The U.S. declared a nationwide terrorism alert Wednesday, citing the potential threat from domestic antigovernment extremists opposed to Joe Biden as president.'Violent riots have continued' »
Joe Biden is signing three executive actions on Wednesday designed to tackle the climate crisis, including one order pausing new oil and gas leases being granted on federal lands, another directing the government to acquire electric vehicles and a third formally establishing an office of domestic climate policy under John Kerry and Gina McCarthy. A new Morning Consult poll has meanwhile found that Mr Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, remains popular within the Republican Party, with 50 per cent of respondents saying he should play a significant role in the GOP's future. A huge 81 per cent of those surveyed said they still held a positive opinion of him, even after the Capitol riot.
China said on Wednesday it was seeking details about 25 of its nationals who were among 61 crew on two supertankers seized by Indonesia on suspicion of illegally transferring oil. Indonesia said on Sunday it had seized the vessels after they were detected making the transfer from Iranian-flagged MT Horse to Panamanian-flagged MT Freya, causing an oil spill. The Indonesian authorities said the seizure was not related to U.S. sanctions, which Washington imposed in a bid to shut off Iran's oil exports in a dispute over Tehran's nuclear programme.
Authorities in Singapore said Wednesday that they had detained without trial a 16-year-old student who made detailed plans and preparations to launch “terrorist attacks” on two mosques with a machete. The Internal Security Department said the Singaporean teen was inspired by an Australian gunman who killed 51 worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand in 2019. The teen, an ethnic Indian Christian who wasn't named as he is underage, was “self-radicalized, motivated by a strong antipathy towards Islam and a fascination with violence," the department said in a statement.
Pope Francis on Wednesday marked the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by urging people to keep a close watch on ideological extremism, because "these things can happen again". He spoke three weeks after displays of anti-Semitism surfaced at the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6 and two weeks after one of Montreal's largest synagogues was vandalised and almost set on fire. Speaking at his general audience, held inside the papal library because of coronavirus restrictions, Francis said it was imperative that the world did not forget.
President Joe Biden removed Dr. Sean Conley, Trump's White House physician. Dr. Kevin O'Connor, Biden's longtime physician, will assume the role. Conley was accused of concealing information about Trump's condition after he got COVID-19.
After 18 years of denial, the Pakistani suspect convicted and later acquitted in the 2002 beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl has told a court he played a “minor" role in the killing, the Pearl family lawyer said Wednesday. A letter handwritten by Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh in 2019, in which he admits limited involvement in the killing of the Wall Street Journal reporter, was submitted to Pakistan's Supreme Court nearly two weeks ago. It wasn't until Wednesday that Sheikh's lawyers confirmed their client wrote it.
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Antony Blinken as America's top diplomat, tasked with carrying out President Biden's commitment to reverse the Trump administration's “America First” doctrine that weakened international alliances.
The foreign ministers of Hungary and Ukraine were expected to meet in Kyiv on Wednesday for talks on repairing badly strained relations but Budapest said its diplomatic missions in the ex-Soviet republic had received threats of "bloodletting" violence. The two countries are at loggerheads over the right of some 150,000 ethnic Hungarians living in Transcarpathia in western Ukraine to use their native tongue, especially in education. Prime Minister Viktor Orban's nationalist government in Budapest has responded by blocking Kyiv's efforts to build closer ties with NATO and the European Union, of which Hungary is a member.
Hundreds of Holocaust survivors in Austria and Slovakia were poised to get their first coronavirus vaccination Wednesday, acknowledging their past suffering with a special tribute 76 years after the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, where the Nazis killed more than 1 million Jews and others. “We owe this to them,” said Erika Jakubovits, the Jewish Community of Vienna organizer of the vaccination drive. More than 400 Austrian survivors, most in their 80s or 90s, were expected to get their first coronavirus shot at Vienna's largest vaccination center set up in the Austrian capital's convention center.
At least six members of the Proud Boys, a group of right-wing nationalist "Western chauvinists," have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 violent siege of the U.S. Capitol. Among those charged is Joseph Biggs, a Proud Boy leader who led about 100 men from former President Donald Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally to the Capitol. Prosecutors and federal investigators are now trying to determine how closely the Proud Boys communicated during the siege and whether they planned the incursion in advance, The New York Times reports.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador first felt the onset of COVID-19 on Sunday and was tested after returning to the capital on a commercial flight from an event in central Mexico, his spokesman said on Tuesday. Spokesman Jesus Ramirez said that passengers on the flight were being contacted, and that journalists traveling with the president were recommended to isolate. Lopez Obrador had a fever on Sunday and was still experiencing some mild symptoms by Tuesday, including a minor headache, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said in an evening news conference.
Iranian and Taliban officials met in Tehran on Wednesday and accused the U.S. of provoking the continuation of war in Afghanistan, Iranian State TV reported. Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, told visiting Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar that the U.S. seeks to continue the war in neighboring Afghanistan. The U.S. strategy supports the continuation of war and bloodshed among various Afghan groups in the political spectrum,” Shamkhani was quoted as saying.
A second police officer who responded to the riots at the Capitol earlier this month has died by suicide, the D.C. police chief revealed on Tuesday evening. Jeffery Smith had worked for the Metropolitan Police Department for 12 years and died on Jan. 15—just nine days after thousands of MAGA supporters stormed the Capitol. Smith is the second police officer to die by suicide after working at the Capitol on the day of the siege.
Russian lawmakers on Wednesday quickly approved the extension of the last remaining nuclear Russia-U.S. arms control treaty, a fast-track action that comes just days before it's due to expire. Both houses of parliament voted unanimously to extend the New START treaty for five years, a day after a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin said they agreed to complete the necessary extension procedures in the next few days.
South Africa has given fast-track approval to AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use and is reviewing applications by rival manufacturers Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, the medicines regulator said on Wednesday. As the country prepares to roll out a massive vaccination programme, South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) chairwoman Helen Rees said: "In terms of the AstraZeneca vaccine ... this has been granted emergency use (approval)."
Former President Donald Trump's departure from office "caused a major rift in the GOP, but his relationship with the GOP isn't the only one that's been strained," Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show. "You see, there was another organization that played an equally important role in Trump's political rise: Fox News. For four years, they treated Trump the way a white lady treats her dog: he was a good boy, and if he peed on you, it was your fault.
The Philippines has protested a new Chinese law that authorizes its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels and destroy other countries' structures on islands it claims, Manila's top diplomat said Wednesday. Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a tweet that the new Chinese law “is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies” it. “While enacting law is a sovereign prerogative, this one — given the area involved, or for that matter the open South China Sea — is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies the law,” Locsin said.
Thailand is targeting the immunisation of 19 million people against the coronavirus in a first phase of inoculations starting on Feb. 14, the prime minister said on Wednesday, amid criticism the government has been slow in rolling out vaccines. Inoculations will begin with 50,000 doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine, Prayuth Chan-ocha said. By May, Thailand will have received 150,000 doses from AstraZeneca.
In an unusual and potentially groundbreaking decision, French drugmaker Sanofi said Wednesday it will help bottle and package 125 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by its rivals Pfizer and BioNTech, while its own vaccine candidate faces delays. The announcement came as delays or production problems for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and a vaccine from Britain's AstraZeneca have caused political uproar across the European Union. Sanofi's Frankfurt facilities will help with late-stage production of vaccines prepared by Germany-based BioNTech, including bottling and packaging, starting in the summer, according to a Sanofi official.
The Biden administration has put a temporary hold on several major foreign arms sales initiated by former President Donald Trump. Officials say that among the deals being paused is a massive $23 billion transfer of stealth F-35 fighters to the United Arab Emirates. The new administration is reviewing the sales but has not made any determination about whether they will actually go through, the State Department said.
Israel and Sudan will finalise a diplomatic deal to normalise relations at a signing ceremony in Washington in the next three months, Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said on Wednesday. There was no immediate comment from Sudanese officials or from the U.S. embassy in Israel. Sudan's civilian government has said the deal to normalise relations with Israel can only take effect once approved by a transitional legislative council that is yet to be formed.
The U.S. State Department is reviewing a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide by repressing Uighur Muslims in its Xinjiang region to make sure it sticks, President Joe Biden's pick to be U.N. ambassador said on Wednesday. "The State Department is reviewing that now because all of the procedures were not followed," Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations committee. Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the move last week, one day before Biden took office, "after careful examination of the available facts," accusing the Chinese Communist Party of crimes against humanity targeting the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities since at least March 2017.
When Lebanon's financial meltdown began in late 2019, Hassan Shoumar was locked out of his dollar savings like everyone else in the country as banks clamped down with capital controls. Shoumar had kept an account at the association for years, ever since he had taken a loan from it to pay university fees. Unlike Lebanon's commercial banks, the accounts at the association didn't earn interest.
The head of the Republican National Committee on Wednesday declined to encourage former President Donald Trump to run for the White House in 2024, saying the GOP would stay “neutral” in its next presidential primary. In an interview, RNC Chairman Ronna McDaniel also described the pro-Trump conspiracy theory group known as QAnon as “dangerous." The national GOP, under McDaniel's leadership, spent the past four years almost singularly focused on Trump's 2020 reelection.
“By encouraging this act of terror on our capital, Trump’s legacy is destroyed.”
“Both backers and critics of Trump agreed that he remade the federal judiciary — a change that will impact America for decades.”
“He was largely responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans who did not need to die.”
“I do know what the future should hold for this country. That is to say, a policy of Trumpism without Trump.”
“It will be decades before the consequences of his tenure are fully known.”