In the latest of a new surge in anti-Asian attacks, a man was assaulted and robbed while trying to deposit “large sums of money” at a bank in San Leandro, California this week. The incident, which left the victim with minor injuries, occurred at the Bank of America branch at 1925 Marina Boulevard around 1:20 p.m. on Tuesday. Witnesses tell me this older Asian man was making a deposit at the Bank of America along Marina in San Leandro & was attacked & robbed.
A new political row has broken out over a controversial gas pipeline between Russia and Germany after Angela Merkel’s government was accused of offering to spend $1bn (£720m) on American gas if the US called off planned sanctions against the project. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will allow Russian gas to be pumped directly to Germany, but the US has threatened to impose sanctions on any company involved with the project, arguing it will make Europe too dependent on Russia for its energy needs. Lobbying group Environmental Action Germany (DUH) this week published a leaked letter from Olaf Scholz, the German finance minister, to Steve Mnuchin, the then US treasury secretary, dated last August. In it, Mr Scholz offered to invest $1bn on new infrastructure to import American liquefied natural gas (LNG) at German ports if the US dropped the planned sanctions.
The Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated near Tehran in November was killed by a one-ton gun smuggled into Iran in pieces by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, according to a report by The Jewish Chronicle on Wednesday. Citing intelligence sources, the British weekly said a team of more than 20 agents, including Israeli and Iranian nationals, carried out the ambush on scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh after eight months of surveillance. Shortly after his death Iran pointed the finger at Israel, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif writing on Twitter of “serious indications of (an) Israeli role.”
Lindsey Graham reads Neera Tanden negative Glassdoor reviews from old employees during confirmation hearing
As Neera Tanden, President Biden’s nominee to take over as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, sat Wednesday for her confirmation hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, read aloud some reviews her former employees at the Center for American Progress left on Glassdoor over the last few years. Graham noted that Tanden, the president of CAP, referred the committee to the reviews, some of which were far from flattering about the management at the public policy organization, even when the overall experience was considered positive (“Great experience, terrible management,” one read.) “All I can say,” Graham said after going through some of the negative comments, “is that this is not the unifying pick that I was looking for in this position.” CONFIRMATION HEARING: Sen. Lindsey Graham reads negative Glassdoor reviews of Center for American Progress under Neera Tanden after she referred committee to them: “‘1 out of 5 stars. Terrible absolutely horrible.’” pic.twitter.com/u6hKaZWg0W — Forbes (@Forbes) February 10, 2021 Republicans like Graham weren’t the only ones to raise concerns about Tanden. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the chair of the committee, joined some GOP colleagues in questioning Tanden about some inflammatory comments she previously made on Twitter. “Your attacks were not just made against Republicans,” he said. “There were vicious attacks made against progressives. People I have worked with.” Sanders acknowledged lawmakers are used to such criticism, but he clarified that “it’s important” to refrain from personal attacks and instead express “differences on policy.” Tanden told Sanders she regrets her past remarks and will change her approach if confirmed. .@SenSanders says it’s important to “minimize the level of personal and vicious attacks.” Asks Neera Tanden if she’ll have a different approach at OMB.@neeratanden: “Absolutely…social media does lead to too many personal comments and my approach will be radically different.” pic.twitter.com/QB6FAtrWQr — CSPAN (@cspan) February 10, 2021 More stories from theweek.comTrump’s dumbfounding defenseTrump the phone guy is backThe 2021 Oscars will be broadcast from multiple locations
This was first published in The Telegraph’s Refresher newsletter. For more facts and explanation behind the week’s biggest political stories, sign up to the Refresher here – straight to your inbox every Wednesday afternoon for free. What’s the story? The UK and EU are at once again at loggerheads over how to resolve difficulties at the Northern Irish border, following threats against port staff and fresh calls for the Government to abandon the Northern Ireland Protocol. Britain’s departure from the European Union and the end of the Brexit transition period mean that there must be customs checks on goods entering the EU single market by travelling between the UK and the EU via Northern Ireland. The perennial issue for legislators has been how to check goods without imposing a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic: something all sides have pledged to avoid since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. But the solution agreed between the UK and EU in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement – the Northern Ireland Protocol – has not been running as smoothly as hoped. Teething difficulties at the ports in Northern Ireland have been exacerbated by the European Commission’s threat on January 29 to block vaccines leaving the EU, which would effectively have imposed a hard border on the island. The Commission’s brief triggering of Article 16 of the Protocol was quickly rescinded, but not before tensions between unionists and republicans in Northern Ireland were inflamed by the sudden prospect of a border. Threats were made against port workers and loyalist graffiti was daubed on walls around Larne and Belfast. Northern Irish police say there is no indication of paramilitary involvement, but customs officials were sent home for their own safety. Michael Gove, who is responsible for dealing with border issues in Northern Ireland on behalf of the UK Government, has condemned the Commission for opening a “Pandora’s Box” and called for the extension of a “grace period” in the Protocol. The grace period, which would have ended in April, allows goods to travel across the border without some of the checks that will eventually be required, in an attempt to smooth the transition. It is hoped that an extension would allow the issues to be resolved before further checks are imposed. Looking back The Northern Ireland Protocol was Boris Johnson’s solution to the Northern Ireland border issue. Removing the hated backstop from Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement – and collapsing the Conservative Party’s agreement with the DUP – Mr Johnson instead agreed that some checks would take place on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, if they were “at risk” of travelling onward into the EU. That resolution was a controversial one. For DUP politicians, any checks on goods travelling between the four nations of the UK represent an unacceptable breach of the country’s own internal market. The EU was eventually satisfied by the Northern Ireland Protocol and agreed it with Mr Johnson’s Government in October 2019. But it did not come into force until the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1, after which the UK was finally no longer treated as an EU member state. For the Irish Government, which was opposed to Britain leaving the EU from the start, the issues in recent weeks are less to do with the EU’s vaccine threats and more to do with Brexit itself. In a radio interview last week Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, said: “I would be open to advocating for modest extensions of grace periods when appropriate to try to, first of all, reassure people that we’re listening to them in Northern Ireland, because we are, and then, secondly, so that we can ensure that businesses can operate as best they can under the protocol. “But that’s not the same thing as scrapping the protocol and it’s important to make a strong distinction between the two.” Mr Coveney signalled the Irish Government would be open to an extension of the grace period, but said any settlement could not involve a renegotiation of the protocol and, by extension, the Withdrawal Agreement. Meanwhile, my colleagues report that the EU is almost certain to accept a time-limited extension to between three and six months, not the two years Mr Gove has requested. Anything else? The picture in Northern Ireland is further complicated by continued DUP calls for the UK Government to trigger Article 16 itself, and abandon the protocol altogether. The party is pursuing a series of political moves aimed at undermining the mechanism, including a boycott on engagement with the Irish Government on issues related to its operation and a vow to oppose any protocol-related legislation at the Assembly. Other parties in the Stormont power-sharing agreement say the DUP’s goal of scrapping the protocol altogether is “unrealistic”, and it should focus on cooperation with other Northern Irish parties. The Northern Ireland Assembly ultimately has a veto power over the protocol, but only in a vote every four years. Until then, the SDLP, another party in the agreement, said unionists “need to learn the lesson that they should have learned a number of times over the past 100 years – the British Government will let you down and if you keep going to the right you’re going to end up in a worse position when you come back to the table”. The Refresher take For Brexit-watchers, the spectre of UK ministers in negotiation with the EU over Northern Ireland is familiar. But if both sides cannot agree to an extension of the grace period that is long enough to resolve the issues at the border technically and peacefully, then more customs checks will be imposed. The EU has little choice but to accept Mr Gove’s demand for an extension, since it was partly the Commission’s foolishness that caused the latest tensions. Notwithstanding the vaccines debacle, the last few weeks have exposed fragilities in a customs arrangement that exporters and citizens were promised would be solid. Mr Gove and his counterparts have an important but difficult few weeks ahead.
Three other people were being treated for wounds from suspected rubber bullets after police fired guns, mostly into the air, and used water cannon to try to clear protesters in the capital Naypyitaw. State television reported injuries to police during their attempts to disperse protesters – its first acknowledgement of the demonstrations taking place in the country.
GOP senators were nodding off during the impeachment hearing — until Capitol attack footage started rolling
With the result of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump pretty much decided before it began, many Republican senators didn’t see much need to pay attention. The House’s Democratic impeachment managers on Wednesday laid out their case against Trump and his alleged incitement of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. They started the day with a recount of Trump’s last few weeks as president, as he falsely insisted that he’d won the election and promoted calls to “stop the steal.” But with most Republican senators already convinced that the impeachment trial was unconstitutional, they didn’t seem to be listening. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) varied between activities during the testimony, with reporters spotting him studying a map of Southeast Asia at one point and reading a magazine at another. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) found some reading material as well, while Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) seemingly stared at a calendar. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) disappeared at one point and resurfaced with a glass of milk — the only drink besides water that’s allowed during an impeachment trial. Burr was also caught snacking under his mask. And Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), like he did the day before, spent the testimony doodling. He stenciled a picture of the Capitol printed on his notepad over and over — when he was actually in the Senate chamber. Rand Paul wasn’t at his desk for much of the 1pm hour. “However, immediately after Schumer called the break, Paul beelined in (without a mask on) and handed a folded piece of paper that had been sitting on his desk to David Shoen,” per pooler @AllisonMPecorin. — Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 10, 2021 Senators may have been drifting off during the early afternoon, but when Democratic Del. Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands took the floor and described the Capitol attack, complete with video, they were paying attention. More stories from theweek.comTrump’s dumbfounding defenseTrump the phone guy is backThe 2021 Oscars will be broadcast from multiple locations
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called on his ruling Workers’ Party to take a more direct role in his new five-year economic plan and blamed the party for past failures in implementing reform, state media reported on Thursday. The remarks come on the third day of the party’s plenary meeting, where Kim had also laid out party plans for South Korea relations and external affairs, as well as plans for each economic sector. In January, Kim openly admitted that his previous five-year economic plan had failed to meet its goals in almost every sector.
Alabama is preparing to execute an inmate by lethal injection in what would be the state’s first death sentence carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic. Willie B. Smith III, 51, is scheduled to be put to death Thursday at a south Alabama prison for the 1991 shotgun slaying of Sharma Ruth Johnson. It would be the first execution carried out by any state in 2021, although there have been federal executions, according to a list maintained by the Death Penalty Information Center.
Congress is sharply divided over President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. Americans? Not so much. With minimal support from Republicans, congressional Democrats had to use a budget resolution bill to start the process of passing the relief package with just a simple majority of the 50-50 split Senate. But 83 percent of Americans say they support Congress passing another stimulus package, and only a sliver of them say the one currently in motion is too big, a CBS News poll conducted by YouGov out Wednesday found. CBS News Poll: Bipartisan Majority Favors More COVID Economic Relief https://t.co/ESN5WoAN9o pic.twitter.com/KTEp4SzsJK — CBS News Poll (@CBSNewsPoll) February 9, 2021 That large base of support for another stimulus package spans party lines, the poll found. A massive 97 percent of people who voted for Biden in 2020 and 95 percent of Democrats say they support a relief bill, while 63 percent of those who voted for former President Donald Trump and 70 percent of Republicans say the same. The size of Biden’s stimulus bill also has a solid base of support. The poll found 39 percent of Americans say the bill provides “about the right amount” of relief money, while 40 percent say it’s not enough. Just 20 percent of Americans say it’s too big, the majority of them Trump voters. CBS News/YouGov surveyed 2,508 U.S. residents between Feb. 5–8, with a margin of error of 2.3 percent. More stories from theweek.comTrump’s dumbfounding defenseTrump the phone guy is backThe 2021 Oscars will be broadcast from multiple locations
Icy blasts pummeled parts of the U.S. Midwest on Wednesday, the first of five storms threatening a blitz of snow and sleet from Washington state to Washington, D.C., and as far south as Louisiana and Mississippi. Frigid temperatures as low as minus 36 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 38 degrees Celsius) in Cut Bank, Montana, on Wednesday were blamed on a polar vortex threatening to move south as it hovers at the Canadian border, said meteorologist Dan Petersen at the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
Original posted at news.yahoo.com