White House summit targets extremism

President Obama will on Wednesday address a White House summit on “countering violent extremism.” The BBC says that a goal of the summit is to “instil a sense of urgency to counter the threat posed by home-grown terrorism and the radicalisation and recruitment of Americans, especially disaffected young people.” The administration is also “revamping its efforts to counter IS’s propaganda machine.”

As Real Clear Politics says, as the conference gets underway, “the hatreds it seeks to eradicate are on full display.” There were reports Tuesday that ISIS militants had burned to death 45 Iraqis in Anbar province. The BBC quoted the local police chief in the town of al-Baghdadi, saying who the people were and why they were killed was not clear.

CBS reports that 85 per cent of Anbar is under ISIS control, and that Iraq’s ambassador to the UN has asked the Security Council to look at allegations that the militant group is using  organ harvesting to finance its operations.

In the conflict in Syria, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US is to “provide pickup trucks equipped with machine guns and radios for calling in US airstrikes” to “some moderate Syrian rebels.” 

Meanwhile, Ashton Carter was sworn in on Tuesday as President Obama’s fourth Secretary of Defense, taking over from Chuck Hagel.

* WORLD * Greece is understood to be preparing to seek a six month extension of its Eurozone loan agreement on Wednesday, ahead of a Friday deadline. The Guardian reports that “negotiations are ongoing” and that the Greek government said it “won’t accept ultimatums.”

Despite the weekend’s ceasefire, the situation in parts of Ukraine appears to be worsening, with gains by pro-Russian separatists near the strategic railway hub of Debaltseve near Donetsk.

It’s China‘s biggest travel period of the year as millions of people are heading home for the lunar new year, the year of the sheep/goat/ram, on Thursday. This interactive heat map via Baidu logs journeys out of the country’s biggest cities.

As Boston marks its snowiest month on record, Mayor Marty Walsh wants residents to stop jumping out of windows into snowdrifts. BuzzFeed has 24 Pictures That Perfectly Capture How Insane The Snow In New England Is, while this guy has an entirely understandable approach to the city’s parking crisis.

* POLITICS * President Obama said he is determined to appeal the Texas court ruling that put a hold on implementation of his executive action on immigration. Meanwhile, as the Washington Post writes, “funding for the Department of Homeland Security runs out at the end of this month, and Congress has been considering legislation that would effectively rescind Obama’s actions as a condition for extending more money to the department.”

In better news for the White House – for now – it announced that some 11.4 million Americans had signed up for private health insurance through Obamacare during the enrollment period. But the Supreme Court is set to rule on March 4 on the legality of an element of the Affordable Care Act.

* MEDIA * Warren Buffett bought a stake in Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox at the end of last year, according to a quarterly SEC filing released on Tuesday.

Peter Oborne, the Telegraph‘s chief political commentator, said he had resigned from the paper over its coverage of HSBC as well as its broader relationship between editorial and its advertisers. He writes:

A free press is essential to a healthy democracy. There is a purpose to journalism, and it is not just to entertain. It is not to pander to political power, big corporations and rich men. Newspapers have what amounts in the end to a constitutional duty to tell their readers the truth.

A funeral mass was held in Manhattan for New York Times writer David Carr. In the homily, Rev James Martin said:

“..all of us have been addicted in our own ways to different things. If it’s not alcohol, it may be status. If it’s not drugs, it may be power. If it’s not crack, it may be money. But we are also, all of us, beloved children of God, loved by God in spite of our failings — maybe loved even more for them, much as a parent loves a child more intensely when he or she is in trouble.”

* SPORTS * As the Uefa Champions League returned, Chelsea fans visiting Paris for their club’s match at PSG were caught on video abusing a black passenger on the Metro. The club subsequently condemned the behavior. Meanwhile former Italy coach Arrigo Sacchi said that he had been “misunderstood” in comments he made about foreign players.

In baseball, Yankee third-baseman Alex Rodriguez issued a handwritten apology note addressed “To the fans”.

arod(image: AP/Washington Post)

Meanwhile, Tuesday was the first reporting day for Spring Training, with the first workouts set for tomorrow and the first games at the beginning of next month. Without an international trip this year, the season proper begins on April 5 with the Cubs-Cardinals, with Opening Day the following day.

* CULTURE * Tuesday was Mardi Gras – all the coverage you’ll ever need is at nola.com.

When Warren Zevon wrote that “Patty Hearst heard the burst of Roland’s Thompson gun and bought it,” he maybe didn’t have in mind that her shih tzu would one day win the prize as top toy dog at the Westminster Kennel Club show. Go figure.

In the show’s overall competition, a beagle called Miss P took the top honors.

Finally, Krispy Kreme apologized for an unfortunately initialed promotion at a store in Hull, northern England.

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