By Suleiman Al-Khalidi AMMAN (Reuters) - A Jordanian officer shot dead two U.S. government security contractors, a South African trainer and two Jordanians at a U.S. funded police training facility near Amman on Monday before being killed in a shootout, Jordanian authorities said. U.S. President Barack Obama said he was treating the attack at the King Abdullah Training Center, in which three Jordanians and one Lebanese citizen were wounded, very seriously and a full investigation was under way. The gunman was a police captain, a senior Jordanian official told Reuters. There was no immediate word on the attacker's background or motive. But Jordan is a staunch U.S. ally in the Washington-led campaign against Islamic State militants who hold large areas of neighboring Syria and Iraq, a position Jordanian officials say leaves the kingdom vulnerable to jihadist attacks. "This incident sadly does not come as a surprise as the threat of Islamist terrorism has only increased in the region in the last few years in the aftermath of Syria and Iraq. As much as pre-emptive measures have been taken, it is impossible to eradicate all risks," said a senior Jordanian official who requested anonymity, citing political sensitivities. The U.S. Embassy in Amman said two American civilian security contractors and a South African contractor were shot to death, and one slain Jordanian was a translator. It was "premature to speculate on motive at this point" with the investigation proceeding, it said. A second Jordanian, who had been in critical condition, died later of his wounds, Jordan's government said. There were differing early reports on the number killed, with three U.S. sources saying eight people died in the attack. Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad Momani denied that and Jordan's official death toll stands at six. A U.S. official said the two Americans were working for the U.S. State Department's International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Bureau training Palestinian security forces. The U.S. security contractor DynCorp International confirmed its personnel were fired on during the shooting but did not elaborate. Obama told reporters at the White House: “The fact that someone dressed in military uniform carried out an attack at a training facility in (Jordan)... we take this very seriously, and we’ll be working closely with the Jordanians to determine exactly what happened." The shooting spree took place on the 10th anniversary of al Qaeda suicide bombings that targeted three Amman luxury hotels and killed 57 people, the deadliest militant attack in Jordanian history. EARLIER ATTACK PLOTS THWARTED Security sources said several earlier militant plots to attack the King Abdullah training center had been foiled. Momani, the government spokesman, said the attacker was shot dead by Jordanian security forces inside the training center. He did not commit suicide as security sources had earlier reported. The training facility was set up on the outskirts of the capital Amman after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq to help rebuild the shattered country's postwar security forces and to train Palestinian Authority police officers. Jordan hosts several hundred U.S. contractors who are part of a military program to bolster the kingdom's defenses, including the stationing of F-16 fighter jets that use Jordanian airfields to hit Islamic State positions in neighboring Syria. But Jordan's role in the war against Islamic State has raised disquiet among some Jordanians about instability at their borders. They fear that Amman's enhanced role in the campaign might provoke Islamist bloodshed in their country. Jordanian authorities have since tightened security around sensitive government districts, increased surveillance of radical Islamists and jailed dozens on suspicion of plotting militant attacks on Israelis, Americans and other Westerners. King Abdullah believes fervently that ultra-hardline jihadists pose an existential threat to the kingdom. Since the civil war erupted in Syria in 2011, hundreds of Jordanians have joined Sunni Muslim militant groups in the insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad, according to Islamists close to the subject. But Jordan's Western-aligned monarchy is torn by conflicting interests over Syria. It has tried to steer a middle course between that of Gulf Arab allies who want Assad ousted at almost any cost and its own concerns - echoed by Washington - that a radical Islamist victory in Syria would install a worse threat. That ambivalence means that while Jordan has hosted small-scale U.S. training of rebels and allowed modest quantities of Gulf-supplied arms to filter into Syria, it has ensured that its border has not become an easy conduit for guns and combatants. (Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed, Mark Hosenball, Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Jonathan Oatis)
- Yahoo News
Black National Guardsman describes being deployed to protect Biden’s inauguration: 'I just felt this huge sense of pride'
As most of the 25,000 National Guardsmen who were called upon to protect Washington, D.C., during the presidential inauguration began heading home this week, one Black service member agreed to speak to Yahoo News about the experience of protecting the nation’s capital in the wake of a pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill.
- Yahoo News
Early data on the rollout of the vaccines for COVID-19 shows that minority populations in the United States already disproportionately affected by the pandemic are not being immunized at the same rate as white Americans.
- The Independent
Mike Pence is homeless after leaving office and ‘couch-surfing’ with Indiana politicians, report says
Mike Pence has been residing in public housing for the past eight years
- FOX News Videos
Biden administration has system in place where reporters will not ask president tough questions: Media critic
Steve Krakauer, editor at Fourth Watch, says 'it shouldn't be contingent' on one reporter to ask Biden tough questions.
- Architectural Digest
Let’s get loudOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- The Telegraph
Russian authorities offer contradictory explanations for Kremlin-like security at alleged ‘Putin’s palace’
Russia’s top security agencies have offered contradictory explanations for heightened security measures around a billion-dollar property on the Black Sea, dubbed “Putin’s palace" by opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Faced with over 95 million views of Mr Navalny’s YouTube investigation into the residence, President Vladimir Putin had to issue a denial on Monday, insisting that neither he, nor his family own the property whose very existence enraged millions of Russia. Angry protests spread across the country’s 11 time zones on Saturday in response to the allegations about Mr Putin’s lavish lifestyle as well as the arrest of Mr Navalny who was locked up for violating the terms of his suspended sentence. The day after the politician was jailed, Mr Navalny’s team published the investigation into the property which detailed a web of its obscure owners as well President Putin’s close friends and relatives who have allegedly been pumping money into its construction and maintenance. The property, believed to be Russia’s largest private home, boasts a casino, private theatre and even a smoking room with a stripper pole. The waters along the coast are off limits for fishermen and the Kremlin security service, FSO, is known to be issuing permits for anyone wanting to get close, which has been seen as the ultimate evidence that President Putin does use the palace. Floor plans of the palace as well as rare photographs and 3D visualisations showing its opulent interior have become the butt of jokes and given rise to countless parodies and internet memes. Russian news outlet RBC on Wednesday quoted a statement from the country’s main intelligence agency FSB, explaining that it had to close the airspace over the property due to “growing spying activities of a number of neighbouring countries including NATO members.” The FSB, however, failed to comment on the fact that the no-fly zone was first established there in 2011. Separately, the FSO, whose job is to provide security to Russia’s top officials including the president, on Wednesday, denied that there are any facilities in the area under its protection.
- Associated Press
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday criticized Iran's hard-liner dominated judiciary over last week's prosecution of the countrys telecommunications minister. Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi was released on bail after he was summoned for prosecution. Judiciary officials cited his refusal to block Instagram and impose limitations on the bandwidth of other foreign social media and messaging systems.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday that Democrats may try to pass much of President Joe Biden's coronavirus relief bill using a process that would bypass a Republican filibuster and could pass with a majority vote. Biden wants Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal, but many Republicans have balked at the price tag. The Senate is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote.
- The Independent
‘There appeared to be no remorse,’ says Calcasieu Parish sheriff Tony Mancus
- Associated Press
Leaders of a protest movement sought Wednesday to distance themselves from a day of violence when thousands of farmers stormed India's historic Red Fort, the most dramatic moment in two months of demonstrations that have grown into a major challenge of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. Farmers demanding the repeal of new agricultural laws briefly took over of the 17th-century fort, and images broadcast live on television shocked the nation. In a particularly bold rebuke to Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government, the protesters hoisted a Sikh religious flag.
- The Week
President Biden announced Tuesday that his administration intends to order an additional 100 million doses of both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines. The extra 200 million doses, which Biden said should arrive by the summer, would boost the country's supply by about 50 percent to 600 million shots total, meaning that there would be enough shots available to inoculate 300 million people in the coming months without the Food and Drug Administration granting approval for any other vaccine candidates. Pres. Biden says his admin has ordered 200 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses that will be available by summer, increasing the total number ordered from 400 million to 600 million pic.twitter.com/VFZ3qTmUK9 — NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 26, 2021 It's another sign that the government is raising expectations for the vaccine rollout. On Monday, Biden upped the daily vaccination goal from 1 million to 1.5 million throughout his first 100 days in office and suggested that any American who wants a shot could be able to get one by the spring. FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver applauded the administration for getting more ambitious, though he noted it could be difficult — impossible, even, unless the shots are approved for children — to find 300 million willing Americans to get vaccinated by the end of summer. In practice it's going to be hard to find 300m Americans willing to get vaccinated by Sept. 22. (It's literally impossible until vaccines are approved for children.) And we'll probably eventually mix in some one-dose vaccines. Still, ramping up to 2-2.5m/day is a laudable goal. — Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) January 26, 2021 More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorTrump's impeachment lawyer said he thinks 'the facts and the law will speak for themselves'Mitch McConnell is the GOAT
China said on Wednesday it was seeking details about 25 of its nationals who were among 61 crew on two supertankers seized by Indonesia on suspicion of illegally transferring oil. Indonesia said on Sunday it had seized the vessels after they were detected making the transfer from Iranian-flagged MT Horse to Panamanian-flagged MT Freya, causing an oil spill. The Indonesian authorities said the seizure was not related to U.S. sanctions, which Washington imposed in a bid to shut off Iran's oil exports in a dispute over Tehran's nuclear programme.
- Associated Press
A group of U.N experts has criticized Sri Lanka's requirement that those who die of COVID-19 be cremated, even it goes against a family's religious beliefs, and warned that decisions based on “discrimination and aggressive nationalism” could incite hatred and violence. The experts, who are part of the Special Procedures of the U.N Human Rights Council, said in a statement Monday that rule amounts to a human rights violation. “We deplore the implementation of such public health decisions based on discrimination, aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism amounting to persecution of Muslims and other minorities in the country,” the experts said.
- The Telegraph
Joe Biden challenged Vladimir Putin over the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, and reports of Russian bounties on the heads of US soldiers in Afghanistan, in their first presidential phone call. Mr Biden also raised concerns about Russian "aggression" against Ukraine, and reaffirmed Washington's "strong support for Ukraine's sovereignty." The US president said he was willing to extend the New START nuclear arms control treaty for five years. Kremlin officials said documents had been exchanged to extend the pact. Mr Biden also raised concerns over Russian cyber hacking, interference in US elections, and treatment of peaceful protesters. Mr Biden made clear he would "act firmly in defence of our national interest in response to malign actions by Russia," the White House said. The Kremlin said Mr Putin told Mr Biden that he supports "normalisation" of relations between their two countries. Mr Putin "noted that the normalisation of relations between Russia and the United States" would benefit "the entire international community," the Kremlin said.
The European Union is asking AstraZeneca to publish the vaccine supply contract it signed with the bloc, an EU official said on Wednesday, amid frustration about delivery delays. The EU has been slow to rollout vaccination programmes compared with some other regions, especially former EU member Britain. The issue has been exacerbated by AstraZeneca and Pfizer both announcing delivery holdups in recent weeks.
- Associated Press
A Texas man accused of taking part in the attack on the U.S. Capitol earlier this month while wearing a shirt with a message that stood for “murder the media” was arrested Tuesday, the FBI said. Nicholas DeCarlo, 30, was charged with obstructing an official proceeding, entering a restricted building and parading or demonstrating on Capitol grounds, according to a criminal complaint. Investigators say DeCarlo, of Burleson, Texas, was seen in photos smoking a cigarette inside the Capitol on Jan. 6.
- The Telegraph
Donald Trump may be out of office, but his legacy is likely to throw a spanner in the works for the Biden revolution. The Democrats control the White House, the House of Representatives and, with the aid of Kamala Harris’s casting vote, the Senate. But it took less than a week for a Trump-appointed judge to slam the brakes on a Biden immigration initiative. US District Judge Drew Tipton issued a restraining order preventing the new administration from enforcing a 100-day moratorium on deportations. His ruling was a foretaste of what is to come over the next few years. Immigration, of course, is one of the biggest areas of contention between the parties. While Donald Trump was in power, the Democrats repeatedly – and often successfully - went to court to block immigration restrictions. Think back to the ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. It was repeatedly knocked back by the courts. It had to be rewritten time and time again before finally getting approved by the Supreme Court. It is hardly surprising that the Republicans will use the courts to delay – and if possible block - the Biden administration where it can.
AstraZeneca Plc will license Japanese biotechnology company JCR Pharmaceutical, to produce some 90 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to help Japan avoid shortages and delays, the Nikkei newspaper reported. The government in December agreed to buy 120 million doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University with deliveries to begin in May, the Nikkei said. Officials at JCR Pharmaceuticals and AstraZeneca's Japan unit were not immediately available for comment outside business hours on Wednesday.
- Associated Press
Iran has sentenced the brother of the country’s senior vice president to two years in prison on corruption charges, the website of the Iranian judiciary reported Tuesday. According to the judiciary's spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaili, the verdict for Mahdi Jahangiri, the brother of Eshaq Jahangiri, is final and cannot be appealed.
- The Independent
Biden tells Fox News reporter he talked to Putin about ‘You’ when asked about his call with Russian president
Leaders reportedly discussed Ukraine tensions, a massive cyberattack and Russia’s poisoned opposition leader