Afghanistan conflict: US warns of new Taliban 'spring offensive'
The Taliban could make rapid military gains across Afghanistan when American and Nato troops pull out, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has warned.
Under a deal between the Taliban and the previous Trump administration, all remaining US forces are due to leave the country by the end of next month.
But in a letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Mr Blinken has warned of a possible new "spring offensive".
US soldiers invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to remove the Taliban from power.
The American military operation was in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In January, the Biden administration said it would review the peace agreement made with the Taliban during Donald Trump's presidency.
Under the deal, the remaining 10,000 US-led Nato forces in the country are due to pull out by 1 May in exchange for Taliban security guarantees.
The White House has now said that it wants to make sure the Afghan militant group is "living up to its commitments", including reducing violence and cutting ties with terrorists, before withdrawing.
Billionaire Mackenzie Scott marries science teacher
Billionaire MacKenzie Scott has married a science teacher at her children's school, two years after her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Ms Scott is one of the world's richest women and has given away more than $4bn (£2.9bn) of her fortune.
The news of her marriage to Dan Jewett was revealed via the Giving Pledge philanthropy website.
"Dan is such a great guy, and I am happy and excited for the both of them," Mr Bezos said in a statement.
- Ms Scott, who is worth around $53bn according to Forbes's most recent estimate, has stated her intention to give the majority of it away.
She has devoted much of her donations on women-led charities, food banks and Black colleges.
China calls on US to drop Trump-era sanctions and warns against 'bullying'
China’s top diplomat has called on the US to drop the sanctions and restrictions introduced by Donald Trump and warned against international “hegemony and bullying” and interference in what Beijing considers internal affairs, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the South China Sea.
On day three of China’s annual National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, signalled that Beijing intended to hold firm against growing international criticism of its perceived expansionist and hostile activity and domestic human rights abuses.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, at which he only took pre-vetted questions from selected journalists, Wang said “candid communication” with the US was necessary to avoid “strategic missteps and conflict”, and that cooperation on issues including the Covid-19 pandemic, economic recovery and climate change should be the main bilateral goal.
Texas Won't Reduce $16 Billion In Electricity Charges From Winter Storm
In January, Dallas resident Shannon Marrs paid $257 for electricity. But after Texas suffered the worst winter storm in years, Marrs' February electricity bill totaled more than $10,000.
That's because for a period of 32 hours during the deepest freeze of February's winter storm, power companies were paying $9 per kilowatt-hour for electricity — about 75 times higher than the state's average winter costs. Companies passed those costs on to consumers.
Texans facing those unexpected bills were hoping that Texas' utility regulator would retroactively reduce the electricity market prices. But on Friday, the Public Utility Commission of Texas chose to let the charges stand.
It might seem like retroactively reducing the charges would be good for consumers, said Texas PUC Chairman Arthur D'Andrea during Friday's public meeting. But, he argued, that reflects a "simplistic" view of how Texas power markets work.
"We just see the tip of the iceberg," D'Andrea said. "You don't know who you're hurting. You think you're protecting the consumer and turns out you're bankrupting a co-op or a city.
Switzerland Approves Ban On Face Coverings In Public
Swiss voters approved a proposition Sunday banning facial coverings in public. Niqabs and burqas, worn by almost no one even among the country's Muslim population, will be banned outside of religious institutions. The new law doesn't apply to facial coverings for health reasons.
Switzerland will join several European countries that have implemented a ban on facial coverings, including France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria.
The new legislation was brought to the ballot through a people's initiative launched by the nation's right-wing Egerkingen Committee, the same group that led the charge to ban minarets over a decade ago, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation reported. In 2017, the group presented over 100,000 signatures to the government and demanded the issue be brought to a national vote.
Brent jumps past $70 for first time since pandemic began after Saudi facilities attacked
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Brent crude futures surged above $70 a barrel on Monday for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, while U.S. crude touched its highest in more than two years, following reports of attacks on Saudi Arabian facilities. Yemen’s Houthi forces fired drones and missiles at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry on Sunday, including a Saudi Aramco facility at Ras Tanura vital to petroleum exports, in what Riyadh called a failed assault on global energy security.
Higher prices have also encouraged U.S. energy firms to add oil and natural gas rigs for a second week in a row, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said on Friday.
A maskless college party turned into a mob when students flipped a car and a SWAT team was called in
By the time police arrived, the party had been raging for hours.
Beginning late Saturday afternoon, music bumped as 500 to 800 maskless revelers swarmed a street in a neighborhood near the University of Colorado at Boulder. The cheering crowd later blasted fireworks into the sky and flipped a car.
Law enforcement officers showed up with a SWAT vehicle at about 8:30 p.m. local time. Using a loudspeaker, they warned: “If you fail to leave, you will be subject to arrest and the use of tear gas.” Many students cleared out. Others stayed, shouting expletives at police. About 100 ran toward authorities, police said, and several threw bottles and rocks.
The chaos, which unfolded a day after Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) paid tribute to the state’s nearly 6,000 coronavirus victims, ended with police reporting minor injuries to several officers, along with damage to community and public safety vehicles.