By Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Syria stands with a worldwide effort to combat Islamic State, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Monday, in a statement to the United Nations that appeared to give tacit approval of U.S. and Arab air strikes in Syria targeting the militants. Moualem told the United Nations General Assembly that military action to tackle Islamic State, al Qaeda's Syrian wing Nusra Front, and other extremist groups should coincide with cutting off their flow of funds, weapons, fighters and training. "It is due time to pool all our efforts against this terrorism, since imminent danger is surrounding everyone and no country is immune to it," Moualem told the annual gathering of world leaders, though he cautioned that any military action must abide by international law and respect a country's sovereignty. The United States forewarned Syria's U.N. ambassador of its plan to begin air strikes against Islamic State targets last week, but did not seek the approval of President Bashar al-Assad's government. Moualem did not specifically condemn the air strikes, but warned that taking military action while some countries continue to support the militants could create a situation in which "the international community will not exit in decades." "Let us simultaneously exert pressure on the countries that joined the coalition led by the United States to stop their support of armed terrorist groups," Moualem said. "Only then combating terrorism militarily becomes viable." Damascus has repeatedly accused Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey of supporting Islamist militant groups during its civil war, which has killed more than 190,000 people and was sparked by a government crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protests in 2011. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey deny the claims, but Western officials say those states have in the past aided such groups. Islamic State has seized large swaths of Syria and Iraq and is accused of massacres and beheadings of civilians and soldiers. So far, air strikes by the United States and allies have failed to halt the militants' expansion into new territory. President Barack Obama has acknowledged that U.S. intelligence underestimated the rise of Islamic State, often referred to as ISIL or ISIS. ISLAMIC STATE 'A CONSEQUENCE, NOT CAUSE' U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the U.N. Security Council, obtained by Reuters on Monday, that civilians in Syria have been subjected to a "worrying increase" in violence and brutality, fueled by Islamic State and other groups and the "continued actions of the Syrian government." "It is worth remembering that ISIL is a consequence, not a cause, of the conflict in Syria. The Syrian conflict has deep political roots and needs to be resolved through negotiations," Ban wrote in his seventh monthly report to the council on the implementation of resolutions that aimed to boost aid access. He said all parties to the conflict "have neglected, ignored and abused their international legal obligations" and despite the valiant efforts of humanitarian aid workers, Syria remains "the world's largest and most pressing humanitarian crisis." Some 10.8 million people in Syria - half the country's population - need assistance, with 6.4 million internally displaced, while another 3 million have fled the country, according to the United Nations. "I would like to assure Syria's readiness to exert all efforts to deliver aid from international organizations to all Syrian citizens without any discrimination wherever they are, and within the framework of respecting the national sovereignty," said Moualem, who blamed militant attacks and U.S. and European sanctions for making the situation worse. Moualem said Assad's government is "striving for a political solution in Syria and in dialogue with all honorable national opposition members opposing terrorism in Syria, and among Syrians themselves and on Syrian territory." The Syrian foreign minister, who is also deputy prime minister, made clear his government does not consider the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition and Free Syrian Army to be a credible opposition. Moualem said his government was open to a political solution with "an opposition that has an impact on the Syrian territory, and has deep roots inside Syria, not in hotels and Western capitals, a national opposition that upholds fighting terrorism as its priority." Washington and its European allies no longer recognize Assad's government as the legitimate representative of Syria's people and have said that any political transition there must involve his departure. (Editing by Grant McCool and Gunna Dickson)
- Yahoo News
Republicans built up QAnon backer Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, but now are they afraid of what they created?
On the eve of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the combative Georgia Republican known for her association with QAnon, was back on Twitter after a 12-hour suspension, and back to making waves.
- NBC News
Court documents recounted the man's telling his children that he would consider them "traitors" if they contacted authorities.
Alexei Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic who was jailed at the weekend, on Tuesday released a video in which he and his allies alleged that an opulent palace belonged to the Russian leader, a claim the Kremlin denied. The allegations, which first surfaced in 2010 when a businessman wrote about them to then-President Dmitry Medvedev complaining of official graft, come as Navalny's supporters urge people to join nationwide protests on Saturday. Reuters reported in 2014 that the estate in southern Russia had been partly funded by taxpayer money from a $1 billion hospital project.
- The Week
U.S. prosecutors have imposed the first conspiracy charge against a person who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, The Washington Post reports.Thomas Edward Caldwell was arrested early Tuesday morning on four federal counts pertaining to the riot, including conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, per the Post. He allegedly organized a group of militia members who attacked the Capitol building, praising their actions in Facebook posts after the event.Caldwell's group of "eight to 10 individuals" wore "helmets and military-style gear and were seen moving purposefully toward the top of the Capitol steps and leading the move against police lines," the Post reports. He had been planning the siege at least a week earlier, sending a Facebook message on Jan. 1 that showed he was scouting hotels near the Capitol that "would allow us to go hunting at night if we wanted to," the charging affidavit says. He allegedly sent the message to Jessica Watkins, the founder of the "Ohio State Regular Militia" who was arrested last week after participating in the attack.Caldwell seemingly didn't try to hide his involvement at the Capitol, allegedly sharing video of the attack in the evening of Jan. 6. "We need to do this at the local level. Lets [sic] storm the capitol in Ohio. Tell me when!" Caldwell wrote on Facebook, the FBI says in its charging documents.Caldwell was allegedly a member of the Oath Keepers, an extremist group that, along with the Three Percenters and Proud Boys, is being investigated for its role in sparking the Capitol attack.More stories from theweek.com Chief Justice John Roberts reportedly wants no part of Trump's impeachment trial 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Trump's White House staff and alumni are reportedly using the same excuse to skip his big sendoff
- National Review
Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) blocked a quick confirmation of Alejandro Mayorkas as Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security secretary, citing Mayorkas’s immigration policy stance. Mayorkas is a former Obama administration official considered the architect of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allowed illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children a renewable deportation deferment, without providing a path to citizenship. The confirmation hearings for Mayorkas come as Biden has pledged to undue many of the Trump administration’s restrictions on immigration, although it is unclear how quickly the Biden administration can act on those promises. “Mr. Mayorkas has not adequately explained how he will enforce federal law and secure the southern border given President-elect Biden’s promise to roll back major enforcement and security measures,” Hawley said in a statement. “Given this, I cannot consent to skip the standard vetting process and fast-track this nomination when so many questions remain unanswered.” Biden is reportedly set to propose an immigration-reform bill that would grant roughly eleven million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship over eight years. The bill could also grant citizenship to agricultural workers and illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. However, the proposal is not expected to include Republican-backed border security measures. The looming immigration debates in Congress come as a new migrant caravan continues to travel toward the U.S.-Mexico border. Several thousand people in the caravan clashed with Guatemalan security forces while crossing the border from Honduras on Sunday. “There’s help on the way, but now is not the time to make the journey,” a Biden official said in comments to NBC.
A boy who was killed in an alleged murder-suicide by his father has been identified as 9-year-old Pierce O’Loughlin. Family tragedy: The boy and his father, Stephen O'Loughlin, 49, were both found dead at their home on Scott Street, Marina District in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon, SF Chronicle reports. The boy’s mother, Lesley Hu, asked authorities to check on her son after learning that he did not show up for school that day.
- Architectural Digest
Mercedes-Benz’s Hyperscreen, General Motors’ Bright Drop, and Jeep’s Electric Wrangler were among the unveils that turned headsOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- NBC News
Suspect William McCall Calhoun Jr. faces a host of charges stemming from the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol Building.
The Trump administration said on Tuesday it had issued drilling leases on more than 400,000 acres (160,000 hectares) of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), delivering on a promise to fossil-fuel proponents on President Donald Trump's last full day in office. Formal issuance of the leases by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management came a day before the inauguration of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, who has pledged to protect the 19.6-million-acre (7.9-million-hectare) habitat for polar bears and caribou and to ban new oil and gas leasing on federal lands. Lease holders would still need to seek permits from the new administration before any wells could be drilled, among other challenges.
- Associated Press
Twelve U.S. National Guard members have been removed from securing President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who made extremist statements in posts or texts about the Wednesday event, Pentagon officials said. There were no specific threats to Biden. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in.
- The Independent
President-elect celebrates his hometown: ‘You were with me my whole career, through the good times and the bad’
- The Week
Feds arrest Capitol rioter who allegedly broke into Pelosi's office, stole laptop, wanted to sell it to Russia
A woman who participated in the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol surrendered to authorities in Pennsylvania on Monday night, the Justice Department said. Riley Williams, 22, was charged with illegally entering the Capitol, violent entry, and disorderly conduct, but the FBI said it is also investigating a tip from the suspect's former "romantic partner" that Williams broke into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during the siege, stole a laptop, and "intended to send the computer device to a friend in Russia, who then planned to sell the device to SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence service."The transfer of the laptop to Russian intelligence "fell through for unknown reasons," the former partner, identified only as Witness 1, told the FBI, "and Williams still has the computer device or destroyed it." Williams was captured on video urging fellow rioters to go upstairs in the Capitol, toward Pelosi's office, the FBI said. Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, confirmed after the siege that "a laptop from a conference room was stolen," but said "it was a laptop that was only used for presentations."Williams lived with her mother, who identified her as the woman in an ITV video of the Capitol raid, the FBI said. The mother also told authorities that her daughter had taken a sudden interest in President Trump's politics and "far-right message boards." Williams had traveled to the pre-riot protest with her father, but he said they were separated before the Capitol siege, the FBI said, and after they returned to Pennsylvania, Williams deleted her social media accounts, changed her phone number, and fled.More stories from theweek.com Chief Justice John Roberts reportedly wants no part of Trump's impeachment trial 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Trump's White House staff and alumni are reportedly using the same excuse to skip his big sendoff
- The Telegraph
A valuable 16th century copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s Saviour of the World has been recovered by Italian police in a cupboard in a flat in Naples. The museum from which it was stolen had no idea it was missing. The copy of Salvator Mundi, which depicts Christ with one hand raised in a blessing and the other holding a crystal orb, is believed to have been painted by a pupil of Leonardo. It was stolen some time in the last few months from a collection of art works inside the Basilica di San Domenico Maggiore in Naples. The painting was of “inestimable value”, Italian police said in a statement. It was found “hidden in a bedroom” in an apartment in Naples. The owner of the flat, a 36-year-old man, was arrested not far from the property on charges of receiving stolen goods, police said. The oil painting, which dates to the early 1500s, is believed to be by artist Giacomo Alibrandi, a member of the artistic school of Leonardo. The museum had not noticed its theft because it had been closed for three months as a result of Italy’s coronavirus lockdown measures. Police are trying to ascertain how it was stolen, said Giovanni Melillo, a Naples prosecutor. “It is plausible that it was a theft commissioned by an organisation working in the international art trade," he said.
- National Review
Rand Paul would like you to know that while he “didn’t agree with the [Capitol] fight that happened” January 6, he doesn’t believe that President Trump — whose batty two-month crusade to convince his supporters the election was stolen served as the proximate cause of the “fight” — should be disqualified from holding office again in the future. Language tends to be intemperate these days, but “I didn’t agree with the fight” errs in the opposite direction: It’s far too tame a response to the sickening display of January 6. This was no ordinary “fight.” It was an attempt to violently disrupt the counting of electoral votes, and hence the peaceful transfer of power to the next duly elected administration. It stunned America and shamed us before the world. It made us look like a banana republic. It resulted in several deaths and might have led to a physical attack on, or even the murder of, the vice president as he was conducting the most important business of his term. Trump’s actions may not have met the legal definition of incitement, but he tossed a match on kindling he had carefully placed and thoroughly soaked with kerosene. As Dan McLaughlin has written, Trump must face consequences “sufficiently spectacular to deter any repetition so long as our national memory endures.” But if Senator Paul has his way, apparently, Trump will suffer no consequences whatsoever and reenter private life as the heavy favorite to be the next Republican presidential nominee. This is madness. Abraham Lincoln’s party was fine without Trump for 150 years and it will long survive him. The parties being largely ruled from the ground up, it’s not feasible to eject Trump from a GOP he seized control of in 2015 and has since disgraced, but it is possible for 17 Republican senators to convict and disqualify him from holding any future high office in the United States. This is the right thing to do and it’s also the prudent thing to do, for the sake of the party as well as the country. The GOP cannot afford to spend the next four years trying to explain away Trump’s indefensible actions. It has to move on, and there is only one way to do that. Paul foresees a colossal schism in the party should Trump be convicted and barred from future office-holding, warning that one-third of the party will walk away from the GOP in that scenario. He’s wrong: One of the curses (but also, sometimes, one of the blessings) of our culture is our notoriously short collective memory. Should Trump be disqualified this winter, the discussion will quickly move on to other topics. Who should be the new party’s standard-bearer? Don Jr.? I very much doubt it. It’s unclear that even Trump Sr. would be enthusiastic about that, having repeatedly ridiculed his younger namesake as, among many other things, “not the sharpest knife in the drawer.” For five years we’ve seen various other Republican politicians attempt to ape Trump’s combination of posturing and populism, and it never works. Senator Josh Hawley has spent two years reverse-mortgaging his reputation in an attempt to extract equity out of the Trump bank, and it has gotten him nowhere. A Politico/Morning Consult poll taken in November put him at 1 percent in the polls, and that was before his shameful performance on Jan. 6. Though some of Trump’s ideas about trade and immigration may continue to have sway in some parts of the party, Trumpism as a whole is too closely tied up with one man to be handed off to a new leader. It would die with Trump’s political career, and the party would move on. A disqualified Trump would, of course, rain hellfire on the senators who disqualified him, as well as any other perceived backstabbers. But four years from now, when ten Republican senators face reelection, Trump’s rage will be background noise at worst. Six years from now, when Ben Sasse, Mitch McConnell, Susan Collins, and 17 of their Republican colleagues face the voters, it won’t be any noise at all. Trump himself has a short attention span and a fear of being boring; even he won’t be able to keep up the insults for four years, much less six, on whatever cable-news perch from which he chooses to harangue the nation. It is true that Trump is the only thing that consistently fascinates Trump. But America does not love a sore loser, and his victim act will begin to go stale by the next time voters go to the polls. Gradually, even many of his most ardent supporters will begin to realize the man is embarrassing. Among those who persist in believing the fantasy that Trump was robbed and that any lawmakers who voted against him are sworn enemies, how will this play out at the ballot box? It won’t, because voting will remain a binary choice. Trump, being disqualified, won’t be able to run as a third-party candidate and divide the party. The primary motivating force for voters will continue to be, as it has been for years, visceral dislike for one party’s style and policies. Joe Biden has signaled in many ways that, far from being a unifying president, he will consider it a core duty to focus on punishing and antagonizing Trump supporters via appointments and policies specifically designed to irritate them. Biden has watched Trump play the role of Troll-in-Chief for the last four years and decided he wants in on the action. Kamala Harris, should she become president, would be even more despised by both conventional Republicans and Trumpists. So never fear, Senator Paul: Post-Trump, Republicans will close ranks quickly. The main thing the American right stands for is hating what Democrats do, and Democrats are preparing to embark on a presidency full of policies that are easy to hate.
- Associated Press
Vice President Mike Pence will be returning to his southern Indiana hometown Wednesday afternoon following the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. The Republican former Indiana governor and his wife Karen are expected to attend Biden’s inauguration and will then fly into the Columbus Municipal Airport, where they will be greeted by some supporters, the Indiana Republican Party said Tuesday. Pence grew up in Columbus and some family members still live there.
- NBC News
Election experts have uniformly declared that the 2020 election was conducted fairly.
- Yahoo News Video
President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, leaving her poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Palestinians expect to receive a first batch of COVID-19 vaccine by the weekend, officials said on Tuesday - at a time when more than a quarter of their Israeli neighbours have already been inoculated. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has ordered Russia's Sputnik V vaccine and hopes to administer it to 50,000 residents by March, after last week granting the drug emergency approval. The PA governs in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in coordination with Israel, whose vaccination campaign has been the world's fastest.
A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.The big picture: Video footage appears to show Williams entering the Capitol with other rioters on Jan. 6. She appears to direct them up a staircase in the building. * Following the siege, a person called the FBI tip line to identify Williams and claimed that she told them she planned to send the computer device to a friend in Russia, per a DOJ statement of facts. It's alleged the friend planned to then sell it to Russia’s foreign intelligence service. * The caller said the transfer fell through and alleged that Williams either still has the device or destroyed it. Of note: Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff confirmed the laptop's disappearance on Jan. 8 but said it was "only used for presentations." For the record: Williams had developed a sudden interest in President Trump's politics and "far-right message boards," her mother told ITV News on Jan. 16. * Her mother said her daughter fled after the insurrection. * Williams also deleted her social media accounts and changed her phone number, according to FBI officials.Go deeper: Deadly Capitol riot: The people facing federal chargesBe smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- The Week
Anthony Scaramucci was right: The White House appears to be having trouble rounding up a sizable crowd for President Trump's official send-off from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Wednesday."In what looks like a desperate attempt to build a crowd for the crowd-obsessed president, an email has been making the rounds to current and former White House officials inviting them, and as many as five plus-ones, to Trump's elaborate exit ceremony," Politico reported Tuesday morning. "The go-to excuse for skipping out has been the 6 a.m. call time at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. But truly, many just don't want to be photographed sending off their former boss."Trump's current staffers have a good reason to avoid their outgoing boss. "Former White House officials and campaign staffers who would typically land plum jobs in corporate America after serving their time are now out in the cold," Politico says. One former White House official who got out early put it this way: "No one wants to touch them, they're just toxic." Another former Trump aide, pointing to the fallout from the Jan. 6 insurrection, was more blunt, telling Politico: "They're f---ed."Trump will be the first president since Andrew Johnson, another member of the tiny impeached president club, to skip the inauguration of his successor. "Johnson snubbed Ulysses S. Grant in 1869," The Washington Post notes. More stories from theweek.com Chief Justice John Roberts reportedly wants no part of Trump's impeachment trial 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Trump tried to act like a mob boss. Instead he's just a thug.