By Orhan Coskun ANKARA (Reuters) - Militants seized 48 Turks from the Turkish consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Wednesday, including the consul-general, three children and several members of Turkey's special forces, a source in the Turkish prime minister's office said. The group was taken from the consulate building to a militant base. Turkish authorities had contacted militant groups and confirmed all were unharmed, the source said. Sunni insurgents from an al Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), seized Mosul on Tuesday in a show of strength against Iraq's Shi'ite-led government. (Full Story) "Certain militant groups in Mosul have been directly contacted to ensure the safety of diplomatic staff," a Turkish government source said. The seizure of the consulate means at least 76 Turks are now being held by militants in Mosul. It comes a day after 28 Turkish truck drivers were abducted by ISIL militants while they were delivering diesel to a power plant in the city. Turkey has close trade and political links with the Kurdish-controlled area to the north of Mosul that has not, for the moment at least, been targeted by ISIL. It sees a particular role in protecting the interests of the Turkmen ethnic minority in that area. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan held an emergency meeting with the Undersecretary of Turkey's National Intelligence Agency (MIT) and Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay to discuss the developments, officials said. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who had been due to deliver a speech at a United Nations counter-terrorism meeting in New York, cut short his visit and is returning to Turkey, officials from his office told Reuters. Davutoglu had said on his Twitter account late on Tuesday, after the truck drivers were taken, that the necessary measures had been taken for the safety of the Turkish consulate in Mosul. (Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Humeyra Pamuk and Ralph Boulton)
- Yahoo News
Black National Guardsman describes being deployed to protect Biden’s inauguration: 'I just felt this huge sense of pride'
As most of the 25,000 National Guardsmen who were called upon to protect Washington, D.C., during the presidential inauguration began heading home this week, one Black service member agreed to speak to Yahoo News about the experience of protecting the nation’s capital in the wake of a pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill.
- The Independent
Biden’s new sign language interpreter runs a right-wing Facebook group and has been pictured in a MAGA hat
One video featuring Heather Mewshaw is titled ‘Joe Biden is literally and legally not the President elect’
- The Telegraph
The leader of the Proud Boys extremist group has been unmasked as a "prolific" former FBI informant. Enrique Tarrio, 36, worked undercover exposing a human trafficking ring, and helped with drug and gambling cases, according to court documents. Tarrio's documented involvement with law enforcement related to the period 2012 -2014. There was no evidence of him cooperating after that. But the revelation raised further questions over why police did not take further steps to secure the US Capitol ahead of the riots on Jan 6. At least half a dozen members of the Proud Boys were arrested over involvement in the riots. Tarrio denied ever being an informer, telling Reuters: "I don’t know any of this. I don’t recall any of this."
- Associated Press
The Virginia Senate on Wednesday approved a measure rebuking one of its most far-right members for a “pattern of unacceptable conduct," including an allegation that she voiced support for those who participated in storming the U.S. Capitol. On a vote of 24-9, three Republicans joined the chamber's Democrats in advancing a resolution censuring Amanda Chase, a senator from suburban Richmond who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor. The vote followed a long debate that featured scathing rebukes from Chase's colleagues on both sides of the political aisle.
President Obama's former speechwriter says he's "preemptively frustrated" with President Biden's effort to find unity with Republicans.What they're saying: Cody Keenan told Axios that Biden's messaging team has "struck all the right chords," but at some point "they're gonna have to answer questions like, 'Why didn't you achieve unity?' when there's an entire political party that's already acting to stop it."Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.Keenan spent 14 years writing for Obama, including working alongside Biden for eight of those years. He acknowledged being embittered by his own experience, especially after Sen. Mitch McConnell pledged to make his former boss a one-term president. * "Until the Republican Party steps up and tells their own voters what's really happening with the truth, it's going to be elusive," Keenan said. "It's not up to (President Biden) alone to deliver. He can't."Keenan helped Obama with the first volume of his memoir, "A Promised Land." He stopped working with the former president on New Year's Eve and has taken a full-time role at Fenway Strategies. The firm is run by another ex-Obama speechwriter — Jon Favreau — and presidential aide, Tommy Vietor. * "It just seemed like a natural spot after the book and the elections and, you know, [Obama] is not going to do a ton, especially with Biden in office," Keenan said.Keenan is also writing a book, titled "Grace," about the 10 days from the 2015 shooting at a historic Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, to the eulogy Obama delivered for Rev. Clementa Pinckney. * Obama ended by singing "Amazing Grace." * The title also nods to Keenan's newborn daughter, named Grace.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- The Telegraph
A doctor with terminal cancer killed a female pediatrician and then himself after taking hostages at a children's clinic in Austin, Texas. Dr Bharat Narumanchi held hostages in a five-hour siege before killing Dr Katherine Lindley Dodson. Narumanchi had applied for a volunteer position at the clinic a week ago and was declined. He later came back carrying a pistol, a shotgun and two duffel bags. Police spokesman Jeff Greenwalt said Narumanchi had recently been given "weeks to live" after a cancer diagnosis. He said: "The case as far as who did this is closed. We know who did it. And we know that there's no longer a threat to the public. But we really, really want to answer the question of why." Dr Lindley Dodson, 43, was beloved by patients and their families. Karen Vladeck, whose two children were among her patients, told the Austin American-Statesman: "You saw her at your worst when your kid was sick, and she just always had a smile on her face. "She made you feel like you were the only parent there, even though there was a line of kids waiting." During the siege a SWAT team used a megaphone to communicate with the armed doctor. A hostage negotiator shouted: "Your life is very important to me. And I know life is very important to you. "You don't deserve to go through this. For all you have done for others. That is why I want to help you work through this. You have saved a lot of lives." Police first sent in a robot and then officers went into the medical office where they found two bodies. They did not comment on how the two doctors died. A police spokesman said: "The SWAT situation has ended. Two subjects have been located and were pronounced deceased."
- NBC News
Tommy Frederick Allan said he took the documents because he is a taxpayer, according to an arrest warrant.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic underlined the benefits of being part of the United Kingdom as he prepares to visit Scotland on Thursday to confront growing support for another independence referendum. The bonds holding together the United Kingdom have been severely strained over the last five years by Brexit, the government’s handling of the pandemic, and repeated calls by the Scottish National Party for a new referendum on independence. Ahead of his visit, Johnson said that Scotland as a part of the United Kingdom gained access to a coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and they are being administered by their shared armed forces, who are creating 80 new vaccine centres in Scotland.
- The Independent
Jill Biden spent her first week as First Lady reshaping the role. Melania Trump spent hers isolated in a tower
New first lady signals she will be an active and constant presence in the White House - drawing stark contrasts to her predecessor
- Associated Press
One day after the deadly insurrection in Washington, a Pennsylvania school district announced it was suspending a teacher who, the district asserted, “was involved in the electoral college protest that took place at the United States Capitol Building.” Three weeks later, Jason Moorehead is fighting to restore his reputation and resume teaching after he says the Allentown School District falsely accused him of being at the Capitol during the siege. The district says Moorehead’s social media posts about the events of Jan. 6, and not just his presence in Washington that day, are a focus of its probe.
The move could save the service millions of dollars and provide wearers with better protection in the field.
- NBC News
President Joe Biden vowed to ultimately put an end to private prisons, but activists says the move isn't enough to fully address mass incarcerations.
A man in Portland, Oregon has been charged with bias crimes after allegedly kicking and racially attacking an Asian American woman last week. The incident, which left the victim with “some trouble walking,” occurred on a TriMet bus in the area of Southeast 52nd Avenue and Foster Road at 5:45 p.m. on Jan. 22. Eschright also allegedly used racial slurs during the encounter, mentioning the coronavirus in regards to the victim’s race and skin color.
- Associated Press
At least two journalists tested positive for coronavirus after witnessing the Trump administration's final three federal executions, but the Bureau of Prisons knowingly withheld the diagnoses from other media witnesses and did not perform any contact tracing, The Associated Press has learned. The AP is not identifying the journalists, but has confirmed they both received positive coronavirus tests following the executions earlier this month at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. The Bureau of Prisons just completed a record number of executions under former President Donald Trump, more than any previous administration.
Australia's most populous state of New South Wales recorded its 11th day of zero local coronavirus cases on Thursday, allowing neighbouring Queensland state to lift border restrictions while Victoria state also hinted at relaxing travel with Sydney. Australian states imposed quarantine or hard border restrictions for travellers from New South Wales (NSW) after an outbreak in Sydney in late December, throwing Christmas holiday plans of thousands of Australians into chaos. The Sydney clusters have now been curbed, giving other states the confidence to reopen borders.
- Associated Press Videos
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says Democrats are prepared to push ahead with President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, even if it means using procedural tools to pass the legislation without Republicans. (Jan. 26)
- Architectural Digest
Let’s get loudOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- The Independent
Former president’s unprecedented second Senate trial set to start on week of 8 February
- Associated Press
A group of U.N experts has criticized Sri Lanka's requirement that those who die of COVID-19 be cremated, even it goes against a family's religious beliefs, and warned that decisions based on “discrimination and aggressive nationalism” could incite hatred and violence. The experts, who are part of the Special Procedures of the U.N Human Rights Council, said in a statement Monday that rule amounts to a human rights violation. “We deplore the implementation of such public health decisions based on discrimination, aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism amounting to persecution of Muslims and other minorities in the country,” the experts said.
- NBC News
"I don’t understand why we have to risk our lives when we’re so close to a vaccine," a Chicago teacher said.