CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The weekend before the start of Monday’s Republican National Convention in Charlotte opened Friday night on an unsettling note, as demonstrators skirmished with police and officers reportedly made multiple arrests. The turnout in uptown Friday night was small compared to the outpouring of marchers who flooded into uptown following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd in May. But confrontations did occur. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said on the department’s Twitter feed at 11:15 p.m. that an unspecified number of officers had been “assaulted” at Trade and North Tryon ...
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough reacted to the latest bombshell revelations about the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Col. Earl Matthews, a D.C. National Guard official at the time, issued a scathing 36-page memo accusing Gen. Charles Flynn, who served as deputy chief of staff for operations on Jan. 6, and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, the director of Army staff, of lying to Congress about their response to the U.S. Capitol riot -- and the "Morning Joe" host said investigators must unravel the coordination between Donald Trump's White House and the Pentagon on that day.
"It's more important to know what happened between the White House and the Pentagon," Scarborough said. "Why was there such delay? Why didn't the National Guard get moving? We all know Donald Trump, the commander in chief, was loving what he was seeing. We all know he gutted the Pentagon and he had fired a lot of the top people there. There were not a lot of independent thinkers at the Pentagon at that time."
The late Colin Powell appeared on the program shortly after the insurrection and told the hosts that he was baffled by inaction as the riot unfolded, but Scarborough said even civilian observers could see the response was woefully inadequate.
"I am no expert in what's going on at the Pentagon, obviously none of us are Colin Powell, but anybody that saw what happened that morning and now is hearing the Pentagon saying, 'Nothing to see here, move along, move along' -- we all know they're lying. We all know they're covering up. We need a tick-tock, a second-by-second accounting of where the Pentagon was, why they were dragging to their feet, why they let our Capitol, why Trump's leaders inside the Pentagon and why the commander in chief himself, why did they let our Capitol get ransacked and ravaged, torn to shreds excrement spread on the walls -- the people's house defiled."
"We understand Donald Trump enjoyed the show," he added. "I'm just curious what was happening inside the Pentagon."
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Canadian rap superstar Drake asked for his two Grammy nominations to be withdrawn this year and the Recording Academy has honored his request, multiple sources told AFP Monday.
Drake had been up for two rap awards at January's ceremony, but his mega-hit album "Certified Lover Boy" was conspicuously left out of the general field categories last month, and the artist has clashed with the Academy multiple times.
The singer is also currently facing multiple lawsuits over a rap concert in Texas last month during which ten fans were killed by a lethal crowd surge.
No explanation was provided by Drake's representatives for his request.
A source close to the artist said the decision had been made by Drake and his management, and had been honored by the Grammys.
A Recording Academy source familiar with the request confirmed those details to AFP, and Drake's nominations have been removed from the official Grammys website, just as final-round ballot voting began.
Drake, one of the world's top-selling and most influential musicians, has won four Grammys.
In a 2017 interview, he accused the Grammys of pigeonholing him as a rapper because he is Black.
"The only category that they can manage to fit me in is in a rap category, maybe because I've rapped in the past or because I'm Black," he said on Apple's Beats 1 radio.
At the 2019 Grammys, Drake again vented his frustration that Black hip-hop artists are not always given their due.
"We play in an opinion-based sport, not a factual-based sport," Drake said as he accepted his lone award for Best Rap Song for "God's Plan."
"This is a business where sometimes it is up to a bunch of people that might not understand what a mixed-race kid from Canada has to say."
Other top Black artists including The Weeknd, Frank Ocean and Jay-Z have all slammed the Grammys as irrelevant in recent years, especially citing its failure to recognize Black artists.
Last month, Drake was sued for having "incited mayhem" after he participated in the closing 15 minutes of Travis Scott's headline set at the Astroworld festival -- well after authorities had declared an emergency.
The 64th Grammy Awards ceremony is due to take place in Los Angeles on January 31.
The United States has announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics to protest China's human rights record, particularly its handling of Muslim minorities that Washington considers a form of genocide.
Here's what the move means.
What is a 'diplomatic boycott?'
Under the boycott, the Biden administration will not send any US diplomatic or official governmental representatives to the Games.
Olympic hosts have traditionally basked in the global attention, which often includes visits by foreign leaders or officials.
US President George W. Bush, for example, cheered on Team USA during the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.
But allegations that China had subjected Muslim minorities in its Xinjiang region to mass detention, forced labour, and other abuses make it politically untenable for a US official to be seen in the stands in Beijing in February.
The boycott should ease domestic US pressure on Biden to send China a message, while not penalising American athletes or completely shattering already brittle China-US relations.
So its a snub, but with far less sting than the full boycott advocated by some prominent US lawmakers and rights groups, which would bar participation by athletes, coaches and team officials.
How will it affect the Games?
Not at all, it appears.
In announcing the boycott, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki stressed that US athletes are free to compete and that "we will be behind them 100 percent as we cheer them on from home".
Members of Team USA, their coaches, trainers and other staff will still receive consular and diplomatic security assistance, a state department spokesman said separately, and there is no indication that their Chinese hosts will treat them any differently.
In any case, top politicians rarely appear at the Winter Games, and numbers are likely to be further restricted due to tight Covid protocols.
- Will other countries follow suit?
No similar plans have been announced, but close US allies Britain, Australia and Canada -- all of which have seen relations with Beijing cool dramatically in recent years -- are reportedly considering it.
But beyond that, China's growing global economic and political clout is expected to deter most other countries from joining in.
That doesn't guarantee that China will be free of criticism during the Games, as individual Olympians will remain free to speak up while in Beijing.
The potential for athlete criticism was made clear after Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai made sexual assault accusations against a former top Communist Party politician.
Her subsequent disappearance from public view for three weeks prompted top tennis stars to express concern for her safety, and the Women's Tennis Association to announce a suspension of all competitions in China.
But commercial boycotts by big Olympics sponsors are highly unlikely, according to Games-watchers.
How will China respond?
China has denounced talk of boycotts for months and warned that "the US will pay the price for its wrongdoing".
The specifics remain to be seen, but the Eurasia Group consultancy said retaliation is likely to be confined to diplomatic channels and may include imposing largely symbolic sanctions on some US politicians.
But China has warned that a boycott could have a broader impact on relations.
This could potentially complicate efforts by Biden to make progress with China on issues such as arms-control talks and efforts to cool tensions over the status of Taiwan.
But China may keep retaliation low-key to avoid drawing attention to criticism of rights issues, which many Chinese citizens profess little knowledge of due to the Communist Party's tight domestic information controls.
Have there been boycotts before?
The Olympics, particularly the Summer Games, have seen several boycotts in decades past by individual countries or multi-nation blocs since the first modern Games were held in Athens in 1896.
These have usually consisted of nations boycotting the participation of ideological foes, such as Muslim nations staying home to protest the presence of Israeli athletes, or North Korea sitting out the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
By far, the biggest actions came in 1980 when US President Jimmy Carter boycotted the Moscow Games to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and four years later when the Soviet bloc retaliated with a boycott of the Los Angeles Olympics.
The major impact of each boycott came in the medal tables, as each side raked in gold in the other's absence.