By Ulf Laessing ZAWIYA PORT, Libya (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy handed over to Libyan authorities on Saturday an oil tanker carrying crude that had been loaded at a port controlled by armed rebels in defiance of Tripoli's government. The Morning Glory tanker was due to arrive later on Saturday at a government-controlled port after being seized by U.S. commandos and escorted back through international waters by the U.S. Navy, Libyan officials said. Hours before the handover, at least 16 people were wounded when Libyan rebels occupying three eastern oil ports clashed with troops and attacked an army base, where pro-government forces had been preparing to break the rebel blockade. Anti-aircraft gunfire and explosions were heard overnight and after dawn on Saturday in Ajdabiya, the hometown of rebel leader Ibrahim Jathran, whose fighters seized the ports last summer to demand a greater share in Libya's oil resources. The struggle for control of Libya's vital petroleum resources is one of the key challenges facing the weak central government, which has still failed to secure the North African country three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. Brigades of former anti-Gaddafi rebels and militias refuse to disarm and often use armed force or control of oil facilities to make demands on a state whose army is still in training. U.S. special forces boarded and seized the Morning Glory tanker last Sunday off Cyprus, days after it left Libya with a cargo of crude from one port, Es Sider, occupied by Jathran's men who had vowed to export oil themselves to resist Tripoli. "The handover took place in international waters off the coast of Libya, and the Government of Libya and its security forces are now in control of the vessel," the U.S. embassy said in a statement. HEADING TO TRIPOLI The tanker had originally planned to go to Zawiya port from where its crude would be fed into the local refinery, which has been forced to lower its output because of a protest at another oil facility, the El Sharara oilfield, port officials said. But authorities decided at the last minute to let the ship dock first in the capital Tripoli to let the crew disembark, said Abdullah Rashid, controller at Zawiya port, which is located 55 km (34 miles) west of the capital. Libya has said its state prosecutor will take legal action against the shipowner, the crew and other parties involved in the attempted sale of its oil. Rashid said the Morning Glory would arrive late at night at Tripoli port and then continue on Sunday or Monday to Zawiya, though a navy spokesman declined to confirm this. The Tripoli government gave Jathran a two-week deadline on March 12 to end his port blockade or face a military assault, though analysts say Libya's nascent armed forces may struggle to carry out that threat. LANA state news agency said tribal community leaders helped stop the fighting earlier on Saturday between the rebels and Libyan soldiers. But the agency reported 16 people were wounded. Jathran's federalist gunmen managed to load crude onto the Morning Glory tanker after months of threats. The ship left port and escaped Libya's navy, embarrassing Tripoli's government and prompting parliament to sack Prime Minister Ali Zeidan. The seizure of the tanker in international waters was a rare boost for the government, which has struggled to end a standoff that has cost the state more than $7 billion in lost revenue. The three rebel-held ports account for around 700,000 barrels per day of Libya's oil export capacity, or around half of its total petroleum shipments. The town where Saturday's battle broke out, Ajdabiya, is divided between Jathran supporters and those who fear his oil blockade will lead to the collapse of the state. Tripoli's government is also stymied by infighting among Islamists, secular parties and tribes that has delayed Libya's transition to democracy since the fall of Gaddafi, whose one-man rule left few state institutions. Western governments, which backed NATO's air strikes to help the 2011 anti-Gaddafi revolt, are training Libya's armed forces and are pressing the factions to reach a political settlement. (Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Gareth Jones)
- The Week
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) didn't exactly pull punches in an interview with Politico, going after congressional Republicans, Democrats, former President Donald Trump, and the Biden administration all in one go. Sasse, who is facing imminent censure from the Nebraska GOP for voting to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, stands by that vote and says he's not bothered by the action his home state's Republican Party is taking against him, though he did say he thinks it's not "healthy." His comments to Politico seemed to back up that confidence. At one point, when asked about Trump loyalist Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Sasse simply said "that guy is not an adult," and described Congress, generally, as "a bunch of yokels screaming." Sasse's candor is gutsy, but it's worth noting he's generally well-respected by his Senate colleagues and won re-election handily last year, so he's ensconced in the upper chamber until 2026, and likely doesn't need to look over his shoulder as of now. While he's been in the spotlight for his intra-party criticism of late, Sasse did have words for Democrats, as well, per Politico. He said the Biden administration is "cowering" to the opinions of progressive lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and called the education spending plan in President Biden's COVID-19 relief package "disastrous." Read more at Politico. More stories from theweek.comBiden in the quagmireNewly confirmed Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is 'obsessed' with creating 'clean-energy jobs'Records provide Louisiana State Police's 1st acknowledgement Black man who died in custody was mistreated
- Business Insider
Opinion: The costs of a foreign policy that emphasizes US global preeminence are now inescapable clear, and US leaders need to change course.
- The Telegraph
Perched on the mountain range that divides the sprawling city of Caracas from the Caribbean Sea, Venezuela’s Hotel Humboldt can be seen from nearly all corners of the capital. The 65-year-old, 14-floor structure can only be reached by cable car from the city below. It currently boasts 69 rooms, six dining areas, a casino, a night club, and a swimming pool and spa. “It will be the first seven star hotel in Venezuela,” President Nicolas Maduro once proudly proclaimed as the 1956 symbol of oil wealth was being lavishly renovated. Now, the hotel is open again as a symbol of an impending economic recovery and tourism boom in a country that has suffered the worst economic crisis in modern Latin American history. But the so-called Socialist president’s touting of the luxurious, $300 per night hotel in a country where most live in poverty represents something else to others - an abandonment of a political project promising a socialist utopia in favor of an 'anything goes', capitalist kleptocracy.
- Reuters Videos
Among the fatalities, most died from bullet wounds, a hospital source said, adding that about 120 protesters were wounded. At least 57 members of the security forces were injured, according to another hospital source and a security source.The clashes continued on Friday evening after a week of violence that erupted on Sunday when security forces fired to disperse protesters, who were trying to storm the provincial government building using rocks and Molotov cocktails.Protesters are demanding the removal of the governor and justice for protesters killed since 2019.Iraq's biggest anti-government protests in decades broke out in October 2019 and continued for several months, with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis demanding jobs, services and the removal of the ruling elite, whom they accused of corruption.Nearly 500 people were killed, and the protests caused the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who took office in May 2020, has pledged justice for activists killed or abused by armed groups. But no prosecutions have occurred so far.The clashes come just a week before Pope Francis visits Iraq from March 5 to 8. He is due to tour the ancient Mesopotamian site of Ur, only about 20 kilometres away from the clashes.
- Business Insider
Johnson & Jonhson's coronavirus vaccine is the only one that's been tested out in the US as just one shot.
- Associated Press
The U.S. is getting a third vaccine to prevent COVID-19, as the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two. Health experts are anxiously awaiting a one-and-done option to help speed vaccinations, as they race against a virus that already has killed more than 510,000 people in the U.S. and is mutating in increasingly worrisome ways. The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death.
- Business Insider
QAnon's most devout followers believe bizarrely that former President Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 19th President on March 4, 2021.
- USA TODAY
Nearly two dozen Republicans attending CPAC in Florida have designated a proxy to vote on their behalf, citing the "ongoing public health emergency."
- Associated Press
Officials at the Pompeii archaeological site in Italy announced Saturday the discovery of an intact ceremonial chariot, one of several important discoveries made in the same area outside the park near Naples following an investigation into an illegal dig. The chariot, with its iron elements, bronze decorations and mineralized wooden remains, was found in the ruins of a settlement north of Pompeii, beyond the walls of the ancient city, parked in the portico of a stable where the remains of three horses previously were discovered. The Archaeological Park of Pompeii called the chariot “an exceptional discovery” and said "it represents a unique find - which has no parallel in Italy thus far - in an excellent state of preservation.”
- Business Insider
Go back to the place you got your first shot if you lose your paper card, and make sure to take a photo of the vaccine card after your first dose.
Residents of an Indian slum thought they were getting vaccinated like everyone else but were unknowingly part of a clinical trial
After a white van advertised COVID-19 vaccines to a central-Indian slum, many of its residents feel duped after finding out they were in a trial.
- Yahoo News Video
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she won't take AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine because she is too old, a comment that comes as millions of Germans refuse to take the vaccine because they do not trust it.
It's been 40 years since Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announced their engagement with a televised interview.
A harmless side effect of the shot can be swollen lymph nodes. That means the vaccine is working, but could cause false alarm, so you should wait.
From buying whole, fresh beans to nailing the perfect water-to-coffee ratio, coffee connoisseurs have plenty of tips for better at-home brewing.
- The Week
Democrats decry Biden's airstrikes in Syria as unconstitutional. Republicans praise them as 'proportional.'
Democrats are calling the Biden administration's airstrikes in Syria unconstitutional. President Biden on Thursday ordered airstrikes against facilities in eastern Syria used by Iranian-backed militant groups, his first military action since taking office. The strikes were in response to several rocket attacks against U.S. targets in Iraq. While Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the limited scope of the airstrikes "aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq," many Democrats expressed concerns on Friday that the move has done just the opposite, and argued it wasn't legally justified. "Some Democrats said that Congress has not passed an authorization for the use of military force specifically in Syria," reports CNN. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said "there is absolutely no justification for a president to authorize a military strike that is not in self-defense against an imminent threat without congressional authorization ... we need to extricate from the Middle East, not escalate." Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) agreed, calling for an immediate congressional briefing and saying "offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances." Republicans, however, were seemingly largely pleased with the move. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the U.S. response a "necessary deterrent" to tell Iran that attacks on U.S. interests "will not be tolerated," reports CNN. As Fox News notes, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), among others, also applauded the strike, calling it "proportional." White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended the action as "necessary," and said Biden "has the right to take action" as he sees fit. She said "there was a thorough, legal response" and the Defense Department briefed congressional leadership in advance. More stories from theweek.comBiden in the quagmireBen Sasse on Matt Gaetz: 'That guy is not an adult'Newly confirmed Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is 'obsessed' with creating 'clean-energy jobs'
- Business Insider
Trump supporters and right-wing reporters wouldn't stop heckling CNN's Jim Acosta during second day of CPAC
A crowd of Trump supporters and right-wing reporters were filmed following Jim Acosta around CPAC while chanting "CNN sucks!"
Arrival of the first vehicle from the high-profile, soon-to-be public EV startup Lucid Motors will take longer than the company planned.Driving the news: Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson said in an open letter that COVID-19 is forcing a delay in production of the luxury Lucid Air sedan.Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free"From testing activities to supplier availability to preparing for sales and service, COVID-19 has affected all workstreams," he said of the delay, which was also acknowledged in a Bloomberg interview this week.He said that despite progress, "we won’t be able to start delivering Lucid Air this spring at the level of quality we insist on providing."The company hopes to start production from its Arizona factory "as early as we can in the second half of 2021."Why it matters: The Financial Times puts it well, noting the delay "highlighted, for anyone perhaps unfamiliar with Tesla’s own meandering journey to profitability, how timelines can slip in the electric-car business."Yes, but: "Tesla rival" is a term thrown around too much, but Lucid does appear well-poised to make inroads in the EV market.It's well-capitalized with backing from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund and the Air boasts some impressive specs, notably a 500-plus mile range.More from Axios: Sign up to get the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free
- Business Insider
Merkel says she won't take AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine because she's too old, as 1.4 million jabs are left unused
The German chancellor said she wasn't eligible because the vaccine isn't approved for people over 65 in Germany.
Jill Biden said on "The Kelly Clarkson Show" that her daughter, Ashley, was the first to tell her that the Valentine's Day scrunchie sparked a trend.