Taliban Launches Spring Offensive in Afghanistan as Its Influence Expands
TIME – Afghanistan’s Taliban announced the start of their spring offensive Friday, promising to build their political base in the country while focusing military assaults on coalition and Afghan security forces.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced the launch of the offensive in an email statement that boasted Taliban control over more than half of the country, referencing a February report issued by Washington’s special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction.
That report said that the Afghan government had control or influence over only 52% of Afghanistan’s 407 districts last year, down from 63.4% previously.
The Taliban dubbed this year’s offensive “Operation Mansouri,” named for the Taliban leader killed last year in a U.S. drone strike.
“Hence, keeping the evolving situation in mind, this year’s Mansouri Operations will differ from previous ones in nature and will be conducted with a twin-tracked political and military approach,” said Mujahid. He did not make any mention of peace talks with the government.
Federal Probe Into Fox News Takes New Turn
CBS News – The federal investigation into Fox News is widening with two agencies now looking into the network’s practices.
A person familiar with the investigation has confirmed to CBS News that investigators from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are involved in the Justice Department probe into Fox News. That investigation is reportedly looking into money matters at the network, reports CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan.
While the existence of the Justice Department investigation came to light two months ago, the Postal Inspection Service’s involvement is new.
Meanwhile, the network has been lashed by a series of conduct-related lawsuits.
Eleven current and former employees filed a class action suit last month, claiming executives fostered a “culture of severe racial harassment” and ignored their complaints going back years.
Thapur Nomination Questioned by Democrats Over Cash as Political Speech
Washington Times – Democrats weren’t able to derail Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, but they haven’t abandoned the pointed questions they aimed at him, recycling those questions Wednesday for a hearing with appeals court nominee Judge Amul R. Thapar.
From campaign finance reform cases to his ties to the conservative Federalist Society, Judge Thapar fended off the inquiries during his confirmation hearing, asking to be evaluated on the reputation he amassed during more than a decade on the federal bench.
He also batted away an attempt by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, to force him into a confrontation with President Trump, whose criticism of federal courts has riled critics.
“I am a proud Article III judge. We’ve been criticized from the beginning of this great country. Thomas Jefferson went after Chief Justice Marshall, and I appreciate the protection other branches provide to us,” Judge Thapal said. “It doesn’t matter to us.”
Youth Bring Climate Fight to Washington
Huffington Post – Back home in Hawaii, Journey Zephier is a vocal opponent of the genetically modified crop industry and its extensive use of toxic pesticides. But today, the 17-year-old activist finds himself at the center of a much larger fight: climate change.
Zephier, a member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, is among 21 children and young adults from around the country involved in a landmark lawsuit that accuses the federal government of violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by promoting fossil fuel production and by failing to take action to combat climate change.
On Thursday, Zephier and roughly a dozen other plaintiffs, joined by their attorneys and several Democratic senators, brought their call for a healthy environment to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, which could ultimately hear their case.
ExxonMobil Violated Clean Air Act over 16k Times
TIME – ExxonMobil was ordered to pay $20 million in fines for releasing 10 million pounds of pollutants into the air from a Texas chemical plant.
District Judge David Hittner said that the company violated the Clean Air Act 16,386 times from 2005 to 2013, CNN reports. The court also found the company reaped millions economically because it delayed improvements at the facility where it released the pollutants, located in Baytown, Tex.
Saudi Arabia Elected to UN Women’s Rights Commission
The Hill – Saudi Arabia was elected to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
The addition of the Gulf nation was first flagged by UN Watch, a nongovernmental body that monitors the United Nations. The Commission on the Status of Women’s main mission is to assess the challenges to reaching gender inequality, according to the U.N. website.
The organization’s executive director slammed the election, which occurred in a secret vote during the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council.
“Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” Hillel Neuer said.