Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is working to help victims of police misconduct.
- Associated Press
The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor on Wednesday launched an investigation into alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories, turning the tribunal’s focus toward Israeli military actions and settlement construction on lands captured in the 1967 Mideast war. The decision dealt an embarrassing blow to the Israeli government, which had conducted an aggressive public relations and behind-the-scenes diplomatic campaign to block the investigation. It also raised the possibility of arrest warrants being issued against Israeli officials suspected of war crimes, making it potentially risky to travel abroad.
- Business Insider
North Korea is the most isolated country on the planet, but it still finds ways to steal billions of dollars
Despite heavy sanctions, North Korea has found ways to enrich its leaders and to finance its military.
- The Independent
‘Everything is made in China,’ said a business partner behind the six foot replica
- Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — “Trump needs you,” one fundraising email implored. “President Trump’s Legacy is in your hands," another pleaded. Others advertised “Miss Me Yet?” T-shirts featuring Donald Trump's smiling face.
- The Daily Beast
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/GettyAs Trump supporters gathered Sunday outside the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando to greet the former president’s motorcade, a correspondent for a popular pro-Trump YouTube channel went into the crowd to interview them—risking the fate of his entire company in the process.Interviewing random Trump supporters makes up much of the content on Right Side Broadcasting Network, a booming right-wing YouTube channel The Washington Post has called “the unofficial version of Trump TV.” But for a year, the Trump base has embraced conspiracy theories about election theft and COVID-19—exactly the kind of content, if livestreamed on RSBN, that could get the channel kicked off YouTube.In Orlando, the MAGA welcome crew seemed as excited to see pseudonymous RSBN correspondent “Mike Nificent” as they did former President Donald Trump. A man with a speaker encouraged the crowd to watch RSBN, while a woman declared that RSBN was only the media outlet she trusts.But then one of those RSBN fans claimed that Trump votes had somehow been altered from outer space.“You know how they said they changed the votes using a satellite?” one woman told him, in a remark that instantly went out live to more than 100,000 RSBN viewers on YouTube.Mike Nificent cut her off.“We can’t go there, we’ll lose our entire platform,” he said, backing away from the woman as she grew increasingly irate. “We have to play by the rules.”“I also covered this election, and it was stolen,” another woman said.“Well, some would say that it hasn’t been stolen,” Mike Nificent said, carefully. “They would say that Biden’s won the presidency fair.”“I’m sorry, is that getting you in trouble?” the woman said.“Wink, wink, Biden won,” Mike Nificent said.YouTube and other major social media platforms have ramped up their policing of conspiracy theories in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, putting pro-Trump outlets like RSBN in an awkward position. After helping to create Trump’s base and fueling baseless allegations that Trump won in 2020, RSBN is now stuck between YouTube enforcement and a hoax-addled conservative audience it relies on for donations.The resulting attempts to keep RSBN free from pro-Trump conspiracy theories often result in comical ad hoc attempts at muting speakers or rapid changes in tone from RSBN talent. Faced with the prospect of losing its YouTube audience with a ban, RSBN has to constantly avoid crossing an invisible line—promoting election fraud promoters at one moment, then cutting their mics as soon as they say something that could get the channel banned.RSBN and Google, which owns YouTube, didn’t respond to requests for comment.Trump at CPAC Shows Why He Doesn’t Need a New PartyStill, despite having to navigate a field of verbal landmines in the crowd, RSBN had its own reasons to cheer Trump’s first public appearance since leaving office. Since Trump fan Joe Seales launched RSBN in 2015, the channel had amassed more than 1.5 million YouTube subscribers, based in large part on a willingness to livestream just about any pro-Trump event. The channel grew prominent enough on the right that it was the center of rumors claiming Trump, then still expected to lose his 2016 election bid, would team up with Seales to launch “Trump TV,” a MAGA-centric cable channel.RSBN played a key role promoting election fraud conspiracy theories in the aftermath of Trump’s election defeat. The channel provided blanket coverage of the Women for America First bus tour, a series of speaking events across the country that led up to the Jan. 6 rally where Trump incited his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol. YouTube deleted three RSBN videos of the bus tour after the riot, saying they violated the site’s rules against “inciting violence” and “false election claims.”Faced with the threat of deletion, RSBN is stuck cutting off right-wing personalities who would otherwise be heroes to its audiences. On Feb. 20, the channel streamed a rally in Ventura, California, promoting a recall against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. The rally was headlined by Dr. Judy Mikovits, the conspiracy theorist whose appearance in the coronavirus hoax video Plandemic went viral in the first months of the pandemic.Almost as soon as Mikovits started talking, however, RSBN’s camera panned away from the stage to focus on RSBN personality Blake Marnell, who goes by the name “Brick Suit” because he often wears a brick-patterned suit meant to imitate Trump’s border wall.Marnell, who appeared surprised to suddenly be on camera, began talking in an apparent attempt to help RSBN avoid covering Mikovits’ speech.“QUIT TALKING!” wrote one YouTube commenter.“RSBN is so RUDE and I’m done with them,” wrote another.Suddenly, an unseen narrator who called themselves “Joe back here at the studio”—presumably RSBN founder Joe Seales—cut into the feed, saying RSBN couldn’t show Mikovits’ speech at risk of losing its channel.“If we let this speaker talk right now, we will lose our YouTube channel, they will take this video down,” Joe said, claiming that RSBN already had one strike from YouTube after broadcasting something from Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.RSBN’s camera returned to the stage once Mikovits was done, but not for long. Soon another speaker was talking about how he didn’t just not enforce mask-wearing at his business, he banned anyone who did wear a mask.CPAC Speaker Angela Stanton King Promotes QAnon From Stage“They represent the lockdown, they are the lockdown,” the speaker said, prompting RSBN’s camera to swiftly pull away from him.“Joe from the studio” cut back in.“Just to give you a full disclosure, that there are certain guidelines that we have on platforms that we cannot talk about certain subjects,” he said.This isn’t RSBN’s first encounter with the challenges of running a budding news empire that caters to some of the most extreme elements of Trump’s base.In June 2020, RSBN was covering Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when viewers began complaining that its reporters were wearing masks—an implicit admission that the pandemic was more serious than Trump and his supporters wanted to admit. Outraged RSBN audience members accused the reporters of being liberal “slaves,” prompting RSBN host Liz Willis to launch a lengthy, on-air apology in which she said she was wearing a mask because she lived with her elderly parents.RSBN’s skittishness extends even to one of its biggest sponsors, MyPillow founder Mike Lindell. Lindell buys a huge amount of advertising on RSBN, with anchors cutting into broadcasts from CPAC to promote his pillows and sheets. At times, roughly a quarter of the screen during RSBN’s broadcast at CPAC was taken up by a still image of Lindell hugging one of his pillows.Not even Lindell, however, can avoid RSBN’s mute button. On Sunday, Willis was interviewing Lindell when he began to complain about vaccine rules in Israel, alleging that the vaccine is the “mark of the beast” from the biblical Book of Revelation.“This is our bodies, this is ‘mark of the beast’ stuff and I don’t care, I’ll just put it right out there, this is Revelation,” Lindell said. “I mean, if you’re going to make them do that over in Israel—and why do you think they went to Israel first? Whaaat? That’s kind of strange.”MyPillow's Mike Lindell gets his mic cut mid-interview on the network he sponsors (RSBN) because the COVID misinformation he's attempting to spread would get them banned from Youtube. The host apologizes to him: "We love you. We love you. We love you." pic.twitter.com/jBrw6krf1z— Italien Feeld 🕳 (@julianfeeld) March 1, 2021 RSBN cut Lindell’s mic, leaving him to rant in silence for 30 seconds next to the picture of him hugging his pillow. Eventually, Lindell’s mic was restored, with a warning not to talk about vaccines.“Super careful, I hate to do it, you know I love you, but due to YouTube’s platforms, we will get our whole platform shut down,” Willis said.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.
- Associated Press
The White House warned that the U.S. may consider a military response to the rocket attack on Wednesday that hit an air base in western Iraq where American and coalition troops are housed, raising concerns this could trigger a new round of escalating violence. A U.S. contractor died after at least 10 rockets slammed into the base.
- The Week
Germany was one of the international stars of the early response to the COVID-19 pandemic last year thanks to a renowned contact tracing system that kept infection rates low, but its vaccine rollout is not going so well. So far, the country has only administered 6.2 million doses, well below the 21 million in the United Kingdom, which began its drive a few weeks earlier, but has a smaller population. One of the big issues is how difficult it is to sign up for an appointment in the first place, at least in some regions of the country. Reports the Financial Times, the registration portal requires 10 online steps, including a two-step authentication process. For months, the website would also only allow people to sign up for one appointment, even though two doses of the vaccines available in Germany are required for full inoculation, and if everything is booked, there's no waiting list people to notify people when more doses become available. "It's totally amateurish and incredibly inflexible," one German health official told FT. The jumbled nature of the system is giving some Americans "flashbacks" to the highly-anticipated healthcare.gov launch in 2013, which was tainted by a variety of technical difficulties and an incomplete website design that made it challenging for people to sign up for their health insurance. Read more at The Financial Times. The problems with Germany's vaccination portal are giving me intense flashbacks to the healthcare dot gov rollout. https://t.co/16tjRf0RyK pic.twitter.com/kcY6h8tIG2 — Nick Baumann (@NickBaumann) March 3, 2021 More stories from theweek.com7 scathingly funny cartoons about Trump's CPAC appearanceMike Pence comes out of hiding to nod towards Trump's election liesJoe Biden just yanked away stimulus checks from 17 million Americans
These musicians blazed new trails for the genre, often collaborating with or inspiring some of rock's biggest male performers.
- Associated Press
The chief European Union diplomat in Venezuela left the country on Tuesday, a week after the government of Nicolás Maduro ordered her expulsion following the EU's decision to impose sanctions on several Venezuelan officials accused of undermining democracy or violating human rights. Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa tweeted a photograph of Caracas showing the mountain range that flanks the Venezuelan capital to the north and the message “infinite thanks to all Venezuelans for their affection.” The Venezuelan government’s action against Brilhante Pedrosa came after the European Union’s foreign ministers sanctioned 19 Venezuelan officials, freezing their assets and banning them from traveling to the bloc, citing the deteriorating situation Venezuela faces after December 2020 elections.
- Associated Press
Three women who worked for a local radio and TV station in eastern Afghanistan were gunned down Tuesday in separate attacks, the news editor of the privately owned station said. Shokrullah Pasoon, of Enikass Radio and TV in Jalalabad, said one of the women, Mursal Wahidi, was walking home when gunmen opened fire, according to eyewitnesses. Afghanistan is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for media workers.
Turkey has stopped insulting France and the European Union, providing some reassurance, but ties will remain fragile until it takes concrete action, France's foreign minister said. Ankara has repeatedly traded barbs with Paris over its policies on Syria, Libya, the eastern Mediterranean and other issues, but the NATO members said in February they were working on a road map to normalise relations. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday as part of those efforts, their first call since September.
- USA TODAY
Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined the Biden administration's foreign policy priorities, including confronting China and a new trade strategy.
- The Daily Beast
Sergei Ilnitsky/APHe’s sent Wagner mercenaries to Ukraine, Syria, and Libya; faced U.S. indictments for assigning his “troll farm” to interfere in the 2016 presidential election; and even dispatched white supremacists and neo-Nazis to sow anti-Western sentiment in African nations. Now Yevgeny Prigozhin, the catering magnate commonly referred to as “Putin’s chef,” has trained his attention a little closer to Russia’s doorstep: Europe and the Baltic States.A joint investigation by The Daily Beast, the Dossier Center, German broadcaster ARD, Delfi.ee in Estonia, and Siena.lt in Lithuania reveals that operatives closely associated with the Russian oligarch’s previously exposed influence operations organized a two-day conference in Berlin from Jan. 14-15 pegged to economic and environmental issues affecting Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Germany.The Baltic Sea Region Strategic Dialogue was the first of what is meant to be a series of so-called “foresight sessions” to “create a new vision of the post-pandemic future” for the aforementioned countries, with an ostensible focus on COVID-19, Brexit, environmental sustainability, e-governance, and digital technology. Participants included Rihards Kols, the head of the Foreign Relations Committee of Latvia’s parliament, as well as several members of the German Bundestag including Stefan Keuter, a member of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party.The event was organized by two organizations, both of them closely connected to the Association for Free Research and International Cooperation, or AFRIC.As The Daily Beast reported, AFRIC is run by Prigozhin’s St. Petersburg-based organization. According to internal documents obtained by the Dossier Center, AFRIC was conceived as a “network of agents of influence” meant to provide “expert evaluations and opinions beneficial to Russia” in Africa. Founded in 2018, AFRIC sent “election observers”—many of them well-known white supremacists and neo-Nazis from Europe—to try to sway democratic races in Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Africa, in races in which other arms of Prigozhin’s vast empire often supported one or more of the candidates.Russia Is Using Undercover Racists to Exploit Africa’s Anti-Racist Political RevoltLast week, the FBI announced that Prigozhin had been added to its Most Wanted list for his alleged “conspiracy to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the Federal Election Commission, the United States Department of Justice, and the United States Department of State” from 2014 to 2018. A $250,000 award was posted for any information leading to his arrest.As with most of Prigozhin’s foreign influence operations, this one consists of a series of nesting doll structures registered outside of Russian Federation territory and helmed, at least on paper, by non-Russians. The same cast of characters recurs, both at the hierarchical level of these operations and among the Western political figures they aim to cultivate.For instance, one of the organizers of the conference was ADMIS Consultancy, a company founded and operated by Vaiva Adomaityte, a Lithuanian national who is also a member of AFRIC’s administration. An occupational psychologist and self-described “global change expert,” Adomaityte has participated in at least one of AFRIC’s three conferences in Berlin, co-authored its “Africa Vision” report, and has been an AFRIC representative at the Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in 2019. She is also a confidante and associate of Yulia Afanasyeva, the Prigozhin operative who established AFRIC in 2018 out of the oligarch’s “back office” in St. Petersburg, as leaked documents obtained by the Dossier Center demonstrate.Adomaityte previously edited a questionnaire written by Afanasyeva for AFRIC’s similarly named “foresight session” in Berlin in 2019. She also wrote to the Hilton Hotel complaining about substandard accommodations and to settle AFRIC’s billing dispute with the management. Adomaityte even updated her résumé to account for her work on behalf of AFRIC. In one awkwardly worded letter dated March 3, 2020, she wrote to Afanasyeva in English, “Shall I start calling you my God Mother I wonder... sounds much ore badass then God Father.”AFRIC-related events, in fact, appear to be the only ones with which Adomaityte’s ADMIS Consultancy has ever worked. Afanasyeva even hired and paid for a Russian social media expert to work on ADMIS Consultancy’s social media pages, as per the correspondence obtained by the Dossier Center. The Baltic Sea event in January took place in the same Hilton Hotel in Berlin as previous AFRIC conferences. One of the earlier events was presided over by Aleksandr Malkevich, a top Prigozhin operative who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2018 for running a subsidiary company working on behalf of the oligarch’s Project Lakhta, a global political and election interference operation. Malkevich, according to the Treasury Department, ran a company called USA Really, which “engaged in efforts to post content focused on divisive political issues but is generally ridden with inaccuracies. In June 2018, USA Really attempted to hold a political rally in the United States, though its efforts were unsuccessful.”Still another co-organizer of the Baltic Sea conference was the Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade in Germany, better known by its acronym BWA. BWA and ADMIS consultancy co-hosted AFRIC’s last event in Berlin, an online conference on global consequences of COVID-19 in June 2020.BWA is headed by Michael Schumann, a German business consultant specializing in China. Under Schumann’s leadership, BWA has developed partnerships with a series of Russian outfits in Germany including the Association of Russian Businesses and the Dialogue of Civilizations think tank, which was founded in 2016 by Vladimir Yakunin, a former KGB officer and close confidant of Vladimir Putin. Yakunin was the vice president of Russia’s state rail monopoly until 2015, a year after he was sanctioned by the United States for his alleged involvement in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. So far he has evaded EU sanctions.Two other BWA members, Volker Tschapke and Urs Unkauf, acted as AFRIC election observers in Madagascar, DRC, Zimbabwe and South Africa in the past few years. Tschapke and Unkauf were also present at AFRIC’s second and third conferences in Berlin, in July 2019 and January 2020, respectively. Yulia Afanasyeva, Prigozhin’s St. Petersburg-based operative, is also a member of BWA. Misha Japaridze/AP Afanasyeva did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment on this story.Adomaityte said in a Zoom interview that she had no information about Afanasyeva’s involvement in the Baltic Sea conference and that she “felt uncomfortable” talking about AFRIC. She claimed that she was directly hired by BWA in Germany. “We did [earlier] work together with BWA with the AFRIC institution,” she said. “So that was the direct link. However, I was directly requested by the BWA to conduct the research study for the Baltic Sea region.”This account, however, is contradicted by documents obtained by the Dossier Center indicating that not only was Afanasyeva actively involved in organizing the Baltic Sea event, which she attended virtually, but she was in constant communication with Adomaityte about it. Afanasyeva was included in a back-and-forth exchange setting up the venue in the Berlin Hilton; Adomaityte further kept the Russian abreast of how everything had gone.“When we look at the backgrounds [of the people involved], the connection to Prigozhin is clearly visible,” said Indrek Kannik, the former head of analysis of Estonia’s Foreign Intelligence and now the director of the International Centre for Defence and Security in Tallinn. He said the Baltic intelligence services likely follow such influence operations closely.According to a person with direct knowledge of how the Baltic Sea conference was organized, Afanasyeva gave a direct order not to touch on matters of international security and instead focus on economics and ecology. That, too, Kannik said, is textbook tradecraft for the early stages of any successful influence operation.“It is noteworthy that they started with politically uncontroversial topics such as the green deal,” Kannik told The Daily Beast. “They start ‘soft’ and only when they gain some public trustworthiness and a moderately positive image, they take on more relevant topics for the Kremlin such as security, criticism of the Baltic states, Russia’s talking points about dialogue between Europe and Russia, not to mention everything else to do with Crimea and Ukraine.”Another classic tradecraft technique employed by the conferences was employing unwitting foreigners to make the events appear legitimate, in this case by producing ancillary literature. A “strategy recommendation” report, released subsequent to the Berlin conference and branded as an ADMIS Consultancy product, was written by unsuspecting freelancers hired over the internet, The Daily Beast has confirmed. In September, U.S. news outlets reported that Prigozhin’s Internet Research Agency, or “troll farm,” had set up two fake news websites—one catering to the far right, the other to the far left—which hired unwitting American writers to contribute. Even the avatars of the putative editors of these sites were bogus, their faces generated with AI software. The goal was clearly to launder disinformation and propaganda through native participants, whose worldviews intersect with Kremlin interests.The danger with bricks-and-mortar operations like the conferences is that they’re liable to snare respectable and credible participants who are fixtures at similarly themed events. And the participants don’t necessarily have to be influenced or persuaded by Russia propaganda; their mere presence is itself an operational success. Having, say, a government minister from an EU or NATO country photographed alongside a Prigozhin operative is a great way to signal back to Moscow that these exercises pay off.In October 2014, months after Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea, the psychological warfare of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, orchestrated an entire security conference in Athens using cut-outs and front groups including a local Greek think tank and a Russian institute purportedly devoted to Russian diaspora issues. According to Estonia’s foreign intelligence service, an officer from GRU Unit 54777 even participated in a panel discussion next to Panos Kammenos, a Moscow-friendly Greek politician who subsequently became Greece’s defense minister.One of the people invited to give a presentation at the Baltic Sea event was Mihkel Krusberg, an Estonian official from the Ministry of Environment. He received a personal invitation from Adomaityte a little over two weeks ahead of the conference. Because Krusberg is frequently asked to attend such forums and the other publicly named guests appeared legitimate, Krusberg told The Daily Beast he didn’t see any red flags in the offer. “Had I known about the background of the organizers, I would have politely turned down their invitation,” he said.The Baltic Sea Region Strategic Dialogue was not envisaged as a one-off affair. The same group of organizers is already planning a follow-up conference to focus on the relationship between the Baltic and Nordic countries. According to Adomaityte, it’s scheduled to take place online in late March. “However we are really hoping to have a physical conference in the summer,” she said.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.
- Associated Press
About 300 refugees from a Christian minority community from Myanmar held a demonstration in India's capital on Wednesday against last month’s military takeover in their country and demanded the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other Myanmar leaders. The demonstration was held at Jantar Mantar, an area of New Delhi close to Parliament that is often used for protests.
Ariel Winter has worn a number of glamorous red-carpet looks, from dresses with sheer panels to glittery gowns with thigh-high slits.
- Reuters Videos
The numbers are coming in on post-Brexit trade in Europe. And they don't make pleasant reading for either side. Germany said Tuesday (March 2) that its exports to the UK fell 30% on the year in January. The country's statistics office blamed the fall on Brexit effects. Though it said the global health crisis hadn't helped either. The related economic slump means the UK economy is smaller than it was a year ago. The International Monetary Fund says it and other European economies won't return to pre-crisis levels until next year. Brexit raised barriers to trade, but the flow of goods was slowing even before Britain finally left the EU's orbit. Over all of 2020, German exports to the UK fell 15.5%. That was the biggest year-on-year drop since the global financial crisis over a decade ago. Trade going the other way also took a hit. UK exports to Germany fell almost 10%.
CrossFit has publicly disavowed Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene over the Republican's previous support for QAnon and other conspiracy theories.
- Business Insider
A former firefighter charged in the Capitol riot took a bus organized by Turning Point USA to DC, filing says
TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk has since-deleted tweets that promoted buses to DC as well as free hotel rooms in the Capitol for Trump supporters.
- Business Insider
Far-right groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers are splintering and realigning after the Capitol riot, report says
In the wake of the Capitol riot, far-right groups are in disarray. But new organizations of violent extremists could emerge from the chaos.
A high-level Chinese study says a massive work scheme is reducing Uighur population density in Xinjiang.