By Robin Emmott and Noah Barkin MUNICH (Reuters) - Iran and Saudi Arabia must overcome strained relations and work for stability in Syria and the Middle East, Iran's foreign minister said on Friday, a day after Syrian peace talks brought the rivals to the same table for the first time in months. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference hours after his Saudi counterpart addressed the event, Mohammed Javad Zarif said he wanted to stop the bickering and had a simple message: "We need to work together." "Iran and Saudi Arabia cannot exclude each other from the region," he said, referring to Riyadh as "our Saudi brothers". "We are prepared to work with Saudi Arabia ... I believe Iran and Saudi Arabia can have shared interests in Syria." Arch-rivals for regional hegemony, the two oil producers are on opposite sides in Syria's war and increasingly bad-tempered exchanges between the conservative Sunni-ruled kingdom and the revolutionary Shi'ite theocracy bode ill for the region. Ties have worsened since the kingdom's execution in January of prominent Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr prompted attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Saudi Arabia subsequently cut all ties with Iran. Zarif said he took inspiration from Iran's historic nuclear deal with world powers last July, saying that agreement and the lifting of sanctions that have followed showed how deep-seated problems can be resolved through diplomacy. "We have a common opportunity, common challenges, common threats," Zarif said, adding that it was time to "set aside the past and have a new narrative, a new paradigm for the future." Iran and Saudi Arabia were at the same table during six hours of talks in Munich among world and regional powers on Thursday to discuss Syria's civil war, agreeing a "cessation of hostilities" to take effect in a week's time. There was no consensus on the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who Iran and Russia are backing in a military assault to take back territory from rebels seeking to oust him. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who spoke in Munich before Zarif, made no references to Iran and underscored the differences over Assad's future, telling EU ministers and diplomats that the Syrian leader would be removed. "That's our objective and we will achieve it," he said. (Reporting by Robin Emmott and Noah Barkin, editing by Shadia Nasralla)
- The Independent
US Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman argued to maintain increased law enforcement presence at the Capitol ahead of Joe Biden’s first address to Congress, following warnings from militia groups that she says want to “blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible” in connection with the president’s upcoming State of the Union. “So based on that information, we think that it’s prudent that Capitol Police maintain its enhanced and robust security posture until we address those vulnerabilities going forward,” she said.
- Associated Press
Qatar pledged $60 million on Thursday to help construct a natural gas pipeline running from Israel into the Gaza Strip, the Qatari government said, a project that aims to ease the energy crisis that long has afflicted the impoverished Palestinian enclave. Natural gas now flowing through a pipeline in Israel from the eastern Mediterranean will be transported via a new extension into Gaza, the Qatari Foreign Ministry announced on its website.
A Texas woman is suing her electricity provider after she got a $9,000 power bill amid statewide power outages
Lisa Khoury is at the forefront of a proposed class-action lawsuit against Griddy Energy that's seeking $1 billion dollars in damages.
Sometimes stars wear dresses and gowns designed with brides in mind on the red carpet. Sometimes they repurpose the dress they wore to their wedding.
- The Telegraph
Angela Merkel has dismissed suggestions she should ignore her government’s guidelines and take the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. There have been calls for Mrs Merkel to “lead by example” and be vaccinated on camera in order to dispel German public fears over the jab. But the AstraZeneca vaccine is currently only approved for under-65s in Germany, and Mrs Merkel is 66. “I do not belong to the recommended age group for AstraZeneca,” Mrs Merkel told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. She also rejected suggestions she take the rival Pfizer jab, arguing it was “well accepted” by the German public. Mrs Merkel and other German leaders have been reluctant to be seen as jumping the queue for the vaccines, preferring to wait their turn. But there have been calls for them to set an example as widespread public resistance to the AstraZeneca jab stalls the country’s rollout. “AstraZeneca is a reliable vaccine, effective and safe, approved by the European Medical Agency and recommended in Germany up to the age of 65 years. All the authorities tell us that this vaccine can be trusted,” Mrs Merkel told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung .
- Raleigh News and Observer
The rebooted 80s sitcom catches up with Punky as an adult single mom.
- The Daily Beast
Erin Schaff/ReutersThe acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police just came with the receipts.Testifying before a House Appropriations subcommittee about the catastrophic breakdown that allowed thousands of MAGA rioters to breach the Capitol, Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman revealed that her predecessor called the House sergeant-at-arms, Paul Irving, at 12:58 p.m. to request the National Guard as rioters breaching the building and forced lawmakers into hiding.Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned after the riot, called Irving again seven minutes later, according to phone records pulled by Pittman—and then called him at least three more times until 1:45 p.m.“When there’s a breakdown you look for those commanders with boots on the ground to provide that instruction,” Pittman said. “That did not happen, primarily because those operational commanders at the time were so overwhelmed, they started to participate and assist the officers… versus providing that guidance and direction.”First Capitol Riot Hearing Only Raised More Questions About Jan. 6The receipts–which support the narrative that a series of unanswered calls, withheld information, and conflicting orders led to complete malfunction—directly contradicted Irving’s testimony.On Tuesday, Sund testified that he asked for National Guard backup just after 1 p.m. But Irving insisted that was wrong. He said he did not remember the conversation with Sund and claimed he didn’t get an official request until “shortly before 1:30 p.m.” Troops were not approved to help overwhelmed officers at the Capitol until 2:10 p.m.“Mr. Irving stated that he was concerned about the ‘optics’ of having the National Guard present and didn’t feel that the intelligence supported it,” Sund said Tuesday. Irving, who resigned in the wake of the riot, said that was “categorically false.”On Tuesday, Irving said that if Sund, Senate sergeant-at-arms Michael Stenger, or any other leaders concluded ahead of Jan. 6 that unarmed National Guardsmen were needed, he “would not have hesitated” to ensure the reinforcement was ready.Pittman’s testimony—and her insistence that Capitol Police did everything possible to contain the insurrection—was just the latest twist in a series of finger-pointing between the top law enforcers in charge of securing the Capitol. During hearings before lawmakers this week, officials have blamed one another for the widespread failures.One failure, Pittman conceded on Thursday, was that nobody in law enforcement knew the mob would be so violent.She told lawmakers that they were prepared for militia groups, white supremacists, and other extremists to be present, but the small organization was not prepared for thousands of “everyday” Americans “who took on a mob mentality.” (Acting D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee revealed on Tuesday that the FBI intel consisted merely of an email sent on Jan. 5.)Officials believe over 10,000 demonstrators were at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and that 800 breached the building. About 1,200 police officers responded, Pittman said.She also made the stunning admission that since Jan. 6, Capitol Police have maintained heightened security because they learned that militia groups have chatted about plans to “blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible” in connection with the State of the Union, which has no scheduled date yet. “We know that the insurrectionists that attacked the Capitol weren’t only interested in attacking members of Congress and officers. They wanted to send a symbolic message to the nation as [to] who was in charge of that legislative process,” Pittman said. On Tuesday, Irving insisted that Capitol Police were privy to intelligence provided by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security that “did not support” the likelihood of a coordinated assault at the Capitol.An NYPD Cop’s Road From Terror ‘Victim’ to Capitol Rioter“The department was not ignorant of intelligence indicating an attack of the size and scale we encountered on the sixth. There was no such intelligence,” Pittman said Thursday. “Although we knew the likelihood for violence by extremists, no credible threat indicated that tens of thousands would attack the U.S. Capitol. Nor did the intelligence received from the FBI or any other law enforcement partner indicate such a threat.”Pittman added that because officers at the Capitol were not prepared for a violent mob, lockdown procedure was not properly executed. She added that some officers were also not sure when to use lethal force, and that radio communications between law enforcers were not robust.Five individuals died during the violent riots. Four were pro-Trump protesters, including Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by a police officer after attempting to break into the Speaker’s Lobby. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died after allegedly clashing with rioters. In the days after the siege, at least two officers died by suicide.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.
AstraZeneca will deliver 180 million COVID-19 vaccines to Europe in the second quarter, including 20 million to Italy, the head of its Italian unit was quoted as saying on Thursday, but EU officials remained wary about supply. Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing an EU official directly involved in talks with the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker, that AstraZeneca expected to deliver less than half the COVID-19 vaccines it was contracted to supply the European Union in the second quarter. Lorenzo Wittum, CEO and chairman of AstraZeneca in Italy, told daily Il Corriere della Sera that Italy would receive more than 5 million shots by the end of March, fewer than the 8 million previously agreed, leading to a total of 25 million doses by June.
- Business Insider
An ex-girlfriend tipped off the FBI about an alleged US Capitol rioter after he called her a 'moron'
Richard Michetti was arraigned Tuesday in Philadelphia over his alleged participation in the January 6 insurrection.
Philippine police said on Thursday they were looking into a government review of thousands of killings in the country's "war on drugs", after the justice minister made an unprecedented admission to the United Nations of widespread police failures. Human Rights Watch described Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra's video statement on Wednesday as an "astounding disclosure". Guevarra's comments to the Human Rights Council mark the first time the government has publicly questioned its own narrative that the thousands of people killed in President Rodrigo Duterte's drugs war were all armed and had resisted arrest.
- WCVB - Boston
There is promising new data today on Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine. If approved, it would add a third option to the vaccine rollout in the United States.
- The Week
President Biden on Wednesday nominated three people for the U.S. Postal Service board of directors. The nominations would fill vacant seats on the board and allow Biden to indirectly assert control over an independent agency beset by service delays and rumored cuts by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major Republican donor appointed last year under former President Donald Trump. Biden nominated Ron Stroman, the recently retired deputy postmaster general; Amber McReynolds, a vote-by-mail advocate who heads the National Vote at Home Institute; and Anton Hajjar, former general counsel of the American Postal Workers Union. If confirmed to the nine-member board, "the new slate would create a Democratic advantage and potentially the votes to oust DeJoy, whose summer overhaul led to precipitous service declines that snarled up untold numbers of Americans' bills, prescriptions, and paychecks," The Washington Post reports. At a House Oversight Committee hearing earlier Wednesday, DeJoy said he plans to be postmaster general for "a long time," telling Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), "Get used to me." "DeJoy spent most of the hearing dodging questions about his forthcoming strategic plan for the Postal Service, which includes higher prices and slower delivery," the Post reports, citing two people familiar with the plan. DeJoy said the 10-year plan should be ready in March and conceded it might include lower delivery standards for first-class mail and fewer airplanes to transport mail, a move that would slow service across the country. Even if the newly configured board — the six current members are older men, five of them white — doesn't fire DeJoy, he's unlikely to get the same level of support for his cost-cutting measures. "The board has the right to hire and to fire postmaster generals, so DeJoy's certainly going to have to function in a way that he keeps the support of the board," Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, told The Associated Press. "He's going to be dealing with some changing dynamics on the board." More stories from theweek.comThe MyPillow guy might be Trump's ultimate chumpThe GOP's apathy for governing is being exposed5 cartoons about Andrew Cuomo's nursing home scandal
- The Independent
Biden news - live: Trump Jr deposed over inaugural funds as White House defends migrant camp after AOC attack
Follow all the latest news from the White House
The Czech Republic must tighten measures to combat the pandemic and prevent a "catastrophe" in hospitals in the coming weeks as the country faces one of the world's highest COVID-19 infection and death rates, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Wednesday. The number of hospital patients with COVD-19 who are in serious condition has risen to a record 1,389, leaving few spare beds in the country of 10.7 million. Some hospitals have had to transfer out patients while the health minister has warned hospitals risk being overwhelmed in the coming weeks.
Some on-screen love interest age gaps are surprising, and other times, actors are almost the same age as their on-screen children.
- Associated Press
Bahrain’s crown prince spoke with the Israeli prime minister on Thursday about the return to nuclear talks with Iran, Bahrain’s state-run news agency reported, as the U.S. administration tries to revive the tattered 2015 nuclear accord. Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, also the country’s prime minister, stressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “the importance of the participation of regional countries in any negotiations on the Iranian nuclear file” to support “security and stability in the region,” according to the official Bahrain News Agency.
- The Independent
Declassified summary likely to conclude Mohammed bin Salman approved murder of columnist
Chinese President Xi Jinping celebrated "complete victory" in the effort to eradicate rural poverty at a ceremony in Beijing on Thursday to mark a signature initiative of his eight-year tenure. State media credit Xi's leadership with lifting nearly 100 million people from poverty, a milestone he declared in December and framed as a birthday gift for this year's 100th anniversary of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In an hour-long speech, Xi hailed what he called a testament to the party's leadership and the advantages of China's political system.
- Business Insider
Pelosi mocks McConnell for criticizing commission on the Capitol insurrection: GOP Sen. 'Ron Johnson seems to be taking the lead'
Pelosi also accidentally called the Wisconsin senator "Don" Johnson. "Not Miami Vice or anything like that?" she said, referencing a TV actor.
- Associated Press
Former Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa told a Japanese court Wednesday he believed the compensation for his predecessor Carlos Ghosn was too low “by international standards,” and so he supported Ghosn’s retirement packages to prevent him from leaving. “Mr. Ghosn had outstanding abilities and achievements,” Saikawa said, testifying in Tokyo District Court in the criminal trial of Greg Kelly, a former senior executive at Nissan Motor Co.