Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz said on Saturday his "initial assessment" was that Iran was responsible for an explosion on an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman. The ship, a vehicle-carrier named MV Helios Ray, suffered an explosion between Thursday and Friday morning. A U.S. defence official in Washington said the blast left holes above the waterline in both sides of the hull.
- The Telegraph
Anas Sarwar has been elected Scottish Labour leader, and pledged in his victory speech to “rebuild" the party before turning his attention to the country. Winning a snap leadership election ten weeks before May’s Holyrood election, Mr Sarwar, MSP for Glasgow, beat his only rival candidate, Monica Lennon, by getting 57.6 percent of the vote. The contest was announced following the resignation of Richard Leonard, the previous Scottish Labour leader, in January. Mr Sarwar, described as the first Muslim leader of a major political party in the UK, now faces the task of rebuilding a party running third in polls ahead of the Holyrood election. In his victory speech he called his win the “greatest honour of my life.” He said: “Today we have elected the first-ever ethnic minority leader of a political party in the UK. That doesn't say something about me. "That says something great about Scotland and its people. But the fight for equality is far from over. I'll work with all our diverse communities in Scotland to rebuild the country we love." Mr Sarwar became the fifth leader of Scottish Labour, seen by many as a divided party, to hold the position since 2014. He has rejected calls for a new referendum on Scottish independence. “I know Labour has a lot of work to do to win back your trust, because if we’re brutally honest, you haven’t had the Scottish Labour party you deserve,” he said. “With rising injustice, inequality and division, I’m sorry we haven’t been good enough, and I will work day and night to change that, so we can build a country we all need.” UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said of Mr Sarwar: “Under his leadership, Scottish Labour will focus on what unites us, not what divides us. "I know Anas will do the hard work that is necessary to win back the trust of the Scottish people and build for the future as we emerge from this pandemic.” Mr Sarwar, a former deputy leader of Scottish Labour, pledged to “make the case for a Covid recovery parliament with an NHS restart plan at its heart, so we never again have to choose between treating a virus or treating cancer.” Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, tweeted congratulations to Mr Sarwar. “He (and his dad before him) and I are long-time political opponents, but I also like and rate him,” she wrote. “That may not always be obvious in the weeks ahead as election battle is joined, so worth saying so now." Mr Sarwar's father Mohammad became the Muslim MP in the UK in 1997 when he was elected to represent Glasgow Govan. Retiring in 2010, Mohammad relinquished his UK citizenship in 2013 before launching a political career in Pakistan. In August 2018, he was elected Governor of Punjab after previously serving the Senate.
- The Telegraph
The Duke of Cambridge has warned that social media is “awash with rumours and misinformation” about coronavirus vaccines as he sought to bolster his grandmother’s message of support for the jab. He said that vaccinations were “really, really important” and highlighted the need to keep the take-up high among younger generations. The Duke and Duchess took part in a video call with two clinically vulnerable women who have been shielding with their families since last March, the latest in a string of royal engagements focused on the vaccine campaign. Last week, the Queen made a rare personal comment on the nationwide rollout, suggesting that those who refuse the vaccine "ought to think about other people rather than themselves". Her Majesty, 94, said it was important that people were "protected" by the vaccine, revealing that hers was "very quick” and “didn't hurt at all." The Royal Family's engagement with the programme comes after the Queen declared last March, just before the first lockdown: "You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part." The Duke and Duchess were chatting to Shivali Modha, 39, who has type 2 diabetes, and Fiona Doyle, 37, who has severe asthma, both of whom are now eligible for the vaccine as part of Priority Group 6.
- 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.
It's been 40 years since Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announced their engagement with a televised interview.
- 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.
A surge in cases in some Indian states has scientists worried about a possible new wave.
- The Independent
Mary Miller started her term as an Illinois representative on 3 January 2021
Prince Harry says 99-year-old Prince Philip just slams his laptop shut instead of hanging up at the end of Zoom calls
The prince told James Corden that he'd had a few Zoom calls with his grandparents where they got to see Archie running around.
- The Daily Beast
Sarah Meyssonnier/ReutersFederal authorities rolled into Shelby County, Tennessee, this week as the mismanagement disasters plaguing the local coronavirus vaccine rollout reached a boiling point.The county health department allowed more than 2,000 doses to spoil, two children were vaccinated against Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, and a volunteer allegedly made off with doses from one site. The Tennessee Health Department, the FBI, and the CDC are now investigating. The head of the Shelby health department, Alisa Haushalter, resigned Friday. Now residents are left questioning whether the doses they received were expired doses.“You begin to feel like you were safe to go out and do things, but now you don’t know if you’re covered or not. You don’t know if the shot you got is effective or not,” said Gayle Jones, 80, who was born and raised in Cordova, Tennessee. She received her second shot of the Pfizer vaccine Wednesday. “We’ve missed a whole year by staying at home. We finally felt like we could get out and maybe be OK.”Hundreds of people are echoing her statements on Facebook in comments on bulletins from the county health department.Ingrid Chilton, 68, vented her frustration below one post, “Let’s talk about the thousands of Memphians who don’t know whether they have been properly vaccinated since the thawing of the vaccines was not done in accordance with CDC guidelines!”Chilton and her 75-year-old husband flew from their home in Tiburon, California, to visit their son in downtown Memphis for two weeks in late February 2020. They have stayed for a year, living in the same two weeks’ worth of clothing. Saturday would be the day they reached full immunity, two weeks from their second Pfizer shots. She and her husband had begun discussing when they would return to Tiburon.“Today was the day I was supposed to be celebrating, like ‘We’re free!’ and instead we get this. I feel like we’re in limbo again,” she told The Daily Beast.The state began investigating the county health department last week after an announcement that the county had permitted 1,300 doses to expire in February. State investigators found that in actuality, 2,400 doses had gone bad this month and were trashed, with 840 wasted in one day, Feb. 15. Though the vaccines require ultra-cold storage to remain viable, some syringes felt warm to the investigator’s touch, the Tennessean reported.Adding to residents’ fears, some doses have gone missing. State Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said in a press conference Friday that 12 syringes had expired during a Feb. 23 vaccination event, but no one had returned them to the distributing pharmacy. The doses remain unaccounted for.“There does appear to be a lack of accountability and in some sense leadership, which has undoubtedly potentially harmed some folks and withheld vaccine from people who needed it,” Piercey said.Jones had hoped to feel safe attending the births of two great-grandchildren due soon. She thinks she will still go, albeit now with feelings of uncertainty and risk. Her daughter, her son, and two of her grandchildren have all had COVID-19. A granddaughter and a granddaughter-in-law are both pregnant and work in health care.“We’ll have to take it as it is. I don’t know if they’ll be able to prove if the vaccine we got was real and effective or not,” she said.Chilton will postpone her travel until the investigation into the vaccination effort concludes.“I don’t know if we’ll ever know accurately whether we’re protected or not,” she said.Memphis’ city health department has taken over vaccination efforts for the entire county.In addition to its procedural woes, the vaccination effort has suffered an alleged robbery. The state notified the FBI Thursday that a volunteer allegedly stole vaccine doses on Feb. 3, according to Piercey. The state health commissioner said the city had not been forthcoming with information on the disappearance of the doses, leading to a delay of nearly a month in reporting it. Shelby County Chief Administrative Officer Dwan Gilliom said Piercey was incorrect and that law enforcement had been made aware but that no arrests had been made.Two children were vaccinated in Shelby County on Feb. 3 as well, according to Piercey. Neither the Moderna nor Pfizer vaccine is approved for anyone under the age of 16, as the medicine has only been tested on adults.The mess has further eroded Jones’ already cratering trust in the local government, which has struggled with picking up garbage and supplying water to residents in recent weeks.“They just need to get their act together in the Memphis government. They’re totally unreliable,” said Jones. “We just had the water boil for 8 days because all the mains broke. It just has you thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, can’t you do anything?’”Chilton feels similarly.“I don’t think my feelings toward the county and state health department would be fit to print, frankly,” 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.
- Business Insider
Trump wants to start a new super PAC headed by former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, report says
Trump plans a new political action committee to maintain his grip on the Republican Party, Politico says.
It is the latest in the spate of mass kidnaps in Nigeria. On Saturday, 42 people, including 27 students, were freed by gunmen after 10 days.
Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler approved an operation to capture or kill murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, according to U.S. intelligence released on Friday as the United States imposed sanctions on some of those involved but spared the crown prince himself in an effort to preserve relations with the kingdom. Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote opinion columns for the Washington Post critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's policies, was killed and dismembered by a team of operatives linked to the prince in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. The Saudi government, which has denied any involvement by the crown prince, issued a statement rejecting the U.S. report's findings and repeating its previous statements that Khashoggi's killing was a heinous crime by a rogue group.
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.
"The Crown" has previously drawn criticism from royal insiders and politicians for its fictional depiction of the royal family.
Ben Affleck says his divorce from Jennifer Garner and other 'life experience' shaped him into a better actor
In a new interview as part of The Hollywood Reporter's Actor Roundtable series, Affleck spoke about Garner and the three kids they share.
- Associated Press
As many as 10 death row inmates in Oklahoma, more than one-fifth of the state’s prisoners condemned to die, could escape execution because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling concerning criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country. The inmates have challenged their convictions in state court following the high court’s ruling last year, dubbed the McGirt decision, that determined a large swath of eastern Oklahoma remains an American Indian reservation. The decision means that Oklahoma prosecutors lack the authority to pursue criminal charges in cases in which the defendants, or the victims, are tribal citizens.
- The Independent
CPAC: Gaetz says media ‘biased’ over Ted Cruz’s Cancun trip and should have focused on ‘caravans’ of migrants instead
Outspoken GOP congressman complains ‘the left and the media’ were less concerned about ‘caravans going through Mexico’ than Texas senator visiting
- 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.
- 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.