ALGIERS (Reuters) - The long-standing leader of Western Sahara's independence movement, Mohamed Abdelaziz, died on Tuesday after more three decades of war and diplomatic struggle for the disputed territory with Morocco. Abdelaziz, 68, the Polisario Front's secretary general and president of its self-declared Sahrawi Republic, had suffered from a long illness, the movement's Sahara Press Service and Algeria's state news agency said. His death came at a sensitive time for the Western Sahara dispute. Morocco earlier this year expelled part of a United Nations peace-keeping mission from the territory following a disagreement with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Ban's press office issued a statement expressing his sadness at the death of Abdelaziz, whom he met earlier this year during a visit to the region. "Mr. Abdelaziz was a central figure in the search for a resolution of the Western Sahara conflict," the statement said. Morocco took over most of the territory in 1975 from colonial power Spain, but the Polisario Front began a guerrilla war for Abdelaziz's Sahrawi people, saying the desert region in northwest Africa belonged to them. Polisario has been based in Algeria since a U.N. ceasefire in 1991 halted the conflict. But a dispute over a referendum on the area's future has left it in a deadlock for years. Algeria's government declared eight days of mourning after Abdelaziz's death was announced. Polisario rules state that the movement's assembly president takes over for 40 days after which an extraordinary session will be held to choose a new leader. Abdelaziz, who lived in the Sahrawi refugee camp in southern Algeria, had led the Polisario though a period of struggle and into the U.N.-backed truce. Since 1991, the dispute has been frozen over how to hold the referendum. Many younger Sahrawi are demanding progress after years in the camps in the Tindouf region of Algeria, exerting a pressure that the Polisario's new leadership will have to manage. Polisario representatives say Morocco put the ceasefire at risk by expelling U.N. staffers and trying to scuttle the referendum, including on the question of independence. Morocco has offered an autonomy plan as the only way forward. The U.N. statement said Ban wanted to help the parties "to achieve a mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara." During his recent visit to the region, Ban infuriated Morocco by referring publicly to the "occupation" of Western Sahara. (Reporting by Patrick Markey; Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau in New York; Editing by Gareth Jones and Leslie Adler)
President Joe Biden will continue his flurry of executive orders on Monday, signing a new directive to require the federal government to “buy American” for products and services. Why it matters: The executive action is yet another attempt by Biden to accomplish goals administratively without waiting for the backing of Congress. The new order echoes Biden's $400 billion campaign pledge to increase government purchases of American goods.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.What they're saying: "President Biden is ensuring that when the federal government spends taxpayer dollars they are spent on American made goods by American workers and with American-made component parts," the White House said in a fact sheet.The big picture: Biden’s action kick offs another week in which the president will seek to undo many Trump policies with executive actions, while signaling the direction that he wants to take the country. * Biden will also reaffirm his support for the Jones Act, which requires maritime shipments between American ports to be carried on U.S. vessels. * Last week, Biden signed an order to attempt to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors and workers to $15 an hour.The bottom line: Former President Trump also attempted to force the federal government to rely on U.S. manufacturers for procurement with "buy American" provisions. * But supply chains — with some parts and components made outside of the U.S. — require long and complicated efforts to boost domestic manufacturing. Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- The Week
Biden did not, in fact, remove Trump's 'Diet Coke button' from the Resolute Desk, White House clarifies
The new Biden administration has yet not disclosed the secrets of Area 51 or explained what the Air Force really knows about UFOs, but it did clarify, at least, the mystery of the vanished "Diet Coke button" former President Donald Trump would use to summon refreshments in the Oval Office. The usher button, as it is formally known, is not gone, even if it is no longer used to summon Diet Cokes, a White House official tells Politico.The White House official "unfortunately wouldn't say what Biden will use the button for," Politico's Daniel Lippman writes, suggesting Biden might summon Orange Gatorade and not the obvious answer, ice cream — or, let's get real, coffee. What's more, there are evidently two usher buttons in the Oval Office, one at the Resolute Desk and the other next to the chair by the fireplace, a former White House official told Politico, adding that Trump didn't actually use the Diet Coke button all that much because "he would usually just verbally ask the valets, who were around all day, for what he needed."In any case, it is not the placement of the button that matters, of course, but how you use it. And Biden will presumably know better than to order ice cream treats during a top-secret national security briefing.More stories from theweek.com Liz Cheney spokesperson tells Matt Gaetz to 'leave his beauty bag at home' as he heads to Wyoming Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing Apollo CEO Leon Black to step down after $158 million payments to Jeffrey Epstein disclosed
- The Week
In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said his caucus won't allow Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to dictate the agenda in the Democratic-led 50-50 Senate or demand an end to the legislative filibuster as a precondition for a power-sharing pact. "We've told McConnell no on the organizing resolution, and that's that. So there's no negotiations on that," Schumer said, suggesting he had a secret plan. "There are ways to deal with him."Maddow included an update when she broadcast the interview Monday night. "While we were airing that right now, and you were watching it, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just put out a statement that he is folding on this" and willl "agree to go forward with what Sen. Schumer told him he must," she said. "Sen. Mitch McConnell has caved and Sen. Schumer has won that fight. That was quick. Let's see what else we can do."> No sooner has the portion of Rachel Maddow's interview with Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer aired than Mitch McConnell has put out a statement that he is folding, ending the stand-off. pic.twitter.com/9qR1jpKXkf> > -- Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021McConnell said he would allow the Senate to move forward because two Democrats had reiterated their opposition to ending the filibuster, effectively taking that option off the table. Maddow asked Schumer about that, too, and he didn't answer directly."The caucus is united with the belief that I have: We must get big, strong, bold things done," Schumer said. The Democratic caucus is also "totally united" that "we will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do," and "we have tools that we can use," notably the budget reconciliation process," he added. "We will come together as a caucus and figure it out."> "We will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do." Here's Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier in his interview with Rachel Maddow, talking about the filibuster specifically, and getting things done. pic.twitter.com/xOAKWfe2Fu> > -- Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021Schumer also suggested he is not interested in playing cat-and-mouse with McConnell's Republicans again. Watch below. > "We will not repeat that mistake." Senate Majority Leader Schumer cites Obama era lessons in prioritizing legislation over bad faith Republican 'bipartisanship.' pic.twitter.com/gpc1kBP45w> > -- Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021More stories from theweek.com Liz Cheney spokesperson tells Matt Gaetz to 'leave his beauty bag at home' as he heads to Wyoming Biden did not, in fact, remove Trump's 'Diet Coke button' from the Resolute Desk, White House clarifies Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing
The death toll from storm Eloise rose to at least 13 on Monday after heavy winds, rain and flooding destroyed buildings, drowned crops and displaced thousands in parts of southern Africa. Eloise weakened from a cyclone to a tropical storm after making landfall in central Mozambique on Saturday, but continued to dump rain on Zimbabwe, eSwatini - formerly known as Swaziland - South Africa and Botswana. Six people were killed in Mozambique, the country's National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction (INGD) reported, while the number of displaced people rose to more than 8,000, with thousands of homes wrecked or flooded.
- Yahoo News Video
Israeli authorities on Monday extradited a former teacher accused of sexually abusing her former students in Australia, capping a six-year legal battle that had strained relations between the two governments and antagonized Australia's Jewish community.
Charlotte’s most popular millennial politician dad, Democratic state senator Jeff Jackson, will announce a bid for U.S. Senate this morning, kicking off a 2022 race for Richard Burr’s seat that could include Lara Trump on the Republican side.Why it matters: After a 2020 Senate race that was one of the most expensive on record, North Carolina again figures to be a pricey fight for the balance of power in the midterms.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * A potential matchup between a member of the Trump family and Jackson — a media-savvy attorney and National Guardsman who in every campaign makes a point to say that his opponents are good people — certainly won’t diminish that intrigue. * Jackson, a father of three, told his wife Marisa that if he were to win the primary, they could expect “$100 million in negative ads, just tearing me down” in the general. * As they watched the riots at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Marisa told him, “You have to run.”Context: Many people remember the 2020 Senate race mainly for Democrat Cal Cunningham’s cringey texts and affair, which he was forced to apologize for. Cunningham was a veteran who also hinged his campaign on his character. * “There are going to be easy comparisons to make,” Jackson said. “But as the campaign goes on, within 60-90 days they’ll see that this is a completely different campaign and I’m a completely different person.” * State Sen. Erica Smith, who got 35% against Cunningham in the 2020 Democratic primary, is running again in 2022.In a Jan. 21 interview with Real America’s Voice, Lara Trump said of a Senate run: “It’s possible. … We can’t stay away for long. We’re all again in this fight for the rest of our lives in some form.” * Former Gov. Pat McCrory is also considering a run in the Republican primary.Fun fact: Jackson has about 200,000 followers across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, not bad for a local politician whose district only sees about 110,000 votes cast. His following took off one icy day in February 2015, when he was alone in the state capitol tweeting about all the bills he was passing with unanimous support. Of course he was the only one voting. * “This is going to be like, ‘Night at the Museum’ except at the end we’ll have a stronger middle class,” he tweeted.Find more stories like this one in the forthcoming Axios Charlotte newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard. * Sign up here.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- The Independent
Biden news – live: President says Democrats don’t have votes for Trump impeachment, as approval ratings soar
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- Associated Press
Indonesian authorities have detained the Iranian and Chinese crewmembers of two tankers that were seized for illegally transferring oil in Indonesian waters, an official said Tuesday. “MT Freya did the oil spilling,” Pramandita said.
An explosion was heard in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh on Tuesday and the cause was not immediately known. Several witnesses also reported hearing two loud bangs and seeing a small plume of smoke above the capital just before 1 P.M. local time (10 A.M. GMT). Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV cited local reports of an explosion and videos circulating on social media purporting to show a missile being intercepted over Riyadh.
All Guard members who test positive are quarantined and won't return to their home states until they're fully recovered.
- The Independent
Giuliani slams ‘hate-filled left-wing’ as he responds to $1.3bn defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems
Donald Trump’s personal lawyer claims legal action is intended to ‘frighten people of faint heart’
- NBC News
Brittney Gilliam had taken her family for a "Sunday funday" when officers with guns drawn ordered her and the four underage girls with her to exit the car.
The Philippines has confirmed domestic transmission of the new, highly contagious British variant of the coronavirus, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to abandon a plan to allow some minors to go outside their homes. "Right now, we have local transmission where this individual or these cases with the variant have already infected their community, their family," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told news channel ANC on Tuesday. The world is scrambling to contain the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant, despite travel bans, new lockdowns and a tightening quarantine measures in dozens of countries, amid concerns it could not only be more transmissible, but deadlier.
- The Week
The possibility of conflict with Iran prompted the U.S. military to begin using several extra ports and bases in Saudi Arabia for the first time over the course of the last year, The Wall Street Journal reports.The decision appears geared toward expanding the ability to operate militarily and complicating Iran's options in Saudi Arabia should tensions with Tehran, which is at odds with both Washington and Riyadh, boil over in the future. "What it does is to give us options, and options are always a good thing for a commander to have," Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, told the Journal.McKenzie explained that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are negotiating infrastructure plans for the coastal port of Yanbu as well as two air bases to make them more usable for the U.S. military. He said additional sites that have not been revealed are under consideration.As the Journal notes, the Biden administration has promised to take a tougher stance on human rights issues within Saudi Arabia, but the military base expansion effort — which began under the Trump administration — suggests Washington will continue to count Saudi Arabia as a key ally. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.More stories from theweek.com Liz Cheney spokesperson tells Matt Gaetz to 'leave his beauty bag at home' as he heads to Wyoming Biden did not, in fact, remove Trump's 'Diet Coke button' from the Resolute Desk, White House clarifies Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing
- The Independent
Biden news: Experts find major ‘gaps’ in Trump pardons as White House scrambles to rollout vaccine plan
Latest developments from Washington DC and beyond
- Los Angeles Times Opinion
Gov. Newsom needs to do a better job communicating California's statewide COVID restrictions with the public, and with other state officials.
A Chinese-born Canadian known as Asia’s “El Chapo” has been arrested in Amsterdam on Friday. Tse Chi Lop, 57, reportedly made up to $17.7 billion a year as the alleged leader of Asia’s biggest crime syndicate in history, referred to by its members as “The Company” and by law enforcers as "Sam Gor" Tse allegedly conducted Sam Gor’s operations in Hong Kong, Macau and Southeast Asia. It turns out Tse was responsible for 70% of the drugs that reach Australia.
- Associated Press
Senior members of Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party cautioned Tuesday that their country faced opportunities and challenges ahead, as they began a key meeting to set the nation’s path for the next five years. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc cited climate change, natural disasters and diseases as among the challenges ahead in his speech before the 13th National Party Congress and aired on state television. “Globalization and global integration are on the right track, but they are met with the rise of extreme nationalism, strategic competition and trade wars," declared Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, the nation’s most powerful leader.
- The Telegraph
The acrimonious split within Republican ranks widened over the weekend as Donald Trump made his foray back into politics, backing the re-election of a hard-line supporter as chair of the party in Arizona. His wholehearted support for Kelli Ward was seen by allies as the former president firing a warning shot across the bows of any Republican senators considering backing his impeachment. Underlining Mr Trump’s grip on the Republican grassroots, the Arizona party also voted to censure John McCain’s widow, Cindy, former senator Jeff Flake and governor Doug Ducey, who refused to back the former president’s claims of election fraud. Mr Trump’s intervention came amid reports that he is considering setting up a “Patriot Party” which would spearhead primary challenges to his opponents in the 2022 mid-term elections. The former president has already amassed a massive war chest with his Save America political action committee declaring last month that it had raked in $207.5 million in donations.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday urged wealthy countries not to hoard surplus COVID-19 vaccine supplies, adding his voice to calls for global production to be shared more equally. With Africa struggling to secure sufficient vaccines to start countrywide inoculation programmes for its 1.3 billion people, the head of the international Gavi vaccine alliance meanwhile said the surplus doses that richer countries had ordered ran into the hundreds of millions. Ramaphosa, who chairs the African Union and whose nation has recorded nearly half the continent's coronavirus deaths, said the world needed those who had hoarded doses to release them for others to use.