Biden plans to close Guantanamo prison by end of his term
WASHINGTON - The Biden administration plans to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay by the end of the president’s time in office, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.
“That certainly is our goal and our intention,” Psaki told reporters.
The facility in Cuba, used to house terror suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, became a flashpoint in former President George W. Bush’s war on terror. Human rights groups demanded the prison be shut down amid reports that detainees were tortured and held for questionable reasons, without trial.
The facility is holding about 40 individuals, about 5% of the peak population, after the Obama administration sent many detainees to other countries.
An interagency review is expected to result in an executive action to be signed by President Joe Biden in the coming months, according to a report from Reuters, which first reported the effort.
Psaki said that work would take time because the incoming administration needs to evaluate the “current state” of the controversial detention facility.
“In order to see the process through completely and thoroughly, there are a number of key policy roles that need to be filled within the interagency, including sub- Cabinet policy roles at the Defense, State and Justice Departments, because there are players who need to be a part of this policy about the steps forward,” Psaki said.
Former President Barack Obama sought to shutter the prison, but his efforts were stymied by Congress, which repeatedly inserted provisions into defense appropriations bills barring the facility’s closing. Former President Donald Trump said in 2019 he was unhappy with the cost of operating the prison and was exploring options on what to do about it. - Bloomberg News
Researchers trace Stonehenge rocks to site in Wales
Researchers working to unravel the mysteries of Stonehenge have rolled out a new theory: Building blocks of the structure may have been the recycled remains of a stone circle from Wales.
Cobbling together the exact origins of the mysterious temple of upright rock slabs in Wiltshire County, England, has proved an elusive project.
But new research suggests that some of the dozens of bluestones at Stonehenge were transported from a site called Waun Mawn in Pembrokeshire County, Wales. The findings were published Friday in Antiquity, an archaeology journal.
“I have been leading projects at Stonehenge since 2003 and this is the culmination of twenty years of research,” Mike Parker Pearson, a University College London professor who led the research, said in a statement. “It’s one of the most important discoveries I’ve ever made.”
Parker Pearson said he thought it was likely that other stone circles also contributed to Stonehenge.
The possible secondhand stone collection may have been moved 140 miles as part of migration. Waun Mawn is now mostly barren of stones. - New York Daily News
Man dubbed ‘Capitol Rotunda Doobie Smoker’ denied bond
A California man dubbed the “Capitol Rotunda Doobie Smoker” was denied bond and remanded to jail Friday for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Eduardo Nicolas Alvear Gonzalez, 32, was arrested Tuesday in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and appeared Friday in federal court in Norfolk, where a judge granted a government motion for continued detention , online court documents said.
The recent resident of Ventura, California, was photographed wearing American flag pants and allegedly smoking marijuana during the riot that stormed the Capitol amid the certification of the 2020 presidential election results, paperwork filed by prosecutors said.
He is charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted area without lawful authority.
“We’re taking our country back,” Gonzalez allegedly said in a video he recorded during the deadly uprising, prosecutors said.
“Yeah, this is the most protected building,” he laughed while marching around inside and pointing out officers, according to the complaint.
“Time to smoke weed in here!” Gonzalez yelled as he panned the camera to himself inside the Rotunda, officials allege.
FBI investigators reviewed multiple YouTube and Snapchat videos to identify Gonzalez and piece together his movements, his charging documents state.
Prosecutors said one YouTube clip titled “The Capitol Rotunda Doobie Smoker explains why he did it” shows video of someone asking Gonzalez why he decided to casually light up during the chaos.
“Freedom,” Gonzalez allegedly responded. - New York Daily News
‘Jeopardy!’ winner Brayden Smith suddenly dead at 24
Brayden Smith, the 24-year-old “Jeopardy!” winner dubbed Alex Trebek’s last great champion on social media, has died suddenly.
Born in Henderson, Nevada, Smith died Feb. 5 in Las Vegas, according to his obituary published in The Las Vegas Review-Journal. No cause of death was listed.
“We are heartbroken to share that our dear Brayden Smith recently passed away unexpectedly. We are so grateful that Brayden was able to live out his dream on Jeopardy,” his mom, Debbie Smith, tweeted Friday.
.In December, Smith rattled off a five-game winning streak in which he amassed more than $116,000 and was likely to qualify for the Tournament of Champions. His victory run was the final significant spree with Trebek - who died last November of pancreatic cancer at the age of 80 - helming the podium.
“Everybody knows he is ailing,” Smith said of Trebek during a TV interview. “To put on a brave face to go out there every day and continue to give America and the world some good cheer, especially this year, was really a testament to how great of a person he was.”
Smith graduated from UNLV in 2020 with a degree in economics. He recently interned at the Cato Institute in Washington, where he did research on criminal-justice issues, and intended to attend law school.
He was also a lover of music, film and sports, according to his obituary.
Smith’s family has established the Brayden Smith Memorial Fund in his honor to support “the educational aspirations of southern Nevada students,” reported ETCanada. - New York Daily News