By Tiemoko Diallo BAMAKO (Reuters) - At least 27 people were reported dead on Friday after Malian commandos stormed a luxury hotel in the capital Bamako with at least 170 people inside, many of them foreigners, that had been seized by Islamist gunmen. The former French colony has been battling Islamist rebels for several years, and the jihadist group Al Mourabitoun, allied to al Qaeda and based in the deserts of northern Mali, claimed responsibility for the attack in a tweet. By late afternoon, ministerial adviser Amadou Sangho told the French television station BFMTV that no more hostages were being held. But a U.N. official said U.N. peacekeepers on the scene had seen 27 bodies in a preliminary count, and that a search of hotel was continuing. It was not clear whether any of the gunmen, who were said to have dug in on the seventh floor of the hotel as special forces advanced on them, were still active. State television showed footage of troops in camouflage fatigues wielding AK47s in the lobby of the Radisson Blu, one of Bamako's smartest hotels and beloved of foreigners. In the background, a body lay under a brown blanket at the bottom of a flight of stairs. The peacekeepers saw 12 dead bodies in the basement of the hotel and another 15 on the second floor, the U.N. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. He added that the U.N. troops were still helping Malian authorities search the hotel. A man working for a Belgian regional parliament was among the dead, the assembly said. Minister of Internal Security Colonel Salif Traoré said the gunmen had burst through a security barrier at 7 a.m. (0700 GMT), spraying the area with gunfire and shouting "Allahu Akbar", or "God is great" in Arabic. BURSTS OF GUNFIRE Occasional bursts of gunfire were heard as the assailants went through the seven-storey building, room-by-room and floor-by-floor, one senior security source and a witness told Reuters. Some people were freed by the attackers after showing they could recite verses from the Koran, while others were brought out by security forces or managed to escape under their own steam. One of the rescued hostages, celebrated Guinean singer Sékouba 'Bambino' Diabate, said he had overheard two of the assailants speaking in English as they searched the room next to his. "We heard shots coming from the reception area. I didn't dare go out of my room because it felt like this wasn't just simple pistols - these were shots from military weapons," Diabate told Reuters by phone. "The attackers went into the room next to mine. I stayed still, hidden under the bed, not making a noise," he said. "I heard them say in English 'Did you load it?', 'Let's go'." The raid on the hotel, which lies just west of the city centre near government ministries and diplomatic offices, came a week after Islamic State militants killed 129 people in Paris, raising fears that French nationals were being specifically targeted. Twelve Air France flight crew were in the building but all were extracted safely, the French national carrier said. A Turkish official said five of seven Turkish Airlines staff had also managed to flee. The Chinese state news agency Xinhua said three of 10 Chinese tourists caught inside had been rescued. PRESIDENT RETURNS Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita cut short a trip to a regional summit in Chad, his office said. Northern Mali was occupied by Islamist fighters, some with links to al Qaeda, for most of 2012. They were driven out by a French-led military operation, but sporadic violence has continued in Mali's central belt on the southern reaches of the Sahara, and in Bamako. One security source said as many as 10 gunmen had stormed the building, although the company that runs the hotel, Rezidor Group, said it understood that there were only two attackers. Al Mourabitoun has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in Mali, including an assault on a hotel in the town of Sevare, 600 km (375 miles) northeast of Bamako, in August in which 17 people including five U.N. staff were killed. One of its leaders is Mokhtar Belmokhtar, blamed for a large-scale assault on an Algerian gas field in 2013 and a major figure in insurgencies across North Africa. In the wake of last week's Paris attacks, an Islamic State militant in Syria told Reuters the organisation viewed France's military intervention in Mali as another reason to attack France and French interests. "This is just the beginning. We also haven't forgotten what happened in Mali," said the non-Syrian fighter, who was contacted online by Reuters. "The bitterness from Mali, the arrogance of the French, will not be forgotten at all." (Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Joe Bavier and Ed Cropley; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
- The Independent
Biden tells Fox News reporter he talked to Putin about ‘You’ when asked about his call with Russian president
Leaders reportedly discussed Ukraine tensions, a massive cyberattack and Russia’s poisoned opposition leader
- 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.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedMitch McConnell is the GOAT
- NBC News
Tommy Frederick Allan said he took the documents because he is a taxpayer, according to an arrest warrant.
- Associated Press
Israel's military chief Tuesday warned the Biden administration against rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, even if it toughens its terms, adding he's ordered his forces to step up preparations for possible offensive action against Iran during the coming year. The comments by Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi came as Israel and Iran both seek to put pressure on President Joe Biden ahead of his expected announcement on his approach for dealing with the Iranian nuclear program.
- Yahoo News Video
A former pathologist at an Arkansas veterans’ hospital has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter in the death of a patient that he misdiagnosed.
- The Independent
Mike Pence is homeless after leaving office and ‘couch-surfing’ with Indiana politicians, report says
Mike Pence has been residing in public housing for the past eight years
- The Week
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will have his work cut out for him as he tries to maneuver through the 50-50 upper chamber. To pass most legislation, he'll need to work with Republicans to get things done, but that won't be easy, especially after he rigorously campaigned against a few of them in recent election cycles, CNN reports. Take, for example, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who ultimately won a hard fought re-election campaign last year against Democratic challenger Sara Gideon. Despite the victory, Collins appears to have taken Schumer's efforts to unseat her personally. "What this campaign taught me about Chuck Schumer is that he will say or do anything in order to win," she told CNN. "It was a deceitful, despicable campaign that he ran." Collins is generally considered one of the more bipartisan voices in the Senate and has crossed the aisle not infrequently throughout her tenure, but those words don't make her sound like someone who's excited to help hand Schumer easy wins. Read more at CNN. Susan Collins doesn't sound like she's keen on cutting lots of deals https://t.co/YHgj2ydgN6 — Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) January 26, 2021 The only way governing with the filibuster can ever work is if Republicans are willing to engage in good faith negotiations. Even SUSAN COLLINS is explicitly stating she’s a partisan who has no interest in working with Democrats. — Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) January 26, 2021 More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedMitch McConnell is the GOAT
- NBC News
The suspension, which will last at least 30 days, has been in effect since last week, YouTube said.
- Associated Press
The United States said all soldiers from Eritrea should leave Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region “immediately.” A State Department spokesperson in an email to The Associated Press cited “credible reports of looting, sexual violence, assaults in refugee camps and other human rights abuses." "There is also evidence of Eritrean soldiers forcibly returning Eritrean refugees from Tigray to Eritrea,” the spokesperson said.
Marine officials declined to comment on when the review is expected to be complete or what changes could result.
- The Independent
‘There appeared to be no remorse,’ says Calcasieu Parish sheriff Tony Mancus
- The Guardian
Trump ally, who claims lawsuit against him is ‘act of intimidation to censor the exercise of free speech’, threatened New York Post Giuliani in Washington in November. On Monday, Dominion sued Giuliani in federal court in Washington, over his claims about supposed electoral fraud. Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AP On Monday, Rudy Giuliani called a $1.3bn lawsuit brought against him by Dominion Voting Systems “another act of intimidation by the hate-filled left wing to wipe out and censor the exercise of free speech”. But Giuliani has himself previously threatened to censor the exercise of free speech with legal action. The former New York mayor turned Trump attorney was invoking current rightwing complaints against so-called “cancel culture”, in which freedom of speech is supposedly curtailed. But in June 2001, the New York Post ran a story about an extra-marital affair. Giuliani told reporters: “I will consider suing them for libel – defamation. What the New York Post did is scurrilous, I believe it’s malicious and I’m prepared to prove that in court if I have to.” First amendment protection of freedom of the press makes it difficult for US public officials to mount libel lawsuits, even if reports are proved to be wrong. Giuliani did not take the Post to court. On Monday, Dominion sued Giuliani in federal court in Washington, over his claims about supposed electoral fraud, made as part of Donald Trump’s baseless attempts to overturn defeat by Joe Biden, efforts which culminated in the deadly attack on the US Capitol on 6 January. “Dominion brings this action to set the record straight,” the complaint said, “to vindicate the company’s rights under civil law, to recover compensatory and punitive damages, and to stand up for itself, its employees, and the electoral process.” Dominion’s lawyer, Thomas Clare, told the New York Times the company could sue others, including Trump. “We’re not ruling anybody out,” he said. “Obviously, this lawsuit against the president’s lawyer moves one step closer to the former president and understanding what his role was and wasn’t.” Some experts said Dominion might itself count as a public figure, and thus have a hard time winning its case. Giuliani said he might counter-sue Dominion. “The amount being asked for is, quite obviously, intended to frighten people of faint heart. It is another act of intimidation by the hate-filled left wing to wipe out and censor the exercise of free speech, as well as the ability of lawyers to defend their clients vigorously. As such, we will investigate a countersuit against them for violating these constitutional rights,” he said. It remains to be seen if Giuliani will follow through. Nearly 20 years ago, he did not. Giuliani threatened to sue the Post over its story about how, as the New York Daily News described it, the mayor and his “girlfriend Judith Nathan [were] using the posh St Regis Hotel as a ‘secret love nest’”. Negotiations between Giuliani and the Post followed but nearly six weeks later, on 18 July, the Daily News reported that Giuliani had not made good on his threat. “When I’m ready to decide, you’ll be the first to know,” he said. “But I don’t get rushed into anything.”
- Associated Press
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Antony Blinken as America’s top diplomat, tasked with carrying out President Joe Biden’s commitment to reverse the Trump administration’s “America First” doctrine that weakened international alliances. Senators voted 78-22 to approve Blinken, a longtime Biden confidant, as the nation’s 71st secretary of state, succeeding Mike Pompeo.
- NBC News
Robert Unanue previously praised then-President Donald Trump at a White House event, saying the country was “truly blessed” to have him leading it.
The U.S. Air Force is approaching its sunset date for the Airman Battle Uniform, known as the ABU.
- Architectural Digest
Let’s get loudOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
A 19-year-old Tibetan monk has reportedly died after battling two months of alleged mistreatment under Chinese authorities. Tenzin Nyima, also known as Tamay, served at Dza Wonpo monastery in Wonpo township, Kandze prefecture, a Tibetan area in the Sichuan province of China. Nyima was first arrested in November 2019 after distributing leaflets with three other monks according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
- The Independent
The dynamic is very different than the last four years in the Brady press briefing room
- Associated Press
Investigators have found no evidence that terrorism, politics or any bias motivated a driver who repeatedly drove into people along streets and sidewalks in Portland, Oregon, killing a 77-year-old woman and injuring nine other people, police said Tuesday. The driver, whose name has not been released, was hospitalized and was expected to be booked into jail afterward, the Portland Police Bureau said in a news release. The woman, who died at a hospital, was identified as Jean Gerich of Portland, police said.
- NBC News
"The member in question had been advised numerous times about the requirements and had refused to be tested," the House speaker said.