Los Angeles-based MS-13 gang members carried out a series of grisly homicides over the past two years, including hacking a victim to death with a machete in the Angeles National Forest and carving out his heart, according to a newly unsealed indictment detailed by officials at a news conference on Tuesday.
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden's first calls to foreign leaders went to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at a strained moment for the U.S. relationship with its North American neighbors. Mexico's president said Saturday that Biden told him the U.S. would send $4 billion to help development in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — nations whose hardships have spawned tides of migration through Mexico toward the United States.
- Associated Press
A 34-year-old grizzly bear captured in southwestern Wyoming has been confirmed as the oldest on record in the Yellowstone region, Wyoming wildlife officials said. Grizzly bear 168 was captured last summer after it preyed on calves in the Upper Green River Basin area. Biologists learned of the bear’s longevity after euthanizing the bruin, which had preyed on cattle and then finally, calves.
- 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.
- NBC News
The Biden administration aims for 100 million vaccinations within his first 100 days as president.
U.S. Army Forces Command has reinstated the top enlisted leader at Fort Hood, Texas after an investigation cleared him of allegations that he used unprofessional language with subordinates last year.
- Associated Press
A federal judge on Sunday blocked the release of a Tennessee man who authorities say carried flexible plastic handcuffs during the riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell for the District of Columbia set aside an order by a judge in Tennessee concerning the release of Eric Munchel of Nashville. After testimony at a detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Frensley for the Middle District of Tennessee determined Friday that Munchel wasn’t a flight risk and didn’t pose harm to the public.
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden attended Mass for the first time since taking office, worshipping Sunday at the church he frequented when he was vice president. Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, picked Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood, a few miles from the White House. It's where the nation’s only other Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, often went to Mass.
Taiwan will more than double the number of people who have to quarantine at home to more than 5,000 as it seeks to contain a rare domestic cluster of COVID-19 connected to a hospital, the health minister said on Sunday. While Taiwan has kept the pandemic well under control thanks to early and effective prevention, with the large majority of its 890 infections imported cases, it has since Jan. 12 been dealing with a small number of domestic transmissions at a hospital. Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told reporters that they will expand the number of people who have to quarantine at home for 14 days who may have had contact with the infected patients from the hospital cluster.
- NBC News
"I couldn't believe it, it was like an animal. That's the only way I can put it, it was like an animal," the woman said of the assault in Harlem.
- National Review
Tulsi Gabbard, the former Democratic representative from Hawaii, on Friday expressed concern that a proposed measure to combat domestic terrorism could be used to undermine civil liberties. Gabbard’s comments came during an appearance on Fox News Primetime when host Brian Kilmeade asked her if she was “surprised they’re pushing forward with this extra surveillance on would-be domestic terror.” “It’s so dangerous as you guys have been talking about, this is an issue that all Democrats, Republicans, independents, Libertarians should be extremely concerned about, especially because we don’t have to guess about where this goes or how this ends,” Gabbard said. She continued: “When you have people like former CIA Director John Brennan openly talking about how he’s spoken with or heard from appointees and nominees in the Biden administration who are already starting to look across our country for these types of movements similar to the insurgencies they’ve seen overseas, that in his words, he says make up this unholy alliance of religious extremists, racists, bigots, he lists a few others and at the end, even libertarians.” She said her concern lies in how officials will define the characteristics they are searching for in potential threats. “What characteristics are we looking for as we are building this profile of a potential extremist, what are we talking about? Religious extremists, are we talking about Christians, evangelical Christians, what is a religious extremist? Is it somebody who is pro-life? Where do you take this?” Gabbard said. She said the proposed legislation could create “a very dangerous undermining of our civil liberties, our freedoms in our Constitution, and a targeting of almost half of the country.” “You start looking at obviously, have to be a white person, obviously likely male, libertarians, anyone who loves freedom, liberty, maybe has an American flag outside their house, or people who, you know, attended a Trump rally,” Gabbard said. The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021 was introduced in the House earlier this week in the aftermath of rioting at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month that left five dead. “Unlike after 9/11, the threat that reared its ugly head on January 6th is from domestic terror groups and extremists, often racially-motivated violent individuals,” Representative Brad Schneider (D., Ill.) said in a statement announcing the bipartisan legislation. “America must be vigilant to combat those radicalized to violence, and the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act gives our government the tools to identify, monitor and thwart their illegal activities. Combatting the threat of domestic terrorism and white supremacy is not a Democratic or Republican issue, not left versus right or urban versus rural. Domestic Terrorism is an American issue, a serious threat the we can and must address together,” he said.
- Business Insider
Barely any time has passed since President Biden's inauguration, and Republicans have already returned to their bag of shenanigans.
- Associated Press
Indonesian authorities said that they seized an Iranian tanker and Panamanian tanker suspected of carrying out the illegal transfer of oil in their country's waters Sunday. The tankers — the Iranian-flagged MT Horse and the Panamanian-flagged MT Frea — were seized in waters off Indonesia's West Kalimantan province, said Wisnu Pramadita, a spokesman for the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency.
A billion-dollar Mega Millions jackpot that has been building for four months will be up for grabs on Friday, available to whoever can beat the one-in-302 million odds. "We generally see a lot of the sales occur on the day of the drawings," Mega Millions spokesman Seth Elkin, of the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said by telephone. The selection of the six numbers will be the 37th semi-weekly drawing since the last grand prize winner was picked on Sept. 15, the longest jackpot dry spell Mega Millions has ever had, Elkin said.
- Yahoo News Video
Ailing Pope Francis, who this week is making limited public appearances due to persistent pain, has drawn attention to the struggles of homeless people in winter, including a Nigerian man who froze to death near the Vatican.
- The Telegraph
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced the establishment of its embassy in Tel Aviv as the US national security advisor announced that America hopes to build “on the success of Israel’s normalisation agreements” under the Biden administration. The UAE cabinet decision to approve establishing the embassy comes after they signed the Abraham Accords in September, becoming the first Gulf state to establish a full diplomatic relationship with Israel. No further details about the embassy were given in UAE media. While Israel’s government recognises Jerusalem as its capital, the international community does not, with Palestinians claiming East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Most countries base their embassies in Tel Aviv. Before the deal, Israel only had peace deals with only two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan - where it has fortified embassies. Most Arab countries had previously refrained from recognising Israel, believing that recognition should only be granted if serious concessions are made in the Palestinian peace process. Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco later agreed to follow in the UAE’s footsteps and normalise ties with Israel under US-brokered deals.
- 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
- Associated Press
Someone in Michigan bought the winning ticket for the $1.05 billion Mega Millions jackpot, which is the third-largest lottery prize in U.S. history. The winning numbers for Friday night’s drawing were 4, 26, 42, 50 and 60, with a Mega Ball of 24. The winning ticket was purchased at a Kroger store in the Detroit suburb of Novi, the Michigan Lottery said.
A Disney World employee notified police after suspecting that a person who called to buy tickets was being abused
While a Pennsylvania woman pretended to buy Disney World tickets, a Disney employee reportedly heard her yelling "get off me" and "get away from me."
- The Telegraph
In the Taliban controlled-fields and villages of central Helmand, residents report a sound that would once never have been allowed – music blaring from mobile phones. The playing of music would once have earned a swift beating or humiliating punishment from the militant movement's austere local enforcers. Now they turn a blind eye. “The Taliban have changed a lot on some things,” explained Mohammad Saber, a farmer from Nad-e Ali. “They are much less serious about many things, like music, television and shaving off beards,” he said, while still insisting on hiding his real name in case he offended the militants. “They are now thinking about bigger issues, because they have a lot of territory and resources.” A decade after the fields and lanes outside Helmand's capital were patrolled by thousands of British and American troops, the Taliban now rule almost unopposed. Afghan government forces built up at great expense and effort by the Nato allies melted away in early October in the face of a militant push on Lashkar Gah. The Taliban in these districts were always a formidable foe for the government forces and their international backers, but they now have almost complete control. "The government has no authority in our areas and the Taliban are not afraid of them," explains Abdul Salaam, a farmer from Marjah. The consolidation of Taliban power in these villages and market towns has allowed their parallel government to come out of the shadows and take charge. While the insurgents' envoys broach negotiations with the Afghan government on how the country should be run after American troops leave, in these districts of Helmand, they are already able to put their plans in place. Their rule has allowed residents a glimpse of whether the Taliban have changed since they imposed their severe and backward vision of Islamic governance on the nation in the 1990s. Elders in these central Helmand districts told the Telegraph that the militants appeared to have back-pedaled on some of their most draconian pronouncements and made an effort to be more approachable. Yet they still ruled by coercion and threats where they deemed it necessary and many of their previous red lines for the population remained. Residents of Marjah, Nad-e-Ali and Garmsir said that the militants once notorious for using beatings and public humiliation to enforce edicts banning music, or decreeing men grow long beards had stepped back from such unpopular rules. “Although the Taliban have not given formal permission to young people, they let them listen to music on their phones, cut their beards and hold gatherings with music,” said Abdul Salaam. They have also stepped up efforts to bring services demanded by locals. Vows to provide better governance than the corrupt and predatory central government have always been at the heart of the Taliban's insurgency campaign. They no longer attack schools and clinics as symbols of the government and instead now take-over government services in their area, allowing doctors and medics to continue their work as long as they abide by Taliban rules. The shift has even seen them relax one of their most notorious restrictions from the 1990s, and allow girls to go to school. Girls can study up to their early teens, residents said, while government monitors can visit schools. However the Taliban demand a say in who is employed and often try to force their officials onto school payrolls. They have also tried to ban some books from the curriculum, locals said. Justice remains one of the Taliban's main selling points, residents said. Robbers and criminals face harsh punishment. A system of courts, with two levels of appeal, brings quick and binding judgments on land disputes and disagreements and is at odds with the tortuous and corrupt government judiciary. Criticism of the Taliban had been unheard of in the past, said Abdul Salaam. “No one could talk about their rights and no one could question their policies,” he recalled. Residents had now at times been able to stop some of the most onerous Taliban practices, like the billeting of fighters on families, after complaining to leaders, he said. A recent study of Taliban governance in Nad-e Ali by the Afghanistan Analysts Network found that: “Although there are very few direct ways in which residents or elders can influence the Taliban in the district, let alone hold them to account, the Taliban do seem a little less intolerant – at least in some cases – to community concerns.” Yet for some signs of changes in Taliban policy, residents said that the militants' religious and moral strictures remained severe. Accusations of immorality between men and women, or of neglecting prayers remained a “serious red line to the Taliban,” said Abdul Salaam. “If the Taliban hear something like that happened, they 100 per cent, the person will see heavy punishment.” Mild policy changes to appease conservative villagers in the Taliban heartlands are also unlikely to give much reassurance in Afghanistan's cities. Even as the militants attempt to tell Helmandis they are more tolerant and approachable, they are accused of waging an unrelenting assassination campaign in Kabul, targeting journalists, civil servants and members of civil society. “The Taliban still think like villagers,” said one prominent Kabul businessman. “They have no idea how the country has evolved in the past two decades.”
- Yahoo News Video
It's a club Donald Trump was never really interested in joining and certainly not so soon: the cadre of former commanders in chief who revere the presidency enough to put aside often bitter political differences and even join together in common cause.