By Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) - U.N. investigators reported on Monday they found it increasingly difficult to interview newly arrived Syrian refugees in Europe and urged countries to allow access to them to help document suspected war crimes. Their inquiry panel, which says it has a confidential list of suspects on all sides who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity, called again for major powers to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court. "We are appealing to countries inside Europe hosting newly arrived Syrian refugees to grant us access and remove any barriers to our work," Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told the U.N. Human Rights Council. He declined to name the countries hampering investigators' access to Syrian refugees. Most have gone to Germany and Sweden while others remain stuck in Greece and Italy seeking asylum. "Time is of the essence, particularly if the Commission is to continue preparing well-documented reports on the current situation in the country, rather than reports of a historical nature," Pinheiro said. Vitit Muntarbhorn, a panel member, said it was investigating allegations of chlorine gas being used in the Maqsoud area of Aleppo in April and also of chemical weapons used in August. It was also looking into alleged use of incendiary weapons - both "phosphorus and napalm" - in the Syrian cities of Hama, Homs and part of Damascus, he told Reuters. The panel said earlier this month that it had a database of some 5,000 detailed interviews and information, some of which is being shared with European governments seeking to prosecute their nationals fighting as foreign militants in Syria. "There have been cases of successful prosecution which our information has aided," Pinheiro told the 47-member Geneva forum on Monday without elaboration. Carla del Ponte, a panel member and former U.N. war crimes prosecutor, said: "We need a formal investigation to be done as soon as possible. Time is passing and we must be ready for a future tribunal. Don't forget, 'no peace without justice'." "I think it's time that the Security Council is doing something because it is incredible after five years, no justice for the victims," she told reporters. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday that U.S. coalition air strikes which hit Syrian army positions near Deir al-Zor on Saturday were a "flagrant aggression". Syrian Ambassador Hussam Eddin Aala, addressing the rights council, denounced "this treacherous, deliberate, pre-planned American aggression" that he said had killed dozens of Syrian soldiers and paved the way for an Islamic State attack. Russia has backed Assad in Syria's five-year civil war while the United States has supported non-Islamist rebel forces fighting to topple him. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Tom Heneghan)
- Yahoo News
Speaking to reporters at the White House Thursday afternoon — just 15 minutes after meeting with President Biden — Dr. Anthony Fauci described it as “liberating” to be able to speak openly about science in the wake of Donald Trump’s departure from office.
- The Telegraph
A Republican congresswoman is facing calls to resign over reports that she helped to spread falsehoods about the Parkland school shooting. Marjorie Taylor Greene reportedly agreed with a conspiracy theory about the 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed. Facebook screenshots showed a discussion about why a police officer had not rushed into the building, and someone claimed that the mass shooting was a "false flag planned shooting." Greene replied: “Exactly!" The social media giant later removed the posts after they were reported to them. Cameron Kasky, a former Parkland pupil who co-founded the group Never Again MSD, said: "She should resign. She can apologise. I don’t think anybody will accept it.” The congresswoman was elected in Georgia in November, backed Donald Trump's claims of election fraud, and has previously expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory. Fred Guttenberg, who's 14-year-old daughter Jaime died in the Parkland shooting, said: "Your feelings on gun laws are irrelevant to your claim that Parkland never happened. You are a fraud who must resign. Be prepared to meet me directly in person to explain your conspiracy theory, and soon." The comments by the politician were first reported by Media Matters for America. In a statement Ms Greene accused Media Matters for America of being "communists' and "fake news". Meanwhile, US Capitol Police were investigating an incident in which a Republican congressman was found carrying a concealed gun while trying to enter the floor of the House of Representatives. Andy Harris, a staunch gun-rights advocate, set off a metal detector going through security on his way to the House floor . Metal detectors were installed outside the chamber to beef up security in the aftermath of the Capitol riots on Jan 6.
- The Independent
Michael Flynn’s brother reveals he was involved in Capitol riot response after Army denied it, report says
Apparent U-turn by Pentagon officials could pose questions about police response
- The Week
The evenly split Senate is having a hard time agreeing who's in charge.Georgia's two new Democratic senators were sworn in Wednesday, giving Republicans and Democrats 50 senators each, with Vice President Kamala Harris as a Democratic tiebreaker. The two parties are now working out a power-sharing agreement, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) commitment to the filibuster is standing in the way.McConnell on Thursday formally acknowledged Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as the chamber's new majority leader. But as he has been for days, McConnell again implored Democrats to preserve the filibuster that lets a senator extend debate and block a timely vote on a bill if there aren't 60 votes to stop it. Democrats "have no plans to gut the filibuster further, but argue it would be a mistake to take one of their tools off the table just as they're about to govern," Politico reports; More progressive senators do want to remove the option completely.If his filibuster demands aren't met, McConnell has threatened to block the Senate power-sharing agreement that would put Democrats in charge of the body's committees. But Democrats already seem confident in their newfound power, with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) telling Politico that "Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and he should be treated like majority leader." Giving in to McConnell "would be exactly the wrong way to begin," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) echoed.Other Democrats shared their resistance to McConnell's demands in tweets. > McConnell is threatening to filibuster the Organizing Resolution which allows Democrats to assume the committee Chair positions. It's an absolutely unprecedented, wacky, counterproductive request. We won the Senate. We get the gavels.> > -- Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 21, 2021> So after Mitch McConnell changed the Senate rules at a blistering pace during his 6 years in charge, he is threatening to filibuster the Senate's organizing resolution unless the Democratic majority agrees to never change the rules again.> > Huh.> > -- Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 21, 2021More stories from theweek.com McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit Nearly 200 National Guard members have reportedly gotten COVID-19 since the Capitol riot
- National Review
Biden Admonishes Reporter for Questioning Whether Vaccine Goal Is Ambitious Enough: ‘Give Me a Break’
President Biden pushed back on a reporter at a press briefing on Thursday, who questioned whether the new administration’s coronavirus vaccine goal is ambitious enough. Biden has set a goal to vaccinate 100 million Americans during his first 100 days in office. During the press conference, Biden called the Trump administration’s distribution of coronavirus vaccines a “dismal failure so far,” warning that “things are going to continue to get worse before they get better.” However, the seven-day rolling average for coronavirus vaccine doses administered to Americans currently sits at 912,000, according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker. (On Wednesday alone, 1.6 million doses were administered.) This indicates that the Biden administration is not far from its goal of vaccinating one million Americans per day. On Thursday, Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller asked Biden if the vaccination goal was “high enough,” since “that’s basically where the U.S. is right now.” “When I announced it you all said it wasn’t possible. Come on, give me a break, man,” Biden responded. “It’s a good start, a hundred million.” Internal projections from the Trump administration showed that the U.S. could administer at least 170 million doses by the end of April, two Trump administration officials told Bloomberg. During the press conference, Biden also announced that he would invoke the Defense Production Act to “accelerate the making of everything that’s needed to protect, test, and vaccinate and the care of our people.” Biden warned that the death toll from coronavirus infections would hit 500,000 in February. Over 408,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 as of Thursday.
- 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.
- NBC News
A woman has been arrested and charged with murder after the dismembered remains of her missing roommate, Talina Galloway, were found in a freezer in the woods of Polk County, Arkansas last week. Talina, 53, was reported missing by her roommate, Kore Bommeli on April 17, 2020. Talina’s remains were found in the freezer on January 14, 2021. Bommeli, who has been a person of interest throughout the investigation, was located in Wisconsin and faces charges of murder and desecration of a corpse. Th
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and asking for a temporary restraining order.Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security. Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America. * Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney, told Axios that the lawsuit is likely to fail at fully reinstating deportations because a judge cannot force Immigration and Customs Enforcement to remove any particular person. * The executive branch has broad authority over immigration enforcement, as was seen in both President Obama and President Trump's administrations. What they're saying: In the announcement of the moratorium on Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security said the pause on deportations would "allow DHS to ensure that its resources are dedicated to responding to the most pressing challenges that the United States faces." * In Paxton's request for a temporary restraining order, he claims, "Without emergency relief, Texas faces irreparable harm from having to provide costly educational, social, welfare, healthcare, and other services to illegal aliens who remain in Texas because Defendants have ceased removing them."The White House has not yet responded to Axios' request for comment.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- The Independent
‘There was a protocol breach when the front doors were not held open’
- National Review
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) vowed that any Congressman found to have aided rioters who breached the Capitol on January 6 would be prosecuted, in remarks to reporters on Thursday. Pelosi’s comments came several days after Representative Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.) implied that Representative Lauren Boebert (R., Fla.) may have aided rioters, saying he saw her giving a tour of the Capitol about two days prior to the event. Boebert has received criticism for her support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, however no evidence has emerged that she aided rioters. Speaker Pelosi on House lawmaker involvement in the 1/6 Capitol insurrection: "Everything has to be based on evidence … There will be prosecution, if they aided and abetted an insurrection in which people died." pic.twitter.com/OxtZLBAomy — The Recount (@therecount) January 21, 2021 “Everything has to be based on evidence, and that remains to be seen,” Pelosi said on Thursday. “If people did aid and abet [the riots], there will be more than just comments from their colleagues here: there will be prosecution, if they aided and abetted an insurrection in which people died.” However, Pelosi added, “that is something you have to collect evidence for as you proceed.” Rioters managed to overrun Capitol police and forced lawmakers to evacuate the building or shelter in place, interrupting the certification of the Electoral College results. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) blamed former President Trump for provoking the riots in a floor speech on Tuesday. “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government that they did not like,” McConnell said. However, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) told reporters on Thursday that he does not think Trump incited the riot. “I don’t believe he provoked it if you listen to what he said at the rally,” McCarthy said. The comments appear to contradict remarks made by McCarthy last week, in which he said Trump “bears responsibility” for the riots.
- 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
- The Week
"C'mon, give me a break, man," President Biden told a reporter Thursday, when asked if his goal of getting 100 million Americans vaccinated in his first 100 days is too modest. "It's a good start, 100 million." Biden was right that when he "first made this pledge, it was an ambitious goal," Politico's Renuka Rayasam writes. "But now it's only a modest bump from the pace of vaccinations that he inherited," and experts agree it won't cut it anymore."At a pace of 1 million doses a day, the virus wouldn't be contained until sometime in 2022," Politico reports. Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert at the Baylor College of Medicine, said the U.S. needs to vaccinate 2-3 million people a day to quash the pandemic by September, and the sooner the better, given the rise of new, more contagious variants. "We've blown every other opportunity," Hotez said. "This is all we have left.""I love that he set a goal, but a million doses a day?" Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told The New York Times. "I think we can do better," and actually "we are going to have to if we really want to get on top of this virus by, say, summer."Currently, U.S. vaccination efforts are constrained by supply shortages and inefficient distribution of the two approved vaccines, from Modern and Pfizer/BioNTech. "States are expected to run out of doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine within days," Politico says. But both companies are ramping up production, and Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine is expected to hit the shelves by the end of February, so there should be amply supply to significantly exceed Biden's current goal by April.In the meantime, Biden's administration should focus "on fixing the hodgepodge of state and local vaccination centers that has proved incapable of managing even the current flow of vaccines," the Times reports, citing experts. Biden has requested $20 billion to vastly expand vaccination centers, and he wants to hire 100,000 health care workers to administer the vaccines. If he can do that, former FDA director Dr. Mark McClellan tells the Times, it should "push the number beyond a million doses a day and probably significantly beyond."More stories from theweek.com McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit Nearly 200 National Guard members have reportedly gotten COVID-19 since the Capitol riot
America may not have won World War II and landed on the moon later if not for the contributions of a brilliant Chinese scientist named Qian Xuesen. Fearing communist presence after the war, the U.S., however, deported Qian to China, clueless that he would eventually spearhead programs that would target American troops and eventually propel China into space. Born to well-educated parents in 1911, it was evident from an early age that Qian had superior intellect.
- Associated Press
The master tenant of a San Francisco Bay Area warehouse where 36 people perished when a fire ignited during a 2016 dance party pleaded guilty Friday to the deaths, avoiding a second trial after the first ended in a hung jury. Derick Almena, 50, pleaded guilty to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in exchange for a 12-year sentence. Already free on bail, Almena likely won't return to jail because of the nearly three years he already spent behind bars and credit for good behavior.
- Yahoo News Video
A woman facing charges that she helped steal a laptop from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the attack on the U.S. Capitol will be released from jail, a federal judge decided Thursday.
Donald Trump issued a list of pardons during his final hours as U.S. president but did not include himself, his children, or personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, even though advisers said he had privately debated the extraordinary step of a self-pardon. What may have guided Trump's decision not to pardon himself and members of his inner circle? Presidential pardons can only accomplish so much.
- The Independent
Sean Hannity denounces Biden’s first week as ‘disastrous’ before the president completed a full day of work
‘The Biden administration is off to a very rocky start,’ Fox News host says
- The Telegraph
Spain will be “more ready” to welcome holidaymakers once 70 per cent of the country are vaccinated at the end of the summer, the PM has said, casting doubt on travel plans this year. Pime Minister Pedro Sánchez echoed other government ministers in saying that this threshold would probably not be reached until the end of August. “The government is working to vaccinate at the highest possible rate […] to reach the end of the summer with 70 per cent, which will leave Spain progressively more ready to receive international tourists”, Mr Sánchez said at a World Tourism Organization event in Madrid this week. “The tourism recovery begins with vaccination. And full recovery, with full vaccination,” the Spanish leader stated, leaving the door open for some easing of restrictions before the 70 per cent safety level is reached. But Spain’s tourism and industry minister, Reyes Maroto, stepped in on Friday to reassure the sector that plans were afoot to save at least part of the summer season. “We hope that at the end of spring and especially during the summer, international travel will resume and travellers will choose Spain as their destination,” Ms Maroto said. Mr Sánchez said Spain’s Covid vaccination campaign was going well and was “one of the best in Europe”, but a considerable acceleration will be required to protect 70 per cent of the population in time to restart the country’s stalled tourism sector this year. After nearly four weeks since the start of the vaccination campaign, Spain has delivered 1.1 million jabs, equalling just over two per cent of the population, with very few having had their second injection. Before the Covid pandemic, tourism represented 12 per cent of the Spanish economy, with close to 84 million international arrivals in 2019. Spain is one of several European Union countries supporting the introduction of a system of Covid vaccine passports to allow people who have been inoculated to travel. “This would be a shared and reliable framework to help avoid indiscriminate measures such as quarantines and travel bans,” Ms Maroto said. It came as Belgium’s consultation committee banned non-essential travel to and from the country from January 27 to March 1 on Friday. Alexander De Croo, the prime minister, had said he wanted to impose the ban at Thursday’s video summit of EU leaders. Belgian media reported his mind was made up after 160,000 travelled abroad for the Christmas holidays despite warnings not to do so. All travellers from the UK, South Africa and South America will have to go into quarantine for 10 days and be tested on the first and seventh day. Non-residents will have to be tested on departure and arrival “Let this be clear: we are not building a wall around our country,” said Mr De Croo. “Coming and going is still possible, but there will have to be a good reason.” Meanwhile France is to make PCR tests compulsory for all travellers into the country, including from fellow EU countries, starting Sunday, President Emmanuel Macron's office confirmed yesterday/FRI The rule, which is already in place for people travelling between the UK and France, applies to all but cross-border workers and land transportation. The new restrictions come as a top French epidemiologist and government adviser warned that the country will have to resort to a strict lockdown like those in Ireland and Britain if it fails to rein in the more contagious variants of the coronavirus.
- Associated Press
A man who has been in prison for nearly 50 years for murder when he was a teenager has won a major decision from the Michigan appeals court that should lead to his eventual release. A Wayne County judge violated David Bennett's rights when he cited mental health as a reason to keep him locked up with no chance for parole, the appeals court said Thursday. “Treated mental illness is not a signal of irreparable corruption, and no evidence even hinted that Bennett’s mental illness created a realistic danger that he would reoffend,” the court said.
- 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 McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit Nearly 200 National Guard members have reportedly gotten COVID-19 since the Capitol riot