By Frank McGurty NEW YORK (Reuters) - Confidence in the U.S. government to protect its citizens from militant attacks has fallen to its lowest in more than a decade after a pair of suspected militant Islamists gunned down 14 people at a holiday party in California, a poll released on Friday found. Only 55 percent of respondents said they had "a fair amount" or "a great deal" of confidence that authorities could protect the country from further attacks, according to data collected by Gallup on Dec. 8-9, just days after the San Bernardino massacre. The finding represents a drop of 12 percentage points since June and extends the gradual erosion in confidence that began soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by militant Islamists in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. It is the lowest reading since Gallup began asking the question, following the 2001 attacks. The poll found that Americans have become much more fearful of future attacks, with 67 percent believing they were "very likely" or "somewhat likely." The figure, which represents a 22 point spike since June, is the highest since early 2003, soon after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In the weeks after 9/11, fear of an imminent attack reached a high point of 85 percent. The San Bernardino attack, and a massacre in Paris last month that killed 130, have thrust the issue to the forefront of the race for the Republican presidential nomination and prompted President Barack Obama to outline his strategy in a televised address earlier this week. "Confidence in the government's ability to keep them safe may not be as much a blaming of government ineptitude as it is a better understanding of the challenging nature of the threats now hiding within the U.S.," Gallup said on its website. The husband and wife team suspected in the San Bernardino killings defied the image of typical attackers. Syed Rizwan Farook, a native American with a middle-class job, lived quietly with his Pakistani-born wife Tashfeen Malik and their infant daughter. Their militant leanings apparently went undetected by authorities until after their well-planned attack, police said. Concern over so-called "lone wolf" attacks has paralleled the rise of Islamic State over the past year. Experts say the movement has successfully used social media to attract recruits to its cause. The poll involved a random sample of 1,013 adults, interviewed by telephone. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points, with 95 percent confidence. (Reporting By Frank McGurty; Editing by Andrew Hay)
The COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE was able to neutralize a new variant of the coronavirus spreading rapidly in Brazil, according to a laboratory study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Monday. Blood taken from people who had been given the vaccine neutralized an engineered version of the virus that contained the same mutations carried on the spike portion of the highly contagious P.1 variant first identified in Brazil, the study conducted by scientists from the companies and the University of Texas Medical Branch found.
Calls for the abolition of the British monarchy were made on social media following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's interview with Oprah.
Megyn Kelly says Meghan Markle always claims to be a 'victim' after bombshell Oprah interview: 'Give me a break'
"Everyone victimizes Meghan! Everyone! The palace! The press!" the former Fox News host, who was fired for making racist statements, said.
- The Daily Beast
Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese via Getty ImagesPerhaps the most extraordinary moment of last night’s interview with Harry and Meghan came when Meghan said that Harry was asked by a member of the royal family how dark their children’s skin was likely to be, and questioned what image of the family that would project.Harry, when he joined the interview, reiterated the claim. It was notable that Harry and Meghan gave differing accounts of when the racist conversation took place: Meghan said it was during a series of conversations that happened while she was pregnant with Archie, Harry said it happened “right at the beginning” of their relationship.Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Oprah Interview Was a Royal Family Depth ChargeBoth refused to identify the individual concerned, but they were clear it was a member of the family as opposed to a palace courtier.Meghan raised the issue when she was discussing what she alleged was a discriminatory drive by the palace at the time to not make her unborn son Archie a prince.Meghan said, “In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time—so we have in tandem the conversation of ‘He won’t be given security, he’s not going to be given a title,'—and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”A stunned Oprah sought clarification and Meghan replied, “There were, there were several conversations about it,” which took place “with Harry” who relayed the content of them to her.Saying she would not identify the person in question, Meghan said, “I think that would be very damaging to them,” but added, “That was relayed to me from Harry. Those were conversations that family had with him.”Harry said it was a “conversation I’m never going to share,” but when Oprah suggested he was asked, “Like, what will the baby look like?” he conceded that he was indeed asked that: “Yeah, what will the kids look like?”Harry did not pin the conversation on his family, but did mention them in his next breath, saying: “That was right at the beginning, when she wasn’t going to get security, when members of my family were suggesting that she carries on acting, because there was not enough money to pay for her, and all this sort of stuff.”Given his previous history of racist comments, suspicion immediately alighted upon Prince Philip, Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather who is recovering from heart surgery in the hospital, as the author of the racist questions.Aware, perhaps, that Philip would be the natural target of suspicion, Harry authorized Oprah to make a stunning declaration on CBS this morning: “He did not share the identity with me but he wanted to make sure that I knew and if I had an opportunity to share it, that it was not his grandmother nor his grandfather that were a part of those conversations.”By Monday afternoon, the palace had still not issued any kind of response to any of the myriad allegations made by Meghan, including the one that a member of the royal family expressed “concerns” about her children’s skin color. The palace did not respond to specific inquiries for this story, nor did the Sussexes’ press team.Harry and Meghan must have known the allegation would cause tremendous disquiet, and inevitably set off a guessing game as to who could possibly have made the comment.Of course, there are only a small number of people who could possibly be in the frame. Realistically the only members of the royal family who could have been involved in the ancillary conversations that surrounded the specific conversation are members of the royal family more senior than Harry.It’s simply not conceivable that minor royals such as Prince Andrew or Prince Edward would have been involved in discussions about the status and future police protection of Harry’s children.By exonerating Philip, Harry seems to have pointed the finger at one of two people: Prince William or Prince Charles.But Harry had warm words for his brother despite their current difficulties, saying, “As I’ve said before, I love William to bits. He’s my brother. We’ve been through hell together.”This doesn’t sound like the kind of thing you’d say about someone who had expressed “concerns” about your child’s skin color.His relationship with Charles, however, seems to be in a much more parlous state.Talking about the run-up to their public announcement they were “stepping back” from frontline royal duties, Harry said, “I had three conversations with my grandmother and two conversations with my father—before he stopped taking my calls.”Oprah at the end of the broadcast asked Harry, “Your relationship with your father? Is he taking your calls now?”Harry replied, “Yeah. Yeah, he is. There’s a lot to work through there, you know? I feel really let down, because he’s been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like, and this is—and Archie’s his grandson. But, at the same time, you know, of course I will always, I will always love him, but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened. And I will continue to, to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship. But they only know what they know, and that’s the thing… I’ve tried to educate them through the process that I have been educated.”Charles’ supporters were quick to defend him today. His official biographer Jonathan Dimbleby told the BBC that he found the notion that Prince Charles could have raised concerns about the skin color of the Sussexes’ baby “quite astonishing,” saying, “He is someone whose personal and professional life has been dedicated to bringing people together not pulling them apart. I find it extraordinarily difficult to believe that it might have been him.”And so, for now at least, the hunt for the alleged royal racist continues.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.
- Business Insider
A new lab study shows troubling signs that Pfizer's and Moderna's COVID-19 shots could be far less effective against the variant first found in South Africa
A mutation called E484K appeared to help the variant, first found in South Africa, to evade antibodies produced by the vaccines, the authors said.
Prince Harry said he and Meghan Markle hadn't planned on signing streaming deals, but they needed the money for security
Harry told Oprah he was financially cut off by the royals and that his family's security was taken away, so he signed deals with Netflix and Spotify.
- The Telegraph
For a monarch determined to slim down and modernise the Royal family for the 21st century, the Queen’s decision not to give her great-grandson Archie the title of prince made perfect sense. Following controversy over the roles and publicly funded privilege of minor members of The Firm, the Queen and the Prince of Wales had already decided to shift the focus to Her Majesty and just six others. What they could not have predicted was that two years later, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would try to weave that perceived snub into a new narrative – one of racism at the heart of the House of Windsor. “They didn't want him to be a prince,” the Duchess told Oprah Winfrey, “which would be different from protocol ... we have in tandem the conversation of, ‘He won't be given security. He’s not going to be given a title.’ And also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” Regardless of its veracity, Harry and Meghan’s claim that there were concerns about the colour of their baby’s skin has the power to do permanent damage to the royal brand. Irrespective of who made the alleged comment about Archie’s skin, the Duke and Duchess have put the Prince of Wales in the eye of the storm by claiming he ignored warnings of possible racist attacks on Archie when decisions were made about his security. A source close to the Sussexes said the couple had seen intelligence and security reports that suggested their son was at a heightened risk, partly because of his mixed race heritage. “Security was paramount to them,” the source said. “On that basis, as a couple, they wanted him to be a prince and that was made clear to the Royal family.”
- Associated Press
Syrian President Bashar Assad and his wife have tested positive for the coronavirus, the president's office said Monday, with both having only mild symptoms of the illness. In a statement, Assad’s office said the first couple did PCR tests after they experienced minor symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 illness. It said Assad, 55, and his wife Asma, who is 10 years younger and announced her recovery from breast cancer in 2019, will continue to work from home where they will isolate between two to three weeks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson avoided wading into the clash of British royals on Monday, praising the queen but sidestepping questions about racism and insensitivity at the palace after an interview by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan. The former Hollywood actress, whose mother is Black and father is white, accused the royal family of pushing her to the brink of suicide. In a tell-all television interview, she said someone in the royal household had raised questions about the colour of her son's skin.
- The Telegraph
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex unloaded on Prince Charles, The Duchess of Cambridge, and the tabloid press in their extraordinary tell-all with Oprah Winfrey. But despite the numerous allegations levelled at named and unnamed members of the Royal family, The Queen emerged unscathed, and instead received glowing praise from the couple. Meghan described how "everyone" welcomed her to the royal set-up initially, but singled out the Queen as making her particularly comfortable. In another sign of their positive relationship, the Duchess said: “I just pick up the phone and I call the Queen - just to check-in. Meghan said the Queen has "always been wonderful" to her and that she reminded the Duchess of her own grandmother. "She’s always been warm and inviting," the Duchess added. The Duchess shared a touching anecdote on how her future husband’s grandmother gave her "some beautiful pearl earrings and a matching necklace" for the couple's first joint engagement together, and that the monarch also shared her blanket while travelling together between visits. The pair attended a ceremony for the opening of the new Mersey Gateway Bridge, in Widnes, Cheshire in June 2018 and travelled north on the Royal train.
Joining hundreds of women in Istanbul to protest at China's treatment of Uighurs, Nursiman Abdurasit tearfully thinks of her jailed mother in Xinjiang and fears that Uighurs like her in Turkey may one day be sent back under an extradition deal. Beijing approved an extradition treaty between the two nations in December and with the deal awaiting ratification by Ankara's parliament, activists among some 40,000 Uighurs living in Turkey have stepped up efforts to highlight their plight.
- The Independent
Meghan Markle says her father ‘betrayed her’ in new Oprah clip as he faces TV interview with Piers Morgan
Duchess describes way in which UK tabloids ‘hunted’ down her parents before falling out with her father, Thomas Markle
- The Week
Prince Harry gave an honest assessment of his relationship with his father, Prince Charles, and brother, Prince William, telling Oprah Winfrey that he has "compassion" for both of them because they are "trapped" inside the royal family. During an interview that aired on CBS Sunday night, Harry said he did not "blindside" his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, with the news that he would be stepping back from his royal duties, saying he has too much "respect" for her. Last year, Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, moved from Britain to California, and he said that recently, he's actually spoken to the queen more than usual, and they have a "really good relationship." It's been harder to relate with his father, though. Harry said he is "disappointed" in him, and does not think the family did enough to protect Markle from bad press. "I saw history repeating itself," he said, referring to his mother, the late Princess Diana, who was hounded by tabloids. Harry said he asked for help, but Charles stopped answering his calls. Had he received assistance, "we wouldn't have left," Harry said, but "we did what we had to do." He denied having long ago decided he would leave his royal duties, and Markle backed him up. "I left my career, my life," she said. "I left everything because I love him. Our plan was to do this forever." Harry told Winfrey he has money his mother left him, and believes she would have been "very angry at how this has played out, and sad. But ultimately, all she'd ever want is for us to be happy." Today, Harry said Charles is accepting his phone calls, but "there's a lot to work through there." He thought his father would be more understanding, and "there's a lot of hurt that's happened." It is now one of Harry's "priorities to try and heal that relationship," he added. As for William, Harry said he "loves him to bits" but "we're on different paths." Through Markle, Harry said he was able to see he was stuck in the "institution" he was born into, and his father and brother "are trapped. They don't get to leave. And I have compassion for that." More stories from theweek.comAt least 1,000 COVID-19 deaths linked to workplace transmission were reportedly never investigatedBritain's tabloids, vilified by Harry and Meghan, are all agog over the 'devastating' Oprah interviewWhat most shocked some Britons about the Harry and Meghan interview? U.S. drug ads.
- Business Insider
Biden eyes trashing Trump-era rules that advocates feared would silence sexual assault survivors on college campuses
The rules were unveiled by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in the final year of the Trump administration.
- Business Insider
Biden nominates female generals who were passed over by the Pentagon because they feared Trump's reaction
Pentagon officials believed former President Donald Trump would oppose the promotion of female generals, report says.
- FOX News Videos
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sit down with Oprah Winfrey for tell-all interview; Piers Morgan reacts on ‘Fox & Friends.’
- Business Insider
A world-leading health expert has warned that spring breakers could increase the spread of highly-transmissible coronavirus variants across the US.
New Zealand is unlikely to stop having Queen Elizabeth as its head of state anytime soon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, in comments following Oprah Winfrey's interview with Prince Harry and Meghan. Ardern was asked by a reporter if the interview, and the picture painted of the royal family, had given her pause around New Zealand's constitutional ties with the royals. A former British colony, New Zealand retains Queen Elizabeth as its constitutional monarch and head of state.
- Associated Press
Philippine police backed by military forces killed nine people over the weekend in a series of raids against suspected communist insurgents, with authorities saying the suspects opened fire first. Others, however, said those killed were unarmed activists. Police said Monday that all of those killed were associated with “communist terrorist groups” and had shot at officers while being served search warrants.
China urged the United States on Sunday to remove "unreasonable" curbs on cooperation as soon as possible and work together on issues like climate change, while accusing Washington of bringing chaos in the name of spreading democracy. Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden singled out a "growing rivalry with China" as a key challenge facing the United States, with his top diplomat describing the country as "the biggest geopolitical test" of this century. Speaking at his annual news conference, the Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, struck a tough line even as he outlined where the world's two biggest economies could work together.