News Headlines 2/4/22

ISIS LEADER BLEW HIMSELF, HIS FAMILY UP AS U.S. FORCES CARRIED OUT RAID: The leader of the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, blew himself and members of his family up, including women and children, as U.S. special forces raided the house where he was hiding out in Syria early Thursday. (February 3rd). President Biden announced the overnight raid targeting al-Qurayshi, who took over as the head of ISIS after the former leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in another U.S. raid in October 2019. Biden said, “Thanks to the bravery of our troops this horrible terrorist leader is no more.” He also said they didn’t launch an airstrike on the home in an effort to “minimize civilian casualties.” Witnesses said about 50 U.S. forces landed in helicopters and attacked the house, clashing for about two hours with gunmen. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said U.S. forces were able to evacuate 10 people from the building, eight of them children. There were no U.S. casualties. Kirby said of ISIS, “They’re leaderless today, and that’s a significant blow. This is not something we believe ISIS is going to be able to get over real quickly or real easily.” 

U.S. CHARGES RUSSIAN SCHEME TO FAKE UKRAINIAN ATTACK AS PRETEXT FOR INVASION: The U.S. accused Russia yesterday (February 3rd) of an elaborate scheme to fabricate an attack by Ukrainian forces on Russian territory or Russian-speaking people to use as a pretext to invade Ukraine. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the plot included creating a graphic propaganda video that would show staged explosions and use corpses and actors pretending to be grieving the dead. The scheme was described in declassified intelligence shared with Ukraine and European allies in recent days. Kirby said, “We’ve seen these kinds of activity by the Russians in the past, and we believe it’s important when we see it like this and we can, to call it out.”

BIDEN SPEAKS ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE IN NYC VISIT: President Biden said yesterday (February 3rd) that the federal government would increase its efforts against gun violence by working more closely with police and communities. Biden addressed the issue from New York City, which, as many cities across the country, has seen an increase in gun violence, including the killing two weeks ago of two police officers as they responded to a domestic violence incident. Speaking before police and law enforcement officials, and with U.S. Attorney General Merrick GarlandMayor Eric Adams, and New York Governor Kathy Hochul with him, Biden said, “It’s enough. Enough is enough. We can do something about this.” Biden also pushed back against some on the left of his party, saying, “The answer is not to defund the police It is to give you the tools, the training, the funding to be partners, to be protectors and know the community.” 

WINTER STORM TO BRING ICE, SNOW TO PENNSYLVANIA, NEW ENGLAND: A major winter storm is forecasted to bring treacherous ice and up to a foot of snow to Pennsylvania, northern New York, and New England today (February 4th), after leaving some 350,000 homes and businesses without power in several states, mostly Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee and Ohio yesterday. The storm brought more than a foot of snow to parts of the Midwest, as well as rare snow to parts of Texas, and caused a tornado in Alabama that killed one person and critically injured three others.  

MEDICARE TO COVER FREE COVID TESTS: The administration announced yesterday (February 3rd) that Medicare will cover up to eight free at-home Covid-19 tests per month, starting in early spring. People who have Medicare’s “Part B” outpatient benefits, which about 90 percent do, will be able to get the tests, which will be available at participating pharmacies and other locations. This comes after the administration last month said private health insurers would cover up to eight free at-home tests per month for people on their plans.