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Pence’s Press Secretary Backs Disputed Claim Soleimani Was Involved in 9/11 – Newsweek



Pence’s Press Secretary Backs Disputed Claim Soleimani Was Involved in 9/11 – Newsweek_5e1118b5779d2.jpeg

Mike Pence’s press secretary has defended his claim which linked Iran to the 9/11 terror attacks to justify the killing of Iran General Qassem Soleimani after the Vice President was heavily criticized for his remark.

Many Twitter commentators accused Pence of spreading conspiracy theories after suggesting Soleimani played a role in the 2001 attacks as part of a number of tweets explaining why President Donald Trump decided to kill the general in an airstrike in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

Pence described the leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force as an “evil man” who was responsible for “killing thousands of Americans.” Pence then went on to list a series of “atrocities” Soleimani was responsible for, including suggesting he played a part in the 9/11 terror attacks which killed nearly 3,000 people.

“Assisted in the clandestine travel to Afghanistan of 10 of the 12 terrorists who carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States,” Pence wrote.

Pence appeared to incorrectly state the number of 9/11 hijackers as 12—the actual number was 19, none of whom were Iranian—as well as suggesting Soleimani was involved.

According to the U.S. government’s 9/11 Commission Report, there was evidence that Iranian officials were instructed to assist Al-Qaeda members traveling between Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia through Iran by not stamping their passports. An Iranian border stamp would have otherwise opened up the passport holder to severe scrutiny.

“We now have evidence suggesting that 8 to 10 of the 14 Saudi ‘muscle’ operatives traveled into or out of Iran between October 2000 and February 2001,” the reports states.

However, the 9/11 Commission Report later adds: “We have found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack. At the time of their travel through Iran, the al Qaeda operatives themselves were probably not aware of the specific details of their future operations.”

Soleimani’s name is not mentioned once in the 567-page report.

Defending Pence’s remarks, his press secretary Katie Waldman clarified the inaccurate number of hijackers he gave.

“For those asking: 12 of the 19 transited through Afghanistan. 10 of those 12 were assisted by Soleimani,” Waldman tweeted.

Waldman did not clarify how Soleimani was linked to the 9/11 hijackers, nor why Pence linked Soleimani to the 9/11 attacks despite the U.S government’s own official report not suggesting he played a role.

The White House has been contacted for further comment.

Elsewhere, Pence repeated Trump’s comments that the decision to kill Soleimani was because he was “plotting imminent attacks on American diplomats and military personnel,” without elaborating. “The world is a safer place today because Soleimani is gone,” Pence said.

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a Keep America Great rally at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on December 10, 2019.

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France risks ‘losing control’ over Covid-19 spread without stricter national measures — Macron – CNN




France risks ‘losing control’ over Covid-19 spread without stricter national measures — Macron – CNN_6064ffe26042a.jpeg

The measures will start Saturday and last for at least a month, Macron said in a televised national address.

Under the “limited lockdown,” curfews will remain in place, domestic travel will be limited and people will be asked to work from home. Nurseries and primary and secondary schools will be closed for at least three weeks, Macron said.

The new variant first detected in the United Kingdom has created an “epidemic within an epidemic” and it is more contagious and deadly, he said.

Almost 44% of all Covid patients in intensive care units are under the age of 65, the President said. He insisted that France had made the “right choices” so far, but added that in the past few weeks the vaccine has “accelerated” and “things have changed.”

Macron has faced growing criticism over his approach to the current Covid-19 surge. His administration has until now favored regional restrictions instead of the strict national lockdowns imposed in other European nations, against the advice of France’s scientific council.

In his televised address, Macron said France would be extending the regional “reinforced slow-down” restrictions, already in place in 19 areas of the country, to all of France. The new rules will last four weeks from Saturday.

“If we make this choice to extend them to the entire metropolitan territory, it is because no metropolitan area is now spared,” he said.

“These last weeks we are facing a new situation. We have entered a race of speed,” he added. “We must therefore set ourselves a new framework for the coming months,” Macron added.

The French president said schools would gradually reopen at the end on April for kindergartens and primary schools and from May 3 for middle and high schools.

Macron, who is up for reelection next year, had justified his regional strategy by saying the country needed to consider the impacts on mental health and the economy in devising a balanced response to the third wave.

But as of Tuesday, more than 28,000 people were being treated in hospital for Covid-19 in France, including 5,072 in intensive care units (ICU), according to French health ministry data. It’s the first time since April last year that ICU patient numbers have surpassed 5,000.

A dangerous coronavirus variant is wreaking havoc in parts of Europe. Experts fear US could be next

More than 40 ICU and emergency doctors in Paris published an op-ed Sunday in the newspaper Journal du Dimanche, warning that ICUs in the region would reach capacity in the next two weeks if restrictions were not tightened.

There are more than 1,500 patients in ICU in the Paris region alone.

The doctors wrote that they had “never experienced such a situation, even during the worst terrorist attacks in recent years,” and said there was a “glaring mismatch between needs and available resources,” in what they described as a “disaster.”

Much of Europe has struggled to contain a third wave of Covid-19, in part fueled by new variants that early studies suggest are more transmissible and possibly deadlier than previous ones. Like many European Union member countries, France has rolled out a sluggish vaccination program, as drug companies have fallen short on their delivery targets by tens of millions of vaccines.

Macron said last week that accelerating vaccination was a “national priority,” but he also admitted European nations had lacked “ambition” around vaccine procurement.

Veterinarians and dentists have been allowed to administer Covid-19 vaccines in the country since Friday in order to “speed up the campaign.” More than 7.5 million people in France, around 11% of its population, have received at least one shot of a two-dose regimen, government data shows.

CNN’s Martin Goillandeau and Lindsay Isaac contributed to this report.

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Delta and Coca-Cola Reverse Course on Georgia Voting Law, Stating ‘Crystal Clear’ Opposition – The New York Times




Delta and Coca-Cola Reverse Course on Georgia Voting Law, Stating ‘Crystal Clear’ Opposition – The New York Times_6064ffdbea4f4.jpeg

In the memo, Mr. Bastian said it was only after the law was passed that he truly understood the degree to which it would impose restrictions on Black voters.

“After having time to now fully understand all that is in the bill, coupled with discussions with leaders and employees in the Black community, it’s evident that the bill includes provisions that will make it harder for many underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives,” he said. “That is wrong.”

Mr. Bastian went further, saying the new law was based on false pretenses.

“The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections,” he said. “This is simply not true. Unfortunately, that excuse is being used in states across the nation that are attempting to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights.”

Several other companies also weighed in on the issue on Wednesday.

Larry Fink, the chief executive of BlackRock, issued a statement on LinkedIn saying the company was concerned about the wave of new restrictive voting laws. “BlackRock is concerned about efforts that could limit access to the ballot for anyone,” Mr. Fink said. “Voting should be easy and accessible for ALL eligible voters.”

Mark Mason, the chief financial officer of Citi, in a post on LinkedIn, called out the Georgia law as discriminatory.

“I am appalled by the recent voter suppression laws passed in the state of Georgia,” said Mr. Mason, who is Black. “I see it as a disgrace that our country’s efforts to keep Black Americans from engaging fully in our Constitutional right to vote continue to this day.”

Chuck Robbins, who is the chief executive of Cisco and grew up in Georgia, said on Twitter that “voting is a fundamental right in our democracy” and that “governments should be working to make it easier to vote, not harder.”

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Tucker Carlson livid after Rep. Matt Gaetz tries to rope him into controversy, source says – CNN




Tucker Carlson livid after Rep. Matt Gaetz tries to rope him into controversy, source says – CNN_6064ffd5b7db2.jpeg

“It pissed him off,” the person familiar with the matter explained to CNN on Wednesday.

Gaetz, who has strongly denied allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her travel with him, seemed to attempt to draw Carlson into the controversy during a bizarre Tuesday night interview.

The Florida lawmaker first referenced a previous allegation of sexual misconduct against Carlson, which the Fox News host has denied, saying that he was “not the only person on screen right now who’s been falsely accused of a terrible sex act.”

Then, and more interestingly, Gaetz suggested Carlson had met a woman involved in the recent controversy related to the sex allegations. Gaetz said that woman was threatened by the FBI to tell people he was involved in a “pay to play scheme.”

A person familiar with the DOJ investigation told CNN that the probe is part of a broader probe into trafficking allegations against another Florida politician. Gaetz has not been charged with a crime.

“You and I went to dinner about two years ago,” Gaetz told Carlson. “Your wife was there, and I brought a friend of mine, you’ll remember her.”

Carlson immediately denied knowledge of the dinner.

“I don’t remember the woman you are speaking of or the context at all, honestly,” Carlson said.

After the interview concluded, Carlson described it as “one of the weirdest” he’s “ever conducted.”

A representative for Fox did not offer a comment. Gaetz’s office also did not respond to a request for comment.

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