Are they still in his corner? It appears that much of the Republican Party that’s attending the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference this weekend remains firmly committed to former President Donald Trump. So much so, he’s reportedly planning to declare himself the “presumptive nominee” for 2024 when he addresses the annual gathering Sunday. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has blamed Trump for fomenting the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, has said he’ll support Trump if he’s nominated. But as a Democratic president reverses much of Trump’s legacy, and the nation emerges from the pandemic, that allegiance will be tested.
It’s #BringBackOurGirls — times three. Recalling the trauma of the 2014 Chibok kidnapping, gunmen in Nigeria on Friday staged the third mass kidnapping of schoolchildren since December. Authorities vowed to track down the 317 girls taken from a government boarding school in the northwestern state of Zamfara. While the Chibok abduction was carried out by the Boko Haram Islamic militant group, it’s believed that this new taking, along with one that took 40 hostages nine days ago and another kidnapping of more than 300 boys in December, is the work of criminals seeking ransom, an industry known to have netted some $18 million since 2011.
One chamber down, one to go. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a much-anticipated $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, now urgently sought as previously funded unemployment benefits expire March 14. In the 219-212 vote that ended shortly before 2 a.m, Republicans, joined by two Democratic representatives, opposed the legislation saying it’s too costly. It will be President Joe Biden’s first major legislative success if the Senate follows suit next week. But the upper chamber is expected to strip away the measure’s $15-per-hour minimum wage provision, as it needs a supermajority to approve anything that’s not strictly budget-related.
Even the church couldn’t save them. A CNN investigation tells the gut-wrenching story of civilians who gathered for an Orthodox Christian festival at a historic rock-carved church, only to be slaughtered Nov. 30 by rampaging Eritrean troops. It’s the latest tale of atrocities committed in the civil war pitting Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning president, who’s made common cause with former rival Eritrea, against the autonomous region of Tigray. New reports emerged yesterday from Amnesty International, which said hundreds of civilians were massacred last year, and the U.S., which concluded that allies of President Abiy Ahmed engaged in ethnic cleansing against Tigrayan civilians.
President Biden has reportedly decided against punishing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, despite Friday’s U.S. intelligence report showing he approved the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Myanmar’s U.N. ambassador has urged the body’s General Assembly to use “any means necessary” to remove the military junta that seized power Feb. 1. And Lady Gaga’s two stolen French bulldogs have been “found” and returned, while her dog-walker is expected to make a full recovery after being shot by dognappers.
For our final show of season 2, we're celebrating Black History Month with a very special episode: “Woke History.” Hear from today's top minds like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ava DuVernay, Priyanka Chopra, Megyn Kelly, Karamo and more about the under-celebrated Black visionaries of the past and today's history-making moments. Don't miss celebrating Black history with Carlos!
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Don’t tell Elon Musk. Writer Shannon Stirone scoffs at the recent frenzy born of NASA’s rover landing on Mars, with Chinese and Emirati spacecraft orbiting. Musk wants to use his SpaceX prowess to send humans to the Red Planet ASAP, largely to develop an alternative to an increasingly messed-up Earth. But Stirone argues that “Mars is a hellhole,” without a radiation-repelling magnetic field, air or heat. The lesson to be taken from that hostile environment isn’t that there’s a viable alternative planet, but that its unsurvivability should remind us to fight for the planet we already inhabit.
Was it just a childish mistake? That doesn’t matter now that the U.K. Supreme Court has sided with the home secretary over bringing Shamima Begum back to her native Britain. When she was 15, she traveled with two classmates from east London to join ISIS in Syria. Now imprisoned by Syrian Kurds, Begum, who was married to an ISIS fighter, seeks to travel to Britain to argue for restoration of citizenship stripped from her for security reasons. The government contends that having aligned herself with the terrorist group, she poses a risk and cannot return home.
What do you think? Should a 15-year-old’s bad choice deprive her of citizenship? Reply to this email, including your first name, last initial and city or state, and we may include your view in the PDB.
3. What to Do With Addicts? Pay ’Em
It’s a ridiculous proposition. Everybody knows that if you give money to drug abusers, they’ll use it to get high. But PROP, or Positive Reinforcement Opportunity Project, is disproving that notion among LGBTQ clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, writes journalist Zachary Siegel. Using a concept called contingency management, it rewards good behavior with cash. And it’s not rigid: Those in treatment set their own goals and get paid for meeting them. But finding support for such programs is problematic, as much of society is more keen on punishing substance abusers, perpetuating a cycle of negative reinforcement.
Like so many great foods, Vietnam’s broken rice was born of necessity, when impoverished laborers saved the damaged grains discarded during the milling process. Nowadays it’s a national delicacy, painstakingly broken by hand to meet demand, OZY reports. It also tells the story of French colonial merchants dumping unwanted riz brizé in Africa, germinating that continent’s own tradition, and of the side effects of Hanoi’s inefficient collective agriculture. Known to locals as cơm tấm, broken rice often comes with smoky barbecued pork chop, flavored with spicy fish sauce and topped with a fried egg.
Much like the U.S. Olympic gymnastics program’s Dr. Larry Nassar, who abused scores of young women while officials ignored complaints, Ohio State University is facing a similar moment of truth. A 2018 investigation found that Dr. Richard Strauss, who treated male wrestlers and other athletes, committed 47 rapes and numerous other abuses against 350 athletes before killing himself. As in Michigan, where gymnasts trained, OSU officials turned a blind eye. Now some of them, such as Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, are facing accusations that they knew of the abuse and did nothing, while George Clooney is preparing to tell the story for the big screen.