By Philip Pullella VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - A commission looking into the Vatican bank briefed Pope Francis and top cardinals on its findings on Tuesday ahead of a papal decision about what to do with the institution that has embarrassed the Holy See for decades. The Vatican commission, which the pope set up in June, gave Francis and his eight-member advisory board of cardinals from around the world a three-hour briefing. Afterward, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said no decisions on the bank's future had been taken. He said the commission gave the pope and the cardinals an "ample and detailed" report on the current and past situation of the bank, and had offered "several possible indications" on its future. Lombardi would not give any details. "We are waiting for indications from the pope," Lombardi said. The pope has not ruled out closing the bank altogether if it cannot be reformed and has said he wants the Vatican to adhere to international standards of financial transparency. There have been suggestions that a new ministry may be set up in the Vatican to deal with all of its financial matters, which are now handled by the bank and several other departments. The eight cardinals from Italy, Chile, India, Germany, Democratic Republic of Congo, the United States, Australia and Honduras are advising Francis on how to reform the Curia, the Vatican's often dysfunctional central administration. The bank, formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), has been hit by scandal numerous times over the past decades. Italian banks stopped dealing with the Vatican bank in 2010 after the Bank of Italy told them they had to enforce strict anti-money laundering criteria. MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES That year, Rome magistrates investigating possible money laundering froze 23 million euros ($31.15 million) held by the IOR in two Italian banks. The IOR said it had merely been transferring its own funds between accounts in other countries. The money was released but the investigation continues. IOR president Ernst von Freyberg, a German hired last year, has been spearheading a wide program of reforms at the bank, which serves Catholic institutions, clerics, employees or former employees of Vatican City, and embassies and diplomats accredited to the Holy See. The IOR has been closing accounts held by persons or institutions outside those categories. Last month Moneyval, a monitoring committee of the Council of Europe, gave the Vatican and its financial regulators a mostly positive assessment but urged more controls over the IOR. The IOR was thrust back into the spotlight last month when Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a former Vatican prelate on trial for an alleged plot to smuggle 20 million euros into Italy was further charged with laundering millions through the bank. The IOR's top two managers resigned in July, several days after Scarano was first arrested. Since then, relations between the Vatican and the Italian magistrates, which has often been thorny in the past, has improved dramatically. Italian investigators have thanked the Vatican for "fully collaborating" on the Scarano case. Pope Francis has a packed week of meetings about reform with top Church officials who are in Rome for ceremonies this Saturday when the pope will create 19 new cardinals from around the world. (Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Tom Heneghan)
- The Independent
Biden raises human rights in call with Saudi king as intelligence officials to release report on Khashoggi killing
President Joe Biden has spoken with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia ahead of the release of a report from US intelligence officials that is expected to reveal that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved and likely ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. A White House report of their phone call on Thursday did not disclose whether they discussed the findings in the report. The leaders “discussed regional security, including the renewed diplomatic efforts led by the United Nations and the United States to end the war in Yemen, and the US commitment to help Saudi Arabia defend its territory as it faces attacks from Iranian-aligned groups,” according to a readout of their call.
- Associated Press
Less than a month after excoriating Donald Trump in a blistering floor speech, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that he would “absolutely” support the former president again if he secured the Republican nomination in 2024. “I've got at least four members that I think are planning on running for president, plus governors and others,” McConnell said. McConnell's remarks underscore an awkward balancing act he sought to maintain since Trump lost the election, reflecting the reality that McConnell’s own path back to power in the Senate hinges on enthusiasm from a party base that still ardently supports Trump.
The vaccine-sharing scheme aims to help poorer countries like Ghana get Covid-19 jabs.
- The Week
Husband of Hitler-quoting GOP congresswoman parked his militia-stickered truck outside Capitol Jan. 6
Illinois state Rep. Chris Miller (R), the husband of freshman U.S. Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.), acknowledged Thursday that his pickup truck was parked in a restricted area outside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot, but he said the "Three Percenter" militia sticker on the back window doesn't mean anything. "Army friend gave me decal," Miller told The Daily Beast in an email late Thursday. "Thought it was a cool decal. Took it off because of negative pub." He said he "never was member" of the militia and "didn't know anything about 3% till fake news started this fake story and read about them." Online sleuths had linked him to the truck visible in footage from a CBS News report, earlier Thursday. The #Sedition3PTruck with government plates parked in a restricted zone from 1:02. #SeditionHunters #Sedition3P Source: https://t.co/DubmxJhjSZ pic.twitter.com/INCs6geEYg — Phoenix on Wheels (@phoenixonwheels) February 25, 2021 The Three Percenters, founded in 2008, are a "radical militia group" implicated in leading the Jan. 6 siege along with the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers,and other far-right extremist groups, the FBI said in an affidavit filed in the case against alleged rioter Robert Gieswein. Their name comes from the apocryphal claim that only 3 percent of U.S. colonists fought in the Revolutionary War, and they fashion themselves as the same kind of tyranny-stomping "patriots." Miller's wife, Mary Miller, is most famous for favorably quoting Nazi leader Adolf Hitler at a "Moms for America" rally outside the Capitol on Jan. 5. "Hitler was right on one thing: whoever has the youth has the future," she told the rally, apologizing later when video of her comments went viral but insisting that "some are trying to intentionally twist my words to mean something antithetical to my beliefs." More stories from theweek.comJournalist Tim O'Brien, who's seen Trump's taxes, thinks Trump's accountant will now flip in D.A. inquiryDemocrats should take the Romney-Cotton proposal seriouslyThe MyPillow guy might be Trump's ultimate chump
- The Week
Journalist Tim O'Brien, who's seen Trump's taxes, thinks Trump's accountant will now flip in D.A. inquiry
Bloomberg's Tim O'Brien, one of the few journalists who has seen former President Donald Trump's tax returns, told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on Thursday night he will sleep better now that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance finally has eight years of Trump's financial documents, from 2011 to 2019. Trump "is very afraid of what's in these documents, I think," because they put him in serious criminal jeopardy, O'Brien said, but he isn't the only one implicated. O'Brien went on to explain why he thinks it's likely Trump's chief accountant, Allen Weisselberg, is likely to flip on Trump. "The thing to really focus in on here is that it's not just the tax records that Cy Vance has now," O'Brien said. "He probably has reams and reams of the accountant's work product. This is a criminal case, they're going to need to prove criminal intent on the part of Trump, his three eldest children, Allen Weisselberg, and anyone else in the Trump Organization who's fallen under the parameters of this investigation. And if there are email and notes and other records of communication about what they intended to do when they inflated the value of buildings so they could get loans against them and then turned around and deflated the value of the buildings so they could pay lower taxes on them, and there's a communication around that that predates any of these tax entries, that is gold for a prosecutor." A few hours earlier, O'Brien told MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace that the particular eight years of documents Vance's team has "is important, because it predates Trump's ascent into the White House, and I think helps build the narrative around the money trail and Trump's motivations for his destructive and obscene dance with people like Vladimir Putin. It's a shame they couldn't go back further — think this is one of the tragic misses of Robert Mueller's investigation, he could have gone back further, I think, than Cy Vance is able to into Trump's finances." O'Brien also underscored that the investigation implicates at least Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, and "it also targets people inside the Trump Organization who might flip on Trump if they're exposed to criminal liability," but "the brass ring in all of this is that if Trump has a criminal conviction, he cannot run for president again, and that's looming over this entire thing as well." More stories from theweek.comDemocrats should take the Romney-Cotton proposal seriouslyThe MyPillow guy might be Trump's ultimate chumpThe GOP's apathy for governing is being exposed
- USA TODAY Opinion
The problem in 2020 was with the Republican candidate. That won't change in 2024 if Trump stays on top.
- Business Insider
While President Biden visits storm-torn Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz will be giving a speech on 'cancel culture' in Florida
The president will tour the state with Gov. Greg Abbott.
- The Week
The Senate on Thursday confirmed former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, 64-35, to lead the Energy Department, with 14 Republicans joining all 50 members of the Democratic caucus to give President Biden his 10th Cabinet-level appointee (plus one deputy secretary). After her confirmation, Granholm tweeted that she's "obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis" and "impatient for results." Granholm repeated her priorities on MSNBC Thursday night. "I am all about bringing clean-energy jobs" to communities, especially those, like Michigan, reliant on fossil fuels, she told host Chris Hayes. "I am totally obsessed about how to create good-paying jobs in America," and the clean-energy sector "is the biggest opportunity for us." The market is shifting toward green energy, regardless of what politicians prefer, and the Energy Department's 17 national labs are creating ways to not only expand renewable energy but also "decarbonize fossil fuels," Granholm said. "And honestly, if we can bring the supply chains for all of these clean-energy products to the United States, instead of letting our economic competitors eat us for lunch, the jobs that could be created for us in the U.S. — good-paying jobs — are boundless." Biden has sent the Senate more nominations, and gotten fewer of them confirmed, than any recent president, Axios reports, citing a count by the Partnership for Public Service and The Washington Post. Biden has submitted more nominees to the Senate — but received fewer confirmations — than recent presidents, data shows. https://t.co/tZQbBPahjI pic.twitter.com/BbuqlSmwOP — Axios (@axios) February 26, 2021 "The new president is facing a pandemic without a surgeon general or head of the Department of Health and Human Services, he confronts an economic crisis without his leaders at Labor or Commerce, and domestic terrorism is on the rise with no attorney general," Axios notes. You can track Biden's nominations at The Washington Post. More stories from theweek.comJournalist Tim O'Brien, who's seen Trump's taxes, thinks Trump's accountant will now flip in D.A. inquiryDemocrats should take the Romney-Cotton proposal seriouslyThe MyPillow guy might be Trump's ultimate chump
Billie Eilish's documentary gives an intimate look at her secret relationship with rapper 7: AMP - and why she decided to end it
They began dating in late 2018, when Eilish was 16. The film chronicles her frustration with his "lack of effort" and "self-destructive" behavior.
The diplomats had no choice as Pyongyang has banned trains from leaving as part of Covid measures.
How a woman lives in a 500-square-foot apartment with 2 roommates, a dog, 100 houseplants - and zero clutter
Maximalist Bruna Mello lives in a sunny, vibrant tiny apartment in South London, and she doesn't let the small space keep her from collecting things.
- Business Insider
Coinbase says the entire crypto market could be destabilized if Bitcoin's anonymous creator is ever revealed or sells their $30 billion stake
Satoshi Nakamoto owns about 5% of the bitcoin market. If their 1.1 million cache was transferred, bitcoin prices could plummet, Coinbase said.
Some Republicans worry that this week's controversial antics from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) have stomped on their attempts to sensitively communicate why they are opposed.
Acting U.S. Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman testified on Thursday that cellphone records show former USCP chief Steven Sund requested National Guard support from the House sergeant-at-arms as early as 12:58pm on Jan. 6, but he did not receive approval until over an hour later.Why it matters: Sund and former House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving clashed at a Senate hearing on Tuesday over a dispute in the timeline for when Capitol Police requested the National Guard during the Capitol insurrection.Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeIrving insisted that he has no recollection of receiving the request until after 2pm. Lawmakers are looking for accountability over that hour of lost time, when pro-Trump rioters were able to breach and ransack the Capitol."I did not get a request at 1:09 that I can remember," Irving, who resigned after the insurrection, testified. "The first conversation I had with chief Sund in that timeframe was 1:28, 1:30. In that conversation, he indicated that conditions were deteriorating and he might be looking for National Guard approval."Details: Pittman testified to a House subcommittee that Sund's phone records show the former chief first reached out for National Guard support to Irving at 12:58pm.Sund then spoke to former Senate sergeant-at-arms Michael Stenger to make the same request at 1:05pm, per Pittman.Pittman says Sund repeated his request to Irving at 1:28pm, then spoke to him again at 1:34pm, 1:39pm and 1:45pm.Go deeper: Pittman testifies officers were unsure of lethal force rules on Jan. 6Like this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.
- The Independent
The building was closed for two days out of an abundance of caution
TikTokers are freaking out after learning that Imagine Dragons made demos for disastrous Spider-Man musical
Multiple viral TikToks circulated about Imagine Dragons working on the Spider-Man musical, with many commenting on the 2012 hit song "Radioactive."
A Texas border patrol officer was charged after she used a coworker's login to bring her children's nanny into the US from Mexico
Prosecutors allege that Rhonda Lee Walker, 40, used her coworker's computer to scan in a Mexican immigrant's paperwork to become her live-in nanny.
- Business Insider
The Department of Defense said the strikes were carried out at the president's direction following attacks on the US military in Iraq.
- The Week
In the race to get former President Donald Trump's tax records, New York prosecutors have won. While it was more of a marathon than a sprint, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office confirmed Thursday that it had received Trump's tax records a year and a half after first requesting them. Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance and his team will now be able to dig through what sources tell CNN are "millions of pages" of documents spanning January 2011 to August 2019. Vance got the documents, which include financial statements and engagement agreements, from Trump's accounting firm Mazars USA. The transfer happened within an hour of the Supreme Court ordering that Mazars hand over the documents on Monday, Vance's spokesperson told reporters. Forensic accountants and analysts are now prepared to root through the records to find potential fraud or wrongdoing by the former president. But because the records were handed over as part of a grand jury investigation, they're unlikely to ever be made public. Democrats in the House had meanwhile been trying to access Trump's tax returns from the time they gained a majority two years ago. Courts had ruled both for and against the Democrats' subpoenas, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ultimately decided in December not to rule in the case, essentially letting Trump run out the clock. It's unclear if Congress will try to pursue Trump's records again now that he's out of the White House. More stories from theweek.comJournalist Tim O'Brien, who's seen Trump's taxes, thinks Trump's accountant will now flip in D.A. inquiryDemocrats should take the Romney-Cotton proposal seriouslyThe MyPillow guy might be Trump's ultimate chump
- Business Insider
Stephen Miller, the architect of Trump's migrant-family-separation scheme, called Biden's immigration policies 'cruel' and 'inhumane'
The family-separation policy made Miller one of the most controversial Trump officials. He even put conservatives on edge.