Terrified shoppers fled and businesses were closed off after reports of a shooting at the Walmart in Tulare on Thursday night.
- The Independent
‘It’s really sad, who says that?’: Lindsey Graham mocked for thanking Trump for ‘allowing me to be in his world’
‘Morning Joe’ hosts laugh at senator’s continued subservience to former president
- The Telegraph
David Cameron has accused Theresa May of making a “very bad mistake” by combining the role of National Security Adviser and Cabinet Secretary during her tenure. The former prime minister heaped criticism on his successor, saying her decision in 2018 to hand both roles to one person, Sir Mark Sedwill, “temporarily weakened” Whitehall’s national security infrastructure. “They are two jobs,” Mr Cameron said on Monday. “Even if you were a cross of Einstein, Wittgenstein & Mother Teresa, you couldn’t possibly do both jobs.” The Cabinet Secretary is the most senior civil servant on Whitehall and is the senior policy adviser to the Prime Minister. The NSA is the central co-ordinator and adviser to the prime minister and cabinet on security, intelligence, defence, and some foreign policy matters. The roles were split up again by Boris Johnson after he took office. Addressing MPs and peers who sit on the Joint Committee on the National Strategic Security, Mr Cameron conceded it was a “mistake” that the Government’s future pandemic planning had focused on flu rather than respiratory diseases in the years leading up to the Covid-19 outbreak. “I think there was a pretty good flu pandemic plan but it was a flu plan rather than a respiratory diseases plan,” he said. He also admitted that more lessons should have been learned from the SARS epidemic in 2004. He questioned what had happened to a unit that he said was set up during his administration in the Cabinet Office to concentrate on “global virus surveillance”. Mr Johnson is now pushing for an international version of such a unit. He has called on global leaders to join a “global pandemic early warning system to predict a coming health crisis”, part of his five-point plan for curbing future pandemics. It would require “a vast expansion of our ability to collect and analyse samples and distribute the findings, using health data-sharing agreements covering every country”, the Prime Minister has said. Mr Cameron ruled out returning to the political arena when asked on Monday whether he would consider a comeback. “No,” he said. “Thinking about Donald Trump making a comeback is enough to keep us all spinning over.” He added that he was “happy doing what I’m doing for Alzheimer’s and dementia” and highlighted a fragile states council he has set up with former Liberian and Rwandan ministers. Asked whether he missed being prime minister, he quipped that he did not miss Wednesdays at noon, the time at which he faced his weekly Commons showdown with the Leader of the Opposition during Prime Minister’s Questions. Mr Cameron seized the opportunity to restate his criticism of Mr Johnson for axing the Department for International Development (DfID), branding it another “mistake”. “Having the Foreign Office voice around the (National Security Council) table and the DfID voice around the table I think is important,” Mr Cameron said. He added: “Can you really expect the foreign secretary to do all of the diplomatic stuff and be able to speak to the development brief as well? That's quite a task, so I think it is good to have both.”
- LA Times
Op-Ed: It's official. Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for Jamal Khashoggi's murder. Hold him accountable
President Biden's failure to punish the Saudi crown prince defies justice and weakens the rule of law everywhere.
- The Telegraph
Some business and personal taxes “have to go up”, Lord Hague, the former Conservative leader and close ally of Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, has warned. In a new article for The Telegraph, Lord Hague writes that people who oppose some form of tax rises in the current climate are buying into “dangerous illusions”. The intervention the day before Mr Sunak stands up to deliver his Budget will raise eyebrows, given the fierce debate about tax rises in the party and the pair’s close relationship. Mr Sunak took over Lord Hague’s seat of Richmond, Yorks, when the latter stepped down as a Tory MP in 2015. Both men will appear at the Budget event together on Friday. “It pains me to say, after spending much of my life arguing for lower taxes, that we have reached the point where at least some business and personal taxes have to go up,” Lord Hague writes. He adds: "Conservatives need to remember that for 200 years, from Pitt in 1797 to Thatcher and Cameron in our own day, keeping the country creditworthy has stood them in very good stead." The Chancellor has been mulling over a string of tax rises or raids for his Budget but has faced warnings from prominent Conservative backbenchers and even David Cameron. Such public support from a prominent Tory grandee as Lord Hague will only further speculation Mr Sunak is preparing to defy calls not to raise taxes, or at least indicate rises are coming soon. The Telegraph can reveal Mr Sunak will announce a £300 million funding boost to save summer sports such as cricket and tennis from the Covid-triggered cash squeeze. Tens of millions of pounds are expected to go to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), allowing it to protect grassroots cricket and ease the return of fans into grounds. Lord Ian Botham, the former England cricket captain, told The Telegraph: “Everyone in the cricketing world will be delighted. It’s been a tough time for the sport.” Mr Sunak is also preparing to spend £408 million to help museums, theatres and galleries in England to reopen once coronavirus restrictions start to ease, it was reported on Monday night. The Chancellor will also announce a new scheme to help 130,000 small businesses expand by funding improvements in their digital operations and offering MBA-like business training. One part of the scheme, dubbed “Help to Grow”, will offer vouchers of up to £5,000 for businesses to buy new software to improve their online operations. Another will see 30,000 small company leaders offered training at some of the UK’s finest business schools and mentoring so they can improve their plans for growth. A Treasury source said the £520 million scheme is one of the “big bets” in the Budget and was inspired by Mr Sunak’s own experience of taking an MBA course at Stanford University in America. Boris Johnson said on Monday that he believed a "strong, jobs-led recovery" was coming, adding: “I think [it] could be much stronger than many of the pessimists have been saying over the last six months or so." Mr Sunak, in a video shared on Twitter, also offered notes of optimism amid frank warnings about the state of the economy, saying: “We have to believe there is light at the end of the tunnel now.”
- The Independent
President’s warm tone towards Mexico has translated to substantial policy changes
- The Independent
Biden AG pick passes out of committee by bipartisan 15-7 vote
- The Daily Beast
GettyPresident Biden’s Afghanistan negotiator has begun a diplomatic trip that will include the first meeting of the new administration with the Taliban, sources familiar confirmed to The Daily Beast.The State Department did not immediately provide comment on the agenda Zalmay Khalilzad is bringing to the Taliban, which belatedly resumed peace talks with the U.S. client Afghan government last week. Khalilzad will first travel to Kabul for meetings with an Afghanistan government whose viability in a post-American Afghanistan is an open question. He’ll also visit other crucial regional capitals.Khalilzad “will resume discussions on the way ahead with the Islamic Republic and Afghan leaders, Taliban representatives, and regional countries whose interests are best served by the achievement of a just and durable political settlement and permanent and comprehensive ceasefire,” a State Department official said.Khalilzad, who has been an Afghanistan envoy for three different presidents, arrives in the region at a pivotal time. Two months remain before the Doha Accord, the deal Khalilzad negotiated with the Taliban last year, requires a full U.S. troop withdrawal. There is enormous international speculation over whether Biden will abide by a deal that extricates the U.S. from a 20-year war it will not admit it has lost.She Helped Escalate an Endless War. Will She End It?“I find that leaving right now is more compelling than it’s ever been in the past,” said Carter Malkasian, who has advised the U.S. military in Afghanistan for more than a decade.Almost immediately upon entering office, Biden placed the Afghanistan deal, struck by the Trump administration, under review. It represents the first critical foreign-policy decision of his presidency. While the review is reportedly nearing its terminal phase, sources familiar with it or close to the administration have said nothing – only that it is not completed, a course of action has not been decided, and they consider the process rigorous.Biden, an opponent of escalation in Afghanistan when he was Barack Obama’s vice president, is under significant elite pressure to forestall a pullout stipulated for May 1. Both Democratic foreign-policy eminances and prestige think-tank panels have urged a delay. “Keeping U.S. troops beyond May while sustaining Doha is possible,” argued Lisa Curtis.Curtis was the senior Afghanistan official on Trump’s National Security Council. She’s a critic of what she calls the “flawed peace deal” Khalilzad negotiated at Trump’s behest, as the obligations it places on the United States—the withdrawal—are more specific than for the Taliban, which is supposed to stop Afghanistan from being a staging ground for international terrorism and enter a dialogue with the Afghanistan government to resolve the country’s political future. Negotiators like Khalilzad should “emphasize [Doha’s] sections on a comprehensive ceasefire and political roadmap,” Curtis said.But delaying the pullout risks blowing up the only diplomatic way out of Afghanistan. “If Biden tears up the agreement, he will own the consequences, and the consequences will not be good,” said Christopher Kolenda, a retired Army colonel who in 2017 and 2018 conducted preparatory diplomacy with the Taliban in Doha.Curtis, Kolenda and all other Afghanistan observers agree on a basic fact, if not its implications. The Taliban, which kept up attacks on Afghan forces after signing the U.S. accord, have put themselves in place for a massive offensive that the U.S., its allies and the Afghanistan government may not be able to repel. Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that the Taliban have closed in on several of Afghanistan’s major cities and control the vital roads to many of them. Whatever Doha envisioned for a Taliban-Afghanistan government path to reconciliation, this is not that. The Taliban, having functionally defeated the U.S. at war, now appear on the horizon of outright victory.“They’re in position for a major offensive. That offensive will include mass-casualty attacks on Americans if we miss the deadline,” said Barnett Rubin, another longtime Afghanistan adviser to the U.S. and the United Nations. “They might be prepared to extend, but if we unilaterally say we’re not satisfied with you so we’re not leaving, that’s what they’ll do. And the muscle memory of the U.S. government is to do that.”Kolenda and other longtime Afghanistan observers argue that attempting to defer the pullout will have precisely the violent effect that Curtis and her side argues will follow the pullout. The Taliban, they argue, would likely see that the U.S. cannot be trusted to keep its word—friction between Washington and Kabul in 2012 doomed an earlier peace process in its infancy—ending any hope of a negotiated end to the war, to say nothing of a secure departure for the remaining U.S. troop presence.“If you’re the Biden administration, would you rather depart as agreed in a safe, orderly manner while leaning into a peace process, or would you prefer the optics of C-17s screaming out of Bagram on the heels of a Taliban offensive like Saigon 1975?” Kolenda said. “I don’t hear the stay-forever crowd talking about the possibility of a humiliating exit.”Curtis acknowledged that the Taliban abandoning diplomacy and attacking U.S. troops again “is a risk.” But, she said, “What is our goal and our objective? We don’t want a terrorist safe haven to reemerge. It’s not just covering us for a safe exit.”Malkasian, more than most, has spent many years attempting to prevent the reemergence of such a safe haven. He sees the risk of a subsequent terrorist attack launched from Afghanistan soil as a “bearable” one— something now grimly proven by COVID-19. “For a good number of days in the winter, we were losing more people per day than we lost on 9/11,” he said. “That means leaving is a viable strategy.”While the review is closely held, the early indications out of the Biden administration and its allies have not suggested an intention to stick with the scheduled pullout.On February 12, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said among the issues the review will examine are “whether the Taliban are fulfilling their commitments relating to counterterrorism, reducing violence, engaging in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan Government and other stakeholders.” On February 19, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, after meeting with NATO allies, said he sought a “responsible and sustainable end to this war” rather than emphasizing the deal currently in place. This past week, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), the Democratic chairman of the armed-services committee and a crucial White House ally, advocated for delaying withdrawal. A source described as familiar with the review told Vox that a full withdrawal is “off the table.”“I think the steps the president has taken, in terms of hinting that we might not pull the rest of our troops out on the 1st of May, is exactly right,” Bob Gates, the former Obama and George W. Bush defense secretary, told The Washington Post on Friday. “We may be in a position where we have to tell ourselves we will have an ongoing presence in Afghanistan for some period of time.”Rubin believes there is a way to sell the Taliban on a one-time troop extension of six months—something he acknowledges could backfire, but something he considers possible owing to the six-month delay between the February accord and the September commencement of pivotal Taliban-Afghan government negotiations, which have proceeded haltingly.The Taliban still want things from the U.S.-led coalition, Rubin pointed out, such as additional prisoner releases and the removal of sanctions placed on it not only by Washington but by the United Nations. Additionally, the administration can take advantage of recently energetic regional diplomacy, particularly by Russia, to accelerate the peace process. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, pledged a “robust and regional diplomatic effort” in a call last month to his Afghan counterpart, but it has yet to publicly manifest.“If one tries to extend the timeline, it should be cast as ‘we’re fully intending to leave Afghanistan, we have this agreement, we want to see it’s fully met, and then we’re returning to a timeline for us to fully leave,’” urged Malkasian. “There is no peace in Afghanistan as long as we stay. We are a driver of violence. The Taliban is able to cast us as an occupying power and it drives them to fight us. That doesn’t mean all Afghans, it’s just enough to get a critical mass to fight. If we want a peace agreement, we have to be willing to leave Afghanistan.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet 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.
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced his plan to open businesses 100% and lift the mask mandate next week. Reaction on social media was strong.
I received my first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in New York City and had to battle a flawed booking system
An Insider reporter struggled to book an appointment and had to wait in line for hours to get the first dose of the Moderna vaccine.
Former MLB executive says Albert Pujols was lying about his age when he signed a $240 million contract with the Angels
"Not one person in baseball believes Albert Pujols is the age he says he is," former Miami Marlins President David Samson.
- USA TODAY
"I looked back and he took off leaving the child there, so I flipped a U-turn in the grass to get to the baby,” Louisiana man Luke Dufrene said.
- National Review
Senators Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) and Mike Lee (R., Utah) on Tuesday pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray on the procedures federal law enforcement officials have used to track down those who participated in the January 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol. “I’m anxious to see those who committed unlawful, violent acts on January 6 brought to justice,” Lee said during a Senate Judiciary Hearing on Tuesday. “I also believe that … with this circumstance, like every other circumstance, we have to make sure that the civil liberties of the American people are protected.” The Utah Republican explained that he had “heard a number of accounts” of people who were in Washington, D.C. on January 6 who never went near the Capitol but were “inexplicably” contacted by FBI agents who knew of their presence in the district that day “with no other explanation, perhaps, other than the use of geolocation data.” “Are you geolocating people, through the FBI, based on where they were on January 6?” Lee asked Wray. “I think there may be some instances in which geolocation has been an investigative tool, but I can’t speak to any specific situation,” Wray responded. “But what are you using to do that?” Lee asked. “What’s your basis for authority? Are you using national security letters?” Wray said, “I don’t believe in any instance we’re using national security letters for investigation of the Capitol—” Lee interrupted to ask the FBI director if he had gone to the FISA court, to which Wray responded he did not “remotely believe FISA is remotely implicated in our investigation.” The senator continued pressing Wray, asking if the FBI is “using warrants predicated on probable cause.” “We certainly have executed a number of warrants in the course of the investigation of January 6,” Wray said. “All of our investigative work in response to the Capitol [riot] has been under the legal authorities that we have in consultation with the [Department of Justice] and the prosecutors.” Later, Hawley continued Lee’s line of questioning regarding geolocation data, asking Wray if his position is that he doesn’t know “whether the bureau has scooped up geolocation data, metadata cell phone records from cell phone towers.” “Do you not know, or are you saying maybe it has or maybe it hasn’t? Tell me what you know about this,” Hawley said. “So when it comes to geolocation data specifically—again, not in a specific instance, but just even the use of geolocation data—I would not be surprised to learn—but I do not know for a fact—that we were using geolocation data under any situation with connection with the investigation of [January 6],” Wray said. “But again, we do use geolocation data under different authorities and specific instances.” The FBI, Department of Justice and local police in Washington, D.C. are investigating the origins and execution of the January rioting at the Capitol, with the probe resulting in hundreds of arrests so far. Republicans have expressed concern that the methods law enforcement has used to track down rioters could infringe upon personal liberty. Last month Bank of America sparked outcry after it said it would hand over banking information to the federal authorities for people suspected of having involvement in the riots. In the days after the riot, Bank of America handed over data to the FBI on thousands of customers who traveled to Washington, D.C. around January 6, Fox News reported.
Twenty-seven people were said to have been travelling in an SUV when it collided with a trailer truck.
- The Week
The Trump administration reportedly quietly funded Operation Warp Speed with money set aside for hospitals
By late summer last year, Operation Warp Speed accounts were running dry, so the Trump administration appears to have used a financial maneuver allowing Department of Health and Human Services officials to divert $10 billion from a fund meant to help hospitals and health care providers affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Stat News reports. Congress granted the HHS permission to move pandemic-related money between accounts, though the agreement stipulated the agency had to give lawmakers a heads up. In this case, it appears the HHS siphoned the funds quietly, albeit with permission from its top lawyer. Other attorneys told Stat that the agency likely did have the wiggle room to carry out the action. Former Office of Management and Director Russ Vought defended the decision and said "we would do it again," telling Stat that not only did the administration have the authority, it was also "the right thing to do in order to move as quickly as possible because lives were on the line." Other Trump officials seemed to agree, per Stat, arguing that successful vaccines would reduce hospitalizations, making Warp Speed the more consequential outlet. It's still unclear whether the decision has resulted in less money for health care providers, as the Biden administration remains mum on the subject, Stat reports. Read more at Stat News. More stories from theweek.comWill COVID-19 wind up saving lives?John Boehner rips Ted Cruz as a 'reckless a--hole' on book's back coverThe myth of the male bumbler
- Business Insider
Cuomo has built a reputation as a fighter but could go down through resignation or impeachment as he faces multiple scandals.
An Oklahoma woman was literally caught red-handed on first-degree burglary complaint charges thanks to Cheetos snack dust. Sharon Carr was arrested on Feb. 26 after police reported an attempted home burglary. While she did not take anything, officers claim she left behind a Cheetos bag.
- The Week
Arizona GOP lawyer tells Supreme Court the party needs certain voting restrictions to compete with Democrats
The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments by Arizona Republicans in defense of two voting restrictions they are looking to keep intact. At one point, Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked Michael Carvin, a lawyer representing the Arizona GOP, what the party's interest in maintaining the policy of discarding ballots cast at the wrong precinct was. Carvin answered, without hesitation, that removing the rule would prevent Republicans from competing in the state. "It puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats," he told Barrett. "Politics is a zero sum game. Every extra vote that they get through unlawful interpretations of Section 2 hurts us. It's the difference between winning an election 50-49 and losing an election." In key voting rights case, Justice Amy Coney Barrett asks GOP lawyer Michael Carvin “what’s the interest” to Republicans in keeping voting restrictions in Arizona. Carvin: “Because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats. Politics is a zero-sum game.” pic.twitter.com/In7GULkSUb — The Recount (@therecount) March 2, 2021 Critics argued Carvin was essentially admitting some Republicans believe "it is okay to manipulate elections to gain partisan advantage." Per Reuters, part of the reason voting rights activists have targeted the precinct rule is that voters sometimes inadvertently cast their ballots at the wrong polling station because their assigned location is not always the closest one to their homes. However, Reuters reports the high court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, is likely to uphold the restriction, as well as another that makes it a crime to hand over someone else's ballot to election officials during early voting. 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
- Associated Press
Thirteen people were killed Tuesday when an SUV carrying 25 people and a big rig collided on a Southern California highway near the U.S.-Mexico border, authorities said. Twelve people were found dead when first responders reached the highway, which winds through fields in the agricultural southeastern corner of California. Another person died at a hospital, California Highway Patrol Chief Omar Watson said.
See the mother-daughter duo serve up a sweet message in their first shared fashion campaign.
- Business Insider
10 hours in Cancún hurt Ted Cruz's job approval more than when he tried to flip the presidential election
New polling from Morning Consult shows Ted Cruz's job approval fell more after traveling to Mexico than when he objected to the election results.