Warm but dry Saturday expected
There was no breakthrough at a "hugely disappointing" meeting between the European Commission and the British government on Wednesday over post-Brexit trade issues in Northern Ireland, the region's first minister, Arlene Foster, said on Wednesday. The British government is demanding concessions from the European Union to minimise disruption in trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom that have emerged since Britain left the bloc's trading orbit in January.
- The Telegraph
Amnesty accused of 'siding with tyrants' for revoking Alexei Navalny’s 'prisoner of conscience' status
Amnesty International has been accused of “siding with tyrants” and buckling to a Kremlin-backed disinformation campaign after it revoked Russian opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny’s status as a prisoner of conscience. The global human rights organisation said Mr Navalny, who was jailed last week after surviving an assassination attempt apparently orchestrated by the Russian security services, did not deserve the designation because comments he made 15 years ago about immigration. In a move that drew immediate condemnation from fellow human rights activists and appeared to catch the organisation’s own Russian office by surprise, the group said it had taken an "internal decision to stop referring to Aleksei Navalny as a prisoner of conscience in relation to comments he made in the past". “Some of these comments, which Navalny has not publicly denounced, reach the threshold of advocacy of hatred, and this is at odds with Amnesty's definition of a prisoner of conscience,” Denis Krivosheev, the deputy director of Amnesty's Europe and Central Asia office, said in a statement. Mr Krivosheev appeared to be referring to two videos Mr Navalny produced in 2007 when he was entering national politics. One is an argument for gun rights in which he advocated carrying a pistol for self defence against Islamist terrorists, who he compared to “cockroaches”. In the second he posed as a dentist to argue that only by deporting immigrants could Russia prevent inter-ethnic conflict and the rise of the far-Right. He has never retracted the statements. Mr Navalny has also been criticised for attending the Russian March, an annual nationalist rally that drew large crowds in Moscow in the 2000s. Mr Krivosheev did not explain how the group had been previously unaware of the videos, which are well-known among followers of Russian human rights and current affairs.
Kaley Cuoco thought she was meeting with her 'Big Bang Theory' costars to discuss a 13th season - instead she found out the show was ending
The actress said she was "in a state of shock" when Jim Parsons said he wanted to leave the series thus ending the popular CBS sitcom.
- National Review
A federal judge on Tuesday indefinitely banned the Biden administration from enforcing a 100-day pause on deportations of most illegal immigrants in response to a lawsuit from Texas, which argued that the moratorium violated federal law and could saddle the state with additional costs. U.S. district judge Drew Tipton issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday, dealing a blow to President Biden’s efforts to follow through on his campaign promise to pause most deportations. The pause would not have applied to those who have engaged in terrorism or espionage or who pose a danger to national security. It would also have excluded those who were not present in the U.S. before November 1, 2020, those who agreed to waive the right to remain, and those whom the ICE director individually determined need to be removed by law. Tipton first ruled on January 26 that the pause violated federal law on administrative procedure and that the U.S. failed to show why a deportation pause was justified. He issued a temporary two-week restraining order, which was set to expire Tuesday. Texas attorney general Ken Paxton argued that Biden’s January 20 memorandum violated federal law and an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security that Texas be consulted before reducing immigration enforcement or pausing deportations. As part of the agreement, DHS must give Texas 180 days notice of any proposed change on any matter that would reduce enforcement or increase the number of “removable or inadmissible aliens” in the United States. However, the ruling does not require deportations to resume at their previous pace and immigration agencies have broad discretion in enforcing removals and processing cases. In the wake of the first ruling, authorities deported hundreds of people to Central America and 15 people to Jamaica. The administration has also continued deportations that began under the Trump administration due to a public-health law in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
- The Week
The 'most encouraging' aspect of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine may be its effectiveness in South Africa, Brazil
The Food and Drug Administration appears to be closing in on an emergency use authorization for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which a large clinical trial has shown to be safe and effective. And the "most encouraging" aspect in the FDA's analysis may be the data that suggest the shot works in areas where highly contagious variants are spreading, like Brazil and South Africa. The overall efficacy rate — that is, protection against any symptomatic infection — in the South African trial was lower than it was in the United States initially, but the numbers did start to even out over time, and after a month, the shot's efficacy rate against severe infections was 82 percent. The figures out of Brazil show a similar trajectory, though the efficacy rate against severe infections was actually slightly higher than in the U.S. FDA just posted briefing documents for its expert panel discussing the J&J Covid shot Friday. This is the first clear breakdown I've seen of efficacy in areas w/ variant spread, but shows efficacy building over time: pic.twitter.com/YReI2QkvZa — Sarah Owermohle (@owermohle) February 24, 2021 Of course, the trial data is not a guarantee of the vaccine's effectiveness in a real-world setting, but the FDA's breakdown should still help alleviate growing concerns that the so-called South African variant, especially, can completely resist vaccinations, an outcome that would add to the challenge of slowing the pandemic going forward. More stories from theweek.comThe MyPillow guy might be Trump's ultimate chumpThe MC Hammer school of philosophyLate night hosts laugh at Rudy Giuliani literally running from his $1.3 billion lawsuit, tie in CPAC
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he has not made a decision yet on the future of the two-decade-old Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, leaving the fate of the pact hanging in the balance. Duterte has said the United States should pay more if it wants to maintain the VFA, which he unilaterally cancelled last year in an angry response to an ally being denied a U.S. visa. "I have not yet decided on what to do, to abrogate or renew," Duterte said in a late-night televised address on Wednesday.
- Business Insider
After suing Mike Lindell, Sidney Powell, and Rudy Giuliani, Dominion says it will go after others who spread claims of election fraud - and it's 'not ruling anyone out'
Asked whether the company would sue Fox News after Mike Lindell, Dominion CEO John Poulos said the voting-machine company was "not ruling anyone out."
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex say they will continue to support their royal patronages despite not being allowed to do so as royals.
Eddie Murphy says Ryan Coogler tried to make a 'Coming to America' sequel starring Michael B. Jordan - but he didn't like the idea
Eddie Murphy said that Ryan Coogler's idea had Michael B. Jordan playing his son, "looking for a wife."
- USA TODAY Opinion
'What you need to know is that my client believes he won Georgia, the Electoral College and the presidency. As crazy as that sounds, he believes it.'
- Associated Press Videos
The White House says it continues to stand by Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, despite the opposition of a growing number of Senators, throwing her nomination increasingly into doubt. (Feb. 23)
- Business Insider
"I don't believe [Trump] should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country," Cheney said.
- The Daily Beast
Darrin Zammit Lupi via ReutersROME—The confession of a partially blind hitman in the heinous murder of Maltese muckracker journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has kicked off a slew of new arrests in the complicated case.On Tuesday, a Maltese judge accepted the startling guilty plea of Vincent Muscat, 57, who had originally pleaded not guilty along with brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, for setting off the car bomb that killed Galizia on a country road near her home in Malta in October 2017. The brothers, who were also in the courtroom, maintain their not guilty pleas in the case. Muscat’s lawyers say the change in tact is part of a guilty plea that should see their client out of jail by 2027.Malta Arrests in Daphne Caruana Galizia Murder Still Don’t Solve the CrimeMuscat, who is blind in one eye after being shot at close range in April 2014 in an attempted vendetta murder, was sentenced on Tuesday to 15 years in prison of which he has already served three years. He admitted to all six charges against him: the wilful homicide of Daphne Caruana Galizia, causing an explosion which led to the death of a person, illegal possession of explosives, conspiracy to carry out a crime, promotion of a group intending to carry out criminal acts and participation in such a group. He was separately awarded a presidential pardon in the 2015 murder of lawyer Carmel Circop, in which he supplied crucial information after confessing to his periphery involvement in that crime. That pardon does not impact the Galizia sentencing.Just moments after Muscat’s change of heart was read in court by his lawyer, police swooped in on a secret hideout of brothers Adrian and Robert Agius and accomplice Jamie Vella, arresting the trio for allegedly supplying the bomb that killed Galizia. Police say more arrests are expected. On Wednesday, local media in Malta reported that three more arrests were imminent, including those with ties to organized crime in Italy and Malta. Galizia’s many investigative targets revealed on her blog Running Commentary, which still receives thousands of hits a day according to her sons, included the country’s then prime minister Joseph Muscat (no relation to Vincent). His wife was tied to the corrupt Pilatius bank exposed in the Panama Papers. Since her murder, journalists collaborating on Galizia’s original investigations under The Daphne Project have uncovered further connections between the Maltese prime minister’s wife and the bank. Muscat resigned under pressure in 2019 over his associates’ alleged ties to the murder.The former prime minister’s associate, energy tycoon Yorgen Fenech, who secretly owned 17 Black, a company that was a frequent target of Galizia’s journalistic investigations, was arrested on his yacht en route to Italy in December 2019. He is charged with masterminding the murder and denies involvement. Preliminary hearings in his trial are expected to resume March 18.Fenech’s arrest came after taxi driver Melvin Theuma confessed to being a middleman between Fenech and those accused of carrying out the killing. Vincent Muscat’s plea bargain reportedly includes testimony that corroborates the taxi driver‘s claims. Fenech has secured a presidential pardon and full protection in exchange for his testimony. The Daphne Project reporting consortium has learned that Galizia received a cache of thousands of emails and documents tied to a company owned by Fenech. Investigators believe that she may have been killed before she could expose the contents of the documents.The family of Galizia, who believe she was murdered for getting too close to the crimes of Malta’s political elite, issued a cautious statement after Muscat’s plea. “This development will begin the road for total justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia,” they said, adding that her assassination “destroyed her right to life and removed her right to enjoy her family and grandchildren who were born after her murder.”The lawyer for the Galizia family read the statement in court. “The macabre murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia was intentional and could have been avoided. The victim paid with her life and her family are paying for the loss of their loved one,” he said. “I said all this today because if Daphne's family had to respond to the plea bargain based on their emotions, their response would be obvious.”Maltese blogger Manuel Delia, who has written a book on the case, warns that Vincent Muscat’s confession does not solve the case. “Muscat is at the very bottom in the brutal pecking order of this mafia. He is not even a button man. He is a gofer that has seen things and remembered some of them and at a time when he came to face a possible life sentence he has used what he has seen and remembered to negotiate a reduced sentence for himself,” he said Tuesday. “Hearing his confession, his admission of guilt, is a small step in the sad, long and so far otherwise fruitless search for justice.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet 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.
A 22-year-old Russian social media influencer is facing heavy criticism online for posing naked on top of an endangered elephant in Bali, Indonesia for her 553,000 Instagram followers. Alesya Kafelnikova received backlash for the short video she posted on Feb. 13, where she was filmed lying naked on top of a “critically endangered” Sumatran elephant, according to The Sun. In a follow-up post, Kafelnikova shared an image presumably with the same elephant and said in the caption, “To love nature is human nature.”
Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher are one of Hollywood's most private couples. Here's a timeline of their 20-year relationship.
Fisher has said being with Cohen is like "winning the lottery" ... even if she has to deal with his many shenanigans.
Britain must show it is fully using the avenues available under the Brexit divorce deal to minimise trade disruption in Northern Ireland before seeking concessions, a senior EU official said on Tuesday. Britain's exit from the EU's trading orbit in January has created trade barriers between Northern Ireland - which remains in the EU's single market for goods - and the rest of the United Kingdom. Maros Sefcovic, a vice president of the European Commission, said he hoped to learn of British efforts during an online meeting on Wednesday .
- Associated Press
Former Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa told a Japanese court Wednesday he believed the compensation for his predecessor Carlos Ghosn was too low “by international standards,” and so he supported Ghosn’s retirement packages to prevent him from leaving. “Mr. Ghosn had outstanding abilities and achievements,” Saikawa said, testifying in Tokyo District Court in the criminal trial of Greg Kelly, a former senior executive at Nissan Motor Co.
- Associated Press
Visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has proclaimed his Muslim-majority nation a choice destination for religious tourism by Sri Lankans, most of whom are Buddhists. In talks with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday, Khan highlighted Buddhist heritage sites in Pakistan and stressed the building of cultural ties, the Pakistan Embassy said in a statement.
'Superman & Lois' showrunner and star paid homage to the superhero's first comic appearance in the series premiere
Showrunner Todd Helbing and star Tyler Hoechlin tell Insider what it was like paying homage to Superman's early days in the comics and cartoons.
Mara Wilson details the perils of child stardom and draws a line between her experiences with those of Britney Spears.