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International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Wednesday announced her intention to open an investigation into crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian territories since 2014. Why it matters: The investigation is expected to consider possible war crimes by Israel and Hamas during the 2014 war in Gaza, as well as the construction of West Bank settlements by Israel. It could sharply increase tensions between Israel, which fiercely opposes the probe, and Palestinian leaders, who requested it.Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeThe investigation will also force the Biden administration to wade into the Israel-Palestine conflict, which had been very low on its foreign policy priorities list.Israel is very concerned that any investigation could lead to international arrest warrants against Israeli officials and military officers and could boost BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns against Israel.The latest: The Palestinian foreign ministry welcomed the decision as an opportunity for justice and accountability and called for a swift investigation.Netanyahu called the investigation an "attack" on Israel and vowed to "fight for the truth.""The biased International Criminal Court took a hypocritical and anti-Semitic decision," he said. "The court doesn't say anything about the real war crimes Iran and Syria commit."What's next: Bensouda said the priorities of the investigation will be determined in the coming weeks, taking into consideration coronavirus-related operational challenges, the limited resources of her office and the current heavy workload.Bensouda made this decision in her final months in office, and it's unclear whether she coordinated the move with her successor.What she's saying: “Any investigation undertaken by the Office will be conducted independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favor," Bensouda said in a statement.She added that the investigation will take time and be grounded in facts and the law. "My office will take the same principled, non-partisan approach that it has adopted in all situations over which its jurisdiction is seized. We have no agenda other than to meet our statutory duties under the Rome Statute with professional integrity," she said.Flashback: The Trump administration joined Israel in mounting a vigorous campaign in 2019 to block a potential investigation, including by placing sanctions on Bensouda and other court officials.ICC judges cleared the way for a potential investigation last month when they ruled that the court has jurisdiction in the West Bank and Gaza. (Israel isn't a party to the Rome Statute, which set the court's mandate, but the Palestinian territories are.)Behind the scenes: Israel had asked dozens of allies to convey a "discreet message" to urge Bensouda not to move forward with the probe, as Axios reported two weeks ago. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu also asked President Biden to keep U.S. sanctions on the court in place as leverage.Like this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.
- The Week
Nearly two months after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building, officials are warning a militia group may be plotting another breach. The U.S. Capitol Police said Wednesday it has obtained intelligence "that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group" on March 4. Backers of the debunked QAnon conspiracy theory falsely believe former President Donald Trump will actually be sworn into office for a second term on March 4, despite losing the 2020 presidential election. "Our department is working with our local, state, and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol," Capitol Police said. "We are taking the intelligence seriously." Officials previously said they would "enhance our security posture and staffing for a number of days, to include March 4," due to "concerning information and intelligence" surrounding that date, ABC News reports. This comes after the acting chief of the Capitol Police, Yogananda Pittman, warned Congress there are militia groups who were present at the Jan. 6 riot who "want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible" when President Biden addresses a joint session of Congress for the first time. Because of this, Pittman said it's necessary for Capitol Police to "maintain its enhanced and robust security posture," including fencing and National Guard presence. The date for that address by Biden hasn't yet been decided. House of Representatives Acting Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett has also reportedly raised concerns about March 4 threats, with CNN reporting he sent a letter to lawmakers on Wednesday warning of Capitol Police's "new and concerning information and intelligence indicating additional interest in the Capitol" by a militia group on March 4 through March 6. Blodgett, CNN notes, previously told members this week there was "no indication" that any groups were coming to Washington, D.C. to protest or "commit acts of violence." More stories from theweek.comJoe Biden just yanked away stimulus checks from 17 million Americans7 scathingly funny cartoons about Trump's CPAC appearanceAfter 50 years, a long-lost family photo has made its way back where it belongs
- The Independent
5,000 National Guard troops remain in DC amid QAnon frenzy that Trump will be inaugurated again this week
QAnon followers believe that on 4 March, which was once the inauguration date of US presidents, Donald Trump will become president again
- The Independent
Republicans in 43 states have introduced more than 250 bills restricting voting rights, underscoring urgency in Congress to pass sweeping elections legislation, Alex Woodward reports
- The Telegraph
- Business Insider
A wealthy Florida Keys community received vaccines before the rest of the state. A month later, one resident sent $250,000 to the governor.
The Miami Herald report came amid criticism of Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who has been accused of playing favorites with vaccine distribution.
- The Daily Beast
WPA PoolMeghan Markle is expected to discuss racism in the U.K. in her sit-down with Oprah Winfrey that airs on Sunday.In a depressing illustration of the problem, which Prince Harry has previously described as “structural” in Britain, a prominent British journalist and frequent critic of Meghan Markle is under fire after launching an extraordinary and racist attack on her, in which he appeared to suggest the fact that he thinks she is “attractive” meant she could not be a victim of racism.Andrew Pierce, a senior editor at the Daily Mail who is a regular guest on British TV and radio shows, was hosting a talk radio show Wednesday when a caller suggested that Meghan had never been “fully accepted because of her skin color.”Pierce, who is white, responded, “Oh God, that one again! Do you look at her… and see a Black woman? Because I don’t. I see a very attractive, a very attractive woman. It’s never occurred to me. I never look at her and think, ‘Gosh she’s Black!’ in the way you look at Oprah Winfrey, you would be in no doubt. When they sit down and do that interview, you will see a Black woman called Oprah Winfrey and you will see a woman who describes [herself] as a woman of color. Her mother is Black, she’s from a mixed-race family of course. But I just don’t think people look at Meghan and think, ‘Oh I hate her, because of her skin color.’ I don’t see it. I don’t buy it.”Just a reminder of who Andrew Pierce is... (sound on) pic.twitter.com/wUKq6deFAY— Royal Suitor (@royal_suitor) March 3, 2021 Pierce, a frequent critic of Markle, had earlier in the day been a guest on British TV show Good Morning Britain. The segment in which he appeared was criticized for featuring five white men talking about Meghan. Pierce attacked Meghan as hypocritical on the show over allegations she bullied staff at Buckingham Palace and also attacked her later in the day on Twitter for wearing jewelry gifted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.#Meghan wore diamonds from Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia 3 weeks says @thetimes after he ordered murder of #JamalKhashoggi it's not just appalling timing, why is she taking diamonds from Saudi which treats women as 3rd class citizens. So much for her worldwide equality campaign— Andrew Pierce (@toryboypierce) March 3, 2021 The shocking comments by Pierce that appeared to question Meghan’s race based on her appearance echo a revealing article written for Elle magazine in 2015 by Markle in which she said her race made it difficult for her to break through in Hollywood: “I wasn’t Black enough for the Black roles and I wasn’t white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn’t book a job.”She added: “Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating.“While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that. To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.”On Martin Luther King Day 2016, Markle published a moving piece of writing on her now-shuttered blog The Tig that explored the overt and covert racism she and her family have experienced throughout their lives.Pierce’s remarks have generated outraged commentary on social media.This is what Meghan had to deal with. Listen to how Andrew Pierce defines the attractiveness and diversity of a black woman. Heartbreaking. @Oprah @GayleKing @meenaharris @RobinRoberts @MichelleObama @WhoopiGoldberg https://t.co/pDKD4tN6vH— Pam Ranberg (@PamRanberg) March 3, 2021 Nervousness at the palace about what Meghan might reveal in her interview with Oprah intensified today after a new promo clip of Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey was released. It shows Meghan accuse the British royal family of “perpetuating falsehoods” about her and her husband. Winfrey asks, “How do you feel about the palace hearing you speak your truth today?” Markle responds, “I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there is an active role that The Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us. And if that comes with risk of losing things, there is a lot that has been lost already.”Royals often use the term “The Firm” to refer to the monarchy.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.
- CBS News
The launch and landing were successful, but the prototype exploded a few minutes after touchdown.
- NBC News
All federal government agencies have until noon Friday to download the latest software update to block the perpetrator.
Some former political appointees say they were promised lump-sum payouts and are now struggling to pay rent.
- The Week
During the campaign for the two Georgia Senate races, Joe Biden repeatedly promised to pass $2,000 stimulus checks if the Democrats won. After they did, the administration argued that $2,000 really meant $1,400 in addition to the $600 that had already gone out in the December rescue package. Whether that is true or not, now Biden is inarguably breaking his promise. Under pressure from moderate Senate Democrats, he has reportedly agreed to cut down the formula under which the checks will be sent out. In the previous packages, the amount started phasing out at $75,000 in income for individuals and $150,000 for joint filers, and vanished entirely at $100,000 and $200,000 respectively (as of 2019). Now the phase-out will start start in the same place but end at $80,000 for singles and $160,000 for couples. The $1,400 promise clearly implied at least that the checks would go out according to the previous formula used under Trump. But now singles making between $80,000-100,000 and couples making between $160,000-200,000 will get nothing. The Washington Post's Jeff Stein reports that roughly 17 million people who previously got checks now will not. The supposed justification here is that moderates want the aid to be more "targeted." In fact this formula is horribly inaccurate, because the income data the IRS uses is from the year before the pandemic (unless people have already filed their taxes — and by the way, if your income decreased in 2020, you should do that immediately). This formula is therefore doubly wrong — there are no doubt millions of people who have lost jobs and should qualify but won't, and a smaller number that have gotten raises and shouldn't qualify but will. And this change will only save a pitiful $12 billion. The survival checks are one of the most popular government programs in American history. Polls have them at something like 4-1 approval. "Moderation," for Senate Democrats, apparently means breaking their party's promises in the service of unpopular, pointless actions that make their president seem less generous than Donald Trump. More stories from theweek.com7 scathingly funny cartoons about Trump's CPAC appearanceAfter 50 years, a long-lost family photo has made its way back where it belongsThe complicated quagmire of Dr. Seuss
- The Telegraph
The Duchess of Sussex wore earrings given to her by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia three weeks after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, against advice from palace aides, The Telegraph understands. The Duchess, 39, had been given the Butani earrings as an official wedding present from the Saudi Royal Family. When she wore them to a formal dinner in Fiji in October 2018, during a royal tour, the media were told that they were “borrowed” but unusually, declined to offer further information or guidance. The dinner took place three weeks after Mr Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Duchess’s lawyers insisted that at the time of the dinner, she was unaware of speculation that the crown prince was involved in the murder of the journalist. However, a royal source claimed that palace staff had advised the Duchess not to wear the jewellery. “Members of Royal Household staff sometimes advise people on their options,” one said. “But what they choose to do with that advice is a very different matter.”
QAnon influencers are attacking their movement's hyped March 4 event, calling it a false flag conspiracy theory
QAnon planned for March 4 as its next big date. The movement's influencers are already looking forward to the next goal post.
- Business Insider
Biden cuts 16 million people off from stimulus checks after striking deal with moderate Senate Democrats, study says
Biden approved phasing out direct payments entirely for individuals making above $80,000 a year and married couples earning more than $160,000.
During a recent interview on Good Morning America with host Robin Roberts, former First Lady Michelle Obama opened up about how she and her husband, former President Barack Obama, have open communications with their two young-adult daughters. “I always have wanted them to start practicing the power of their voices very early on,” Mrs. Obama shared of Sasha, 19, and Malia, 22.
A lawyer for an accused Oath Keeper Capitol rioter says the group's 'quick reaction force' of weapon suppliers was actually just one guy
The Oath Keepers were one of the most prominent far-right militia groups the FBI said was involved in the January 6 Capitol riot.
- Business Insider
The Trumps are trying to sell a Florida home for $49 million after buying it from the former president's sister for $18 million in 2018
Eric Trump tweeted a listing for a home that the family is trying to sell through a limited liability company for more than twice its 2018 value.
- Business Insider
Dr. Fauci has a stunningly simple way to explain how Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine differs from Pfizer's and Moderna's shots
All three of the COVID-19 shots authorized for use in the US train the body to recognize the coronavirus, but J&J's uses a cold virus instead of mRNA.
- Business Insider
Court docs reveal Saudi wealth fund courted by Hollywood and Wall Street owned planes used in Jamal Khashoggi's killing
A Saudi investment fund courted by Hollywood and Silicon Valley owns two planes used to fly Jamal Khashoggi's killers to and from Istanbul.
- The Telegraph
Nicola Sturgeon chokes back tears as she rejects 'absurd' claims she was out to destroy Alex Salmond
Nicola Sturgeon choked back tears and insisted "I would never have wanted to 'get' Alex Salmond" as she rejected as "absurd" his claims of a plot among senior SNP figures to destroy him. The First Minister told a Holyrood inquiry the "simple" truth was that several women made complaints about Mr Salmond's behaviour and "I refused to follow the usual pattern of allowing a powerful man to use his status and connections to get what he wants." In an appearance spanning more than eight hours, against the backdrop of calls for her resignation, Ms Sturgeon insisted she had seen "nothing that comes within a million miles" of backing Mr Salmond's conspiracy claims. Although she reiterated it was "beyond question" that Mr Salmond had been cleared of all criminal charges, she said his behaviour was still "deeply inappropriate" and "there was not a single word of regret" from him during his six hours of testimony last week. Ms Sturgeon appeared on the verge of tears, with her voice breaking, as she was invited to apologise to the Scottish people for arguing for years they could trust Mr Salmond to take them to independence. Murdo Fraser, a Tory MSP, pressed her when she had decided he "was no longer the Charles Stewart Parnell of Scotland, and was in fact a liar and a fantasist?’"