By Ahmed Aboulenein BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq put to death 12 people convicted of terrorism hours after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called for speedy executions in response to the kidnapping and killing of eight members of the security forces, the government said on Friday. Late on Thursday Abadi had ordered "just retribution" through faster executions of al those on death row for terrorism convictions who had exhausted their appeals. "Based on the orders of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, executions were carried out on Thursday of 12 convicted terrorists who have received final verdicts," a government spokesman said in a statement. Security forces on Wednesday found the bodies of eight men mutilated and rigged with explosives, two days after a deadline set by their Islamic State kidnappers expired. The militants had kidnapped members of Iraq's security forces and showed six of them in a video posted online on Saturday, threatening to kill them within three days if the government did not release female Sunni prisoners. An interior ministry spokesman said autopsies showed the men were killed before the deadline expired and that the video was Islamic State propaganda. Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who rarely comments on political issues, weighed in on the kidnapping which has been a heated topic in Iraq this week and has dominated local media coverage. The country's leaders should focus on defeating Islamic State and not the results of a May parliamentary election, he said in a Friday prayers sermon delivered by a representative in the Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala, where several of the slain men came from. "It is not correct to get distracted with election results and forming alliances or fighting over positions from doing what is necessary to destroy the terrorists and provide protection for citizens in all areas and provinces," he said. During campaign season many Iraqis said they view the political class as out of touch and more concerned with power than serving their needs. At the funeral procession held for the men from Kerbala, mourners hung posters warning politicians not to attend or try to use it for political gain, photos circulated on social media showed. Abadi declared final victory over the hard-line Sunni militants in December, but the group still operates from pockets along the border with Syria and has continued to carry out ambushes, assassinations and bombings across Iraq. Attacks by the group have picked up in recent weeks, especially on a highway connecting the capital, Baghdad, with the country's north, where the men were taken. The prime minister, seeking a second term as a compromise candidate within a coalition government despite his political bloc coming third in the election, had held a series of meetings with security and intelligence officials ever since the kidnapping video came out. (Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein, editing by Larry King, William Maclean)
- Yahoo News
Counterintelligence official Michael Orlando joins a growing chorus of voices on both sides of the political aisle who point to China as a major national security threat, particularly in terms of technology and cybersecurity.
- The Independent
Judge denies release for 26-year-old accused of taking part in the deadly Capitol attacks then returning to Washington on Inauguration Day
- The Week
Majority of House GOP reportedly supports removing Liz Cheney from leadership after impeachment vote
House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney is facing an internal resistance after splitting from her party on former President Donald Trump's impeachment.Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, was one of only a handful of Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over his role in inciting the Capitol riot. More than a majority of GOP House members have since indicated they'd support ousting Cheney from her leadership spot, while at least two other Republicans have lined up to replace her, Politico reports.At least 107 House members — more than half the caucus — privately support removing Cheney from power, multiple GOP sources involved in the effort told Politico. Meanwhile New York Reps. Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin, who defended Trump during both of his impeachments, are reportedly looking to replace her.House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) have said they don't intend to remove Cheney. But McCarthy also echoed Republicans' reported anger that Cheney voiced her support of impeachment the day before the House vote, giving Democrats time to use her views in their own arguments. "Questions need to be answered," such as the "style in which things were delivered," McCarthy told reporters Thursday.Many other Republicans, including some who voted against impeachment, meanwhile don't want Cheney removed just for "vot[ing] her conscience," as Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) put it. Others argue removing Cheney would fly in the face of the party's unification message in the post-Trump era — something Cheney herself is trying to counter by making "making calls to all corners of the conference to hear lawmakers out," Politico reports.More stories from theweek.com Trump's team fired the White House chief usher right before Biden took office, maybe at Biden's request 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit Biden has stopped construction on Trump's border wall, but the fate of outstanding contracts is unclear
- The Telegraph
Families who lost relatives during Wuhan's initial outbreak of coronavirus are being blocked in their legal efforts to hold the Chinese authorities responsible for the deaths, one year after lockdown first went in place at ground zero of the pandemic. Five families accuse the municipal and provincial governments for covering up the outbreak, neglecting to notify the public, and failing to act swiftly, causing infections to explode. More than two million people globally have died from coronavirus. The Telegraph has interviewed four of the five trying to bring unprecedented lawsuits, most of whom are seeking 2 million yuan (£226,000) each in reparations. They told this newspaper of a campaign of harassment and denial of justice. Chinese courts have rejected all lawsuits they have tried to file, though they continue to persist by attempting to sue at higher courts, defying government threats that have scared dozens of others into giving up. Pursuing their cases poses immense risks as they’re challenging China’s official narrative, which claims authorities acted swiftly and with transparency to contain Covid-19, glossing over missteps and the silencing of whistleblowers.
Beau Biden, who served in the Guard, is buried at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church cemetery in Greenville, Delaware.
- The Independent
Several senators also offered space for guardsmen to use during their breaks
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved Avril Haines as the Director of National Intelligence, the nation's top intelligence job, making her the first of President Joe Biden's nominees to be approved. The vote was 84-10, with all the "no" votes coming from Republicans. Both Democrats and leading Republicans issued statements praising the nominee.
- Associated Press
Indonesian authorities on Thursday ended the search for remaining victims and debris from a Sriwijaya Air jet that nosedived into the Java Sea, killing all 62 people on board. Transportation minister Budi Karya Sumadi said retrieval operations have ended after nearly two weeks, but that a limited search for the missing memory unit from the cockpit voice recorder will continue. The memory unit apparently broke away from other parts of the voice recorder during the crash.
- The Conversation
There were women among the crowd that marched to the Capitol and stormed the building. Shay Horse/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesThe terror inflicted on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 laid bare America’s problem with violent extremism. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies have begun to piece together the events of that day, while attempting to thwart any impending attacks. Scores of people have been arrested and charged over the attack – the vast majority being men. In the wake of these events, there were stories attributing the violence and destruction to “white male rage” “violent male rage” and “angry white men.” But what about the women? To distill the violent insurrection into a tale of angry male rage is to overlook the threat that women in the mob posed to congressional officials, law enforcement and U.S. democracy that day. Long history of women’s involvement Several women have been identified as alleged participants in the events of Jan. 6. Among those women are a former school occupational therapist, an employee of a county sheriff’s office, a real estate broker and a former mayoral candidate. At least one woman is being investigated for her role in organizing the attack with fellow members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia movement. And Ashli Babbit, a female veteran, was shot dead by police while attempting to breach the Senate floor. The women who took part in the siege of the Capitol are part of a long history of women’s participation in extremist violence, both in the United States and abroad. Jessica Watkins, seen here in a photo from the Montgomery County jail, is facing federal charges that she participated in the assault on the U.S. Capitol. Montgomery County Jail via AP Women have buoyed American far-right organizations and causes for centuries. In her recent book on women at the forefront of contemporary white nationalism, author Seyward Darby writes that women are not “incidental to white nationalism, they are a sustaining feature.” Since the late 1800s, women have supported and enabled the terrorist white supremacist organization the Ku Klux Klan, while hundreds of thousands joined its female affiliate, Women of the Ku Klux Klan, and its predecessors. Women helped establish the Klan’s culture, bolstered its recruitment efforts and manufactured its propaganda. Despite its hyper-masculine ideology, which identifies white men as the primary arbiters of political power, women have also held leadership positions within the modern-day Klan. More recently, women have joined the far-right Proud Boys movement, which has openly recruited female foot soldiers. In December, a growing rift between male and female Proud Boys was reported. After experiencing intense sexist backlash from men in the organization, women led by MMA fighter Tara LaRosa began their own group, the Proud Girls USA. To leave one extremist organization in order to form another suggests a deep commitment to the far-right cause. Discounting is dangerous A 2005 study noted a disconnect between the rise in women within American right-wing terrorist organizations and the attention it received from law enforcement. Despite a marked increase in women’s engagement in acts of terror against the state and racial minorities, security officials have largely failed to publicize, search and interrogate women operatives in these organizations, even after they become known to law enforcement. There is also evidence that American far-right women have drawn inspiration and tactical knowledge from women engaged in extremist violence abroad. Evidence from the global war on terror points to the potential dangers of ignoring the growth of violent extremism among women. In Iraq, for example, female terrorists carried out large numbers of deadly suicide attacks against American assets during the U.S. occupation. The rest of the world has since been forced to grapple with the reality of violent women after female terrorists staged lethal attacks in Nigeria, Somalia, Tunisia, the Philippines, Indonesia and France. Recent terror attacks in American cities such as San Bernardino, California, and Las Vegas that featured women among the perpetrators confirm violent women have already inflicted damage on U.S. soil. Ku Klux Klan security guards escort two female members after a Klan meeting in Castro Valley, California, in 1979. AP Photo/PS Gender bias can be deadly In fact, my research suggests that attacks by female terrorists are often more destructive than those executed by their male counterparts. In an analysis of over 2,500 global suicide attacks, I show disparities in the severity of male and female attacks are greatest where gender stereotypes suggest that women are neither violent nor political. Such tropes can blind security officials and civilians to the threat posed by women terrorists, causing them to overlook the potential for female complicity. Female terrorists, including in Iraq, Israel and Nigeria, have been able to deflect suspicion because they were women. My research shows that gender bias can become deadly when it stops effective counterterrorism policies, such as surveillance, searches and interrogations, from being implemented. Additionally, since ordinary citizens played an unusual role in exposing the identities of the Capitol attackers, gender biases among civilians are also relevant. Failure to accept women’s complicity in the Capitol siege and the broader movement may prevent the identification of female offenders and impedes efforts to punish and deter future attacks. American women have been key pillars of support for violent right-wing extremists for centuries. They have been right-wing extremists themselves – racist skinheads, neo-Nazis and Klanswomen. Women are also Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and Proud Boys. They were capitol rioters. To construct an accurate account of the Capitol attack, it’s necessary to ask “Where are the women?” And the answer is, “Right there.”This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Jakana Thomas, Michigan State University. Read more:Misogyny in the Capitol: Among the insurrectionists, a lot of angry men who don’t like women‘The US is falling apart’: How Russian media is portraying the US Capitol siege Jakana Thomas does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
- Architectural Digest
800 feet up in the sky, the Dreamy 6,000 square foot space offers panoramic views from the East River to the HudsonOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- National Review
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, refuted a claim by the Biden administration that the outgoing Trump administration left no plan for distributing coronavirus vaccines. President Biden said at a White House press conference on Thursday that the Trump administration’s distribution of coronavirus vaccines has been a “dismal failure,” and set a goal to vaccinate 100 million Americans by the end of April. Meanwhile, sources in the Biden administration claimed that the previous administration left no vaccine distribution plan. “There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch,” one source told CNN on Thursday. However, Dr. Fauci directly refuted this claim after Biden left the press conference. “We certainly are not starting from scratch,” Dr. Fauci told reporters. Regarding the Trump administration’s vaccination effort, Dr. Fauci said, “You can’t say it was absolutely not usable at all.” The seven-day rolling average of coronavirus vaccines administered to Americans is 914,000, according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker, with 1.6 million doses administered on Wednesday alone. Biden’s plan calls for a million Americans to be vaccinated each day. When asked by a reporter whether the goal to vaccinate one million people per day is not ambitious enough, Biden said that the goal was a “good start.” “When I announced it you all said it wasn’t possible. Come on, give me a break, man,” Biden said.
- CBS News
Vice presidents since Vice President Walter Mondale have been living in the residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.
- The Telegraph
Thousands of national guardsmen were turfed out of the Capitol building on Thursday and sent to sleep in car parks, before being allowed back in late at night after complaints from lawmakers. Despite the quick reversal, two Republican governors commanded their troops home in protest. US Capitol police had ordered the reservists to vacate the building and set up camp outdoors or in nearby hotels, with thousands ending up stationed outside or in car parks. “Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service. Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed,” one of the guardsmen told Politico. The National Guard were brought into the US capital to provide security after Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6.
- Associated Press
A Colombian businessman was carrying a letter from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accrediting him to Iran's supreme leader when he was arrested on a U.S. warrant last year, according to a new court filing in a politically charged corruption case ratcheting up tensions with the South American nation. Attorneys for Alex Saab made the filing in Miami federal court Thursday just hours after prosecutors in the African nation of Cape Verde said they granted the 49-year-old Colombian house arrest as he fights extradition to the U.S. to face money laundering charges. U.S. officials believe Saab holds numerous secrets about how Maduro, his family and top aides allegedly siphoned off millions of dollars in government contracts amid widespread hunger in the oil-rich nation.
Poland could take legal action against Pfizer next month if the U.S. drugmaker does not deliver all scheduled doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, a government spokesman said on Friday. Pfizer, which developed the vaccine with its German partner BioNTech, has reduced the volume of the vaccine it will deliver to European Union countries this week. Pfizer and BioNTech have declined to comment on the cuts beyond a statement last week which announced cuts to deliveries as they ramp up manufacturing in Europe.
- The Week
It's the end of a very caffeinated era.When former President Donald Trump occupied the Oval Office, he quite literally had a button on his desk that ordered a Diet Coke to the room whenever it was pressed. But as a glimpse at President Biden's desk just hours after his inauguration shows, the soda-summoning button is gone.> President Biden has removed the Diet Coke button. When @ShippersUnbound and I interviewed Donald Trump in 2019, we became fascinated by what the little red button did. Eventually Trump pressed it, and a butler swiftly brought in a Diet Coke on a silver platter. It's gone now. pic.twitter.com/rFzhPaHYjk> > — Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) January 21, 2021While it may have sounded just too weird to be true, Trump's Diet Coke obsession and his button to match were absolutely real. No word on if Biden will install some kind of ice cream-ordering alternative.More stories from theweek.com Trump's team fired the White House chief usher right before Biden took office, maybe at Biden's request 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit Biden has stopped construction on Trump's border wall, but the fate of outstanding contracts is unclear
- FOX News Videos
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., reacted to Amazon offering President Biden help to distribute the vaccine after President Trump left office.
- NBC News
Southlake is known for its top-ranked public schools. But a heated fight over a diversity plan has some parents questioning their future in the city.
- Associated Press
The three National Guard members killed when a helicopter crashed in an upstate New York field this week were experienced pilots with past deployments to Afghanistan, officials said Friday. Killed in the crash were Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steven Skoda, 54, of Rochester, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Christian Koch, 39, of Honeoye Falls, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Prial, 30 of Rochester, according to the National Guard.
- The Week
President Biden's team is reportedly worried the COVID-19 pandemic they're inheriting will be even more difficult to handle than they anticipated, and some advisers say a new, more contagious variant of the virus — as opposed to vaccine distribution logistics — is the main reason why, Bloomberg reports.Biden has promised to work to curb the virus' spread with a push to inoculate 100 million Americans in 100 days. He plans to encourage widespread mask usage, increase testing, and safely reopen schools. But the fear is that the new variant, which was initially discovered in the United Kingdom, but has made its way to the U.S. and elsewhere, will upend the entire plan and subsequently damage his prospects of achieving other legislative priorities like immigration reform and infrastructure development, Bloomberg notes.While the mutation is seemingly at the center of the apprehension, Biden's aides also reportedly blame their predecessors for putting them in a bad spot. Some aides, per Bloomberg, privately allege the Trump administration "dragged its heels in showing them details of the federal response and its data." Ultimately, they reportedly opted against making those concerns public because they wanted to avoid publicly criticizing the Trump administration during the transition, potentially motivating them to cut them out of the loop completely.A former senior Trump official told Bloomberg that description of the situation was just the Biden team's way of lowering expectations, adding that they were given unprecedented access to pandemic-related information. Read more at Bloomberg.More stories from theweek.com Biden removes Trump's Diet Coke button from the Oval Office Austria introduces measures to fight rising anti-Semitism 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit