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8:50 PM ET, February 21, 2021

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 Top Items: 
Katelyn Polantz / CNN:
Oath Keeper claims she was VIP security at Trump rally before riot and says she met with Secret Service agents  —  (CNN)A leader in an alleged Oath Keepers conspiracy in the US Capitol insurrection claims she was given a VIP pass to the pro-Trump rally on January 6, had met with Secret Service agents …
Discussion: Insider
RELATED:
Byron York / Washington Examiner:
What were the Capitol rioters thinking?  —  It's one of the most basic questions of the Capitol riot investigation: What was the rioters' plan?  What did they think was going to happen when they stormed the Capitol on January 6, as Congress certified the results of the Electoral College?
Discussion: emptywheel, New York Times and HotAir
Linda So / Reuters:
Oath Keeper claims she met with Secret Service before Capitol riot
Discussion: Boston Herald
David Yaffe-Bellany / Bloomberg:
Oath Keeper Claims She Met With Secret Service Before Riot
Discussion: Raw Story
BuzzFeed News:
“Mark Changed The Rules”: How Facebook Went Easy On Alex Jones And Other Right-Wing Figures  —  In April 2019, Facebook was preparing to ban one of the internet's most notorious spreaders of misinformation and hate, Infowars founder Alex Jones.  Then CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally intervened.
Ben Smith / New York Times:
How Investigative Journalism Flourished in Hostile Russia  —  A new wave of news outlets has used conventional, and unconventional, methods to pierce the veil of Putin's power.  —  The Russian language has introduced a few words that in recent years have been widely used and misused in English: disinformation, kompromat, Novichok.
Stephanie Liechtenstein / Politico:
Iran keeps hopes for nuclear deal alive  —  Tehran buys time by allowing continued oversight of its nuclear sites by UN's watchdog.  —  VIENNA — Iran signaled it was open to overtures from Washington to revive the landmark nuclear agreement torpedoed by the Trump administration …
RELATED:
Reuters:   Analysis: Road to renewed Iran nuclear deal likely to be long and bumpy
Julie Bosman / New York Times:
A Ripple Effect of Loss: U.S. Covid Deaths Approach 500,000  —  CHICAGO — A nation numbed by misery and loss is confronting a number that still has the power to shock: 500,000.  —  Roughly one year since the first known death by the coronavirus in the United States, an unfathomable toll is nearing …
Discussion: Lawyers, Guns & Money
RELATED:
Washington Post:
500,000 dead, a number almost too large to grasp
Discussion: Politico and Mother Jones
Glen Johnson / Axios:
Scoop: Cruz's Cancún trip included college roommate  —  In explaining his disastrous Cancún trip, Sen. Ted Cruz failed to mention his college roommate also was along for the visit.  — Axios has learned Cruz (R-Texas) invited David Panton, his longtime friend and former roommate …
CNN:
AOC raises nearly $5 million in Texas relief efforts  —  (CNN)Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had amassed $4.7 million in her fundraising efforts to help Texans hard hit by last week's winter storm as of Sunday evening, her press secretary Ivet Contreras confirmed to CNN.
Discussion: The Hill, KTAB and Houston Public Media
RELATED:
Paul LeBlanc / CNN:
Texas GOP congressman knocks Cruz for Cancun trip and says when a crisis hits, 'I'm not going to go on some vacation'
Discussion: Slate
USA Today:
Exclusive: Defeated and impeached, Trump still commands the loyalty of the GOP's voters  —  If there's a civil war in the Republican Party, the voters who backed Donald Trump in November's election are ready to choose sides.  —  Behind Trump.  —  An exclusive Suffolk University/USA TODAY …
Eric Lipton / New York Times:
Tough Sanctions, Then a Mysterious Last-Minute Turnabout  —  The Treasury Department slapped sanctions on the Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler in 2017 for corruption in Africa.  In Donald Trump's final days in office, they were rolled back with no explanation.
BBC:
How Trump offered Kim a ride on Air Force One  —  President Trump's meetings with Kim Jong-un were among the most eye-catching moments of his presidency.  —  In the third and final episode of a new BBC series Trump Takes On the World, directed by Tim Stirzaker, we discover new details …
Discussion: Mediaite
Dirk VanderHart / opb:
Oregon GOP ousts chair, taps state Sen. Dallas Heard as new leader  —  A conservative state senator from Myrtle Creek is the new chair of the Oregon Republican Party, following an event Saturday in which Republicans overhauled their top party leadership.According to multiple Republican sources …
The Hill:
Biden seems set to pick fight over Rahm Emanuel  —  Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appears poised to take on a high-profile ambassadorship for President Biden, a step likely to trigger contention with progressives who've balked at him taking a Cabinet role.
Discussion: BizPac Review
Tim Stelloh / NBC News:
Millions of Texans still without safe drinking water after winter storm  —  Millions of Texans remained without safe drinking water Sunday as state officials sought to ramp up bottled water distribution and calm residents who've seen spiking electricity bills in the aftermath of a severe winter storm that left the state battered.
Discussion: Rolling Stone and HotAir
Naomi Klein / New York Times:
Why Texas Republicans Fear the Green New Deal  —  Small government is no match for a crisis born of the state's twin addictions to market fixes and fossil fuels.  —  Ms. Klein is a senior correspondent at The Intercept and the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair at Rutgers University.
Dante Chinni / NBC News:
The GOP is rapidly becoming the blue-collar party.  Here's what that means for future.  —  WASHINGTON — The exit of Donald Trump has brought a more normal rhythm to back to politics in Washington, but outside the Beltway deeper forces are reshaping partisan landscape.
Discussion: New York Magazine
Ronn Blitzer / Fox News:
Pence declined CPAC invitation: source  —  Trump is expected to address the conference Feb. 28  —  Trump to speak at CPAC in first public appearance since leaving office  —  Former Vice President Mike Pence has declined an invitation to attend this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, Fox News has learned.
Tampa Bay Times:
Pro-Trump Miami doctor charged with hate crime for attacking Hispanic man  —  Angered when he asked her to socially distance at a Publix, she followed him out, called him racial slurs, keyed his vehicle and punched him, police said.  —  HIALEAH — A Mount Sinai Medical Center anesthesiologist …
Discussion: Raw Story
Bill Whitaker / CBS News:
Federal judges call for increased security after threats jump 400% and one judge's son is killed  —  Judge Esther Salas was in her New Jersey home when a gunman targeting Salas opened fire on her family, killing her son and wounding her husband.  Now she's fighting for better protection of judges.
CNN:
Biden to mark upcoming 500,000 US Covid-19 deaths with candle lighting ceremony  —  (CNN)With the US approaching 500,000 Covid-19 deaths, plans are underway for President Joe Biden to mark the moment this week.  —  The President is planning to deliver remarks and hold a candle lighting ceremony …
Discussion: Political Wire
Stacey Plaisance / Associated Press:
Customers, staff fired back in gun store shooting; 3 dead  —  METAIRIE, La. (AP) — A person entered a gun store and shooting range in a New Orleans suburb and fatally shot two people Saturday, prompting customers and staff to open fire on the shooter, a sheriff said.  The shooter also died.
The Intercept:
What Drove the Historically Large Murder Spike in 2020? … Amid the pandemic, lockdown orders, and nationwide protests against police violence, a historically large increase in murders occurred in 2020.  Previously, the largest recorded one-year rise in murders in U.S. history was a 12.7 percent increase in 1968.
Mike Allen / Axios:
Biden's big summertime verdict  —  President Biden is promising COVID-19 vaccines will be available to all Americans by the end of July — and a Quinnipiac poll finds three-quarters of Americans expect him to pull it off.  If he fails, the coronavirus could start to haunt the new president just like it did his predecessor.
Sarah Chaney Cambon / Wall Street Journal:
Blue-Collar Jobs Boom as Covid-19 Boosts Housing, E-Commerce Demand  —  Residential construction, package delivery and warehousing jobs exceed pre-pandemic levels, and some companies can't find enough workers  —  America's blue-collar workforce is filled with signs of a strengthening job market.
Gabriela López / San Francisco Chronicle:
S.F. school board president: Renamings are on hold, reopening is our priority  —  As a credentialed teacher serving as a volunteer school board member, I make every effort to respond to every email.  Every single day I am talking to parents on the phone, answering their questions about distance learning …
Lesley Stahl / CBS News:
QAnon's corrosive impact on the U.S.  —  Tens of millions of Americans believe QAnon's core — and false — theory that an evil cabal of Satan-worshipping elites commits atrocities against children and controls much of the world.  Where does this movement stand and who has it impacted?
D.J. Tice / Star Tribune:
The challenge of a fair trial for Chauvin  —  The presumption of innocence is strained amid public passions and pronouncements.  —  TEXT SIZE  —  MORE  —  In December the Hennepin County District Court made public a questionnaire it was sending to prospective jurors in the upcoming murder trial …
Scarlet Howes / Daily Mail:
Now even The Muppets are branded racist: Disney slaps popular show with an alert about ‘offensive content’ and it can only be seen on an adult account  — Disney's streaming service puts ‘offensive content’ alert on The Muppet Show  — The show can only be seen on an adult account after Disney released five series
Discussion: TheBlaze, IJR, Breitbart and New York Post
 
 
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 More Items: 
Rosalind Helderman / Washington Post:
Impeachment is over. But other efforts to reckon with Trump's post-election chaos have just begun.
CNN:
Black women's roles in the civil rights movement have been understated — but that's changing
Reuters:
Texas freeze led to release of tons of air pollutants as refineries shut
Discussion: The Hill
Anne Applebaum / The Atlantic:
A Real Place Deserves Real Rights
Washington Post:
As Biden seeks end to Yemen war, rebels press offensive for strategic province
Monica Medina / USA Today:
Texas winter storms: Repeated climate disasters do not have to be our destiny
 Earlier Items: 
Will Bunch / The Philadelphia Inquirer:
How Biden got it wrong about Penn, the Ivies, student debt, and America's ‘college problem’ | Will Bunch
Daniel Arkin / NBC News:
U.S. reaches 500,000 deaths from the coronavirus
Jonathan Cohn / HuffPost:
What Democrats Can Learn From Obamacare, According To Barack Obama
Discussion: Politico and Amazon.com
E.J. Dionne / Washington Post:
We can't let the gun imperialists win again
Nick Robins-Early / HuffPost:
Michael Flynn's Wild Ride Into The Heart Of QAnon
Discussion: Digby's Hullabaloo and Raw Story