By Gina Cherelus (Reuters) - A North Carolina judge on Tuesday rejected Republican Mark Harris' bid to be certified as the winner of a congressional vote at the center of an election fraud investigation, saying doing so would be a "dramatic intervention." Harris claimed victory over Democrat Dan McCready, after initial results of the November election showed he had won the Ninth Congressional District race by 905 votes. Harris filed a petition earlier this month to certify the results of the vote. Judge Paul Ridgeway said at a hearing in Raleigh, North Carolina, that it would be premature for him to intervene before the state elections board finished its investigation. "Certification is not appropriate until the investigation into the protest is concluded by final decision," the judge said, noting "it would be highly unusual for this court to step in." Since the election, residents of rural Bladen County have stated in affidavits that people had come to their homes and collected incomplete absentee ballots. It is illegal in North Carolina for a third party to turn in absentee ballots. The State Board of Elections was to hold a hearing on Jan. 11 as part of its probe into possible election fraud involving the collection of absentee ballots. But Republicans refused to participate in the creation of an interim election board, which has left the race in limbo. Lawyers for McCready and the state elections board told the judge on Tuesday that completion of the investigation was necessary because it could reveal evidence that calls into question the results of the vote. Lawyers for Harris urged the judge to certify Harris as the district's new congressman, saying there was nothing to contradict him as the winner and residents needed representation in Washington. Neither candidate attended Tuesday's hearing. Harris' campaign said he was dealing with an illness. A new state elections board will go into effect on Jan. 31. Board members will be able to call for an evidentiary hearing and could order a new vote. The U.S. House of Representatives also could rule on the election outcome. "We are pleased that Harris' frivolous request has been denied and that North Carolina can get back to investigating allegations of systematic electoral fraud committed on behalf of Harris' campaign," Wayne Goodwin, North Carolina's Democratic Party chairman, said in a statement. North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes said in a statement he was confident Harris would eventually be seated. (Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Grant McCool)
- The State
Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday he was rolling back Texas’ mask mandate and reopening the state “100%.”
- Business Insider
Biden supports making a temporary $3,000 payment to parents in the stimulus bill permanent going forward
Senate Democrats want to make the larger tax credit permanent and give families an option to receive monthly checks. Biden wants a permanent one too.
- Business Insider
Boris Johnson has yet to appoint a successor to his adviser on ministerial standards, more than three months after the resignation of Sir Alex Allan.
- The Independent
Bill to prevent discrimination against LGBT+ people passed House last week
‘I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time,’ she tells Oprah Winfrey, ‘we would still just be silent.’ In a new preview for the exciting upcoming sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey airing on CBS this Sunday, it appears that the Duchess of Sussex will be holding nothing back. “How do you feel about the palace hearing you speak your truth today?” Winfrey asks Meghan Markle in the clip shared by CBS.
- The Telegraph
Water and organic matter found on the surface of an asteroid could explain how life formed on Earth, the first ever sample reveals. Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, analysed a single “grain” from the asteroid, known as ‘Itokawa’, and discovered it had evolved chemically over time. Their findings, published today in the journal Scientific Reports, reveal “complex details” of the asteroid’s history and could help explain the evolution pathway of Earth, they said. Samples taken from the asteroid were returned from the inner Solar System by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's first Hayabusa mission in 2010. A team of international researchers then analysed a single grain of the sample, nicknamed ‘Amazon’, and discovered both unheated and heated organic matter. “The organic matter that has been heated indicates that the asteroid had been heated to over 600°C in the past,” said Dr Queenie Chan from the Department of Earth Sciences at Royal Holloway. “The presence of unheated organic matter very close to it, means that the infall of primitive organics arrived on the surface of Itokawa after the asteroid had cooled down.” Itokawa has been constantly evolving over billions of years, the findings suggest, by taking in water and organic materials from foreign extra-terrestrial material - similar to Earth. The asteroid would have undergone extreme heating, dehydration and “shattering” due to a catastrophic impact, the researchers said. That impact is likely to have taken place “rather recently”, 1.3 to 1.4billion years ago, they added.
It is hard to overstate just how unusual Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's media war with Buckingham Palace is
A series of extraordinary confrontations have seen the Queen's household accused of a smear capaign and Markle accused of bullying.
Britain's decision to make unilateral changes to Northern Irish Brexit arrangements is "not the appropriate behaviour of a respectable country" and will erode trust with the European Union, senior Irish ministers said on Thursday. The EU promised legal action on Wednesday after the British government unilaterally extended a grace period for checks on food imports to Northern Ireland, a move Brussels said violated terms of Britain's divorce deal.
Actors, like Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro, are known for some seriously iconic characters, but they also missed out on these popular roles.
- Associated Press
Iran has agreed to sit down with international technical experts investigating the discovery of uranium particles at three former undeclared sites in the country, the head of the U.N. atomic watchdog said Thursday, after months of frustration at Tehran's lack of a credible explanation. The agreement came as three of the remaining signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran — France, Germany and Britain — backed off the idea of a resolution criticizing Iran for its decision to start limiting access by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to current facilities. IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told reporters in Vienna it was not up to him to say whether Iran's move to hold talks with his technical experts was linked to the decision of the so-called E3 group, but suggested it was difficult to separate the political side of Iran's nuclear program from the technical side.
- The Daily Beast
MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEVRussian state TV program 60 Minutes played the clip of former U.S. President Donald Trump asking CPAC: “Do you miss me yet?” The co-host Olga Skabeeva eagerly replied: “Yes, we do!”Other experts on the Rossiya-1 network nodded and concurred. Trump’s departure has sucked the joy out of pro-Kremlin propagandists, with a host of new problems looming on the horizon for Russia. Instead of jolly boasts about “owning” America’s president, Russian state TV shows are now filled with gloomy experts, and discussions about the impending flood of U.S. sanctions are so tense they leave the pundits on the verge of coming to blows.During the Trump years, state-media mouthpieces, tightly controlled by Russian President Vladimir Putin, put on a happy face and followed his lead in exclaiming that they wanted Trump to be elected solely because he promised to improve the U.S.-Russian relations. Appearing on domestic talk shows and news programs, experts are now slipping up and admitting that they preferred Trump’s presidency mainly because he was so devastatingly bad for the United States and its allies. After President Joe Biden was elected—despite Russia’s efforts to the contrary—all pretense faded into oblivion.During his nightly program The Evening With Vladimir Soloviev this Tuesday, prominent state TV host Vladimir Soloviev exclaimed: “Why would America think that we’re interested in changing or improving our relations with them?” He added: “What makes them think we’re interested in a reset?” Soloviev predicted a “harsh and asymmetrical response” to Biden’s first round of sanctions that will include further hostilities in Ukraine, long seen in Moscow as one of the main battlegrounds in Russia’s fight against the collective West.The Biden administration announced sanctions against seven Russian officials on Tuesday in response to the attack on Navalny, which was ignored by Trump.Across Russian state-media platforms, hosts and experts concurred that Russia is in a new Cold War with the United States, with far-ranging consequences for Ukraine and other countries neighboring Russia. In February, Putin held a video conference meeting with heads of Russia’s largest media outlets, convened behind closed doors. Prior to the summit, the head of RT, Margarita Simonyan, traveled to east Ukraine and publicly argued that “Mother Russia must take Donbas home.” After the conference, Simonyan quoted Putin as saying to her: “We will never abandon Donbas. Ever.” She also admitted that America was a topic of discussion, but didn’t go into further detail.Experts and pundits across Russian state media outlets repeatedly asserted that the United States always was and will always remain Russia’s sworn enemy. Appearing on The Evening With Vladimir Soloviev, Semyon Bagdasarov, director of the Moscow-based Center for Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies, exclaimed: “A war is being waged against us. Let’s call things for what they are. They are our enemies. They want to destroy us.” Some went even further. During the same show, Dmitry Kulikov, member of Zinoviev Club, instituted by the Kremlin-controlled media giant Russia Today, argued that Americans should be perceived as a whole other class of beings, “the others.” Anyone who aligns with the United States—from Russian dissidents to European allies—will undoubtedly be painted with the same brush.Russian propaganda operations are expanding, both internationally and domestically, with larger budgets being allotted for state-media outlets like RT and RIA Novosti. Internally, the state media will attempt to unite Russians against the collective West, headed by the United States. Internationally, Russian state media and aligned troll farms will continue their effort to inflame divisions and chip away at NATO alliances.One of the consequences of President Biden’s election was the renewed commitment to trans-Atlantic unity, an unwelcome side effect for the Kremlin. Skabeeva of Russia’s 60 Minutes bitterly described the coordination of the latest package of the U.S. and European sanctions against Russia for the attempted poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny as an example of “unity that was unheard of under Trump.” Appearing on Russia-1, the deputy dean of world politics at Moscow's State University, Andrey Sidorov held out hope that the trans-Atlantic alliances were damaged to the point of no return. He pointed out: “Trump will forever remain in the minds of U.S. allies as an example of how they could be dealt with by the next administration. They will always remember that.”Without a hint of irony, Sidorov described the alleged intent of the United States to interfere in Russian elections as “the third phase” of the Cold War. By that token, Russia has been engaged in “the third phase” of the Cold War against the United States for years, having “interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion,” as outlined in the findings of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.Pro-Kremlin experts anticipated the upcoming cybermeasures that would target Russia in retaliation for its malign activities against the U.S. Appearing on 60 Minutes, Alexei Naumov from the Russian International Affairs Council said: “We’ve been laughing at Americans about how easily all of their systems have been hacked, perhaps by our hackers. But Americans have very strong cyber forces, offensive cyber forces. They can represent a threat for us.” Co-host Skabeeva coldly chimed in: “At the same time, we elected their president and they weren’t able to elect ours, so it’s an open question whose cyber forces are stronger.”Russian cyberwarfare will undoubtedly continue to include influence operations targeting the United States. During his evening broadcast on Wednesday, host Soloviev chuckled: “Will there be an inauguration of Trump on March the 4th?” Other panelists laughed and acknowledged their familiarity with the bizarre conspiracy theory spawned by QAnon. During the broadcast of 60 Minutes, Deputy Speaker of the Russian State Duma Pyotr Tolstoy said: “Here in Russia, we always have an asymmetrical response. It’s a scary one... and it’s classified.” Threatening retaliation for the latest set of U.S. sanctions, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova urged the United States “not to play with fire.” Co-host Olga Skabeeva asked Zakharova whether Russia was ready to respond to American sanctions. She smirked: “There will be a response. Don’t you even worry about that.”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.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stressed the significance of the role that city and county chief secretaries have in improving the lives of the people and carrying out his five-year economic policies, state news media KCNA said on Thursday. North Korea's drastic measures to contain COVID-19 have exacerbated human rights abuses and economic hardship, including reports of starvation, for its citizens, already battered by international sanctions, a United Nations investigator said. Kim said the city and county chief secretaries had responsibility for taking care of their residents and urged them to embark on a fresh "turning point" to help develop their areas in line with his new five-year strategy unveiled at the January party congress.
- The Independent
Biden news - live: White House defends ‘Neanderthal’ slur of GOP states, as Trump shifts blame for Senate loss
Live updates from the White House
- The Daily Beast
WPA Pool/Getty ImagesMeghan Markle is expected to discuss racism in the U.K. in her sit-down with Oprah Winfrey that airs on Sunday.In a depressing illustration of the problem, which Prince Harry has previously described as “structural” in Britain, a prominent British journalist and frequent critic of Meghan Markle is under fire after launching an extraordinary and racist attack on her, in which he appeared to suggest the fact that he thinks she is “attractive” meant she could not be a victim of racism.Andrew Pierce, a senior editor at the Daily Mail who is a regular guest on British TV and radio shows, was hosting a talk radio show Wednesday when a caller suggested that Meghan had never been “fully accepted because of her skin color.”Pierce, who is white, responded, “Oh God, that one again! Do you look at her… and see a Black woman? Because I don’t. I see a very attractive, a very attractive woman. It’s never occurred to me. I never look at her and think, ‘Gosh she’s Black!’ in the way you look at Oprah Winfrey, you would be in no doubt. When they sit down and do that interview, you will see a Black woman called Oprah Winfrey and you will see a woman who describes [herself] as a woman of color. Her mother is Black, she’s from a mixed-race family of course. But I just don’t think people look at Meghan and think, ‘Oh I hate her, because of her skin color.’ I don’t see it. I don’t buy it.”Just a reminder of who Andrew Pierce is... (sound on) pic.twitter.com/wUKq6deFAY— Royal Suitor (@royal_suitor) March 3, 2021 In his statement, Pierce utilizes colorism—the concept that because Markle is of a fairer complexion she cannot be a victim of racism. Instead, he compares her to Oprah Winfrey, implying that the media mogul’s darker skin color is not seen as being attractive because her features are overwhelmingly Black.This has been the case for a number of famous women. Michelle Obama constantly endured negative feedback about her looks before her husband even officially took his place in the White House. By highlighting Markle’s lighter skin, not only is Pierce diminishing her experiences but also perpetuating misunderstandings about racism.Pierce, a frequent critic of Markle, had earlier in the day been a guest on British TV show Good Morning Britain. The segment in which he appeared was criticized for featuring five white men talking about Meghan. Pierce attacked Meghan as hypocritical on the show over allegations she bullied staff at Buckingham Palace and also attacked her later in the day on Twitter for wearing jewelry gifted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.#Meghan wore diamonds from Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia 3 weeks says @thetimes after he ordered murder of #JamalKhashoggi it's not just appalling timing, why is she taking diamonds from Saudi which treats women as 3rd class citizens. So much for her worldwide equality campaign— Andrew Pierce (@toryboypierce) March 3, 2021 The shocking comments by Pierce that appeared to question Meghan’s race based on her appearance echo a revealing article written for Elle magazine in 2015 by Markle in which she said her race made it difficult for her to break through in Hollywood: “I wasn’t Black enough for the Black roles and I wasn’t white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn’t book a job.”She added: “Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating.“While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that. To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.”On Martin Luther King Day 2016, Markle published a moving piece of writing on her now-shuttered blog The Tig that explored the overt and covert racism she and her family have experienced throughout their lives.Pierce’s remarks have generated outraged commentary on social media.This is what Meghan had to deal with. Listen to how Andrew Pierce defines the attractiveness and diversity of a black woman. Heartbreaking. @Oprah @GayleKing @meenaharris @RobinRoberts @MichelleObama @WhoopiGoldberg https://t.co/pDKD4tN6vH— Pam Ranberg (@PamRanberg) March 3, 2021 Nervousness at the palace about what Meghan might reveal in her interview with Oprah intensified today after a new promo clip of Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey was released. It shows Meghan accuse the British royal family of “perpetuating falsehoods” about her and her husband. Winfrey asks, “How do you feel about the palace hearing you speak your truth today?” Markle responds, “I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there is an active role that The Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us. And if that comes with risk of losing things, there is a lot that has been lost already.”Royals often use the term “The Firm” to refer to the monarchy.The Daily Beast has approached Associated Newspapers, Pierce’s employers, seeking comment. —Brooke Howard contributed to this reportRead 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.
- Business Insider
Biden cuts 16 million people off from stimulus checks after striking deal with moderate Senate Democrats, study says
Biden approved phasing out direct payments entirely for individuals making above $80,000 a year and married couples earning more than $160,000.
- The Daily Beast
Greg Nash/ReutersBureaucratic restrictions and public-relations concerns from the Army and top Trump administration Pentagon appointees unreasonably restrained the D.C. National Guard from responding to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, its commander testified to the Senate in a dramatic Wednesday session.The Guard commander, Major General William Walker, described receiving a “frantic” phone call from the then-head of the Capitol Police, Steven Sund, shortly before 2 p.m., as the breach was underway.Yet because of the restrictions from Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, and the “best military advice” of senior Army officers, Walker and his 155 Guardsmen could not respond to the scene of the insurrection for another three hours and 19 minutes—restrictions Walker pointedly noted were not placed upon him during the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests in Washington, D.C.Had Walker been able to deploy to the Capitol “immediately,” as he testified he wanted, around 2 p.m.—a process he said took less than 20 minutes—“that number could have made a difference,” Walker said. “We could have helped extend the perimeter and pushed back the crowd.”FBI Director Shoots Back, Insisting Bureau Shared Intel Ahead of Capitol InsurrectionIt was perhaps the most intense moment thus far in a series of Senate hearings on Jan. 6 that have prompted dueling claims of irresponsibility, recriminations that have focused overwhelmingly on security and intelligence failures, rather than the politicians who spread the inciting lie that the Democrats stole the presidential election and hailed the violent protest called for by President Donald Trump.Army and Pentagon officials have heard this critique from Walker in the press and pushed back on it. Yet it was clear at the hearing that even senior Republican senators considered the Pentagon’s restrictions on the D.C. National Guard unacceptable.Walker described pre-insurrection letters from McCarthy, relaying instructions from Miller—whom Trump installed atop the Pentagon shortly after losing the election—that withheld from Walker the issuance of “weapons, ammunition, batons, ballistic protection equipment, to include body armor.” He did not have preapproval to mobilize a quick-reaction force of 40 Guardsmen and found it “unusual” to be denied a typical commanders’ authority to protect his own forces.As well, Walker described an instruction that afternoon from McCarthy to provide a “concept of operations” for the Guard before getting approval to shift from backing up the D.C. police and relieving beleaguered Capitol Police officers. “In 19 years, I never had that before happen,” Walker told senators. In several instances that day, Walker acted on his own initiative to muster the quick-reaction force at the D.C. Armory and get his Guardsmen protective gear, ahead of the belated approval to deploy to the Capitol.Neither Miller nor McCarthy testified. Instead, a senior Pentagon civilian, Robert Salesses, was left to effectively testify that Walker was wrong.Walker testified that two Army three-star generals, Charles Flynn and Walter Piatt, told him on Jan. 6 afternoon phone calls that they advised against sending the Guard to the Capitol because it was a poor “optics” and “could incite the crowd.” Salesses stoically said that Piatt, who is not in the chain of command, told him he never “used the word ‘optics,’” which represents the second revision in Piatt’s story, as the Army general recently acknowledged he may have indeed used that word.Walker shot back: “There were people in the room with me on that call that heard what they heard.”But Salesses’ broader point was that the restrictions Miller placed on Walker were political. “There was a lot of things that happened in the spring the department was criticized for,” Salesses said, referring to the Pentagon’s use of the National Guard to suppress the Black Lives Matter protests in Washington.Yet Salesses, questioned by Republican senators, could not explain all the Pentagon restrictions on the National Guard.The National Guard was on the streets of D.C. on Jan. 6 to support the D.C. police, in an unarmed and unarmored fashion, at 30 city traffic-control points and six Metro stations. Walker said he had to seek approval from the Pentagon to accompany the police in moving a traffic point over by a single block. The quick-reaction force, stationed initially at Joint Base Andrews just outside the district, was “not [designed] to respond to the events of the Capitol,” Salesses pleaded. “I don’t know if that’s true,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) replied, quickly prompting Walker’s agreement.Salesses also had to concede that over a half-hour passed between his account of Miller finally authorizing the Guard deployment, at 4:32 p.m., and notifying Walker of that decision at 5:08 p.m. Asked what accounted for that delay by an incredulous Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Salesses said only, “Senator, it’s an issue.”“That’s a significant problem for the future,” Blunt said.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.
- Martha Stewart Living
Read this if conventional acne treatments simply aren't helping your breakouts.
Prince Harry's wife Meghan has accused Buckingham Palace of "perpetuating falsehoods" about her and her spouse, saying the royal couple would not be silent in telling their story. Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, made the comments to American talk show host Oprah Winfrey in an interview about why they quit their royal roles that is due to be broadcast on U.S. television on Sunday. An advance excerpt of the interview was released on Wednesday, hours after Buckingham Palace said it was "very concerned" about reports in the Times newspaper that assistants working for Meghan two years ago had been bullied by her.
- Reuters Videos
Mazen Shemes's nine-year-old son was killed by a mortar as Islamic State advanced across northern Iraq in 2014.That night, the family buried him and fled Qaraqosh, a Christian enclave near Mosul, along with thousands of others.Five years later, the farmer is back on his land, replanting trees and coaxing it back to life.His community is growing back too, encouraged by an active local clergy, which helped Shemes and others rebuild."When we came back, we filed an application at the church, we went to Father Georges, and they finished our house."Pope Francis will visit Qaraqosh on Sunday (March 7), as part of a four-day tour of Iraq, the first ever by a pope.About half the town's Christians have returned, a rare ray of hope for a community devastated by years of Islamist violence.That's down to church leaders, who hatched a plan to encourage families back to the town of 50,000 people, by rebuilding houses first, then churches.Funds came mainly from Christian organisations abroad. Father Georges Jahola was put in charge."We have this piece of land. We have inherited this small patch of land from our ancestors. If we lose it, we lose our identity."Qaraqosh boasts the Grand Immaculate Church, Iraq's biggest, restored now after it was damaged and burned.Pope Francis's visit is a source of pride for a community that remains vulnerable.And morale was high for the volunteers who danced and sang as they cleaned and decorated it in preparation.
Drastic measures taken by North Korea to contain coronavirus have exacerbated human rights abuses and economic hardship for its citizens, including reports of starvation, a United Nations investigator says. North Korea, which has yet to report any confirmed COVID-19 cases despite sharing a border with China, has imposed border closings, banned most international travel and severely restricted movement domestically in the past year. "The further isolation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with the outside world during the COVID-19 pandemic appears to exacerbate entrenched human rights violations," Tomas Ojea Quintana, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the country, said in a report seen by Reuters on Wednesday.