Trump’s GOP: Party further tightens tie to former president
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — In 2016, Donald Trump overtook the Republican National Committee through a shock and awe campaign that stunned party leaders. In 2020, the party was obligated to support him as the sitting Republican president.
Heading into 2024, however, the Republican Party has a choice.
The RNC, which controls the party’s rules and infrastructure, is under no obligation to support Trump again. In fact, the GOP’s bylaws specifically require neutrality should more than one candidate seek the party’s presidential nomination.
But as Republican officials from across the country gathered in Utah this week for the RNC’s winter meeting, party leaders devoted considerable energy to disciplining Trump’s rivals and embracing his grievances. As the earliest stages of the next presidential contest take shape, their actions made clear that choosing to serve Trump and his political interests remains a focus for the party.
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“If President Trump decides he’s running, absolutely the RNC needs to back him, 100%,” said Michele Fiore, an RNC committeewoman who has represented Nevada since 2018. “We can change the bylaws.”
Olympic teams raise concerns over quarantine hotels
BEIJING (AP) — Not enough food. Inedible meals. No training equipment. Some Olympic athletes unlucky enough to test positive for the coronavirus at the Beijing Olympics feel their quarantine conditions are making a bad situation much worse.
“My stomach hurts, I’m very pale and I have huge black circles around my eyes. I want all this to end. I cry every day. I’m very tired,” Russian biathlon competitor Valeria Vasnetsova posted on Instagram from one of Beijing’s so-called quarantine hotels.
Her problem wasn’t with any symptoms of the virus. It was the food.
Vasnetsova posted a picture Thursday of what she said was “breakfast, lunch and dinner for five days already” — a tray with food including plain pasta, an orange sauce, charred meat on a bone, a few potatoes and no greens.
She said she mostly survived on a few pieces of pasta because it was “impossible” to eat the rest, “but today I ate all the fat they serve instead of meat because I was very hungry.” She added she lost a lot of weight and “my bones are already sticking out.”
Morocco’s king says boy, 5, trapped in deep well has died
IGHRAN, Morocco (AP) — A 5-year-old boy who was trapped for four days in a deep well in Morocco has died, the royal palace said Saturday.
Moroccan King Mohammed VI expressed his condolences to the boy’s parents in a statement released by the palace.
The boy, Rayan, was pulled out Saturday night by rescuers after a lengthy operation that captivated global attention.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw the boy wrapped in a yellow blanket after he emerged from a tunnel dug specifically for the rescue.
His parents, Khaled Oram and Wassima Khersheesh had been escorted to an ambulance before the boy emerged. His plight had captured worldwide attention.
Looking for evidence? Trust us, Biden administration says
WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Biden’s administration was asked for evidence to back up dramatic claims about national security developments this past week, it demurred with a simple rejoinder: You’ll have to trust us on that.
No, they would not reveal what led them to say they knew that Russia was plotting a false flag operation as a pretext to invade Ukraine. No, they would not explain their confidence that civilian casualties were caused by a suicide bombing rather than U.S. special forces during a raid in Syria.
The administration’s response took a particularly caustic turn as spokespeople suggested that reporters were buying into foreign propaganda by even asking such questions.
The lack of transparency strained already depleted reserves of credibility in Washington, a critical resource diminished over the decades by instances of lies, falsehoods and mistakes on everything from extramarital affairs to the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
The exchanges were also a sign of increased skepticism of the Biden administration when it comes to intelligence and military matters, particularly after officials failed to anticipate how swiftly the Afghan government would fall to the Taliban last year and initially defended a U.S. missile attack in Kabul as a “righteous strike” before the Pentagon confirmed the action had killed several civilians but no terrorists.
Queen backs plan to one day call son’s wife “Queen Camilla”
LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II offered her support Saturday to have the Duchess of Cornwall become Queen Camilla — using a special Platinum Jubilee message to make a significant decision in shaping the future of the British monarchy.
In remarks delivered on the eve of the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne, the monarch expressed a “sincere wish’’ that Camilla be known as “Queen Consort” when her eldest son Charles, the Prince of Wales, succeeds her as expected to the throne. In giving her blessing, the popular and respected sovereign is placing significant heft behind the move.
‘’When, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes king, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me,’’ the monarch wrote. “And it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.”
The message ties up a loose end that has hung over the House of Windsor since Charles’ divorce from the popular Princess Diana.
It took years for many in Britain to forgive Charles, the man whose admitted infidelity brought such pain to “the people’s princess” before she died in a Paris car crash in 1997. But the public mood softened after Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005 and she became the Duchess of Cornwall.
Joe Rogan apologizes for racial slur after video surfaces
NEW YORK (AP) — Spotify’s popular U.S. podcaster Joe Rogan apologized Saturday after a video compilation surfaced that showed him using a racial slur in clips of episodes over a 12-year span.
In a video posted on his Instagram account, Rogan, who hosts a podcast called “The Joe Rogan Experience,” said his use of the slur was the “most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.” But he said the clips were “taken out of context.”
“It’s not my word to use. I am well aware of that now, but for years I used it in that manner,” he said during the six-minute video on his Instagram account. “I never used it to be racist because I’m not racist.”
Rogan’s mea culpa follows Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter India.Arie’s announcement on Thursday that she was removing her music from the Spotify streaming service because of the racial slur that Rogan had made during his podcasts. She posted the video montage of Rogan’s clips on her Instagram account. Rogan, who launched his podcast in late 2009, didn’t specify which years he used the racial slur.
In her video, Arie said even if some of Rogan’s conversations were taken out of context, “he shouldn’t be uttering the word.”
Protests against COVID-19 measures spread across Canada
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Protesters opposed to vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions held rallies in cities across Canada on Saturday in a show of solidarity with a week-long demonstration in the national capital.
Officials in Ottawa and numerous provincial capitals worked to ensure that escalating protests against pandemic-related public health measures remained peaceful Saturday.
By midday Saturday in Ottawa, thousands of demonstrators mingled near open fires on the snow-plastered lawn in front Parliament Hill. Participants roasted hotdogs and doled out baked goods under tarps, while two men on horseback traipsed through the town, one carrying a flag in support of former U.S. president Donald Trump.
The “freedom truck convoy” has attracted support from Trump and other Republicans.
In Toronto, several hundred protesters gathered on the south side of the Ontario legislature, chanting “liberte″ overtop reggae issuing from loudspeakers and sporting signs that stated, “Freedom”
Mass swarm of dead fish in Atlantic prompts European inquiry
PARIS (AP) — France and the European Union are investigating why a massive swarm of dead fish was released by a huge trawler in the Atlantic Ocean off France, after an environmental group released dramatic video and photos of the incident.
The images by the group Sea Shepherd show a blanket of dead blue whiting fish floating on the surface of the Bay of Biscay, off the coast of southwest France. The group estimates it held some 100,000 dead fish.
Struck by the “shocking” images, French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin tweeted Friday that she ordered the National Center for Fishing Surveillance to investigate what happened.
The European commissioner for the environment, oceans and fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, announced an inquiry into “national authorities of the fishing area and presumed flag state of the vessel, to get exhaustive information and evidence about the case.”
The Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association, which represents the Lithuania-registered trawler Margiris, which caught the fish, said in a statement that the fish were “involuntarily released into the sea” on Thursday because of a tear in the trawler’s net.
Delta asks DOJ to put unruly passengers on no-fly list
NEW YORK (AP) — Any person convicted of a disruption on board a flight should be added to the national “no fly” list, Delta Air Lines told the U.S. Department of Justice.
In a letter to the Justice Department Attorney General Merrick Garland dated Thursday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said there should be “zero tolerance” for any behavior that affects flight safety. Bastian noted that while such incidents of bad behavior represent a small fraction of overall flights on Delta, the rate of incidents on the airline has increased nearly 100% since 2019.
“This action will help prevent future incidents and serve as a strong symbol of the consequences of not complying with crew member instructions on commercial aircraft,” Bastian wrote in the letter furnished to The Associated Press by Delta Air Lines.
Delta has, along with its industry partner Airlines for America, been pushing since last year for heightened reporting, investigation and prosecution of those who interfere with on-board safety. The airlines, based in Atlanta, said it has put nearly 1,900 people on Delta’s “no-fly” list for refusing to comply with masking requirements and submitted more than 900 banned names to the Transportation Security Administration to pursue civil penalties.
A spokesperson with TSA, which enforces the FBI “no fly” list of potential terrorist threats, referred a reporter to the FBI since that agency maintains the database. The FBI declined to comment. The Justice Department could not be immediately reached for comment. The Federal Aviation Administration cited 4.9 reported unruly incidents per 10,000 flights the week ending Jan. 23, according to its website.
US Jews talk identity, Holocaust after Goldberg’s remarks
The uproar over Whoopi Goldberg’s remarks about the Holocaust has catalyzed somber reflections by many American Jews about not only the legacy of the Holocaust but anti-Jewish discrimination in the United States and their sense of a collective identity.
The actor and TV host swiftly apologized for saying this week on ABC’s “The View” that the genocide was not about race but rather “man’s inhumanity to man,” noting in subsequent remarks that she had failed to acknowledge that the Nazis considered Jews an inferior race.
As Goldberg serves a two-week suspension from the show, a range of Jewish leaders have noted the complexity of describing how race fits into the overall concept of Jewish identity. It entails a mix of religion, nationality, ethnicity, culture and history, said Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, a New York-based group that seeks restitution for Holocaust victims.
“But the hatred of the Jew is unfortunately not as complicated. It’s deep-seated. It’s millennia old. We don’t seem to have a cure for it,” he said. “So it’s not so easy to put a label, to put a name on what it is to be Jewish. But it’s certainly easy to see what it is to be antisemitic.”
Schneider and others expressed hope that the episode reminds people that Jews have historically experienced extensive discrimination in America, such as being barred from purchasing homes in certain areas, excluded from country clubs and denied admission to some universities.
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