By Pavel Polityuk and Alessandra Prentice KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's prime minister on Thursday blamed ousted President Viktor Yanukovich for the deaths of dozens of anti-government protesters shot by police snipers and urged Russia to hand him over to face charges. Arseny Yatseniuk made his comments to Reuters after Ukraine's security service (SBU) blamed the killing of more than 100 protesters in mid-February on the Berkut riot police but said Yanukovich had been involved in planning the operation. The SBU also said representatives of Russia's FSB security force had been at the SBU headquarters in Kiev - under the previous government - during three months of protests, and that Russia had flown explosives into Ukraine as they worsened. The hints of Russian involvement could further strain ties with Ukraine's former Soviet master, which annexed the Crimea region after Yanukovich's removal from power in what has become the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War. Yanukovich has taken refuge in Russia and denied ordering the shootings. Asked in an interview whether he held the deposed president responsible for the protesters' deaths, Yatseniuk said it was a matter for the prosecutor general to decide. "But as a politician I can state that the former president is personally responsible and we would like to bring ... (him) to justice," he said. "It is unacceptable when the Russian Federation covers for a man who is under investigation for the charges of mass murder and crimes against humanity." The new government has faced pressure to identify and punish the killers in an event which was a turning point in the Moscow-backed Yanukovich's ultimately doomed struggle to retain power. "The former government of the country gave criminal orders and a huge number of people suffered in the 'mincer'," Interior Minister Arsen Avakov told a news conference that announced the initial findings of an investigation into the shooting. Rooftop snipers picked off protesters and medical workers on February 20. Many died on the spot from shots to the neck and scores of bodies were left strewn on the ground in central Kiev. One day after the killings, which followed three months of mainly peaceful protests over Yanukovich's decision to spurn closer trade and political ties with the European Union, the president fled Kiev. He was deposed by parliament on February 22. The prosecutor general said 12 members of the Berkut had been detained on suspicion of shooting peaceful participants in the protests. Acting Attorney General Oleh Makhnitsky said the detainees were members of a special force in the Berkut called the 'Black Unit' and the head of the SBU said members of a special unit within SBU had also been involved. In late February the Interior Ministry disbanded the Berkut, whose name means golden eagle. RUSSIAN EXPLOSIVES The presence of members of Russia's FSB, a successor of the KGB, at the SBU's headquarters in Kiev implied there had been active Russian involvement in events in Ukraine, SBU chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said. "We have reasonable grounds to believe that these groups ... participated in the planning and implementation of the so-called anti-terrorist operation," he said. The FSB denied any involvement. Russia's RIA news agency quoted it as saying: "Let these statements be on the conscience of the Ukrainian Security Services." Nalyvaichenko also said that planes loaded with 5,100 kilograms of Russian-made explosives and other materials had landed at an aerodrome near Kiev from the Russian city of Chkalovsk in January. "They brought the means of organizing the shooting and destruction of our protesters on Maidan," he said, referring to the central Kiev square which became the heart of the protests. Russia has denied any involvement in Kiev's unrest, suggesting that the protests were partly funded by the West. Konstantin Dolgov, a Russian Foreign Ministry official responsible for human rights issues, said on Twitter it would be wrong to draw "hasty and politicized conclusions based on material and hypotheses that have 'suddenly' surfaced'". The findings of Ukrainian security chiefs' investigation and the Berkut arrests go some way towards meeting demands for justice over the killings. But many Ukrainians, disillusioned with what they see as a corrupt and mismanaged political system, want more dramatic change. "The authorities want to appease us with these arrests. They've not done enough and we see only cosmetic changes and we want radical reforms," said Ivan Kochmar, a 37-year-old resident of Kiev. Anatoly Dekin, from Crimea, welcomed the moves, saying it would be "nonsense" if the killers were not convicted as they were "monsters who killed ordinary people". Another Kiev resident, who gave his name only as Sergei, said the blame must be placed elsewhere: "The main people who gave the orders are from the Kremlin." (Additional reporting by Paul Ingrassia and Richard Balmforth; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Giles Elgood)
- NBC News
"The situation at the border isn't going to be transformed overnight," a senior Biden transition official told NBC News in an exclusive interview.
- Associated Press
The spokesman for Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert has quit less than two weeks after she was sworn into office, saying he was prompted to by the insurrection at the nation's Capitol. Ben Goldey confirmed his departure to The Colorado Sun after it was first reported on Saturday by Axios. The Sun reported that Goldey did not respond to additional questions, but he told Axios he was leaving in the wake of a deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
After a probe found "significant errors of judgment and procedure" in the termination of the employee, GitHub's head of human resources resigned, GitHub Chief Operating Officer Erica Brescia said on Sunday. "In light of these findings, we immediately reversed the decision to separate with the employee and are in communication with his representative," Brescia said in a blog https://bit.ly/2KnkVhI, adding that the company apologized to that employee.
- National Review
Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) warned Friday that one-third of Republican voters could leave the party if GOP senators vote in impeachment proceedings to convict President Trump. Paul made the comments in an interview on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle. The senator’s remarks come amid an increasing divide between congressional Republicans who oppose impeaching the president and a smaller number who support the measure following the riots at the Capitol on January 6. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) is reportedly hopeful that Republicans can use impeachment to purge Trump from the GOP, although he would need the support of at least 16 additional Republican senators to vote to convict. “Look, I didn’t agree with the [Capitol] fight that happened last week, and I voted against overturning the election, but at the same time, the impeachment is a wrongheaded, partisan notion, [and] if Republicans go along with it, it’ll destroy the party,” Paul said during the interview. “A third of the Republicans will leave the party,” Paul continued. “This isn’t about, anymore, the Electoral College, this is about the future of the party, and whether you’re going to ostracize and excommunicate President Trump from the party. Well, guess what? Millions of his fans will leave as well.” While a majority of Americans believe Trump should be removed from office immediately, just 17 percent of Republicans support expelling Trump from the presidency, according to an Axios–Ipsos poll released on Thursday. Support for Trump among Republicans has fallen since the Capitol riots; however, 60 percent believe the party should continue to follow Trump once he leaves office, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found.
- The Telegraph
Miners trapped underground in eastern China for more than a week after a blast at a gold mine have managed to send up a note to rescuers, the local government said on Monday. The blast occurred eight days ago on Sunday afternoon at a mine near Qixia city in eastern Shandong province, leaving 22 miners trapped underground more than 600 metres from the mine’s entrance. After a long period without any contact, rescuers were able to drill through the mine on Sunday afternoon and said they heard "knocking sounds". A note was then sent up from the trapped miners saying that 12 were still alive, the local government said in a statement Monday. "We are in urgent need of cold medicine, painkillers, medical tape, external anti-inflammatory drugs, and three people have high blood pressure," the note read.
- The Independent
SLC’s ‘Save America’ rally also saw a defiant teenage protester and an attack on a local media member.
Kevin McCarthy warned members to not call out colleagues by name, citing potential political violence
Members of the House Republican Conference ignored leader Kevin McCarthy last week when he warned them against criticizing colleagues by name based on intelligence that doing so could trigger more political violence. Why it matters: McCarthy made clear that name-dropping opponents, instead of spelling out complaints in more general terms, can put a literal target on a politician, especially with tensions so high following the events of Jan. 6.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.That's what happened to Rep. Liz Cheney, the GOP conference chairperson, after she said she would support impeaching President Trump. * She and several other members had to increase their security and take extra precautions because of death threats and other alarming warnings after their colleagues singled them out in their complaints.What McCarthy said: The House minority leader issued his warning during a conference call last Monday. He said his concern was driven by the FBI briefings he receives. * "It doesn’t matter which side of the position you were: I respect it, I respect why you did what you did. But what we are saying on television, when we say a member’s name. ... This is not the moment in time to do it." * "You can incite something else. The country is very divided and we know this. Let’s not put any member, I don’t care who they are Republican, Democrat or any person not even in Congress. Watch our words closely. I get these reports on a weekly basis. I’ve seen something I haven’t seen before.”Several minutes later, McCarthy repeated the message: “Emotions are high. What you say matters. Let’s not put other people in danger. Let’s watch what words we’re using and definitely not be using other members' names in any media.”Days later, some GOP members ignored him and openly criticized their colleagues * Rep. Adam Kinzinger tweeted that the name of his Republican colleague, Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene, "will be one forgotten by next January." * Rep. Lauren Boebart (R-Colo.) mocked Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the House's new mask fines.One of the most blatant attacks, leading to a media firestorm, was when several members of the House Freedom Caucus went after Cheney for voting to impeach Trump. * On the day of the vote, the members circulated a petition to remove her from her leadership role. * Cheney is now fielding a series of threats against her, many from fiery Trump supporters angered by her vote, a source with direct knowledge of the threat said. * “We don’t comment on security matters,” Cheney’s communications director, Jeremy Adler, told Axios.What we’re hearing: McCarthy's team told Axios he isn't looking for repercussions. Spokesman Matt Sparks said the leader wants to lower the temperature and is encouraging members to be mindful of the current environment.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- Reuters Videos
The protesters had gathered on a square in front of the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum art galleries, carrying signs reading "Freedom: stop this siege" and chanting "What do we want? Freedom!". None wore masks, which are not mandatory, and few respected social distancing rules. Authorities had declined an application for the protest to be held on Museum Square. The demonstrators refused to leave when police told them to do so, and some threw fireworks.
- The Week
Israel has vaccinated at least 25 percent of its population against the coronavirus so far, which leads the world and makes it "the country to watch for herd effects from" the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, says infectious disease expert David Fishman. Recently, the case rate in Israel appears to have declined sharply, and while there could be a few reasons for that, it's possible the vaccination effort is beginning to play a role.> Israel's reproduction number appears to have declined rather sharply in recent days, with around 25% of the country vaccinated, and some additional percentage having at least partial immunity via prior infection. pic.twitter.com/sVyCYYd9dj> > — David Fisman (@DFisman) January 17, 2021One study from Clalit that was published last week reports that 14 days after receiving the first Pfizer-BioNTech shot, infection rates among 200,000 Israelis older than 60 fell 33 percent among those vaccinated compared to 200,000 from the same demographic who hadn't received a jab.At first glance, Fishman writes, that might seem disappointing since clinical trials suggested the vaccine was more than 90 percent effective. But he actually believes the 33 percent figure is "auspicious." Because vaccinated and non-vaccinated people are mingling, there could be "herd effects of immunization." In other words, when inoculated people interact with people who haven't had their shot, the latter individual may still be protected because the other person is. On a larger scale, that would drive down the number of infections among non-vaccinated people, thus shrinking the gap between the two groups' infection rates.> Estimated vaccine efficacy is a function of relative risk of infection in the vaccinated...when there is indirect protection via herd effects, we expect efficacy estimates to decrease because the risk among unvaccinated individuals declines.> > — David Fisman (@DFisman) January 17, 2021More data needs to come in, and Fishman thinks "we'll know more" this week, but he's cautiously optimistic about how things are going.More stories from theweek.com Statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico only needs 50 votes 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious
Britain's vaccine rollout is limited by a "lumpy" manufacturing process with production changes by Pfizer and a delay by AstraZeneca that could lead to brief supply disruption, Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Monday. The United Kingdom, which has the world's fifth worst official COVID-19 death toll, is racing to be among the first major countries to vaccinate its population - seen as the best way to exit the pandemic and get the economy going again. The United Kingdom has vaccinated 3,857,266 people with a first dose and 449,736 with a second dose.
- The Independent
Man arrested at inauguration checkpoint with gun and ammo says he was lost and did not mean to bring weapon to DC
The man said he got lost driving around Washington DC
President-elect Joe Biden will roll back some of President Trump's most controversial policies and address "four overlapping and compounding crises" in his first 10 days in office — the pandemic, the economic downturn, climate climate and racial inequity.Driving the news: That's according to a memo from Biden's incoming Chief of Staff Ron Klain Saturday. Following Biden's inauguration Wednesday, he'll "sign roughly a dozen actions to combat the four crises," Klein said.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.Zoom in: Biden's actions on day one of his presidency will include rejoining the Paris climate agreement, extending a pause on federal student loan payments, reversing Trump's ban on travel to the U.S. from several Muslim-majority countries and issuing a mask mandate in an attempt to curb surging COVID-19 cases. * On Thursday, Biden will sign several executive actions aimed at changing the course of the COVID-19 crisis and safely re-open schools and businesses. * On Friday, the president-elect will "direct his Cabinet agencies to take immediate action to deliver economic relief to working families bearing the brunt" of the coronavirus crisis, Klein wrote. * Between Jan. 25 and Feb. 1, Biden will address the climate crisis, criminal justice reform, take steps to expand access to health care, and move to reform immigration — including reuniting families separated at the border under Trump's immigration policy.For the record: All of these measures were previously announced, but this is the first time Biden's timetable has been revealed.Go deeper: Biden's "100-day challenge"Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
The U.S. Army has identified a 1st Armored Division staff sergeant from Fort Bliss, Texas found dead at his home Thursday.
- The Telegraph
The coronavirus was found on ice cream produced in eastern China, prompting a recall of cartons from the same batch, according to the government. The Daqiaodao Food Co., Ltd. in Tianjin, adjacent to Beijing, was sealed and its employees were being tested for the coronavirus, a city government statement said. There was no indication anyone had contracted the virus from the ice cream. Most of the 29,000 cartons in the batch had yet to be sold, the government said. It said 390 sold in Tianjin were being tracked down and authorities elsewhere were notified of sales to their areas. The ingredients included New Zealand milk powder and whey powder from Ukraine, the government said. The Chinese government has suggested the disease, first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019, came from abroad and has highlighted what it says are discoveries of the coronavirus on imported fish and other food, though foreign scientists are skeptical. Chinese officials have blamed cluster outbreaks on frozen food products imported from countries including the US, EU, New Zealand, Canada, India, Germany and Ecuador. And recently, China blamed an infection in a current cluster outbreak on an imported virus strain that had supposedly contaminated a package of steamed buns. The World Health Organisation has said that cases of live viruses being found on packaging appeared to be “rare and isolated". Other health experts have cautioned against drawing causal links between food packaging and outbreaks – finding traces of virus indicates it is present on a surface, but does not mean it can cause infections. The report came as China confirmed 109 new Covid-19 cases, two-thirds of them in a northern province that abuts Beijing, and no deaths. There were 72 new cases in Hebei province, where the government is building isolation hospitals with a total of 9,500 rooms to combat an upsurge in infections, according to the National Health Commission. The Health Commission on Saturday blamed the new infections on travellers and imported goods it said brought the virus from abroad. China's death toll stands at 4,653 out of 88,227 total cases.
- Associated Press
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Sunday that his government has agreed with a U.N. proposal to delay shipments of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to countries like Mexico that had exiting purchase agreements, in order to get more doses to poorer countries quicker. López Obrador said the delayed shipments would be made up later. “Anyway, that won't change our plan, because we are already seeking out other vaccines,”' López Obrador said, referring to the AstraZeneca vaccine as well as the Chinese CanSino and Russian Sputnik V vaccines, neither of which has been approved for use yet.
- Miami Herald
A man who did prison time for aggravated stalking and has convictions for domestic violence and violating a restraining order has an 18-year-old girl he has kidnapped at gunpoint, Pembroke Pines police said.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) called on his Republican Party to rebuild itself and "repudiate the nonsense that has set our party on fire" in an in an op-ed for The Atlantic Saturday on the QAnon conspiracy theory.Why it matters: Many of the mob involved in the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riots wore items signaling their support for the far-right QAnon and a prominent member of the cult was among those arrested following the siege.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * Several Republicans who ran for Congress last year publicly supported or defended the QAnon movement or some of its tenets — something Sasee noted in his op-ed, headlined "QAnon is Destroying the GOP From Within." * Sasse blames the violence on "the blossoming of a rotten seed that took root in the Republican Party some time ago and has been nourished by treachery, poor political judgment, and cowardice."Driving the news: Sasse wrote in his op-ed that "until last week, many party leaders and consultants thought they could preach the Constitution while winking at QAnon." * "They can't," he added. "The GOP must reject conspiracy theories or be consumed by them. Now is the time to decide what this party is about." * Sasse criticized House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for not denouncing QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) when she was running for Congress in 2020. * "She's already announced plans to try to impeach Joe Biden on his first full day as president," Sasse wrote. "She'll keep making fools out of herself, her constituents, and the Republican Party."Worth noting: Sasse said before the House impeached President Trump for a second time he'd consider "definitely consider" any articles of impeachment against him over his conduct and comments at a rally before the riots. * The Nebraska senator criticized Trump's embrace of QAnon supporters last August, warning that Democrats could "take the Senate" this "will be a big part of why they won." * Months later, the Democrats went on to win control of the Senate.The bottom line: Sasse wrote that his party faces a choice when Trump leaves office: "We can dedicate ourselves to defending the Constitution and perpetuating our best American institutions and traditions, or we can be a party of conspiracy theories."Go deeper: * The Capitol siege's QAnon roots * House freshmen at war after Capitol siegeSupport safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
U.S. President Donald Trump at this point is opting not to issue a pardon for himself as he prepares an expansive list of more than 100 pardons and commutations for release on Tuesday, a source familiar with the effort said. White House advisers have said Trump has privately debated with advisers whether to take the extraordinary step of issuing a pardon for himself but some administration officials have cautioned Trump against a self-pardon because it would make him look guilty. Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House of Representatives last week on charges of inciting the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by pro-Trump protesters.
- The Telegraph
Almost a third of recovered Covid patients will end up back in hospital within five months and one in eight will die, alarming new figures have shown. Research by Leicester University and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found there is a devastating long-term toll on survivors of severe coronavirus, with many people developing heart problems, diabetes and chronic liver and kidney conditions. Out of 47,780 people who were discharged from hospital in the first wave, 29.4 per cent were readmitted to hospital within 140 days, and 12.3 per cent of the total died. The current cut-off point for recording Covid deaths is 28 days after a positive test, so it may mean thousands more people should be included in the coronavirus death statistics. Researchers have called for urgent monitoring of people who have been discharged from hospital.
- The Independent
Biden’s plan to get 100m Americans vaccinated in first 100 days is ‘doable,’ Dr Fauci says