ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey is ready to accept a political transition in Syria in which President Bashar al-Assad stays in symbolic power for six months before leaving office, and is discussing the plan with Western allies, two senior government officials said on Tuesday. NATO member Turkey has long been one of Assad's fiercest critics, insisting that no lasting peace can be achieved in Syria without his removal from power. "Work on a plan for Assad's departure is under way ... (Assad) can stay for six months and we accept that because there will be a guarantee of his departure," one of the officials told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We have moved forward on the issue to a certain degree with the United States and our other allies. There is not an exact consensus on when the six-month period would begin, but we think it won’t be too long." The United States will put the proposal to Russia, one of the Turkish officials said, but it was not clear whether Moscow would entertain the idea. Three weeks ago, Russia launched air strikes in support of Assad against insurgents fighting him. European nations have struggled to find a common position on the role Assad should play in the solution of the Syrian crisis. France is keen to see Assad go as soon as possible, while Germany would prefer to have him involved in the transitional phase before he quits. Britain wants Assad to leave power "at some point" as part of any deal by world powers to end the four-year-old conflict, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Tuesday. Assad said in an interview with Iranian television aired on Oct. 4 that it was not up to any foreign official to decide Syria's future, including any transitional period mooted. "The future political system, and which individuals govern Syria, this is a decision for the Syrian people. That's why these statements don't concern us," he said. (Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Humeyra Pamuk and Mark Heinrich)
The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday confirmed that it diverted some COVID-19 vaccination doses meant for medical workers to VIPs as critics charged but said this involved a small fraction of inoculations. A health ministry statement said 10% of the 12,000 doses it received were given to the Palestinian national football team, government ministers, presidential guards and members of the Palestine Liberation Organization's topmost Executive Committee. But it said the other 90% went to health workers treating COVID-19 cases in intensive care units and emergency departments, and health ministry workers.
- LA Times
The Biden administration's first test over what it promised would be a tough approach to Saudi Arabia has left both Riyadh and its critics unhappy.
- The New York Times
Just eight weeks after the Capitol riot, some of the most prominent groups that participated are fracturing amid a torrent of backbiting and finger-pointing. The fallout will determine the future of some of the most high-profile far-right organizations and raises the specter of splinter groups that could make the movement even more dangerous. “This group needs new leadership and a new direction,” the St. Louis branch of the Proud Boys announced recently on the encrypted messaging service Telegram, echoing denunciations by at least six other chapters also rupturing with the national organization. “The fame we’ve attained hasn’t been worth it.” Similar rifts have emerged in the Oath Keepers, a paramilitary group that recruits veterans, and the Groyper Army, a white nationalist organization focused on college campuses and a vocal proponent of the false claim that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times The shake-up is driven in part by the large number of arrests in the aftermath of the Capitol riot and the subsequent crackdown on some groups by law enforcement. As some members of the far right exit more established groups and strike out on their own, it may become even more difficult to track extremists who have become more emboldened to carry out violent attacks. “What you are seeing right now is a regrouping phase,” said Devin Burghart, who runs the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, a Seattle-based center that monitors far-right movements. “They are trying to reassess their strengths, trying to find new foot soldiers and trying to prepare for the next conflict.” The top leaders of the Groyper Army, Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, have been in a bitter public dispute in the weeks since the riot. Casey accused Fuentes of putting followers at risk of arrest by continuing high-profile activities. Fuentes wrote on Telegram, “It’s not easy but it is important to keep pushing forward now more than ever.” Among the Proud Boys, a far-right fight club that claims to defend the values of Western civilization, the recriminations were compounded by revelations that Enrique Tarrio, the organization’s leader, once worked as an informant for law enforcement. Despite denials from Tarrio, the news has thrown the organization’s future into question. “We reject and disavow the proven federal informant, Enrique Tarrio, and any and all chapters that choose to associate with him,” the Alabama chapter of the Proud Boys announced on Telegram using language identical to other chapters. After the Capitol siege on Jan. 6, accusations about informants and undercover agents have been particularly pointed. “Traitors are everywhere, everywhere,” wrote one participant on a far-right Telegram channel. The chapters breaking away accused Tarrio of leading the group astray with high-profile clashes with far-left demonstrators and by storming the Capitol. “The Proud Boys were founded to provide brotherhood to men on the right, not to yell slogans at the sky” and “get arrested,” the St. Louis chapter said in its announcement. Extremist organizations tend to experience internal upheaval after any cataclysmic event, as seen in the case of the 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one woman dead, or the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, which killed 168 people, including 19 children. Daryl Johnson, who has studied the Three Percenters and other paramilitary groups, said the current infighting could lead to further hardening and radicalization. “When these groups get disrupted by law enforcement, all it does is scatter the rats,” he said. “It does not get rid of the rodent problem.” President Joe Biden has pledged to make fighting extremism a priority and Merrick Garland, his nominee for attorney general, said during his Senate confirmation hearings that he promised to “do everything in the power of the Justice Department” to stop domestic terrorism. Garland, the lead prosecutor in the Oklahoma City bombing case, also said the United States was facing “a more dangerous period than we faced in Oklahoma City” or in recent memory. More than 300 people have been charged in the Capitol riot, with roughly 500 total cases expected. At least 26 people facing some of the most serious accusations have been tied to the Oath Keepers or the Proud Boys. Most of those in the crowd were probably unaffiliated with a particular group yet radicalized enough to show up in Washington to support Trump’s false election claim, experts said, feeding concerns about how they will channel their anger going forward. The legal fallout from the riot will most likely push people underground as well. Overall, the hazy affiliations and the potential for lone offenders will make it more difficult to uncover planned attacks. Already, there has been chatter among members of paramilitary groups that stormed the Capitol about trying to attack it while the president addresses a joint session of Congress, Yogananda D. Pittman, the acting chief of the Capitol Police, told a House subcommittee last week. But even as some extremist groups push for more confrontation, all kinds of adherents want out. The president of the North Carolina chapter of the Oath Keepers, Doug Smith, announced last month that he was splitting from the national organization. Smith did not respond to messages seeking comment, but he told The News Reporter, his local newspaper in Whiteville, North Carolina, that he was ashamed by demonstrators who attacked the Capitol and beat police officers. For others, however, the riot was a resounding success, an opening shot across the bows of the law and the establishment. “There is a small segment that is going to see this as Lexington and Concord, the shot heard around the world, and the beginning of either the racial holy war or the fall of our society, of our government,” said Tom O’Connor, a retired FBI counterterrorism specialist who continues to train agents on the subject. Far-right groups are already rallying around opposition to proposed changes to immigration policy and the discussion of stricter gun control under Biden’s administration. The number of people inclined toward violence is impossible to count, but experts agree that harsh political divisions have expanded the potential pool on both right and left fringes. The splintering of larger organizations sets the stage for small groups or lone offenders, who are more difficult to track. “That makes them more dangerous,” said J.J. MacNab, an expert on paramilitary groups at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism. Timothy McVeigh, who was executed for the Oklahoma City bombing, did not join a paramilitary group but still adopted the violent ideology. “The rhetoric is fuel to the fire for those lone offenders,” said O’Connor, echoing a common worry. “My concern now is that there are many McVeighs in the offing.” Experts cite a variety of reasons for why the propensity toward violence might be worse now than during previous times when far-right organizations declared war on the government. The Oklahoma City attack caused a period of retreat, but the election of a Black president in 2008 resurrected the white supremacy movement. These groups have now experienced some 13 years without any sustained effort by law enforcement to counter them, experts said. Some groups that organized the far-right rally in Charlottesville in 2017 fell apart over the subsequent internal squabbling and a lawsuit that threatens to bankrupt them. Others, including the Proud Boys and various paramilitary organizations, grew larger and went on to participate in the Jan. 6 riot. At the same time, extremist ideology has spread further and much more rapidly on social media, and foreign governments like Russia have worked actively to disseminate such thoughts to sow divisions within the United States. New threats and concerns about potential targets continue to surface. The announcement in early February that hackers attempted to poison the water supply in a small Florida city attracted the attention of Rinaldo Nazzaro, the founder of a violent white supremacist group called the Base. Seven members of the Base in three states were rounded up last year on charges of planning to commit murder, kidnapping and other violence in order to ignite a wider civil war that would allow a white homeland to emerge. Nazzaro, out of the reach of U.S. law enforcement in Russia, wrote on Telegram that the water poisoning plot was a possible template for something larger. The kind of extremists who worry experts the most emerged in October, when a paramilitary cell planning to kidnap the governor of Michigan was exposed. In federal court in January, the FBI portrayed one of the 14 defendants, Barry G. Croft Jr., 44, as a national leader of the Three Percenters, a loosely allied coalition of paramilitary groups that is difficult to track because virtually anyone can claim allegiance. Croft helped to build and test shrapnel bombs to target people, according to court documents, and a hit list that he posted on Facebook included threats to Trump and Barack Obama. In denying him bail, Judge Sally J. Berens quoted from transcripts of conversations taped by an informant in which he threatened to hurt people or to blow things up. “I am going to do some of the most nasty, disgusting things that you have ever read about in the history of your life,” the judge quoted him as saying. This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
An eagle-eyed 'Harry Potter' fan noticed leads being replaced by random actors in a 'Prisoner of Azkaban' scene
A viral TikTok pointed out an error with characters like Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley during a scene in the third movie.
- Associated Press
The Supreme Court appeared ready Tuesday to uphold voting restrictions in Arizona in a key case that could make it harder to challenge a raft of other voting measures Republicans have proposed following last year's elections. All six conservative justices, appointed by Republican presidents, suggested they would throw out an appellate ruling that struck down the restrictions as racially discriminatory under the landmark Voting Rights Act. Less clear is what standard the court might set for how to prove discrimination under the law, first enacted in 1965.
- The Telegraph
Austria and Denmark have become the latest EU countries to break away from Brussels' vaccines strategy, raising fears that the bloc's unity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic was crumbling. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Monday night said that Austria would work with Israel and Denmark on second generation coronavirus vaccines and “no longer rely on the EU in the future”. It is widely seen as a rebuke to the European Commission-led joint procurement scheme for vaccines, which has lagged far behind the UK, Israel and US, and involved negotiating for supplies as a bloc. Mr Kurz told Bild, Germany’s biggest selling newspaper, that the European Medicines Agency had been “too slow” in approving the jabs. "We must therefore prepare for further mutations and should no longer be dependent only on the EU for the production of second-generation vaccines," he said. Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that she had already bid for supplies of Israel’s leftover vaccines in another sign of the disintegrating confidence in Brussels to deliver the jabs. 7.54 doses per 100 people have been administered in the EU, compared to 31.58 in the UK and 89.99 in Israel. Austria has given 7.4 doses per 100 people and Denmark 11 doses. Mr Kurz is due to travel with Ms Frederiksen to see Israel's rapid vaccine roll-out up close in a visit that will cause blushes in Brussels. An EU diplomat said the joint procurement strategy was “born out of fear” that smaller countries would miss out. “That said if all the smaller chickens are leaving the nest it begs the question why we initiated joint procurement at all,” the diplomat said. "You can't have enough vaccines that are effective against the different virus strands," a second EU diplomat from a major member state said in Brussels. "So we should wish them luck - I guess." The European Commission's preference is for member states to stick to the joint approach because side deals sap the bloc’s negotiating power. EU rules allow national governments to approve and buy vaccines which are not part of the joint scheme, such as the Russian Sputnik and Chinese vaccines. Other EU leaders have already moved to secure national supplies of the vaccines rather than wait for the EU scheme, which involved countries negotiating as a bloc to drive down prices. Last night, Poland’s President talked to China’s leader Xi Jinping about a possible purchase of Chinese vaccines. Slovakia took the first delivery of two million doses of the Sputnik vaccine, which has not been approved by the European Medicines Agency, on Monday. Andrej Babis, the Czech prime minister, said he would not wait for the EU regulator before buying Sputnik. Hungary has already approved and bought Sputnik without waiting for the EU regulator and is also the first member state to approve the Chinese vaccine. On Sunday, Viktor Orbán, the prime minister, posted a photo of himself being vaccinated by the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. Budapest has bought 2m doses of Sputnik and 5m jabs of Sinopharm. The authoritarian leader attacked the EU scheme in late February. “We’ve sought to do something together that we could have managed more successfully on an individual basis – take a look at the examples of Britain or Serbia,” he said. Regional leaders in France said they would try and negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies in January but have so far had no success. Germany ordered 30 million extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine outside of the scheme in September. Berlin also has a separate order of 20m doses with CureVac. “We have all agreed that there will be no parallel negotiations or parallel contracts,” Ursula von der Leyen told reporters after news of the German side deals broke. A commission spokesman said that the joint vaccine programme had not crumbled and warned that emergency authorisations of jabs at national level could be risky. "It's not that the strategy unravelled," the spokesman said,"For our vaccines, we go through the European Medicines Agency because we want to ensure efficacy and safety. What member states do in addition to that, it's their responsibility." The under-fire European Commission president has repeatedly defended the decision to negotiate as a bloc, despite a row following supply shortfalls from AstraZeneca. She said the strategy ensured smaller member states had access to the jabs in the European Parliament in February. She claimed it would have been “the end of our community”, if larger, richer countries had snapped up all the vaccines instead of securing them jointly as a Union. Brussels has secured and authorised supplies of the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines but the distribution of the jabs at national level have been slow.
- Associated Press
Joe Exotic of “Tiger King" fame has found new attorneys who say they plan to file a motion for a new trial in a matter of months. Joe Exotic, whose real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in federal prison for violating federal wildlife laws and for his role in a failed murder-for-hire plot targeting his chief rival, Carole Baskin, who runs a rescue sanctuary for big cats in Florida. Baskin was not harmed.
The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions to punish Russia for what it described as Moscow's attempt to poison opposition leader Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent last year, in President Joe Biden's most direct challenge yet to the Kremlin. The sanctions against seven senior Russian officials, among them the head of its FSB security service, and on 14 entities marked a sharp departure from former President Donald Trump's reluctance to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- Associated Press
Sri Lankan Roman Catholic Church officials declared a “Black Sunday” this weekend to demand justice for the victims of 2019 Easter Sunday bomb attacks that killed more than 260 people. Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said Tuesday that the church has been given part of a presidential commission's report into the coordinated suicide bomb attacks on April 21, 2019, but many questions remain about its findings. A power struggle between the then president and prime minister which led to a communications breakdown and a resulting lapse in security coordination is said to have enabled the attacks, which occurred despite prior foreign intelligence warnings.
- Associated Press
The Philippine president has dismissed his former ambassador to Brazil after she was seen on video physically abusing a Filipino member of her household staff. President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday night he had approved a recommendation to fire Marichu Mauro, revoke her retirement benefits and disqualify her from public office for life. The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said at the time that the unidentified victim had returned to Philippines and that it was trying to reach her amid an investigation.
- FOX News Videos
Former Operation Warp Speed chief scientific adviser Moncef Slaoui warns Americans to 'remain cautious' on 'The Story'
The comic legends told Jimmy Kimmel that Louie Anderson was cast in the classic 1980s comedy because he was one of three names given to them.
- Associated Press
The latest World Golf Championship event has gone to nine venues with five title names since it began in 1999. Trevor Simsby took that to another level last week at the Workday Championship. A member of the Asian Tour, the 28-year-old Californian had not played on any recognized tour in a full year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Business Insider
The White House says it never wants an assassination like Khashoggi's again, but won't punish MBS for ordering the killing
Biden's White House has essentially leaned on the importance of the diplomatic relationship with Saudi Arabia in defense of its actions.
CrossFit has publicly disavowed Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene over the Republican's previous support for QAnon and other conspiracy theories.
- Reuters Videos
The Burmese python strayed from its natural habitat nearby and got stuck in the pipe leading to an industrial complex.Forest department official Arith Dey led the rescue effort, saying "we tried for nearly three hours and finally rescued it. Now we will take it with us and release it in Baikunthapur Forest."
- LA Times
The hosts returned to the ceremony with a set that took on the controversy around the group's lack of Black members and poked fun at the awards' film/TV divide.
- The Week
With a vote of 97-72, the Georgia state House on Monday passed a bill supported by Republicans that would roll back voting access. House Bill 531 requires a photo ID for absentee voting, limits weekend early voting days, restricts ballot drop box locations, and sets an earlier deadline to request an absentee ballot. The measure now heads to the state Senate for more debate. State Rep. Barry Fleming (R), the bill's chief sponsor, said it is "designed to begin to bring back the confidence of our voters back into our election system." Democrats and civil rights organizations disagree, arguing that it would make it much harder for people to vote, especially voters of color. State Rep. Renitta Shannon (D) said it is "pathetically obvious" that the bill is in response to Georgia voters turning out in record numbers for November's presidential election, making the state blue for the first time in decades. Voters also showed up in January for the Senate runoffs, when Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock defeated the Republican incumbents, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. This gave Republicans the message "that they were in a political death spiral," Shannon said. "And now they are doing anything they can to silence the voices of Black and brown voters specifically, because they largely powered these wins." Demonstrators marched outside the Capitol on Monday to protest the bill, which the Rev. James Woodall, president of the Georgia NAACP, called one of the "most egregious, dangerous, and most expensive voter suppression acts in this entire nation, rolling back years of hardball progress and renewing our own reputation for discrimination." More stories from theweek.comWill COVID-19 wind up saving lives?The Trump administration reportedly quietly funded Operation Warp Speed with money set aside for hospitalsJohn Boehner rips Ted Cruz as a 'reckless a--hole' on book's back cover
- The Daily Beast
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / Getty ImagesPrince Harry and Meghan Markle are being urged by some commentators in the U.K. to ask CBS to postpone the airing of its Oprah Winfrey interview, in which they are expected to mount a stinging attack on the royal family, as concern mounts over Prince Philip’s prospects of beating an infection.Prince Harry Tells Oprah He Left the Royals Because He Feared Meghan Markle Would Suffer Like Princess Diana Philip, 99, was moved to a specialist heart hospital on Monday and royal sources have been quoted by British newspapers saying the family is “pretty appalled” at the idea of the interview, which Oprah has said sees Meghan saying “pretty shocking things” being broadcast while Philip is so unwell.Penny Junor, author of Prince Harry, Brother, Soldier, Son, told The Daily Beast that airing the interview while Prince Philip was undergoing very public health travails risked making the interview look inappropriate, saying, “Anything could hijack this interview. Philip is ill. He is 99 and could die at any time. They were not to know he would get ill, but it could be seen to be the wrong time. But I doubt it is in their gift to postpone the interview. The control is in the hands of CBS and Oprah.”Robert Lacey, historical consultant for The Crown and author of the definitive royal biography Majesty, told The Daily Beast, “I think it would be a marvelous turnaround for Harry’s image if he took the brave step of canceling the whole thing this weekend—or, if that’s not practical, postponing it at least.”Royal commentator and former editor of Who’s Who Richard Fitzwilliams said it would “surely be appropriate” to postpone the interview.He told MailOnline, “Oprah is their friend and neighbor and would undoubtedly comply if asked and the gesture would I am sure be appreciated by the royal family. If an interview has been extended, as this recently has, it can also be postponed, as this undoubtedly should be.” Royal biographer Robert Jobson told the Mail, “With the Duke of Edinburgh clearly very unwell, the fact that the couple plan to go ahead with airing their self-indulgent, no-holds-barred interview with chat show queen Oprah Winfrey makes them appear heartless, thoughtless, and supremely selfish.“For U.S. broadcast network CBS, this interview is a coup, all about securing big viewing figures and big advert sales around the airing of their exclusive interview. So even if they wanted to, Harry and Meghan probably couldn’t dictate terms to Oprah Winfrey and the network now. Too much has been invested.”A TV industry insider told the Mirror, “CBS has sold millions of dollars worth of advertising around the interview, but bosses are aware of the delicacy of the Duke’s health. They have no loyalty to the royal family, although some feel as though they do to Harry and Meghan. For it to run if Philip’s condition worsened would be like setting off a diplomatic bomb. It would be grossly insensitive and hugely disrespectful.”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.
- Yahoo News
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday addressed the multiple allegations of sexual harassment made against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying the Biden administration supports an investigation of him and believes the three women making the accusations should be heard.