President Obama plans to nominate a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who was found dead Saturday at age 79, after the Senate returns from recess on Feb. 22, the White House said Sunday.
Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates are vowing to block Obama’s nominee, and calling for letting the next president nominate the new justice. The White House said it expects the Senate to consider Obama’s nominee “consistent with their responsibilities laid out in the United States Constitution.” Reuters
A United Nations expert on human rights in North Korea is warning the country’s supreme leader, Kim Jong Un, could be held accountable for alleged crimes against humanity.
Marzuki Darusman, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, issued the warning in a report made public Monday.
The U.N. Human Rights Council should advise Kim and other senior North Korean leaders “they may be investigated, and if found to be responsible, held accountable for crimes against humanity committed under their leadership,” the report said.
The so-called Commission of Inquiry accused the North of committing atrocities not seen since the Nazi era, also called for North Korean leaders to be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court. But that would require action by the U.N. Security Council. China and Russia, which are veto-wielding members of the council, oppose such a move. VOA
Jeb Bush and his brother, former President George W. Bush, campaigned together Monday in North Charleston, South Carolina. It was the first time George W. Bush hit the campaign trail since leaving office, and he told a large crowd his younger brother has a “quiet conviction” and “sees a better tomorrow” for the U.S. Without naming names, Bush implicitly criticized Donald Trump, saying, “Strength is not bluster, it is not theatrics…. and in my experience the strongest person usually isn’t the loudest one in the room.” The Washington Post
Donald Trump looked to step on a Jeb and George W. Bush rally Monday, and went after Ted Cruz and the Republican Party while he was at it. Trump calling a news conference just hours before — and a few miles away from — the Bush event, Trump’s campaign issued a statement threatening to sue Cruz over his eligibility for the presidency if he does not take down anti-Trump attack ads. He also renewed threats that he could run as a third-party candidate for president. USA Today
Fox News sought Sunday to enlist a high-profile supporter for its campaign to land a Democratic presidential debate: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator sounded somewhat equivocal during his appearance on Fox News Sunday. “If I could have a guarantee — and knew who the questioners were, and if the framework for the debate was fair — I would have no objection,” Sanders said. USA Today
Russia says it “categorically rejects” accusations of war crimes over the bombing of hospitals in Syria. Up to 50 people were killed in missile attacks on at least four hospitals and two schools in rebel-held areas of northern Syria on Monday. The UN said the “deliberate” targeting of such facilities “could amount to war crimes”.
Turkey’s foreign ministry has blamed Russia for the attacks. A Turkish official on Tuesday said it would back a ground operation in Syria but only “with our international allies. Monday’s strikes struck two hospitals and two schools in Azaz, near the border with Turkey, and at least two hospitals in Maarat al-Numan, further south.
Almost five years of civil war in Syria have led to the deaths of more than 250,000 people. More than 11 million people have been displaced. BBC
On Tuesday, the oil ministers of Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela, and Qatar emerged from an unannounced meeting in Doha to announce that they would not increase oil output above January’s levels, if other major oil producing nations agreed to freeze supply as well.
Venezuelan oil minister said he would be discussing the freeze with Iran and Iraq in Tehran on Wednesday, though Iran has pledged to ramp up its oil output after the end of international sanctions in January. The meeting and proposed output freeze follow 18 months of slipping oil prices, down now to about $35 a barrel, the lowest price in more than a decade.
Saudi Arabia has long insisted it would reduce supply only if other OPEC and non-OPEC members agreed, but Russia, the No.2 exporter, has said it would not do join in as its Siberian fields were different from those of OPEC. Reuters
The U.S. has approved construction of the first American factory in Cuba in more than 50 years, a two-man business that hopes to hire Cuban workers to assemble as many as 1,000 small tractors a year to sell to private farmers in Cuba.
Cuban officials have already endorsed the $5 million to $10 million project, to be located in an economic zone near Havana, the Cuban capital.
It is the first significant American business investment in the communist nation since 1959, when long-time Cuban dictator Fidel Castro seized power and nationalized billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. corporate and private property.
The new investment comes in the aftermath of the renewal of U.S. and Cuba diplomatic relations and the gradual opening of economic links. The U.S. still maintains a trade embargo against Cuba, but President Barack Obama has been making exceptions to it through executive orders. VOA
Taylor Swift received the Album of the Year Grammy Award for 1989 Monday night, while Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” won Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
Other winners include: Ed Sheeran and Amy Wadge (Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for “Thinking Out Loud”); Kendrick Lamar (Best Rap Album for To Pimp a Butterfly and Best Rap Performance for “Alright”); Meghan Trainor (Best New Artist); Chris Stapleton (Best Country Album, Traveller); Alabama Shakes (Best Rock Song, “Don’t Wanna Fight”); D’Angelo and Kendra Foster (Best R&B Song, “Really Love); Skrillex and Diplo with Justin Bieber (Best Dance Recording, “Where Are U Now”); and Hamilton (Best Musical Theater Album). The Los Angeles Times via The Week
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