuse to admit publicly that Biden won, and Trump himself has privately said he’d prefer the candidates and primary challengers he supports in the future to publicly back the Big Lie—both rhetorically and in the writing of laws and crackdowns on voting—to his satisfaction.And as Trump charts the path of his post-presidency, he’s keen on snuffing out dissent to the devotion to his cult of personality that is now the most integral element of his party. In recent weeks, the former president, tucked away at his Palm Beach club of Mar-a-Lago, has repeatedly complained about several prominent Republicans who had crossed him (even mildly) over the Jan. 6 riot, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Nikki Haley, Trump’s one-time ambassador to the United Nations. Trump has told multiple confidants that if Haley runs for the presidency in 2024, he wants to ensure she is crushed and humiliated in the GOP primary, according to three people familiar with the matter.This despite Haley’s attempts earlier this month to execute some damage control and to reconnect with Trump. Even others who have more aggressively sought to crawl back to Trump following the riot haven’t been spared the ex-president’s suspicions or trash talk. A month ago, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) visited Trump in Florida, on a mission to preserve party unity, as they gear up for the 2022 midterm elections. Prior to that he’d already jumped on the phone with Donald Trump Jr., solidifying his deference to the Trump brand and family, ahead of the former president’s second Senate impeachment trial.Still, in recent days Trump has privately told some of those close to him that he’s not sure if he can trust McCarthy in the long run, two of the sources said. One of the things that Trump has griped about during his post-presidency is McCarthy’s public acknowledgement that Biden indeed won the election, following weeks of McCarthy cheering on or excusing Trump’s months-long endeavor to cling to power.But at CPAC on Sunday night, the ex-president and current leader of the Republican Party had the courtesy to, for now at least, take one tactic for keeping the GOP in line off the table. “I am not starting a new party,” Trump said on stage, affirming his continued support for the party that once made him leader of the free world.And why should he? The party and movement keep showing him, again and again, since Biden’s inauguration that the GOP remains a willing and wholly owned subsidiary of the Trump brand name.And soon after he left the stage, Trump’s political operation was back to doing what it does best: milking his supporters for big money, often by deceptive means. “Pres. Trump: Did you miss me? I just finished my CPAC speech! My team’s handing me the 1ST donor list in 1 HR. Can I count on you? Donate,” the Trump team texted supporters on Sunday evening.During the 2020 campaign, the Trump campaign would often ask supporters to donate, alleging that doing so could give small-dollar donors a chance at getting their names in front of an appreciative Trump. Several sources familiar with the practice say that this was so often done with absolutely zero intention of bothering Trump with any lists of his faceless fans’ names.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.