Pentagon seizes foreign reporter’s phone during official travel

In a statement to POLITICO, Air Force spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said the incident was a “miscommunication” and said the service will “be reviewing the policy going forward.”

“Like everyone serving in uniform, U.S. Air Force aircrews are expected to protect classified information aboard their aircraft. In accordance with a new policy, the aircrew in this case applied a more restrictive approach to communication security, which led to a miscommunication about the reporter’s use of personal electronic devices on the aircraft,” Ryder said.

The policy will not be applied to the reporter during the remainder of the trip, Ryder said.

“We respect the role of a free press and welcome them aboard our flights. We regret the inconvenience we caused this reporter, and we will be reviewing the policy going forward.”

The first reporter, who has covered the Pentagon for years and has traveled to secure locations including Iraq and Afghanistan with top officials, had been informed a few days earlier that “there might be a problem,” but assured that “they were working through it and they were hopeful they could figure something out,” according to the person, who spoke to POLITICO on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to do so.

During the flight, the pilot came back multiple times to explain to the public affairs officer that the reporter could not use their phone at any point because the deputy Defense secretary needed to be ready at all times to take a secure phone call.

The reporter was given their phone back upon landing after an eight-hour flight. The deputy, Kathleen Hicks, is traveling to Norway, the United Kingdom and Germany to meet with senior military and government leaders, including the heads of U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command.

Reporters of many nationalities — typically those in the Pentagon press pool who have a Pentagon badge and have undergone a background check — routinely accompany top defense officials on official travel. They often travel to secure locations and have access to classified information. Officials frequently brief reporters on and off the record during the flights, and reporters typically file stories from the planes using their devices.

“It’s not only impossible to do my job without a phone and laptop, it’s also a bit insulting that after doing dozens of trips over the past six years (many to more sensitive locations) my phone was taken and there isn’t enough trust to be able to get some sort of exemption so I can continue to write stories on the plane,” the reporter wrote in an email to Pentagon press secretary John Kirby that was viewed by POLITICO.

“We have expressed our concern about this rule change regarding members of the press who are non-U.S. citizens being able to access electronic devices during travel with the U.S. Department of Defense and are seeking further information on the issue,” a Reuters spokesperson told POLITICO.

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Pelosi leads first official US delegation to Ukraine since war began

A satellite image shows an overview of the Azovstal steel plant, the last Ukrainian military holdout which is also serving as a civilian shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 29.
A satellite image shows an overview of the Azovstal steel plant, the last Ukrainian military holdout which is also serving as a civilian shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 29. (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)

Some civilians have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol after a ceasefire was introduced, according to a commander in the Azov Regiment, one of the Ukrainian soldiers trapped at the plant.

Capt. Svyatoslav Palamar, the deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, said the ceasefire, which was supposed to begin at 6 a.m. local time, ended up starting at 11 a.m. local time.

“As of now, it’s the truth, both sides follow the ceasefire regime,” he said.

The evacuation convoy was very delayed, he said. “Since 6 a.m., we’ve been waiting for the evacuation convoy to arrive, which only arrived at 6:25 p.m.”

“We have brought 20 civilians to the agreed meeting point, whom we’ve managed to rescue from under the rubble. These are women and children. We hope these people will go the agreed destination, which is Zaporizhzhia, the territory controlled by Ukraine,” Palamar said.

“As of now, the rescue operation is ongoing, conducted by the servicemen of Azov – we rescue the civilians from under the rubble,” he added.

“These are women, children and the elderly,” he said in a video message on the regiment’s Telegram channel.

“We hope that this process will be further extended and we will successfully evacuate all civilians,” he said.

“As for the wounded — those people who require urgent medical care — it is unclear to us why they are not being evacuated and their evacuation to the territory controlled by Ukraine is not being discussed,” he added.
“I emphasize that we ask to guarantee the evacuation not just for civilians but also for our wounded servicemen who require medical care.”

TASS, Russia’s state news agency, said earlier Saturday that a group of civilians left the steel plant. A correspondent on the scene told TASS that a total of 25 people came out, including six children under the age of 14. CNN cannot independently verify the TASS reporting.

There are thought to be hundreds of people inside the steel complex, including dozens injured during an intense Russian bombardment over the past several weeks. The latest satellite images of the plant show that many of its buildings have been reduced to ruins.

The defenders of the Azovstal plant said that attacks on Wednesday night had hit the makeshift hospital inside the complex, greatly adding to the number of injured. 

Here’s what a part of the plant looked like approximately six weeks ago:

A satellite image from March 22 shows an overview of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine.
A satellite image from March 22 shows an overview of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine.

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LA County bans official travel to Florida, Texas over LGBTQ+ policies

LA County bans official travel to Florida, Texas over LGBTQ+ policies

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Los Angeles bans official travel to Texas, Florida over LGBTQ policies

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to prohibit official travel to Texas and Florida after those states’ policies regarding LGBTQ rights, according to multiple local media sources.

The Pasadena Star-News reports that the board vote was unanimous and specifically called out Florida’s legislation barring instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, dubbed by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, as well as Texas’ recent decision to investigate certain gender affirming medical care for trans youth as child abuse.

The Texas policy “flies in the face of all that we know about best practices when it comes to supporting children and young adults to discover who they are and feel secure in their sense of self,” Supervisors Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis motion read, according to the Star-News.

The ban carved out an exception for the cancellation of any trips that “would seriously harm the county’s interests.”

In 2017, California enacted a law restricting taxpayer-funded travel to places that “authorize discrimination” against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The law effectively bars California from spending taxpayer money sending state employees or officials to certain states. Law enforcement, tax auditors and collectors and anyone who needs to travel to these states to appear before a federal committee are exempt from the ban.

The law does not affect the travel of private citizens.

That same year, the state of California banned state-funded or state-sponsored travel to Texas after Texas legislators passed a law that giving legal cover to religious adoption agencies that turn away prospective parents because they’re gay.

Texas and several other conservative states put under similar bans filed legal challenged against California’s policy. But in 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case, allowing the bans to remain in force.

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Tyson Notches 15 Points and Nine Boards in Loss to Virginia – Clemson Tigers Official Athletics Site

Senior Hunter Tyson nearly totals his second career double-double in a 75-65 loss to Virginia.

Final Stats

CLEMSON, S.C. — Hunter Tyson (Monroe, N.C./Piedmont) led Clemson University men’s basketball with 15 points and nine rebounds, but Clemson would fall to Virginia 75-65 on Tuesday night.

The Tigers (9-5, 1-2 ACC) led 37-36 after the opening stanza and would lead 57-56 with 8:08 remaining, but the Cavaliers (9-5, 3-1 ACC) would engineer an 11-2 run and eventually seal the 10-point victory.

David Collins (Youngstown, Ohio/First Love Christian Academy) and PJ Hall (Spartanburg, S.C./Dorman) each finished with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Nick Honor (Orlando, Fla./Lake Highland) totaled 11.

Clemson finished with 17 assists on 23 made baskets and limited themselves to just nine turnovers but were outscored in the paint 34-22 and in bench points 15-4.

The Tigers return to the court on Saturday, Jan. 8 when they travel to NC State for a 12 p.m. tip on RSN.

Get the latest news on all things Clemson men’s basketball by following us on Twitter (@ClemsonMBB), Facebook (/ClemsonMBB) and Instagram (@clemsonmbb).

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Israel Imposing Travel Ban for Britain, Denmark, Belgium Over Omicron Spread – Official | World News

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel on Sunday announced it was adding Britain, Denmark and Belgium to its “red” list of countries that Israelis are forbidden to visit, citing concern over the spread of the Omicron variant.

The travel restrictions for the three countries will go into effect on Wednesday, a senior Israeli health official told a news conference.

Israel has already banned the entry of foreigners to try to stem COVID-19 infection rates and imposed 3-7 day self-isolation orders for Israelis returning from abroad.

At the news conference Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health at Israel’s Health Ministry, said Britain, Denmark and Belgium were being placed on the restricted list because of the “significant spread of the Omicron variant” there.

Some 50 countries, mainly in Africa, have been declared “red” by Israel since the discovery of the highly contagious variant.

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Israeli health officials said there have been 55 confirmed cases of Omicron infection in Israel, which has been trying to accelerate its vaccination programme while weighing stricter enforcement of mask mandates.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller, Editing by William Maclean)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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Robinson and Inyang Power Tigers Past Blues Hose – Clemson Tigers Official Athletics Site

Final Stats (PDF) | Coach Butler Postgame

Clemson, S.C. – Clemson’s Amari Robinson and Eno Inyang combined for 29 points and 17 rebounds as they led the Tigers to a 48-42 win at home over the Presbyterian College Blue Hose on Sunday afternoon inside Littlejohn Coliseum. Clemson improves to 5-3 with the win while the Blue Hose falls to 4-4 on the year.

Robinson recorded her first double-double with a season-high 17 points and 12 rebounds. The 12 rebounds by Robinson tied a career-high while Inyang finished with 12 points, five rebounds and added three steals in the win for the Tigers.

The Tigers got off to a slow start and scored 22 points in the first half. Robinson led the way for Clemson scoring eight points and grabbing six rebounds in the first quarter. The Tigers forced 13 turnovers and scored 10 points off those turnovers in the first half.

Clemson’s defense held the Blue Hose without a field goal the final 6:20 of the second quarter to take a 22-15 lead into the half.

After the break, the Blue Hose opened the second half on a 6-0 run to cut the Tigers’ lead down to one point. Clemson responded with a 14-2 run of its own over 3:44 and held a 38-29 advantage at the end of the third frame.

Presbyterian opened the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run to take its first lead of the game, 39-38. With 4:41 to play in the final frame, the Tigers applied the pressure and turned up the defense. Clemson’s defense held the Blue Hose scoreless the final 3:43, and a late 6-0 run led by Robinson secured the win for the Tigers.

Jade Compton and Myah Willis led the Blue Hose on the day. Compton finished with a team-high 16 points and eight rebounds, and Willis added eight points and 10 rebounds as they shot 32 percent from the floor, making 20-of-79 shots taken.

The Tigers will hit the road to open ACC play on Saturday, Dec. 11, when they travel to Syracuse, N.Y., to face the Orange in a game that can be seen live on the ACCN and scheduled to tip-off at 6 p.m.

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Tigers Fall at Home 82-78 to Columbia – Clemson Tigers Official Athletics Site

Clemson, S.C. – Clemson fell 82-78 in a challenging, hard-fought game at home against the Lions of Columbia University on Sunday afternoon at Littlejohn Coliseum. 

Latrese Saine (12 points and 10 rebounds) and Kiara Lewis (20 points and 11 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles for the Tigers.  

Lewis led all scorers and set a new career-high in rebounds. Lewis and Saine were just two of four Tigers to score in double figures, as they were joined by Delicia Washington (17) and freshman Eno Inyang (12). 

Clemson (1-1) scored 23 points off turnovers, 40 points in the paint and 26 points from the bench. However, the Tigers made just 29 of 43 free throws taken on the afternoon. The 43 free throw attempts are fifth all-time in free throw attempts for Clemson, and it was the most at home since attempting 46 against East Carolina in 2001.  

Those 43 free throw attempts are also the fifth-most in program history.

The Tigers also recorded 53 rebounds (26 offense, 27 defense) and scored 24 second-chance points off those 26 offensive rebounds. 

The Tigers ended the second quarter on an 18-6 run to take a 50-36 lead into the half. They were led by Lewis and Inyang, who scored 10 and 11 points, respectively. Clemson shot 41 percent from the floor and 72 percent (21-for-29) in the half. 

The 29 free throws taken by the Tigers were the most attempted in a half since registering 31 in the second half against Coastal Carolina in 2016. 

Columbia (3-0) led by as many as nine points in the first quarter before the Tigers scored a program-best 31 points in the second quarter (since the NCAA moved to quarters during the 2015-16 season).

The starters recorded 52 of the Tigers’ 78 points.

Sienna Durr led the Lions with 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor. Columbia was 30-for-72 from the floor while attempting 26 3-pointers, making eight and turned the ball over 21 times while committing 31 fouls. 

Up Next

Clemson will play its first road game of the season when the Tigers travel to Columbia, S.C. to face No. 1 South Carolina on Wednesday, Nov. 17, for a 7 p.m. ET tip on SECN+.

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U.S. expects delays Monday when COVID-19 travel restriction lifts, official says

A U.S. flag is reflected on the floor as passengers make their way through Reagan National Airport in Washington, U.S., July 1, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo/File Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov 5 (Reuters) – The United States is preparing for long lines and delays on Monday when restrictions are lifted on non-U.S. citizen international travelers who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, a senior official told Reuters on Friday.

President Joe Biden’s administration “expects pent-up demand for travel, which means longer than normal wait times for travelers,” the official said. The government was boosting staffing to pre-pandemic levels but “long lines are expected in the initial days.”

The United States on Monday is lifting travel restrictions for fully vaccinated air travelers from 33 countries and at its land borders with Mexico and Canada, ending the historic entry bans to address the spread of COVID-19 for much of the world’s population.

The official said land border traffic has been about 70% of 2019 levels on the Southwest border and 30% of 2019 levels on the Northern border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection “will continue to adjust its resources to meet traffic workload demands and ensure operational security, while balancing its trade facilitation and national security mission,” the official said. Travelers should familiarize themselves with the new guidelines and have their documentation ready in advance, the official said.

Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) Chief Executive Ed Bastian has also said travelers should be prepared for long lines initially from Monday.

“It’s going to be a bit sloppy at first. I can assure you, there will be lines unfortunately … but we’ll get it sorted out,” Bastian said.

Delta said in the six weeks since the U.S reopening was announced it has had a 450% increase in international point-of-sale bookings.

United Airlines is expecting about 50% more total international inbound passengers Monday compared to Nov. 1 when it had about 20,000.

The Biden administration has held multiple calls with U.S. airlines to prepare for the influx of additional travelers who will begin arriving at the country’s airports.

The restrictions, put in place in early 2020 during the pandemic, barred most non-U.S. citizens who within the last 14 days had been in any of 33 countries – the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls, China, India, South Africa, Iran, Brazil, Britain and Ireland.

Also on Monday, new contact tracing rules will take effect requiring airlines to collect information from international air passengers if needed “to follow up with travelers who have been exposed to COVID-19 variants or other pathogens.”

Reporting by David Shepardson
Editing by Chris Reese and Grant McCool

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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