- Associated Press
- The Guardian
Gen Salvador Cienfuegos was arrested last October for allegedly shielding a conspiracy to smuggle drugs into the US Gen Salvador Cienfuegos in Mexico City on 14 September 2016. Photograph: Rebecca Blackwell/AP Mexico has exonerated a former defense minister who US prosecutors alleged was a drug capo nicknamed The Godfather, sparking outrage and claims that the country’s powerful armed forces have become untouchable. Gen Salvador Cienfuegos was arrested at a Los Angeles airport last October for allegedly shielding a multimillion-dollar conspiracy to smuggle drugs into the US. But those charges were dropped by the justice department in November as part of a controversial backroom deal and Cienfuegos returned home to Mexico. On Thursday night Mexico’s attorney general’s office announced it was completely absolving Cienfuegos, the defense chief under the former president Enrique Peña Nieto between 2012 and 2018. It claimed its investigators had found the 72-year-old general had neither met nor communicated with “any criminal group”. Mexico’s nationalist president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is heavily reliant on the military, defended the move at one of his daily early morning press conferences on Friday. López Obrador, who is best known as Amlo, insisted his government opposed impunity and corruption – but nor were “retaliation” or “revenge” acceptable. “You can just invent crimes,” Amlo added, accusing the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of “fabricating” evidence against Cienfuegos. Those remarks will do little to calm anger over the general’s apparent escape from justice, both in Mexico and the US. Ernesto López Portillo, who runs the citizen security program at Mexico’s Ibero-American University, said the most troubling aspect of the saga was not the thought that the attorney general’s office might have given the green light to such impunity. “It’s the possibility that this impunity is the result of the armed forces imposing itself on the president himself. That is the most serious hypothesis of all,” López Portillo tweeted. Mike Vigil, the DEA’s former chief of international operations, told the Associated Press the decision “could be the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as US-Mexico cooperation in counter-drug activities”. Falko Ernst tweeted: “Holding the upper echelons of state power accountable is a necessary condition for breaking Mexico’s perpetual lethal conflict. Today cements a leap away from this.” Denise Dresser, a prominent political observer and government critic, tweeted: “Salvador Cienfuegos’s exoneration shows how the armed forces are untouchable, they are above the law … and will remain beyond democratic scrutiny.” Dresser claimed the exoneration suggested that the armed forces – which she called Mexico’s “new mafia in power” – are in fact governing Latin America’s number two economy. That was a clear reference to Amlo’s longstanding pledge to fight what he calls Mexico’s “mafia of power”. Mexico’s leader won a landslide election in 2018 promising to eradicate corruption and dismantle what he paints as Mexico’s hidden and dishonest elite. On Friday, Mexico’s president insisted he stood by those pledges. But Amlo acknowledged adversaries would use the exoneration “to attack us and convince people that we are all the same, that there has been no change, that we are cover-uppers and accomplices and tools of of vested interest groups and foreign governments”. The former DEA chief Vigil said the exoneration showed that “despite the political rhetoric of wanting to eliminate corruption, such is obviously not the case”. “The rule of law has been significantly violated,” he added.
- The Week
A reserve of second-dose COVID-19 vaccines set to be repurposed as first doses is already empty, state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans tell The Washington Post.Both the coronavirus vaccines currently authorized in the U.S. require two doses to be fully effective. So when distribution of first doses began, the Trump administration held back matching second doses to make sure recipients would be fully protected against COVID-19. Amid a massive demand for more doses, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced earlier this week that the department would begin doling out those reserved doses to more people, saying increased production speed would make up for the soon-to-be-depleted reserve.But as officials soon learned, the federal government had stopped stockpiling second dose vaccines weeks ago, they tell the Post. Both first and second doses were instead taken right off the manufacturing line. That meant Azar's announcement reportedly released a stockpile that didn't exist. The U.S. had already reached its maximum distribution capacity, and new doses distributors were expecting next week weren't coming, the Post reports.HHS spokesperson Michael Pratt confirmed in an email to the Post that the last of the reserve had been taken out for shipment this weekend. He didn't acknowledge Azar's comments, but said Operation Warp Speed had "always intended to transition from holding second doses in reserve as manufacturing stabilizes and we gained confidence in the ability for a consistent flow of vaccines." he also said states had only ordered 75 percent of the vaccines available to them. Read more at The Washington Post.More stories from theweek.com Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious Do Democrats realize the danger they are in? 5 scathing cartoons about Trump's second impeachment
- Yahoo News Video
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called a man wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" top during the attack on the Capitol "this punk with that shirt on." The man has been identified as Robert Keith Packer and has been arrested in connection with the riot.
- Associated Press
- NBC News
The flag has become a symbol for different things: anti-communism, U.S. imperialism, democracy and recollection of the past.
- The Telegraph
- Charlotte Observer
An Army private first class was arraigned on sexual assault charges before a military judge.
- Associated Press
- National Review
- Architectural Digest
- The Week
Federal prosecutors in a new court filing reportedly point to "strong evidence" that rioters who stormed the Capitol building last week aimed to "capture and assassinate elected officials."The prosecutors included this assessment while asking a judge to detain Jacob Chansley, one of the men who was arrested and charged following the deadly Capitol riot, Reuters reports."Strong evidence, including Chansley's own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States government," the prosecutors wrote.Supporters of President Trump stormed the Capitol building on the day Congress was meeting to certify President-elect Joe Biden's election win, leaving five people dead. Trump was subsequently impeached for a second time for "incitement of insurrection" after delivering a speech calling on his supporters to march to the Capitol building.The prosecutors in the filing reportedly wrote that the charges against Chansley "involve active participation in an insurrection attempting to violently overthrow the United States government," adding that the "insurrection is still in progress." They also revealed that Chansley, who was photographed wearing horns at Vice President Mike Pence's desk, allegedly left a note for Pence that warned, "it's only a matter of time, justice is coming," Reuters reports. The filing, Politico writes, "spells out clearly the government's view of an ongoing 'insurrection movement' that is reaching a potential climax as Biden's inauguration approaches." More stories from theweek.com Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious Do Democrats realize the danger they are in? 5 scathing cartoons about Trump's second impeachment
Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * They lost their congressional power. * Their two leaders, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, are hamstrung by corporate blacklisting of their election-denying members. * The GOP brand is radioactive for a huge chunk of America. * The corporate bans on giving to the 147 House and Senate Republicans who voted against election certification are growing and virtually certain to hold. * The RNC is a shell of its former self and run by a Trump loyalist. * Democrats crushed them in fundraising when they were out of power. Imagine their edge with it. * Sheldon Adelson, the party's biggest donor, died Monday. * The NRA is weaker than it has ever been, after massive leadership scandals. * The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, once controlled by rock-ribbed Republicans, also gave to Democrats in 2020. * Rank-and-file Republicans are now scattered on encrypted channels like Signal and fearful of Big Tech platforms. What to watch: Conservatives hold power in the courts and state legislatures, two foundational pieces to rebuilding their party. But they likely will face a raging internal war over policies and political leaders as they grapple with a post-Trump world — whenever that might be.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- The Independent
- Miami Herald
- The Week
Less than a week before the inauguration, Vice President Mike Pence has reportedly called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to offer his congratulations.Pence and Harris spoke over the phone Thursday, with Pence congratulating the incoming vice president and offering "his belated assistance," The New York Times reported on Friday and The Associated Press confirmed.This is the first time Pence and Harris have spoken since their debate in October, and the call was "described as gracious and pleasant," the Times writes. President Trump has yet to speak with President-elect Joe Biden since the election, having spent more than two months falsely claiming to have won.Pence may invite Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, to the vice-presidential residence prior to next week's inauguration, according to the Times, though this is reportedly not set in stone due to scheduling issues created by the ongoing security concerns following last week's Capitol riot.Trump is reportedly expected to leave Washington, D.C. the morning of the inauguration. The president previously confirmed he will skip Biden's swearing-in, but Pence is expected to attend.More stories from theweek.com Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious Do Democrats realize the danger they are in? 5 scathing cartoons about Trump's second impeachment
- The Telegraph
- The Independent
Karl Racine ‘extremely confident’ US president’s eldest son broke law
- Yahoo News Video