An award-winning Town of Tonawanda police officer was suspended twice since 2016 for punching a man and slamming a woman’s head against a courtroom wall during a violent encounter and for taunting a state trooper who refused to fix a traffic ticket for a family member.
- NBC News
Houston police said the victims were a woman and a girl. Two others, including a boy, were taken to a local hospital for treatment.
- Associated Press
Two former Hong Kong lawmakers pleaded guilty to illegal assembly charges Tuesday, as a trial opened for them and seven other prominent democracy activists in what is seen as a crackdown on dissent in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. The activists are charged with organizing and participating in an illegal assembly during massive anti-government protests in 2019. The two who pleaded guilty were Au Nok-hin and Leung Yiu-chung, both former members of the Hong Kong legislature.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday reassured Ankara that Washington blames the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for the executions of 13 kidnapped Turks in northern Iraq, after Turkey called an earlier U.S. statement on the killings "a joke." Turkey said on Sunday militants from the outlawed PKK executed the captives, including Turkish military and police personnel, amid a military operation against the group.
- National Review
Axios deleted a tweet scrutinizing a claim from Kamala Harris that the Biden administration was “starting from scratch” on COVID-19 vaccinations, and has yet to explain the decision despite promising in January to “take responsibility for all content that appears on our public platforms.” The initial tweet, which highlighted an interview between Harris and Axios co-founder Mike Allen that aired Sunday on HBO, contrasted Harris’s claims with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s. “There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations. We were leaving it to the states and local leaders to try and figure it out,” Harris said. “And so in many ways, we’re starting from scratch on something that’s been raging for almost an entire year.” Fauci said during a January White House press briefing that “we certainly are not starting from scratch because there is activity going on in the distribution.” Multiple current and former staffers with Operation Warp Speed confirmed Fauci’s account, telling National Review that the Trump administration coordinated with the CDC and local leaders to developed 64 regional rollout plans and gave the Biden transition team over 300 HHS meetings. .@VP told @mikeallen that “there was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations” and that Biden admin was “starting from scratch.” That’s wrong. The Trump admin had a plan to distribute to locations chosen by states and let them take it from there. https://t.co/0MoQ8OnpoN pic.twitter.com/nYb8r5gPKz — PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) February 15, 2021 But the Axios tweet, published Sunday night with the January line from Fauci, was later deleted without explanation. The outlet left up a later tweet of the exchange, without the Fauci context, and also tweeted out a link to Allen’s story, which does not mention the Fauci statement, on Monday. Why did Axios delete this tweet? pic.twitter.com/94HNrOIgrW — Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) February 15, 2021 .@VP Harris: "There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations. … We're starting from scratch."@mikeallen: Are you having to adjust your sights now of what’s possible, given that?@VP: "We've gotta figure out a way. … No patience for, 'It can't be done.'" #AxiosOnHBO pic.twitter.com/opif5rjg96 — Axios (@axios) February 15, 2021 Axios did not return multiple requests for comment on why the tweet was deleted, and whether the White House reached out to complain about its framing. In January, the outlet published its “Bill of Rights,” which includes a promise to “take responsibility for all content that appears on our public platforms, putting the pressure on us to provide the highest level of scrutiny.” In recent weeks, Axios has come under scrutiny after it was revealed that one of its reporters, Alexi McCammond — who previously covered the Biden campaign — was dating Biden press flack TJ Ducklo. Though Axios promised in January that perceived conflicts of interest “will be disclosed at the bottom of the story,” McCammond’s work covering the Biden transition did not receive any editor’s notes. An Axios spokesperson initially told Politico that McCammond had been taken off the Biden beat, only to later clarify that McCammond had “taken a backseat” on Biden coverage. McCammond was reassigned to cover progressives in Congress and Vice President Harris after revealing her relationship to Axios leadership in November. “TJ has not been a source for any story I’ve worked on or in any capacity since we began dating,” McCammond told People for a glowing profile of their relationship. On Saturday, Ducklo resigned from his role as deputy White House press secretary after threatening and demeaning Politico reporter Tara Palmeri for covering his relationship as a potential conflict-of-interest. “I will destroy you,” Ducklo reportedly told Palmeri, one day before President Biden told political appointees at a virtual swearing-in ceremony that “if you ever work with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I will fire you on the spot. No ifs, ands or buts.” After the story of the altercation broke, Ducklo was initially suspended for one week without pay — a decision White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she arrived at with chief of staff Ron Klain, but not Biden.
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
More than 630,000 Oncor customers in Tarrant and Dallas counties were without power as of 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
- Associated Press
Suspected Israeli settlers vandalized several vehicles belonging to Palestinian workers in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday in broad daylight in an incident caught by security cameras. It appeared to be the latest in a series of so-called “price tag” attacks, in which hard-line Israeli nationalists attack Palestinians and vandalize their property in response to Palestinian militant attacks or perceived efforts by Israeli authorities to limit settlement activity. Footage carried by Israeli public broadcaster Kan appeared to show around 10 people, all wearing hoods and masks, puncturing the tires and smashing the windows of parked cars near the West Bank settlement of Shiloh.
South Korea's intelligence agency has said North Korea attempted to steal information on coronavirus vaccines and treatments by hacking Pfizer Inc, a lawmaker briefed by the agency said on Tuesday. Ha Tae-keung, an opposition member of the parliamentary intelligence panel, said the pharmaceutical giant was among those hacked in the bid to steal information on vaccines and treatments. "There were attempts to steal COVID vaccine and treatment technology during cyber attacks and Pfizer was hacked," he said.
- Yahoo News Video
One of the founding members of the Lincoln Project said in a new interview that the anti-Trump political group needs to provide a full public accounting of what its leaders knew about the sexual misconduct of one of its top officials as well as questions about the organization’s finances.
- The Telegraph
Thousands of people from targeted ethnic minority groups in Myanmar flee into jungle after military coup
Her head in her hands, an exhausted woman crouches on the muddy forest floor. At her feet, a barefooted infant stares into the distance with a furrowed brow, clutching the remains of a cheap snack. Another child stands in pink cartoon pyjamas – indicating a sudden flight from home. The forlorn trio, photographed on Monday deep in the jungle of Myanmar’s southern Kayin state, were among 212 villagers from the Karen ethnic minority who were reportedly forced to flee fresh shelling by the national army that began to hit their homes on Valentine’s Day. Two weeks into the military coup that overturned the Southeast Asian nation’s elected government on February 1, fears that the political turmoil could be used to mask a more intense crackdown on Myanmar’s already oppressed ethnic minorities are already being realised. “There are now over 5,300 Karen people displaced in northern Karen (Kayin) state as the Burma army advances. The army is trying to crush all dissent in the cities and control all in the mountains where we are,” said Dave Eubank, leader of the Free Burma Rangers (FBR), a relief group operating on the frontlines of the country’s decades-long ethnic conflicts.
Luther Hall was undercover at a ’17 protest after the acquittal of a cop charged with killing a Black suspect. The city of St. Louis has agreed to a $5 million settlement with a Black police officer who was beaten by five white officers while working undercover at a protest. Luther Hall was participating in a 2017 protest, working undercover following the acquittal of another St. Louis police officer, Jason Stockley, who had been charged in the 2011 murder of a Black man suspected of selling drugs.
- Associated Press
A Hamas-run Islamic court in the Gaza Strip has ruled that women require the permission of a male guardian to travel, further restricting movement in and out of the territory that has been blockaded by Israel and Egypt since the militant group seized power. The rollback in women's rights could spark a backlash in Gaza at a time when the Palestinians plan to hold elections later this year.
The population in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states declined by about 4% last year due to an exodus of expatriates after the coronavirus crisis and lower oil prices, S&P Global Ratings said in a report on Monday. The oil producing region was hit hard last year as COVID-19 restrictions impacted non-oil economic sectors, and lower oil prices and crude output cuts weighed on its main income source. "We expect the proportion of foreigners in the region will continue to decline through 2023 relative to the national population, because of subdued non-oil sector growth and workforce nationalization policies," S&P said.
- The Week
Millions of Texas households are still without power in a brutally cold winter storm. What went wrong?
The entire state of Texas was under a winter storm warning on Monday, with snow falling throughout the state and single-digit temperatures as far south as Austin and San Antonio. As Texans turned up their heaters on Sunday night, the freezing temperatures took down several power generation plants, prompting the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) — which manages the state's uniquely independent power grid — to order rolling blackouts at 1:25 a.m. Monday, rather than risk a collapse of the entire grid. More than 2 million customers lost electricity by Monday morning, and by Monday night, 4.2 million Texas customers were without power as the temperatures hit record lows, according to PowerOutage.us, a site that tracks power outages nationwide. Texas utilities are warning those households they may not get power until Tuesday afternoon or evening, right before a second storm is forecast to hit. What went wrong? First, Texas isn't set up for extreme cold. "The electricity grid was designed to be in high demand during the summer, when Texans crank their air conditioning at home," The Texas Tribune explains. "Some of the energy sources that power the grid during the summer are offline during the winter." Wholesale power prices on the largely deregulated Texas market shot up over the weekend, prompting power generators to maximize their output, The Wall Street Journal reports. Then non-weatherized wind turbines started freezing and natural gas and coal plants tripped offline. "This weather event, it's really unprecedented," ERCOT senior director of system operations Dan Woodfin said Monday, pointing to the 1940s as the last time Texas faced this combination of Arctic temperatures and wind chills. "Most of the plants that went offline during evening and morning today were fueled" by coal, gas, or nuclear power, he added. About 40 percent of Texas electricity comes from natural gas-fired plants, followed by wind turbines (23 percent), coal (18 percent), and nuclear power (11 percent), the Journal reports, citing ERCOT's 2020 data. With 30 gigawatts of power generation knocked offline — enough to power almost 6 million homes — the rolling blackouts got stuck. The blackouts were supposed to last less than an hour at each household, but "local utilities kept power on to neighborhoods with hospitals, fire stations, and water-treatment plants," the Journal reports. "There was so little extra power that utilities couldn't rotate the blackouts among neighborhoods that didn't have critical infrastructure, leaving some homes without power for more than 12 hours." More stories from theweek.com7 scathingly funny cartoons about Republicans' impeachment cowardiceNorth Korea reportedly tried to steal COVID-19 vaccine technology from PfizerGOP donor is suing to claw back $2.5 million he spent to find evidence Trump won
- The State
Officials are continuing to search through debris Tuesday morning.
- Associated Press
As the coronavirus spread last year, former President Donald Trump and leading U.S. conservatives floated the idea that the virus may have escaped from a Chinese lab or was created by China as a bioweapon. China pushed back. A nine-month AP investigation, conducted in collaboration with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, found China launched what may be its first global digital disinformation campaign, using its growing presence on Western social media to seed and spread stories suggesting the U.S. created COVID-19 as a bioweapon.
- Architectural Digest
Boldly patterned or downright pretty, our favorite accent pillows hit all the right anglesOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- The Telegraph
New Zealand furious at Australia for cancelling citizenship of Islamic State terror suspect with dual nationality
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has accused Australia of "exporting its problems" for cancelling the citizenship of a dual national Australian-New Zealander who reportedly joined the Islamic State in Syria On Monday Turkey’s Defence ministry said a 26-year-old New Zealand “Daesh terrorist” was being deported with her two children after Turkish border staff caught them crossing illegally from the northwest Syrian province of Idlib. Media reports identified the woman as Suhayra Aden, who moved to Australia from New Zealand when she was six years old and lived in Melbourne before travelling to Syria on her Australian passport in 2014 to live under the so-called Islamic State. On Tuesday an irate Ms Ardern said she had spoken with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison about the dual national in 2019 after she was detained with her two children after Western-backed Syrian Kurdish forces retook the final sliver of IS territory in Syria. Mr Morrison then revoked Ms Aden’s citizenship without telling Ms Ardern, leaving New Zealand to deal with the dilemma alone. “You can imagine my response,” she said, after learning the next year that Australia had acted unilaterally. “Our very strong view on behalf of New Zealanders was that this individual was clearly most appropriately dealt with in Australia… That is where their family reside, that is where their links reside, and that is the place they departed for Syria,” she said. Ms Ardern said the welfare of Ms Aden’s surviving children, aged five and two, was paramount. “These children were born in a conflict zone through no fault of their own,” Ms Ardern. Ms Aden reportedly had a third child who died of pneumonia, after marrying twice in Syria to Swedish nationals who also both died. Ms Ardern said Australia had “abdicated responsibility” for Ms Aden, who spent most of her life in Australia. “New Zealand, frankly, is tired of having Australia exporting its problems,” Ms Ardern said. “If the shoe were on the other foot we would take responsibility, that would be the right thing to do and I ask Australia to do the same.” But an uncontrite Mr Morrison said his only concern was the safety of Australians. “It’s my job as Australia’s prime minister to put Australia’s national security interests first,” he told a press conference. Australian legislation to automatically cancel citizenship for dual nationals determined to have engaged in terrorism has been used against at least 17 people who reportedly joined IS. The case highlights the unresolved issue of tens of thousands of prisoners left in limbo following the territorial defeat of IS. Most are held in squalid conditions in the Al-Hol near the Iraqi border, though following hundreds of escapes from the sprawling camp authorities last year moved dozens of Western prisoners to the smaller and more secure Roj camp. At one time up to 66 Australians, including 44 children, were believed to be in the camps, though the Australian government repatriated eight children in June 2019, and others may have escaped. One New Zealand man is known to be detained in northeast Syria. Mark Taylor, who became known as the Bumbling Jihadi for revealing his location in posts calling for attacks on New Zealanders, has been held in a Kurdish jail since surrendering in late 2018. Earlier this month a group of United Nations experts called on the 57 governments who are believed to have nationals in the camps to repatriate their citizens, following reports that 20 people were murdered in Al-Hol in January.
Britain's drug regulator is auditing manufacturing processes at Serum Institute of India (SII) which could pave the way for AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to be shipped from there to the UK and other countries, according to two sources close to the matter. SII, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, is currently mass producing the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in conjunction with Oxford University, for dozens of poor and middle-income countries but not the UK, which has been getting its supply of the shot primarily from domestic facilities. If the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) gives SII's manufacturing process for the Oxford/AstraZeneca shot a greenlight it would allow the drug to be exported to the UK and to other countries which recognise MHRA's clearances, one of the sources said.
- NBC News
"I was afraid of not making it through the night," said one Texan who lost power for most of Monday as temperatures dropped to single digits.
- Associated Press
The Iranian and Russian militaries have kicked off a joint naval drill in the Indian Ocean aimed at boosting security of maritime trade in the region, Iran’s state TV reported on Tuesday. The TV said units from Iran’s Navy and the powerful Revolutionary Guard’s navy will take part in the exercise dubbed “Iran-Russia Maritime Security Belt 2021” in the northern part of Indian Ocean, spanning a stretch of about a 17,000 kilometers (10,600 miles). According to Iranian Adm. Gholamreza Tahani, the drill spokesman, a Russian destroyer, logistics ship and a helicopter were to participate in the drill.