Ted Cruz rips 'grossly irresponsible' LeBron James after NBA star tweets 'you're next' at Columbus cop

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LeBron James tweeting “you’re next” at one of the officers who responded to the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio is part of a “pattern” of behavior by left-wingers, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told “Fox News Primetime” Wednesday.T”he left consistently goes after, attacks and demonizes police officers … often before the facts are known, often before there is any evidence of what happened,” Cruz told host Ben Domenech, “but their immediate reaction, whenever there is an incident, is that police officers is in the wrong.”And in this instance, ‘you’re next’ could certainly be interpreted by some, even, as a call for violence. I think it was a grossly irresponsible message for LeBron James to send out.”Cruz noted that James, 36, essentially ignored the fact that Columbus police released body camera footage that showed Bryant attacking another female with a knife.LEBRON JAMES ADDRESSES NOW-DELETED TWEET: ‘I’M SO DAMN TIRED OF SEEING BLACK PEOPLE KILLED BY POLICE'”By any measure, it was a volatile situation,” the senator said. “The woman who was killed was wielding a knife, was violent, appeared to be threatening the [lives] of others. It may well be, on an investigation, that this police officer saved the life of a potential victim of a knife attack and we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.”The Texas lawmaker added that the Ohio authorities are right to invstigate the shooting further, but that fact doesn’t absolve the rush to judgement from high-profile people like James “The facts should be determined, but the left doesn’t care about the facts, they care about demonizing and attacking law enforcement and I think it’s wrong,” he said.James later deleted the “you’re next” tweet and replaced it with a brief thread that attempted to explain his feelings.”I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police. I took the tweet down because its being used to create more hate,” James said. “[This is] about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism.”CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPJames’ tweet followed responses from people like Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who wrote that “while the verdict was being read in the Derek Chauvin trial, Columbus police shot and killed a sixteen-year-old girl. Her name was Ma’Khia Bryant. She should be alive right now.”Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., tweeted that “Black girls deserve to grow up and become women.”Fox News’ Greg Norman contributed to this report.

Court-Packing, Still Very Unpopular

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In a new poll, it doesn’t get majority support even from Democrats. The idea that the threat of it is a good way for Democrats to pressure the Supreme Court assumes, as I wrote the other day, that the justices worry a lot about politics but don’t pay close attention to it.

Senate Republicans uphold symbolic ban on earmarks

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The Senate GOP caucus upheld its ban on earmarks by avoiding a divisive vote on the matter Wednesday afternoon. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said that after “vigorous discussion” over the past week with “some senators who advocated that we should” return to earmarks, no one at the meeting offered an amendment to overturn the ban. “I think it was clear,” Cruz said. “By the time we went in the room that the votes weren’t there that a significant majority of the conference I would probably hazard a guess, two-thirds of the Republicans in the Senate conference, wanted to maintain the rule of a ban on earmarks and so we did.”   
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said that after “vigorous discussion” over the past week with “some senators who advocated that we should” return to earmarks, no one at the meeting offered an amendment to overturn the ban. 
(Evelyn Hockstein/Pool via AP)SENATE REPUBLICANS SET FOR EARMARK SHOWDOWN The caucus, at a regularly scheduled meeting, both reaffirmed its existing ban on the practice and also supported the idea of banning raising the debt ceiling without proposing spending cuts elsewhere, a change in conference rules proposed by Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.Republicans noted that the caucus ban is only symbolic and GOP senators will still be able to request earmarks if they want to. “That doesn’t mean anything … It’s up to the individual,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala. “If you don’t want to earmark, don’t ask for one.” 
Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama, speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee meeting. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Oklahoma governor signs bill to protect drivers who hit rioters, as protesters try breaking into Senate

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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) approved of two bills that crack down on protests Wednesday, just as demonstrators angry about the legislation barged into the state capitol, prompting the House and Senate chambers to lock their doors.The group was protesting, in part, one bill that increases the penalties for blocking roadways and grants immunity to motorists who kill or injure protesters on the road. Another bill seeks to limit doxxing of police officers. Both bills made their way through the House and Senate’s Republican majority before reaching Stitt’s desk.Some protesters got into verbal altercations with lawmakers. “You are a f–king disgrace to the whole country!” one shouted towards the legislators. The group then tried to get into the Senate chamber, which had locked its doors. The group was protesting, in part, a bill that increases the penalties for blocking roadways and grants immunity to motorists who kill or injure protesters on the road. Another bill seeks to limit doxxing of police officers.  The bill passed in a 38-10 vote in the Senate and now heads to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk. The bill would make blocking use of a public street a misdemeanor publishable by up to a year in prison or a $5,000 fine. The measure would also grant a motorist criminal and civil immunity if they kill or injure someone while fleeing from a riot. CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APPSen. Rob Standridge, a Republican who wrote the bill, said he was called to action by an incident in Tulsa last summer where a pickup truck drove through a crowd protesting George Floyd’s death on the Tulsa interstate. Some of those protesting were forced to the edge of the overpass. Several were injured and one was paralyzed from the waist down. The driver, whose family was in the car, was not charged. “The kids cowered in the back seat because they feared for their lives,” Standridge said. “That’s what this bill is about.”

US Capitol Police top boss says hiring surge needed to fill ‘intelligence gaps’

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The U.S. Capitol Police top commander said Wednesday that more bodies are needed in the legislative building to address “intelligence gaps” and the increased threat security officials face in 2021.”212 new sworn officers as well as 47 new civilian positions, that would fill some of those things that you mentioned in terms of intelligence gaps technology capabilities,” Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman told members of Congress Wednesday.During testimony in front of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee, Pittman said threats against members of Congress had skyrocketed in the first four months of 2021, with a near 65% increase from last year.CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER BRIAN SICKNICK DIED OF NATURAL CAUSES AFTER JAN. 6 RIOT, EXAMINER SAYSAnd over the last four years, threats facing lawmakers have more than doubled with a 118% increase from 2017 — with the majority of threat-makers residing outside the National Capital Region (NRC).Pittman’s testimony Wednesday, signifies that threats against the Capitol remain significant, previously testifying with the House Appropriations subcommittee in March, that threats against lawmakers were up by over 93% in the first two months of the year.”The number of agents required to provide an appropriate level of analysis, protection and enforcement necessitates a significant increase in personnel based on the threats trends year-over-year,” she said in a statement to lawmakers.Pittman’s testimony highlighted that threats against lawmakers are not the only security issue the Capitol Police face. Four officers have died this year following attacks at the top legislative building.Brian Sicknick died after being assualted by rioters who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, though a medical examiner report released earlier this week shows he died of natural causes, suffering from a series of strokes.Two officers who were at the Jan. 6 attack died by suicide following the attack.
Police officers gather near a car that crashed into a barrier on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, April 2, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Head of US nuclear arsenal rejects calls to scrap ground-based missiles

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The head of the United States’ nuclear arsenal issued a chilling warning on Capitol Hill this week about the country’s ability to deter nuclear war.Admiral Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command said Tuesday that for the first time in the country’s history, the U.S. is now facing two nuclear powers at the same time: Russia and China – and he can’t do it with today’s aging stockpile.  “I cannot deter with the leftovers from the Cold War forever in the future,” Richard, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Some Democratic lawmakers are calling to scrap one leg of the nuclear triad – the 400 ground-based missiles currently in silos across three states, North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming.  Richard testified that he needs to replace — not update — his fleet of 50-year-old Minuteman III missiles. 
Admiral Charles Richard, Commander, United States Strategic Command, appears before a Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing.
(Reuters)”That is a 70s-era weapons system that I am going to have to employ against 2030-level threats,” he said speaking about Russia and China’s growing arsenal. The U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) commander provided an anecdote about the challenges his nuclear forces face. “We are down to two of a particular switch that is required to go in the launch control centers,” Richard said. “Nobody knows how to make it anymore. It’s obsolete.” CHINA’S XI WARNS AGAINST ‘UNILATERALISM’ AS TENSIONS WITH US, NEIGHBORS RISEIn September, the U.S. Air Force announced Northrop Grumman Corporation was selected to modernize the nation’s aging Minuteman III missiles with a $13.3 billion contract for “engineering and manufacturing development” of a new missile called the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD). In a tweet, STRATCOM warned the threat of nuclear war is greater today. “We must account for the possibility of conflict leading to conditions which could very rapidly drive an adversary to consider nuclear use as their least bad option.”The nuclear triad consists of ground-based missiles, ballistic-missile submarines, and strategic bombers. The U.S. stopped keeping nuclear-capable bombers on 24-hour alert in 1991. Richard says the U.S. really has a “dyad” today, not a triad.  The plain-spoken naval flag officer from Decatur, Alabama warned lawmakers that if the U.S. got rid of its 400 ground-based missiles, he recommends changing posture.  “If you don’t have intercontinental ballistic missiles, we can’t meet that criteria. You are completely dependent on the submarine leg. I’ve already told the secretary of defense, under those conditions, I would request to re-alert the bombers.” A recent report by the Atlantic Council warned against cutting the 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles as well as reducing the number to 300 missiles as some have advocated. “A larger arsenal of ICBMs is critical for deterring a nuclear attack. An attacker faced with fewer US ICBM silos would have an easier time disarming the United States,” the report by Matthew Kroenig, Mark J. Massa, Christian Trotti said. “Eliminating one hundred ICBMs would free up additional enemy weapons to target US cities, increasing damage to the United States.” One nuclear expert in Washington agrees.  “We have to work to make sure that our nuclear weapons convince our enemies that the United States has the will and ability to make them regret doing anything really, really stupid,” said Rebeccah L. Heinrichs, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute where she specializes in nuclear deterrence. LINDSEY GRAHAM CALLS BIDEN’S WEAKNESS TOWARDS RUSSIA A ‘DEATH SENTENCE’: ‘NOBODY’ IS AFRAID OF JOE BIDENA former defense secretary under Bill Clinton thinks the ground-based missiles need to go away. “Retiring the ICBMs would save considerable costs, but it isn’t only budgets that would benefit. These missiles are some of the most dangerous weapons in the world. They could even trigger an accidental nuclear war,” William J. Perry, secretary of defense from 1994 to 1997 said in the New York Times five years ago. A report from June of last year by the Union of Concerned Scientists said the focus of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be with its ballistic submarine fleet, which carries 70% of nuclear warheads and “have the advantage of being essentially invulnerable to attack when the submarines are hidden at sea. Yet the United States continues to not only keep its ICBMs, but also maintain them on high alert with a ‘launch-on-warning’ option, creating unnecessary risks.”The report also recommends discontinuing plans to build new nuclear missiles to replace the aging Minuteman III.  “The United States should continue to extend the operational life of the Minuteman III missiles and should not build the new GBSD missile.”  “You know we’re currently spending $44.5 billion a year on nuclear weapons and I know STRATCOM likes spending that money, but I don’t,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., told Richard during Tuesday’s Senate hearing.  She reminded him about the purpose of the Biden administration’s ongoing nuclear posture and quoted from the report to “reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our defense strategy.”  “The entire nuclear deterrent is about 6% of the entire defense budget and the new ICBMs are peanuts inside that small bucket,” Heinrichs said. “We can afford the best insurance plan we have to protect the American people and our way of life.” At the hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., called the idea of getting rid of nuclear weapons a “fanciful idea.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he gives his annual state of the nation address in Manezh, Moscow, Russia.
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)”We hear from some misguided and misinformed people on the left who might want to eliminate a leg of our triad or eliminate the entire nuclear forces,” Cotton said. “We have used them every single day for 76 years to deter another war like the terrible wars of the first half of the 20th century.”CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPIn his annual address to the nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted Wednesday that Russia will have modernized over 88% of its nuclear weapons by the end of this year.   Richard said the U.S. hasn’t started the process.  “The threat is only getting worse rapidly,” he said.  

Pompeo: China has 'no intention of honoring' any commitments it makes at climate summit

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Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined “Fox Business Tonight” Wednesday to discuss Thursday’s U.S.-led climate change summit, which will provide the setting for the first meeting between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.POMPEO: My expectation is we’ll hear what we’ve heard from the Chinese Communist Party before, a series of commitments that they have absolutely no intention of honoring. They have broken more promises over these last years, including a promise to President Obama that they wouldn’t militarize the South China Sea. We need to see real actions. I don’t know what Xi Jinping will say precisely tomorrow, but American security, American prosperity, depends on watching what the Chinese actually do, not what they speak about in summits or phrases that they have no intention of actually carrying out. One of the things that we [Trump administration] were careful to do was that we didn’t make commitments, we didn’t make threats that we weren’t prepared to execute or deliver on. We were careful in what we said and bold in what we did. I hope this administration doesn’t flip that on its head. The moment these adversaries find out that we are making promises that we’re not prepared to back up, they will drive a truck through that. Appeasement only begets war, and power comes from having the capacity to deter, by nations understanding that when leaders speak, they mean what they say. I hope the Chinese Communist Party is going to reverse its polluting course, but there’s no reason to believe that’s actually the case.I’ve watched them [the Biden administration] go to Vienna with the same cast of characters that appeased Iran once before and gave them billions of dollars worth of wealth for which they could use to underwrite Hezbollah, foment terror and build up their nuclear program. We [the Trump administration] took the opposite approach. We denied them resources. They were forced to cut their soldiers’ pay in half, they were forced to make really hard choices about how they were going to execute their mission around the world. They understand strength, the Iranians always defer to it when they see it. If we go to the negotiating table and give them again a pathway to a nuclear weapon, it only means less security for the American people and less security for our allies in the region as well.CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW

Biden admin blocking veterans' annual Memorial Day motorcycle rally, Rep. Mast says

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Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., accused the Biden administration of blocking the annual Rolling to Remember motorcycle rally, a 30-year-plus Memorial Day tradition for veterans that has always been staged in the Pentagon parking lot.”We are blessed beyond words to be citizens of the greatest country on Earth, and only live free thanks to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Mast said in a statement. “But the Biden Administration seems intent on restricting that freedom, and now, even restricting Memorial Day ceremonies. Preventing a tradition like Rolling to Remember flies in the face of the freedoms that so many have died to protect.”PENTAGON HALTS PLAN TO OFFER COVID-19 VACCINES TO DETAINEES AMID BACKLASH In a letter, Mast urged Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to “promptly approve” the permit being sought by AMVETS, the post-World War II veterans organization that now runs Rolling to Remember (formerly known as Rolling Thunder).”I can confirm that we received the letter from Rep. Brian Mast. As with other congressional correspondence, we will respond directly to the member of Congress,” Pentagon spokewsoman Sue Gough told Fox News in a statement.The coronavirus pandemic cancelled 2020’s motorcycle rally.
Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., left, visits with National Guard troops who are helping with security at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
((AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite))Pentagon Special Events confirmed AMVETS’ permit on March 11 but revoked the permit citing a “routing error,” Mast said.”The Pentagon Parking lot has been used as a staging ground for Memorial Day events for decades. AMVETS relies on this staging ground as it is the largest public parking area in close proximity to Washington D.C. and has proved an ideal staging ground for more than 30 years,” Mast wrote in the letter. “The event is now only a month away, and further delays could jeopardize this important Memorial Day event.”Gough told Stars & Stripes that “there’s been no decision yet” and that the permit request “is still being evaluated in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”AMVETS National Executive Director Joe Chennelly is worried the group will have to scramble for a Plan B.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP”We’ve been trying to really be good partners in all of this and not blast the Pentagon, but we’ve gotten to point recently where we have to put the pressure on them,” Chennelly told Stars & Stripes.Mast, a 12-year Army veteran, worked as a bomb disposal expert and lost both his legs while deployed in Afghanistan.

Tester quietly releases public schedule after breaking campaign promise by not updating for months

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Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont., on Tuesday quietly released his public schedule on his Senate website between April 14 and April 20 after not updating his public schedule for almost three months, which broke his campaign pledge to be transparent about with whom he meets. Tester pledged to publicize his official calendar dating back to his 2006 Senate campaign, but his public schedule appeared to be non-existent over the last few months when important issues like filibuster reform, the stimulus, and other important issues were being discussed.Tester’s public schedule was archived nearly a dozen times between February 1 and April 19, only showing Tester’s schedule during the last week in January, according to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. On April 20, Tester’s schedule was updated to show his schedule between April 14 and April 20.Tester’s office did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment on why the schedule had not been updated and whether they would release his schedule for January 30 through April 13.FRESHMAN SEN. JON TESTER POSTS DAILY SCHEDULE TO FULFILL CAMPAIGN PROMISEThe senator’s online calendar has been a staple of his political persona since his first Senate campaign. During his 2018 re-election campaign, one of his press releases touted that he “was the first member of Congress and is still the only member of Montana’s Congressional Delegation to post his daily public schedule on his website.”A 2007 report from the Associated Press confirmed that Tester was fulfilling his campaign promise of updating his calendar, which the report said would illustrate whether he’s working out, spending time with family or meeting with lobbyists and special interest groups.Tester has touted himself as the first public official to post his daily schedule online, warts and all, and signed an ethics pledge in 2006 promising he would “ban all lobbyist gifts, meals and travel paid for by outside sources” as well as “ban secret meetings with lobbyists.””As far as myself is concerned, I think that the level of responsibility and accountability that I’ve brought to Washington, D.C. are – and transparency – are unmeasured,” Tester said during a Senate race debate in 2012.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP”I was the first person to put my schedule online, first person to do an audit, first person to carry bills that really make Washington, D.C.’s government look a lot like Montana’s,” Tester continued.Tester boasts about his calendar on his website’s “Biography” and “Accountability and Transparency” pages, with the latter saying Tester is “the only member of the Montana delegation to post his daily public schedule online.”

Democrats trying to turn FCC 'into an arm of the DNC,' commissioner warns

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A push by congressional Democrats to block the sale of a Spanish-language Florida radio station to conservative owners would effectively turn the Federal Communications Commission into an “arm” of the Democratic National Committee, the senior Republican on the commission warned. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr blasted the congressional Democrats’ attempt to pressure the commission into blocking the sale of a Spanish-speaking radio station in Miami, Florida, saying the move was politically-based in a statement released Tuesday.He also warned the move by the Democrats crosses a constitutional line and would weaponize the FCC for the DNC.”Democrats in Congress are pressuring the FCC to block the sale of a radio station based on the political viewpoints it would broadcast to South Florida’s Hispanic community,” Carr wrote in a tweet accompanying the release. “This crosses a clear line drawn by the First Amendment and would turn the FCC into an arm of the DNC.”BIDEN’S $100B INTERNET OVERHAUL WILL HURT CONSUMERS, STIFLE INNOVATION: FORMER FCC CHAIRMANIn his statement, Carr said the FCC had “no business doing the Democrats’ bidding or using our regulatory process to censor political opinions that Democrats do not like.”Carr also torched the congressional Democrats for trying to pressure the FCC into taking action they think will increase their odds of winning elections in the Sunshine State.”This is a deeply troubling transgression of free speech and the FCC’s status as an independent agency,” wrote Carr, who called on his fellow FCC colleagues to join him in “publicly rejecting this attempt to inject partisan politics into our licensing process.””Doing so would go a long way in assuring the public that the FCC will review this proposed transaction free from political pressure and according to our long-standing rules and precedents.”CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPLast week, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus put pressure on the FCC to pull the plug on the potential acquisition of the popular local, Spanish-speaking radio station Caracol 1260 AM by America CV. America CV’s parent company, America TeVé, is a conservative-owned company.”Enough is enough. We can no longer allow conservative media to lead Spanish-language misinformation campaigns on Florida’s Latino communities,” Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., said on Twitter last week. “It’s time for the FCC to intervene. This dangerous rhetoric can’t go unchecked.”

Sen. Rand Paul: If Biden wants more Americans vaccinated, he should 'burn his mask' on national TV

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If President Biden wants to motivate more Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, he should “go on national TV, take his mask off and burn it,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told “The Story” Wednesday.”[Biden should] light a torch to it and burn his mask and say, ‘I’ve had the vaccine. I am now safe from this plague. If you’ll get the vaccine you can be safe too,’” Paul told host Martha MacCallum. “The burden of proof should be on the government to prove we’re spreading it. [If we are.] then we’ll listen to them. Instead it sounds like fear-mongering.”Paul also continued his criticism of White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci for insisting that vaccinated Americans continue to wear massk to avoid inadvertently infecting vulnerable people.”The science is about proving that things are happening,” he said. “If Dr. Fauci can prove that people who are vaccinated are spreading the disease, I will listen to him. If he can prove people like me, who have already had it [COVID-19], are spreading the disease, I’ll listen to him. But there is no evidence of that.”BIDEN GOAL OF 200 MILLION COVID-19 VACCINES TO BE REACHED THURSDAYHost Martha MacCallum responded by noting that an estimated 6,000 people out of 63 million had contracted COVID-19 after they were vaccinated.Paul agreed that there is a “very small” occurrence of so-called “breakthrough” infections, but pointed out there were “virtually zero hospitalizations and virtually zero deaths” from COVID-19 among people who had received the vaccine.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP”Most people get a mild course of it, and there’s a rare, if ever, reinfection that caused a fatality,” he said. “So we should appreciate immunity, both naturally acquired and by vaccine. You know why people don’t trust the government?” Paul added. “Because they say everybody is the same. Whether or not you’ve had the disease or not, you have to be vaccinated. It’s this one-size-fits-all that people know this is not dangerous for young people, but very dangerous after a certain age and for overweight people.”

Lisa Boothe, former Democrat official spar over DC statehood 'power grab': What if Washington was 'red'?

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Former District of Columbia Democratic Party Chairman Scott Bolden debated Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe on the legitimacy, constitutionality and partisan politics behind Democrats’ new bill to make Washington, D.C. the 51st state.Boothe and Bolden joined “The Story” Monday, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., hailed Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s, D-D.C., legislation to make the District of Columbia into the state of “Washington, Douglass Commonwealth.”The new name would be a nod to Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass, a Republican whom then-President Rutherford Birchard Hayes named the first Black U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia in 1877.Pelosi said District residents “pay taxes, fight in our wars and contribute to the economic might of our country” but are disenfranchised as a collective.On “The Story,” Bolden echoed the House Speaker, saying the Holmes Norton bill would enfranchise “700,000 people that don’t have a vote in the Senate or the House.”He accused Republicans of being opposed to voting rights as a habit, and called statehood “the right thing to do,” adding that D.C. has more of a tax base than Vermont and Wyoming combined but no congressional vote.Holmes Norton, in office in 1991, is allowed committee votes, but not a final vote on legislation — similar to other House Delegates in Guam, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands.”It’s taxation without representation, in its purest form,” Bolden said, repeating the popular District slogan that adorns D.C. license plates.Boothe fired back that D.C. Statehood is a simple “power grab from the left.””Jamie Raskin gave up the game when he said the Senate was the principal obstacle to social progress,” she said of the Maryland Democratic congressman whose district abuts Northwest D.C.Host Martha MacCallum noted almost every U.S. Attorney General, save for Eric Holder, has been wary of statehood, and James Madison wrote specificially in the Federalist Papers about a federal “independent seat of government” separate from the other states.”So why does it make any sense to change that now?” she asked. “If the District of Columbia was overwhelmingly Red (Republican), based on everything you said about the need for representation, would you be on this program right now pushing for two more Republican senators from the district of Columbia?” she asked.Bolden called that a “loaded question” and Boothe replied that “nobody believes” statehood is about fairness.She pointed to the fact President Biden received 93% of the vote in D.C., and no Republican president has ever broken 20% there except for Richard Nixon.”They know there would be two democratic seats in perpetuity that would change the balance of power forever,” she said.”Instead of following the rules and honoring the tiny amount of control that was given to them in the House and the Senate, they want to blow the entire system up; blow up the norms [[and] trying to get statehood to D.C., possibly Puerto Rico by packing the Supreme Court and also nationalizing and federalizing elections and getting rid of voter IDs [to] make it easier to cheat.””So this is what Democrats want to do because the only thing the Democratic Party or today’s Democratic Party cares about is power. They will do anything they have to do to try to achieve it and expand it,” Boothe concluded.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPSince its establishment, the major change to the District of Columbia’s representation has been the 1847 retrocession of what is now Arlington County, Va., and the City of Alexandria, Va., back to the Commonwealth of Virginia.The portion ceded from what was once Maryland is what remains of the original District of Columbia.

Ariz. Gov. Ducey urges Biden to declare national emergency at the border, as he deploys National Guard

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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday urged President Biden to declare a national emergency at the border, a day after the Republican governor deployed the National Guard and issued an emergency declaration in response to the migrant crisis.”President Biden, if you care about the border, if you care about stopping the cartels who are engaging in all kinds of bad acts…if you want to stop the disaster that’s unfolding here and will only get worse in the coming months, President Biden you should declare a national emergency and deploy the vast powers of your administration to stop what’s happening here,” Ducey said at a press conference at the border near Yuma.ARIZONA DEM SENS. SINEMA, KELLY BACK GOVERNOR’S MOVE TO DEPLOY NATIONAL GUARD TO BORDERDucey announced on Tuesday that he was deploying 250 National Guard members to help deal with the escalating numbers, that has seen record numbers of migrant encounters and overwhelmed local authorities. He was at the border meeting with local law enforcement and border officials about the crisis and related security threats.The Guard will be involved with installing and maintaining border cameras, collecting data, analyzing imagery for trends in border crossings, and helping with operations at detention centers, Ducey’s office said.The Biden administration has refused to call the situation a “crisis,” instead calling it a “challenge” and blaming the Trump administration for ending legal asylum pathways. Critics have blamed the Biden administration’s rolling back of Trump-era enforcement and border protections.Ducey has slammed alleged inaction and a lack of planning from the White House.‘We are getting whiplash from all the mixed signals you are sending,” he said on Wednesday.ARIZONA GOV. DUCEY DEPLOYS NATIONAL GUARD TO SOUTHERN BORDER AMID MIGRANT CRISISDucey had been mulling deploying the Guard, but had urged the federal government to reimburse the state for the deployment beforehand. On Wednesday he confirmed that so far the cost was being paid for by the state.”We’re willing to pay for this out of our own budget, even though this is a federal responsibility and the costs should be paid by the federal government,” he said.Ducey has support from his Democratic senators. Both Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema expressed support for the moves Both senators later wrote to President Biden, urging him to reimburse Arizona for the National Guard deployment.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP”We know the National Guard can provide important assistance on the border and note that there are approximately 500 Guardsmen already deployed to the Yuma and Tucson sectors,” the Democrats wrote in a letter. “As such, we request you reimburse the state of Arizona for the deployment the Governor announced yesterday to support border security and continue to increase DHS personnel who can further assist with the processing of migrants, securing the border, and executing important security missions”

Mike Pompeo joins House Republicans in push for Iran sanctions bill

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Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday joined with House Republicans in unveiling a bill to impose sanctions on the regime in Iran — renewing a push for sanctions he led during the Trump administration.Pompeo joined Republicans on the Republican Study Committee led by Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., in unveiling the “Maximum Pressure Act,” which would include measures that would require any new deal with the regime to be ratified by the Senate, as well as codifying into law the sanctions slapped on Iran during the Trump-era.POMPEO SAYS BIDEN MOVES ON IRAN, HOUTHIS PRECURSORS TO RE-ENTERING ‘CRAZY, CRAPPY’ NUCLEAR DEAL “America, our ally, Israel and the world are safer because President Trump’s Maximum Pressure policy and crushing sanctions denied the Iranians the resources they needed to support building a nuclear weapon or to support terrorism around the globe,” Pompeo said in a statement. The bill would also expand sanctions, slapping measures on Iran’s ballistic missile program, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iranian-backed terror groups in the Middle East.The Biden administration has taken steps to reverse Trump’s maximum pressure strategy, which saw the U.S. leave the 2015 Iran deal in 2018, and re-impose waves of sanctions on Tehran.The Biden administration has indicated it is open to rejoin the deal, and has ended a Trump-era push to snapback U.N. sanctions that expired as part of the deal — including an arms embargo that expired last year. It was Pompeo who spearheaded that push.Earlier this month, envoys from Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain and Iran met in Vienna to discuss ways to get Iran and U.S. back into the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the U.S. was due to start its own indirect talks with Iran.IRAN STARTS ENRICHING URANIUM TO 60%, ITS HIGHEST LEVEL EVER Republicans, as well as Pompeo, opposed the U.S. re-entering the deal.”Rejoining the failed Iranian nuclear deal would come at great cost,” he said. “I’m proud to support the legislation Congressman Banks is introducing to ensure we stick to our America First policy and never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.”  The legislation sends a signal of the opposition Biden will face from Republicans, as well as some Democrats, over a possible re-entry into the deal and a softer approach toward Tehran.CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP”President Biden has already demonstrated a troubling pattern of using tough rhetoric but pursuing the same, failed appeasement policies as his predecessor President Obama,” Banks said. “His foreign policy can best be summarized: ‘Speak loudly and carry a twig.’”Talks in Vienna were dealt a blow last week when Iran announced it was enriching uranium Friday to its highest level ever, edging closer to weapons-grade levels —  part of a strategy to put pressure on the talks.The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Top NY Dem who said Cuomo should resign appears alongside governor at press conference

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New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins appeared alongside Gov. Andrew Cuomo to tout the progress of the state’s vaccination campaign on Wednesday, just weeks after she publicly called on the governor to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment.Cuomo praised Stewart-Cousins for passage of New York state’s budget during an event at a mass vaccination site in Yonkers, the state senator’s home district. Stewart-Cousins did not address the New York state attorney general and state assembly’s ongoing probes into the allegations against Cuomo during her appearance at the press conference.”Her position on the Governor has not changed,” a spokesman for Stewart-Cousins said in a statement. “The Majority Leader has been pushing for more vaccinations at this site. Getting everyone vaccinated is most important.”CUOMO DODGES QUESTION ON WHETHER HE’LL RESIGN IF STATE AG PROBE CONCLUDES HE HARASSED EMPLOYEESSeveral women, including current and former aides, have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment or misconduct. One female staffer alleges that Cuomo groped her during an encounter at his mansion last year. Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing.Stewart-Cousins was one of several prominent New York Democrats who called on Cuomo to resign in response to the allegations, as well as a separate federal investigation into his administration’s handling of the state’s COVID-19 nursing home crisis.”New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health and economic impacts of it,” Stewart-Cousins said in March. “We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state Governor Cuomo must resign.”CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPSome New York state lawmakers were “completely shocked” by Stewart-Cousins’ appearance at the event, NY1 reported. The New York State Assembly’s judiciary committee has an active probe into whether the allegations against Cuomo are grounds for impeachment.Stewart-Cousins’ remarks largely focused on the state’s push for increased vaccination totals. Earlier in the day, state officials announced that residents aged 60 or older can receive the vaccine at state-operated mass vaccination sites without an appointment.”We’re here because of what the governor said,” Stewart-Cousins said. “At the center of all of us is making sure we have our health.”

Tennessee moves toward requiring cremation or burial after abortion

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Medical providers would be required to cremate or bury fetal remains after surgical abortions under a Tennessee bill that passed the House and Senate. The legislation passed the state House along party lines 69-22 Monday and 27-6 in the Senate. It now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Bill lee for signature. Under the bill, certain abortion providers must provide burial or cremation and cover the costs. The pregnant woman would be able to determine the method and location to lay the remains. The bill would apply to abortion clinics but hospitals would be exempt as they already have specific processes in place. Supporters of the bill say it is designed to protect human dignity. TENNESSEE ASKS SUPREME COURT TO PUT HOLD ON RULING THAT STATE’S ABORTION PERIOD IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL “This legislation strives to extend the same protections, respect and dignity to a deceased, surgically aborted child as granted to any other deceased human being,” said Republican Sen. Janice Bowling, the bill sponsor.”It’s not fetal tissue, it’s dismembered children,” said state Rep. Robin Smith (R).Democrats said the bill would further inflict “trauma” on those who choose to undergo abortions. “This is one of the most offensive pieces of legislation I’ve heard this year,” said Democratic Rep. London Lamar, who experienced a late-term pregnancy loss in 2019. “Offensive for women who actually have had to bury children.””This is not a pro-life piece of legislation. What you are doing is further using your legislative powers to bring trauma on women who make that choice,” Lamar, from Memphis, argued.The Tennessee governor has not publicly weighed in on the legislation but has reiterated that he is staunchly pro-life.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPIndiana first passed a similar fetal remains law in 2016, after activists recorded video of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue to scientists. Indiana’s law was upheld by the Supreme Court, which said it did not infringe on abortion rights. Since then, at least 10 other states have enacted similar requirements, though legal challenges persist. The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

House Dems ready to pass DC statehood Thursday, call on Senate to end filibuster to do same

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Democratic leaders Wednesday predicted passage of Washington, D.C. statehood legislation in the House and called on the Senate to end the filibuster now to create the 51st state in the union.”I hope that the filibuster is jettisoned,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Wednesday. “It is not a democratic principle that a minority can … stop the majority.BIDEN WHITE HOUSE OFFICIALLY SUPPORTS MAKING DC THE 51ST STATE”With the movement of the filibuster, there will be movement for D.C. statehood,” added the district’s non-voting lone congressional member, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. “And I do believe that the filibuster is on its way out.”The lawmakers, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, spoke during a Capitol news conference Wednesday about the merits of granting the District of Columbia statehood.The House is slated to vote on the D.C. statehood legislation Thursday and Hoyer said he expected the bill will pass with all or nearly all House Democrats in support. President Biden supports D.C. statehood and would sign the legislation into law. HOUSE COMMITTEE ADVANCES DC STATEHOOD BILL ALONG PARTY-LINE VOTEThe biggest challenge, however, will be in the 50-50 split Senate. With the legislative filibuster still in place, the statehood bill would require 60 votes to advance. Hoyer said Wednesday he hoped the Senate will change the “undemocratic” filibuster and would allow the statehood bill to pass in the upper chamber with a simple majority, like the House. 
Eleanor Holmes Norton, District of Columbia delegate to the House of Representatives, speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill May 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)”Hopefully at some point in time, the people themselves will say to the United States Senate … it is undemocratic [and] it is un-American to have the minority hold the majority hostage,” Hoyer said of the filibuster. “Our strategy is to pass good bills  … and hope the Senate, through the majority vote, will enact the people’s will.”DEMOCRATS RENEW DC STATEHOOD PUSH THAT WOULD REMAKE NATIONAL POLITICSD.C. officials and Democrats have framed the statehood issue as a civil rights matter for residents who have been historically disenfranchised. But Republicans have been firmly against D.C. statehood, calling it an unconstitutional Democratic power grab designed to shift control in the Senate by adding two senators from a liberal stronghold.D.C. has a population of more than 700,000 residents – greater than Wyoming and Vermont – but the residents don’t have voting members in House and has no representation in the Senate. Nor does it have control over its own local affairs. However, the District of Columbia pays more in federal taxes than 21 states and more per capita than any state, according to the 2019 IRS data book. Under the plan, the 51st state would be called “Washington, Douglass Commonwealth,” named for Frederick Douglass. The state would consist of 66 of the 68 square miles of the present-day federal district.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPThe two square miles around the White House, Capitol, Supreme Court and National Mall would be carved out into a reduced federal district controlled by Congress and named the “Capital.”D.C. would have full control over local affairs and full representation in Congress, which would amount to two senators and one representative in the House based on the current population.

Ohio congressman says FBI called 2017 baseball shooting targeting GOP 'suicide by cop,' demands new probe

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One of the Republican congressmen who survived an attempted mass shooting at a Virginia baseball field in 2017 is demanding the FBI reassess the attack after he revealed during a hearing last week that the bureau had designated the incident a “suicide by cop.””This conclusion defies logic and contradicts the publicly known facts about the perpetrator and the attack,” Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, wrote in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The shooter had an extensive social media record highlighting his hatred of President Trump and Republicans.”FBI DIRECTOR WRAY: CAPITOL RIOT COULD HAVE INSPIRED INTERNATIONAL TERRORISTSThe gunman, James Hodgkinson, fired well over 100 rounds at the congressmen, their aides and others present on the ballfield.He had asked whether the ballplayers were Democrats or Republicans before opening fire and was carrying a list of GOP lawmakers and their physical descriptions. The GOP team was there practicing for an annual charity baseball game in which the two parties had squared off annually since 1909.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, speaks during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Al Drago/Pool via AP)

The Let-Teenagers-Knife-Fight Caucus

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Then-White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett in 2014. (Larry Downing/Reuters)

Before many details were known about the shooting of teenager Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, many journalists, activists, and politicians raced to fit the story into the broader narrative about police misconduct toward black Americans. The fact that a cop shot a black teenager just as the judge was about to read the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial made the story too difficult to resist.

When it turned out that body cam footage showed that Bryant was shot while literally lunging with a giant knife toward another black teenager, the story obviously changed dramatically. The Washington Post’s Radley Balko showed integrity by retracting his initial comments about the incident, and apologizing for not waiting until more was known. On the other hand, Ohio senator Sherrod Brown ploughed ahead with the narrative, tweeting, “While the verdict was being read in the Derek Chauvin trial, Columbus police shot and killed a sixteen-year-old girl. Her name was Ma’Khia Bryant. She should be alive right now.” 
While Brown and the White House have decided to simply sidestep the inconvenient element that the shooting may have saved a young black girl from being fatally stabbed, others are going a step further.
In a viral tweet, activist Bree Newsome suggested that cops, who were called to the scene, should just have somehow stayed out of what was clearly just a standard teenage knife fight:

Teenagers have been having fights including fights involving knives for eons. We do not need police to address these situations by showing up to the scene & using a weapon against one of the teenagers. Y’all need help. I mean that sincerely.
— DEFUND & ABOLISH POLICE, REFUND OUR COMMUNITIES (@BreeNewsome) April 21, 2021

It was easy enough to dismiss this as a one off, but I started seeing more and more people echoing this idea on Twitter, and then came this from Valerie Jarrett:

A Black teenage girl named Ma’Khia Bryant was killed because a police officer immediately decided to shoot her multiple times in order to break up a knife fight. Demand accountability. Fight for justice. #BlackLivesMatter.
— Valerie Jarrett (@ValerieJarrett) April 21, 2021

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Jarrett is not a typical Twitter user. She served as Barack Obama’s closest adviser throughout his presidency, and is currently the interim head of his foundation. She is deeply connected in Democratic politics, including with many high-ranking officials in the Biden administration.
As HotAir’s Allahpundit quips, “When lefties said we should defund the police and not sweat the social consequences, they weren’t messing around.”
There are really two layers of arguments here.
One is that cops should somehow treat teenage knife fights as they would harmless roughhousing and simply ignore it. The other idea is that the officer should have figured out a way to resolve the situation without doing any harm — this even though video suggests a girl was seconds (or less) away from being stabbed. Why not shoot the leg? Or shoot the knife out of her hand? 
People evidently believe this is like the movies. That somehow a cop is like Clint Eastwood’s man with no name in The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, shooting a rope from hundreds of yards away to free Tuco from being hanged. In reality, this is not a sniper carefully getting in position to shoot a target. We’re talking about shooting a small, erratically moving target in real time. It is completely unrealistic to expect, no matter how well-trained a cop is.
To be clear, it’s possible more details will emerge that will require us to further reevaluate what transpired in Columbus. But the idea that cops need to take a step back and let teenagers stab it out with each other is completely insane.

House Republicans introduce climate initiative as Dems continue Green New Deal push

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is taking a conservative approach to tackling climate change with the help of his GOP colleagues.McCarthy’s Energy Innovation Agenda comes as House Democrats on Tuesday reintroduced the progressive plan to fight climate change in the U.S.: the Green New Deal, which has 103 House cosponsors, along with separate bills for public housing, a civilian climate corps and funding for cities.”Our goal with the Energy Innovation Agenda is to show the country how our solutions-oriented policies on climate and energy would lower global emissions and maintain U.S. energy independence,” McCarthy, R-Calif., told Fox News.He noted that between 2000 and 2016 the U.S. reduced more carbon emissions than the 12 next most emissions-reducing countries combined, “proving that we can have a robust energy sector employing thousands of Americans while also lowering emissions.”The minority leader has been sharing video statements of his House GOP colleagues giving brief explanations of their respective proposals to help conserve U.S. wildlife and forests, promote nuclear power as a clean solution, protect U.S. pipelines and natural gas, roll back harmful regulations and push American energy innovation.The initiative features legislation from about 40 lawmakers so far.REPUBLICANS SENATORS LINE UP AGAINST BIDEN’S MASSIVE $2T SPENDING BILL: ‘FAR CRY’ FROM INFRASTRUCTURE”This agenda is absolutely a step in the right direction for a more climate-conscious Republican Party and has the potential to establish Republicans as the party of real climate solutions,” Karly Matthews, communications director of the American Conservation Collation, a nonprofit, youth-focused environmental group, told Fox News. Matthews added that “many” of the 30-plus bills included in McCarthy’s initiative are bipartisan, “commonsense, actionable measures to reduce emissions, contrasted with a nonbinding resolution with no real support from either party.””There’s definitely still work to do on this issue of climate change in the 117th Congress, but ACC is encouraged by this demonstration of leadership from House Republicans,” she said.
US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, and US Senator Ed Markey (R), Democrat of Massachusetts, speak during a press conference to announce Green New Deal legislation in 2019. (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Cotton heading to Iowa in June, sparking more 2024 speculation

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Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas is heading to the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa in late June to help support fellow Republicans running in the 2022 midterm elections.The trip by Cotton, who is considered a potential 2024 GOP presidential hopeful, will spark more speculation about his likely national ambitions in the next White House race.COTTON, AT CPAC, TELLS CONSERVATIVES ‘WE WILL NEVER RETREAT’The Republican Party of Iowa confirmed to Fox News on Wednesday that Cotton will team up with longtime Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and GOP state chair Jeff Kaufmann on June 29 in Sioux Center, a small city in the reliably red northwest part of the Hawkeye State.The 87-year-old Grassley of Iowa has not announced yet whether he’ll run next year for an eighth term in the Senate. The state could be the site of competitive Senate, House and gubernatorial showdowns in 2022.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. 
(Evelyn Hockstein/Pool via AP)Cotton, who faced nominal opposition last year as he ran for reelection, spent much of his time campaigning for then-President Trump’s 2020 reelection as well as for down-ballot Republicans. His travels brought him both to Iowa as well as New Hampshire, the state that votes second in the presidential nominating calendar and for a century has held the first primary in the White House race. This year Cotton has already headlined two virtual events for New Hampshire’s GOP.COTTON AND ROMNEY TEAM UP TO PUSH MINIMUM WAGE COMPROMISEAsked last summer during an interview with Fox News in New Hampshire if a potential White House run in 2024 was something he is mulling, Cotton said, “I’ll continue to try to focus on the ways we can make America a better place for all of our citizens in any way whatsoever.”News of Cotton’s trip to the Hawkeye State was first reported by the Iowa Field Report.”I think there are a lot of folks excited about what Tom Cotton has been talking about. He is working hard to get himself out in front voters sooner rather than later as many of us expect 2024 to produce a bumper crop of potential candidates vying for the presidency,” Iowa Field Report editor and veteran GOP political operative Luke Martz told Fox News.Cotton, who turns 44 next month, is a veteran Army infantry officer who served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars before being elected first to the House in 2012 and then the Senate two years later. He upped his national profile soon after entering the Senate by taking a strong stand against the Iranian nuclear deal forged by former President Barack Obama’s administration. At the beginning of 2020, Cotton was one of the first lawmakers in Congress to raise red flags about the coronavirus pandemic and repeatedly slammed Beijing’s handling of the virus, which originated in China.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPCotton is a strong Trump supporter, but broke with him over the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by right-wing extremists and other Trump supporters who aimed to disrupt congressional certification of now-President Biden’s election victory.Cotton will become the fourth potential 2024 GOP presidential contender to travel to Iowa so far this year.Last month, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to a local Republican club in suburban Des Moines. And earlier this month, Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Tim Scott of South Carolina headlined separate events for the Iowa GOP.

Fifteen Things That Caught My Eye Today: MLK on Suffering, Biden Sues for Transgender Mandate, Remembering Chuck Colson & More

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1. Via the Trinity Forum, Martin Luther King Jr. on suffering:

Some of my personal sufferings over the last few years have also served to shape my thinking…. As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways that I could respond to my situation: either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course. Recognizing the necessity for suffering I have tried to make of it a virtue. If only to save myself from bitterness, I have attempted to see my personal ordeals as an opportunity to transform myself and heal the people involved in the tragic situation which now obtains. I have lived these last few years with the conviction that unearned suffering is redemptive.
There are some who still find the cross a stumbling block, and others consider it foolishness, but I am more convinced than ever before that it is the power of God unto social and individual salvation. So like the Apostle Paul I can now humbly yet proudly say, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” The suffering and agonizing moments through which I have passed over the last few years have also drawn me closer to God. More than ever before I am convinced of the reality of a personal God.”

2. Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, of Saint Paul and Minneapolis:

The verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer now convicted on all counts as a result of his role in the death of George Floyd last spring, is a sobering moment for our community. The decision by a jury of peers punctuates the grief that has gripped the Twin Cities in these last months and underscores the soul-searching that has taken place in homes, parishes, and workplaces across the country as we together confront the chasm that exists between the brokenness of our world and the harmony and fraternity that our Creator intends for all his children.
We hold up once again the image of the Crucified Christ, whose resurrection gives witness to the healing power of forgiveness, compassion, reconciliation, and peace. It is our shared brotherhood with Jesus that calls us to a deeper respect for all human life. We ask him to bring healing into our communities, comfort to the family of George Floyd and all who mourn, and satisfaction to those who thirst for justice. May the many reminders of the Lord’s loving closeness even in challenging times inspire us to treat each other with unfailing respect, to work non-violently for the common good and to be instruments of reconciliation.

3.

#BREAKING: The Biden Admin just filed an appeal seeking to force religious doctors and hospitals to perform potentially harmful gender-transition procedures against their conscience and professional medical judgment. This is bad for patients, doctors, and religious liberty. 1/
— Luke Goodrich (@LukeWGoodrich) April 20, 2021

4.

‘They were lured in a guise that Edo state government is giving financial support to single mothers with newborn babies’https://t.co/Lk6uTl7yGw
— Arise (@arisefdn) April 21, 2021

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5. Coptic Orthodox Christian executed by ISIS affiliates in Egypt
6.

Two years ago today in #SriLanka. https://t.co/HPotR8XnnO
— Alberto Miguel Fernandez (@AlbertoMiguelF5) April 21, 2021

7. An Early Promise Broken: Inside Biden’s Reversal on Refugees
8. ‘This is about freedom’: EWTN Poland’s director thanks Catholics for helping to unblock YouTube channel
9. Pope sends respirators to Covid-struck Colombia
10. Making Mothers Count in Medicine: Valuing the Work of Doulas in Perinatal Care
11. Mom Who Chose Life as a Teen Now Works in the Pro-Life Movement
12.

21 April 1932 | A Belgian Jewish boy, Harry Friedrich Weinberger, was born in Antwerp.
On 26 October 1942 he was murdered in a gas chamber in #Auschwitz. pic.twitter.com/8bKzjMeMtg
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) April 21, 2021

13.

This lovely Mondale story reminds us that presidential campaigns are NOT an “MRI of the soul”–that you can be a not-great campaigner & also an exemplary human https://t.co/YGE4KqrcoE
— Robert Draper (@DraperRobert) April 21, 2021

14. Remembering New Life for Chuck Colson on the Anniversary of His Passing

15. Where is the Water Cooler in a Virtual Work Environment?

Fourteen Things That Caught My Eye Today: MLK on Suffering, Biden Sues for Transgender Mandate, Remembering Chuck Colson & More

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1. Via the Trinity Forum, Martin Luther King Jr. on suffering:

Some of my personal sufferings over the last few years have also served to shape my thinking…. As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways that I could respond to my situation: either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course. Recognizing the necessity for suffering I have tried to make of it a virtue. If only to save myself from bitterness, I have attempted to see my personal ordeals as an opportunity to transform myself and heal the people involved in the tragic situation which now obtains. I have lived these last few years with the conviction that unearned suffering is redemptive.
There are some who still find the cross a stumbling block, and others consider it foolishness, but I am more convinced than ever before that it is the power of God unto social and individual salvation. So like the Apostle Paul I can now humbly yet proudly say, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” The suffering and agonizing moments through which I have passed over the last few years have also drawn me closer to God. More than ever before I am convinced of the reality of a personal God.”

2. Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, of Saint Paul and Minneapolis:

The verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer now convicted on all counts as a result of his role in the death of George Floyd last spring, is a sobering moment for our community. The decision by a jury of peers punctuates the grief that has gripped the Twin Cities in these last months and underscores the soul-searching that has taken place in homes, parishes, and workplaces across the country as we together confront the chasm that exists between the brokenness of our world and the harmony and fraternity that our Creator intends for all his children.
We hold up once again the image of the Crucified Christ, whose resurrection gives witness to the healing power of forgiveness, compassion, reconciliation, and peace. It is our shared brotherhood with Jesus that calls us to a deeper respect for all human life. We ask him to bring healing into our communities, comfort to the family of George Floyd and all who mourn, and satisfaction to those who thirst for justice. May the many reminders of the Lord’s loving closeness even in challenging times inspire us to treat each other with unfailing respect, to work non-violently for the common good and to be instruments of reconciliation.

3.

#BREAKING: The Biden Admin just filed an appeal seeking to force religious doctors and hospitals to perform potentially harmful gender-transition procedures against their conscience and professional medical judgment. This is bad for patients, doctors, and religious liberty. 1/
— Luke Goodrich (@LukeWGoodrich) April 20, 2021

4.

‘They were lured in a guise that Edo state government is giving financial support to single mothers with newborn babies’https://t.co/Lk6uTl7yGw
— Arise (@arisefdn) April 21, 2021

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5. Coptic Orthodox Christian executed by ISIS affiliates in Egypt
6.

Two years ago today in #SriLanka. https://t.co/HPotR8XnnO
— Alberto Miguel Fernandez (@AlbertoMiguelF5) April 21, 2021

7. An Early Promise Broken: Inside Biden’s Reversal on Refugees
8. ‘This is about freedom’: EWTN Poland’s director thanks Catholics for helping to unblock YouTube channel
9. Pope sends respirators to Covid-struck Colombia
10. Making Mothers Count in Medicine: Valuing the Work of Doulas in Perinatal Care
11. Mom Who Chose Life as a Teen Now Works in the Pro-Life Movement
12.

21 April 1932 | A Belgian Jewish boy, Harry Friedrich Weinberger, was born in Antwerp.
On 26 October 1942 he was murdered in a gas chamber in #Auschwitz. pic.twitter.com/8bKzjMeMtg
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) April 21, 2021

13.

This lovely Mondale story reminds us that presidential campaigns are NOT an “MRI of the soul”–that you can be a not-great campaigner & also an exemplary human https://t.co/YGE4KqrcoE
— Robert Draper (@DraperRobert) April 21, 2021

14. Remembering New Life for Chuck Colson on the Anniversary of His Passing

Gov. Cuomo dodges question on whether he'll resign if state AG probe concludes he sexually harassed employees

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Embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo dodged questions Wednesday on whether he will resign from office if State Attorney General Letitia James’ probe confirms allegations that he sexually harassed current and former employees.James’ office is currently investigating allegations from nine women, including current and former aides, who have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment or misconduct. When asked to provide a “yes or no” response to whether he would resign if investigators found he engaged in wrongdoing under state law, Cuomo declined to clarify.”Let’s see what the report says and then we will take it from there,” Cuomo said. “I’m not going to have any comment on a review that is underway beyond that. I was attorney general of the state. I said to everyone, during a review, please don’t comment during the pendency of the review.”Let the review go on. At the appropriate time, I will have a comment about the review and about the facts and about the truth and I’m looking forward to that. But now is not the time,” the governor added.The line of the reporter who asked Cuomo the initial question cut out as he attempted to follow up on the governor’s response. It’s unclear if it occurred due to a glitch or if the reporter’s audio was intentionally cut.Cuomo has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and has resisted calls from prominent lawmakers, including Democratic New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, that he resign from office in response to the allegations. Aside from James’ investigation, the New York State Assembly’s Judiciary Committee has launched a probe into potential impeachment proceedings.The allegations against Cuomo include a claim from a female staffer who said the governor groped her during an encounter at his mansion last year. The governor has denied the allegation.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPIn March, Cuomo said hugs and kisses are his “customary way” of greeting people and apologized if anyone was made “uncomfortable” by his actions. At the press conference, Cuomo was asked whether he has made any changes to his behavior in response to the allegations. In response, he noted the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has changed everyone’s typical interactions.”You’ve watched me in public for many, many years,” Cuomo told reporters. “You know how I behave. The people of New York know how I behave.”

‘Tragic Day Here’: Deputy Fatally Shoots North Carolina Black Man While Serving Search Warrant

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A North Carolina man was shot and killed on Wednesday morning by a sheriff’s deputy executing a search warrant at his home, authorities said. The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office said Andrew Brown Jr., a 40-year-old Black man, was shot around 8:30 a.m. while deputies were serving a search warrant in the 400 block of Perry Street in Elizabeth City. Authorities offered few details about the shooting at an afternoon press conference, but Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten said Brown was the subject of the search warrant, adding that it is “a tragic day here.” The officer who killed Brown has been placed on leave pending an investigation. According to WKBN, Brown got into his car and began to drive away while authorities were at his home. Witnesses told the outlet they heard a deputy fire at least six shots while he was in the car. Family members said Brown had 10 children and did not own a gun. “We’re looking for accurate answers, not fast answers,” Dare County District Attorney Andrew Womble said Wednesday.The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is now handling the investigation into the shooting, which prompted instant outrage from the community. Several live videos of Perry Street in the aftermath of Brown’s death showed at least two dozen residents visibly upset, with several holding up signs and yelling at police. “The sheriff needs to address these people,” Local NAACP president Keith Rivers, told WAVY. Gesturing to the angry crowd, he added: “In light of everything that’s going in America with the shooting of unarmed Black men, I came down to make sure that the facts are clearly disseminated.” Brown’s death marks the latest in a string of police shootings involving Black residents across the United States. On Tuesday night, a Columbus police officer shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’khia Bryant after she appeared to have lunged at someone with a knife during a fight. The shocking incident, which was captured on police body cameras, came just minutes before former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd.Earlier this month, a white police officer in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black man, apparently firing her service weapon by accident instead of a Taser during the traffic stop.

MPs criticise lack of detail on foreign holidays – and demand more by end of month

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MPs have accused the government of a “missed opportunity” in failing to give more detailed plans on how Britons might be able to enjoy foreign holidays this summer.Under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions, international travel won’t be allowed any earlier than 17 May.
In a report earlier this month, the government’s Global Travel Taskforce confirmed plans for a traffic light system, with countries divided between “green”, “amber” and “red” destinations.
Under the proposals there would be different travel restrictions applied to each category of country, which would be determined depending on their perceived COVID risk.Quarantine-free travel would be allowed to “green” countries, while 10-day isolation periods would be required for those returning from “amber” destinations, and a 10-day quarantine period in a hotel would be mandated for those coming back from “red” countries.

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However, the House of Commons’ transport committee has now criticised the taskforce’s report for lacking the detail required to restart international travel.
It said international travel has had its “wings clipped” by the “cautious” report.

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The committee concluded: “Bearing in mind the urgent, existential threat to the UK aviation and travel sectors posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the Global Travel Taskforce report failed to strike that balance, because it included insufficient detail to allow businesses to prepare for, and travellers to engage in, the planned safe restart of international travel on 17 May.”The MPs also found, even where detail is provided, costs may be disproportionate to the risk and add £500 on to the cost of a family of four travelling to the safest parts of the globe where the vaccine roll-out is comparable to the UK.Under the taskforce’s plans, a pre-departure coronavirus test would be needed before heading to a “green” country, with a PCR test needed on or before day two of their arrival back into the UK.

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PM ‘not given up’ on foreign holidays this summer

In order to allow the aviation and tourism sectors to prepare for restart – and to satisfy the public’s desire to know when they can safely book trips abroad – the MPs called for:• Details on which countries would be in which categories of the traffic light system by 1 May at the latest• An explanation of the criteria and mechanisms by which countries will move between the green, amber and red categories• An affordable testing regime for Britons wanting to head abroad• Action on reducing waiting times and queues at the UK border, including the development of a system based on a single digital app to process health certification.Conservative MP Huw Merriman, the committee’s chair, said: “The aviation and travel sectors were crying out for a functional report, setting out clear rules and offering certainty. This is not it.”Where the industry craved certainty, the government has failed to provide it.”For UK citizens seeking to travel to the parts of the globe where the vaccine has been delivered as rapidly as the UK, the cost to families from testing could be greater than the cost of the flights.”This is a missed opportunity for the government to capitalise on the UK’s world-leading ‘vaccine dividend’.”How can it be right that hauliers, arriving from parts of the globe where the vaccine roll-out is slow, are able to use cheaper lateral flow testing whilst a trip back from Israel requires a PCR test which is four times as expensive.”This was an opportunity to provide a global lead with standardised rules on international health certification and promoting app-based technology, making the processes at borders more secure and less time consuming.”The urgent situation facing the aviation and travel sectors warrants a clear action plan to green light our travel – and the government must urgently set it out.”

Is Anyone, Besides Chris Christie, Yearning for a ‘Christie 2024’ Bid?

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Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie in Trenton, N.J., January 9, 2018 (Dominick Reuter/Reuters)

The fact that our last three presidents are named Joe Biden, Donald Trump, and Barack Obama should be a vivid reminder that unlikely figures can end up in the Oval Office.
With that said… is there anybody out there not named “Chris Christie” who has been yearning for a 2024 presidential campaign from the former New Jersey governor?

The biggest, and most glaring challenge is that Christie is probably insufficiently supportive of Trump to win over Trump’s fans, and too supportive of Trump – endorsing him at a key point in the 2016 primary – to win over the remaining Trump skeptics within the GOP. I suppose it’s possible Christie can somehow pitch himself as being neither too supportive or too critical of Trump… but I wouldn’t count on it.
Axios reports, “Christie, whose 2016 bid for the nomination was short-lived, has told friends that he’d be the only person in the 2024 field with executive experience who has run a presidential race before.” Okay… but in 2016, the field had plenty of governors, and Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee had run before. Heck, Santorum and Huckabee had both won the Iowa caucuses before! The experience didn’t really help them in 2016, in Iowa or elsewhere.

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Axios interprets the experience comment as a Christie jab at current Florida governor Ron DeSantis. And if you squint, you can kind of see DeSantis as the Chris Christie of 2021 – blunt, combative with the press, winning support in his home state for getting things done.

But the Florida governor is… in the policy fight, doing things, while Christie is commentating on ABC News on Sunday mornings. There are worse ways to stay in the public eye, but GOP primary voters in late 2023 and early 2024 might be wondering what Christie has done for them lately.
Back in 2016, I diagnosed Christie’s schtick: “the man of action in a sea of talkers, the Mr. Fix-It among the ineffectual wonks — that must be appealing to the kind of voter who likes Trump’s style but wishes it was backed up by even a shred of substance. And while it bodes ill for productive political discourse, it obviously works for Christie, because he’s kept at it. And it has the tangential benefit of masking what is at best a spotty history of conservative policymaking.” And that schtick didn’t sell all that well in 2016 – he was an asterisk in Iowa and 7.6 percent in New Hampshire, and quit the race after that.
Whenever a presidential candidate who did not succeed the first time wants to run again, I always look for some change in strategy, some sort of adjustment based upon experience. But far too many of these guys run again with the unspoken argument that “the voters, having realized the error of their ways, come to their senses and see what a terrific option I was all along.”

George Floyd Didn’t ‘Sacrifice’ His Life, Nancy Pelosi. It Was Stolen From Him.

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The moment Derek Chauvin was found guilty on three counts for murdering George Floyd, white people and corporations started delivering their performative reactions.“I can breathe,” the Los Vegas Raiders tweeted out. “And for now, a nation can breathe again,” tweeted commentator and former Obama adviser David Axelrod. “We must remember Mr. Floyd and the change his death has spurred in the U.S. consciousness,” the BlueCross BlueShield Association tweeted out, adding that “Blue Cross Blue Shield companies are committed to doing the hard work moving forward.” But the most cringeworthy moment came from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who thanked Floyd for his “sacrifice” during a press conference with the Congressional Black Caucus. “Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice,” Pelosi said moments after Chavin’s guilty verdict. “Because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice.”If you’d been living under a rock since May, you would have thought that Floyd was a martyr who was killed for his belief in racial justice instead of a man who’d been murdered by a police officer. Following Pelosi’s logic, one would think that this Black father made a deliberate choice to lie down and be kneeled on for 9 minutes and 29 seconds so the world could witness his death and understand it as a necessary evil for the greater cause. In other words, Pelosi wants us to think that George Floyd like Jesus Christ: someone who chose to die or accepted his death to redeem society’s sins.

‘Horrendous Tragedy’: Columbus Police Identify Cop Who Fatally Shot 16-Year-old Girl

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COLUMBUS—The Columbus police officer who fatally shot 16-year-old Ma’khia Bryant on Tuesday during a chaotic encounter involving a knife has been identified by authorities as Nicholas Reardon, who’s been on the force for less than two years.“I understand the outrage and emotion around this incident. A teenage girl is dead, and she’s dead at the hands of a police officer. Under any circumstances, that is a horrendous tragedy,” Columbus Safety Director Ned Pettus Jr said during a Wednesday press conference, where authorities also released several new body-camera videos of the incident and the initial 911 calls.“But the video shows that there is more to this. It requires us to pause, take a close look at the sequence of events. And though it’s not easy, wait for the facts as determined by an independent investigation,” he added.Police said the incident began around 4:32 p.m. on Tuesday when officers received two 911 calls about an attempted stabbing. In the first call, a female voice can be heard giving the dispatcher an address and saying people were “over here trying to fight us, trying to stab us, trying to put their hands on our grandma.” Screaming can be heard in the background.“We need a police officer over here now,” the individual is heard saying. “We need a crisis officer over here now.” In the second call, a dispatcher tells the caller that police are en route. It was unclear if the caller was Bryant, as an aunt told reporters on Tuesday evening.In the body-cam footage released just hours after the incident and played again on Wednesday, Bryant can be seen wielding a knife as she rushes towards another girl. “Get down! Get down!” an officer is heard yelling—before he fires four shots at Bryant as she appears to be swinging the knife. Bryant is then seen on the ground while a man can be heard yelling “She’s just a fucking kid, man!”The officers tended to Bryant and called for a medic, authorities said. She was transported to a nearby hospital, Mount Carmel East, but died of her injuries. The incident occurred just minutes before former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd for kneeling on the unarmed Black man for nine minutes during a May 2020 arrest.The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is now handling the investigation into the Columbus shooting and reviewing Reardon’s use of deadly force. In one video, the officer can be heard saying “he came at her with a knife.” Pettus Jr. said investigators do not yet know who called the police or what would have happened if Reardon, who was hired in December 2019, did not discharge his weapon. Columbus Interim Police Chief Mike Woods added that Reardon may not have had “cover, distance, and time” to use a Taser.“Bottom line—did Ma’khia Bryant need to die yesterday? How did we get here? This is a failure on part of our community. Some are guilty, but all of us are responsible,” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said Wednesday.The initial body-cam video was released Tuesday night after Bryant’s family members spoke to reporters and accused authorities of killing a girl who was just trying to defend herself. Donnie Bryant, one of the teenager’s cousins, told The Daily Beast that the family is “absolutely shocked” by the footage of Tuesday’s shooting and wants “justice.”The video is “very disturbing. As a former city council member, I know first-hand there are de-escalating tactics that could have been used in this situation. You don’t have to pull out your gun and kill a 16-year-old,” Bryant said.Describing the teenager as a “bubbly” girl who “had a sweet soul and loved her mother very much,” Bryant said the family is struggling to figure out how to move forward. “I don’t think there are words for what is happening right now. We want to know what that officer was thinking. What is really going on with the Columbus Police Department,” he said.“You heard about the sigh of relief with the George Floyd case. Well, not here in Columbus Ohio,” he added.The teenager’s neighbors were also shocked by the shooting. Charles Williams, a 63-year-old neighbor, told The Daily Beast that when he arrived at the scene, officers were still standing around after Bryant’s body had been taken away.“Neighbors had begun to gather and were chanting, ‘Black lives matter,’” Williams said. “The officers responded by chanting, ‘Blue lives matter.’”Police have not yet commented on a video that emerged overnight showing a police officer shouting “blue lives matter” to a group of upset residents.Williams, who is a staff minister at a local church, added that the video of Bryant’s shooting clearly shows that the officer failed to warn the teenager before firing. “This girl did not have to die,” he said. “The officer, after he shot her, they (other police officers) whisked him away.”Another neighbor, 23-year-old Tammy Taylor, also believes that the officer could have used other means to restraint the teenager.“His Taser was in a more reachable spot than his gun,” Taylor, who arrived at the scene shortly after the teenager was shot, told The Daily Beast. “He could have Tased her.”She said that when she arrived at the scene shortly after the teenager was shot, “all I saw was her on the ground.”

Facebook Busts Shadowy Hacker Groups Targeting Palestinian Politicos

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Facebook has uncovered two hacking groups targeting a range of officials on opposite sides of the political divide in Palestinian politics.On Wednesday, Facebook’s security team announced that it had disrupted a hacking effort linked to the Palestinian Authority-controlled intelligence agency, the Preventive Security Service (PSS), and a campaign targeting the Palestinian Authority linked to a shadowy hacking group known as “Arid Viper.”According to Facebook, the PSS-linked hackers targeted non-governmental journalists and human-rights activists as well as government targets across the region, including in the Palestinian territories, Syria, Libya, Lebanon, and Turkey.The PSS-linked hackers used sock-puppet accounts which posed “primarily as young women” in an effort to tempt targets into engaging with the personas and installing malicious Android and Windows applications.In a somewhat more sophisticated effort, Facebook said Wednesday that it found a separate group of hackers linked to a group known to security researchers alternately as “Arid Viper” and “Desert Falcon” attempting to target officials from the Palestinian National Authority, Special Police, Ministries of Interor and Education, as well as the Palestinian political party, Fatah.Arid Viper is linked to a 2017 campaign in which fake Facebook profiles populated with thirst trap photos of attractive women sent malicious Android apps to Israeli Defense Force members. The IDF blamed Hamas for the social engineering effort and at least one cybersecurity firm linked the effort to Arid Viper.Facebook, however, said that it “cannot conclusively confirm this connection based on our evidence.”In what Facebook called a “tactical shift,” Arid Viper hackers moved away from a primarily Android-based approach to hacking adversaries and developed its own custom malware to break the iPhone operating system, iOS.Starting in 2019, Facebook’s security team “observed a spike in Arid Viper’s activity involving the creation of dozens of fake Facebook and Instagram profiles.”In particular, Arid Viper hackers began attempting to post links to the malicious iOS malware, as well as a similarly malicious Android application, on its platform and blocked the sites, leading the hackers to try and host the poisoned apps at off-platform websites.The iOS malware used by Arid Viper appears to be less sophisticated than other malware found attacking the iPhone and iPad operating system. While some of the most notorious iOS malware can infect a device with a single errant click on a malicious link (or, in some cases, without one), Arid Viper hackers’s iOS malware was more rudimentary. In order to infect their targets, the hacker had to trick victims into weakening their phone’s security settings and installing a malicious application. Facebook characterizes the malware and the methods to deploy it, which rely heavily on targets making a series of unwise security mistakes, as having “low-sophistication.”Once installed, the malicious software could gain access to a user’s photos, camera, microphone text messages, WhatsApp messages, and other sensitive data.Facebook says it alerted affected users, blocked links to known phishing sites hosting the malware, and warned industry partners about the hackers abuse of an Apple developer certificate which allowed the malicious software to appear legitimate.The malicious iPhone hacking attempts, according to Facebook, suggest that the Apple platform is increasingly a target for hackers even beyond elite cyber powers. “Arid Viper’s use of custom iOS surveillance-ware shows that this capability is becoming increasingly attainable by adversaries believed to be of lower sophistication,” the company said.

‘Police Say’

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Anti-police activists and sympathetic reporters often complain — rightly, in some cases — about an over-reliance on police sourcing in stories involving police shootings or alleged misconduct.
But they are more than happy to rely entirely on the official police account when reporting a detail that supports the officer’s course of action. In that case, the cop-skeptical reporter will cite law-enforcement officials rather than doing further reporting that might confirm their account. By ensuring that the exonerating detail comes from a fellow cop, the reporter nudges his readers toward skepticism.

This NPR report published Tuesday night is a classic of the genre, in that it relies entirely on Columbus chief of police Michael Woods’s description of body-camera footage showing the shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, rather than simply describing the contents of the video.

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“Woods said the video shows Bryant holding a knife as she pushes two girls. He said police believe she is attempting to stab both girls during the fight.” (Emphasis added).
And, as the article notes, Woods explained what was on the tape after showing the footage to a room full of reporters, so it’s not as if they were forced to rely on his account.
So, rather than simply reporting that Bryant was holding a knife at the moment she was shot (as is obvious to anyone who views the freeze-frame body-camera images proliferating online) or asking bystanders, one of whom could presumably confirm that fact, NPR is content to leave that detail in the mouths of police officers as a subtle hint to readers that it should be met with skepticism. It’s a rather short-sighted plan, though. What happens if a particularly adventurous NPR reader decides to watch the footage themselves?

Meghan McCain Decries Greg Gutfeld’s Chauvin Remarks: ‘There’s No Empathy’

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Apparently disgusted by Fox News host Greg Gutfeld’s remarks about the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict, The View’s Meghan McCain on Wednesday called for conservatives to “stop politicizing” the outcome of the murder case while suggesting Gutfeld has “no empathy.”Shortly after Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges of killing George Floyd, Gutfeld drew audible groans from his Fox colleagues when he said he was “glad that [Chauvin] was found guilty on all charges, even if he might not be guilty of all charges,” because the verdict “keeps this country from going up in flames.” He defended his position by claiming his “neighborhood was looted” last year and he doesn’t “ever want to go through that again.”Gutfeld’s nuclear take on the Chauvin trial eventually set off an on-air implosion after Fox News analyst Ted Williams asked whether the Fox host was “off his meds,” causing the Fox star to melt down on live television.Following an emotional interview with Floyd’s brothers and family attorney Ben Crump, the View hosts turned their attention to Gutfeld’s remarks and outburst.“I hate to see the jury already being attacked, already this verdict being politicized, already saying the only reason that they found… former officer Chauvin guilty is because they didn’t want to see a negative reaction in their neighborhoods,” co-host Sunny Hostin declared.“They didn’t want to see rioting in their neighborhoods,” she continued. “I’m not surprised that that is some of the reaction that you’re hearing from the right. It’s pretty despicable that people are more concerned about loss of property rather than the loss of black life.”Also railing against Gutfeld’s remarks, co-host Sara Haines said the Fox News star ultimately admitted that he would “compromise a justice system so you could sleep at night.”Haines continued: “You’re talking about your neighborhood? There were so many offenses in one statement that even his own colleagues moaned through that whole clip. Please, he is awful. Sounds like Chauvin isn’t the only one with a very little heart.”McCain, the show’s resident conservative panelist, first talked about how “emotionally moved” she was by the conversation with the Floyd family before surprisingly taking aim at Gutfeld and right-wing media in general.“I think we should focus on their pain, their grief, and trauma,” she pleaded. “Let them heal. Please, I beg everyone on the right to stop politicizing this.”She continued: “A man was murdered in cold blood and we all saw it on the internet. There’s no empathy. It makes me think these people have never experienced loss and grief of any kind. If you don’t have the humanity to not make this about you, and not make this about your neighborhood, then I don’t even know what to say. I wish that family peace, if it’s possible.”

Cardinal Truths

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Via Bryan Caplan, I came across this provocative post by Richard Hanania. He explains liberal dominance of major institutions from the media to the universities to big business as a function of “cardinal preferences.” Basically, liberals care way more about politics than conservatives do.
It’s a plausible story, and Hanania marshals a fair amount of evidence to back it. For example:
More people give to liberal causes and candidates than to conservative ones, even if Americans are about equally divided in which party they support (and no, this isn’t the result of liberals being wealthier, the connections between income and ideology or party are pretty weak).
To put Biden’s donor advantage in context, in the 2020 election Biden beat Trump in the solidly blue state of Illinois by 17%. Biden’s 22% advantage over Trump among donors across the entire country is greater than his advantage among all voters in Illinois.
Adding to the plausibility of Hanania’s story: On the issues where conservatives have been relatively successful, notably gun rights, the intensity gap works the other way.

Obama Encore: Biden Justice Department Announces Investigation of Minneapolis Police Department

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Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., February 22, 2021. (Drew Angerer/Pool via Reuters)

As foreseen here during the confirmation hearings for Attorney General Merrick Garland and other Biden nominees for top DOJ slots, the Obama Justice Department is back, and that means the police departments of the United States are in for radical surgery.
Fired Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officer Derek Chauvin was convicted yesterday afternoon on all three homicide counts in the racially charged George Floyd case. With the inevitability of the morning sun, AG Garland announced this morning that the Justice Department is launching a “pattern or practice” investigation of the MPD. The pretext is that the evidence in Chauvin’s case suggests that the police department as a whole is riven by — all together now! — systemic racism. (See the report by NR’s Zachary Evans.) This, despite the fact that some of the most compelling testimony in Chauvin’s trial came from MPD officials, who related how the actions of Chauvin and the three other subsequently fired cops (who are scheduled to be tried jointly in the Floyd case this summer) ran afoul of the MPD’s existing use-of-force, medical-assistance, and community-policing guidelines.

You knew this was coming.
The Obama administration made a habit of exacerbating tensions created by police-involved incidents involving black men. Its Justice Department then exploited such controversies to carry out a federalization of local law-enforcement in conformance with Obama-preferred progressive policing. The feds don’t go after the locals on the individual case — there will be no civil-rights criminal prosecution of Chauvin and the other ex-cops. Instead, the DOJ uses vague standards Democrats have written into civil law, amplified by the Justice Department’s gargantuan budget for litigating against states and municipalities, to “reform” entire police departments.
I explained the scheme seven years ago:
[Attorney General] Holder and [President Obama] are not banging the civil-rights drum because they believe these are prosecutable [individual] cases. It is just a pretext for unleashing Justice Department community organizers on state and municipal police departments. . . .
[T]he Justice Department civil-rights investigations Holder is fond of announcing are not like public trials. They occur out of the public eye, where feverish Justice Department claims are not aired and scrutinized. More significant, they happen with the air of extortion created by the nearly $28 billion in funding Congress keeps giving Justice every year, no matter how many congressional investigations it obstructs, how many false statements its officials make, and how much it politicizes law enforcement. The investigations are taxpayer-funded jihads that states, cities, and towns know they lack the resources to fight off.
Here is how the game works. Holder streams in behind a tragedy that [Al] Sharpton and Obama have demagogued. He announces a civil-rights investigation. Eventually, he backs down from the threat of an indictment in the individual case … [but announces that DOJ’s probe] has metastasized into a thoroughgoing civil-rights probe of the state or local police department’s training, practices, and . . . drumroll . . . institutional racism.
. . . States and their subdivisions know they cannot afford to go toe-to-toe with the Beltway behemoth. Big cities, moreover, are governed by Democrats sympathetic to the Obama/Holder race obsessions — they’re happy to have the feds come in and hamstring police with “social justice” guidelines that would be a hard sell politically. So, the Justice Department makes the locals an offer they can’t refuse: A consent decree that makes the Treaty of Versailles look like a slap on the wrist. This device is the license by which the Obama administration is remaking state law enforcement in its own image.
How do they get away with this? Well, . . . [in] 1994 — the last time before 2009 that Democrats controlled the White House and both congressional chambers — they rammed through a monstrosity known as the “Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.” A Clinton deputy attorney general named Eric Holder was among the first to exploit it.
Consistent with the Left’s view of the states as cauldrons of racism, the statute criminalizes “any government authority” that “engage[s] in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers . . . that deprives persons of [federal] rights, privileges, or immunities.” It is the civil-rights laws writ large — imposed on whole cities rather than threatened against individual police officers and citizens. And for good measure, the act encourages the attorney general to file civil lawsuits in federal court to “obtain appropriate equitable and declaratory relief to eliminate the [offensive] pattern or practice.”
Under this scheme, there are now more than 20 major American cities and their police departments beholden to the Obama Justice Department. . . . On Thursday, in fact, Holder took time out from stirring the Staten Island pot [i.e., the Eric Garner case] to pounce on Cleveland, which is still reeling from last month’s racially charged case involving the death of twelve-year-old Tamir Rice.
The boy was reportedly pointing a gun at people in a park, prompting an emergency call to police, one of whom tragically shot him to death only to find that the gun was a BB gun. Again, other than the happenstance that the boy was black and the officer was white, race had no bearing on the case. But that didn’t stop Holder from invoking the boy, along with Garner’s death in Staten Island, in announcing that Justice’s investigation had found a “pattern or practice” of excessive force used by Cleveland police. As he spoke, he was flanked by Mayor Frank Jackson, the Democrat who presided over this allegedly rogue police regime for the last decade — upon inheriting it from Jane Campbell, the last mayor . . . a Democrat who, you’ll be shocked to learn, moved on to Harvard’s Kennedy School to teach how cities should be run. Mayor Jackson has, of course, agreed to the installation of a “monitor,” who will see to it that Cleveland police conduct themselves in an Obama-compliant manner.
Seattle is another of the big cities that has been snagged by the DOJ. It has been under a consent decree since the Justice Department targeted it in 2012 for a “pattern or practice” of violations, allegedly including “subjecting individuals to excessive force” — in particular, “using excessive force against persons of color,” and “escalating situations and using excessive force when arresting individuals for minor offenses.”
You may recall that the tide of rampant crime in New York City was turned when, under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the police began cracking down on minor offenses — not untaxed cigarette sales but real violations that had nearly destroyed the city’s quality of life. What ensued was a miraculous transformation, with the Big Apple becoming the safest big city in America.
That policing model is under attack now — just as the NYPD’s extraordinarily successful counterterrorism model has been undermined by Obama’s Homeland Security Advisory Council. As Holder was making his Cleveland splash, Bill de Blasio, New York City’s hard-left mayor, opportunistically — and in the absence of any evidence — pointed to Garner’s death as proof that “the way we go about policing has to change. . . . People need to know that black lives and brown lives matter as much as white lives.”
The police departments of this country are now more representative of their communities than at any time in American history. No one knows more than they do that black lives matter. No one knows it better than the MPD, whose leader, Medaria Arradondo, the city’s first black police chief and a star prosecution witness in Chauvin’s trial. He is a disciple of Obama-style progressive police reform who rose through the ranks by investigating police misconduct (and suing the MPD for discrimination in promotions, pay, and discipline).

It may come as a surprise to Chief Arradondo that he’s been presiding over a systemically racist police department. He and the other officials convinced the jury that Chauvin was an outlier who did not represent the MPD principles. Is anyone surprised that they failed to convince the social engineers of the Obama Justice Department (now doing business as the Biden Justice Department)?

Report: Marlins to call up OF Lewis Brinson

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FILE PHOTO: Mar 3, 2021; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA; Miami Marlins right fielder Lewis Brinson (25) grounds into a fielderÕs choice in the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals during a spring training game at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports April 21, 2021
The Miami Marlins are calling up outfielder Lewis Brinson from their alternate training site to replace the injured Starling Marte, MLB Network reported Tuesday.
The Marlins announced Monday that Marte would miss at least a week with a fractured left rib. He will be placed on the injured list Tuesday.
Brinson, 26, has zero hits in eight at-bats this season. He hit .226 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 47 games last season for Miami. He was a first-round selection of the Texas Rangers in the 2012 amateur draft and is a career .187 hitter.
Marte was batting .316 with two homers, eight RBIs and three steals in 15 games this season before he injured himself while batting in the ninth inning Sunday against the San Francisco Giants.
(Field Level Media)

Panthers sign veteran DT DaQuan Jones to 1-year deal

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FILE PHOTO: Jan 1, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans defensive end DaQuan Jones (90) recovers a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown against the Houston Texans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports April 21, 2021
The Carolina Panthers signed veteran defensive tackle DaQuan Jones to a one-year deal on Tuesday.
Jones, 29, started all 16 games in five of the last six seasons with the Tennessee Titans.
A fourth-round pick by Tennessee in 2014, Jones has 235 tackles, nine sacks, 26 quarterback hits and two fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown) in 99 career games (93 starts).
With the Panthers, Jones fills a void created by the offseason departures of Kawann Short and Zach Kerr.
(Field Level Media)

Twins put OF Max Kepler, two others on COVID IL

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FILE PHOTO: Apr 15, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Twins right fielder Max Kepler celebrates after hitting walk off single against the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports April 21, 2021
The Minnesota Twins put outfielders Max Kepler and Kyle Garlick as well as left-handed reliever Caleb Thielbar on the COVID-19 injured list Tuesday, hours ahead of their first game since Friday.
The Twins had three road games postponed due to a COVID outbreak within their clubhouse, two against the Los Angels and one against the Oakland Athletics.
The Twins also reinstated outfielder Brent Rooker from the 10-day IL, recalled infielder Travis Blankenhorn from the team’s taxi squad and selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Luke Farrell, also from the taxi squad.
The Twins are playing a doubleheader at Oakland later Tuesday after Monday’s series opener was postponed. The Twins also added left-hander Lewis Thorpe as the 27th man for the doubleheader.
It’s not clear if Kepler, Garlick and Thielbar tested positive or were deemed close contacts to reported positive tests within the organization. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons tested positive last week as did a staffer later in the week.
Kepler is hitting .234 in 14 games with four doubles, one triple, eight RBIs and five walks.
Garlick has appeared in 12 games, hitting .280 with three doubles and three RBIs.
Thielbar has appeared in five games, allowing four runs on nine hits in seven innings pitched, with one walk and 15 strikeouts.
The Twins last played Friday, a 10-3 loss to the Angels at Anaheim, Calif.
(Field Level Media)

Man United chief Woodward to step down at end of 2021

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FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – Premier League – Manchester United v Southampton – Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain – July 13, 2020 Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward in the stands, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pool via REUTERS/Peter Powell April 21, 2021
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, one of the leading figures in the breakaway European Super League project, will step down from his role at United at the end of 2021, the Premier League club said on Tuesday.
United have been one of the leading clubs involved in the breakaway project and Woodward was singled out for criticism by the head of European soccer’s governing body Aleksander Ceferin.
“I am extremely proud to have served United and it has been an honour to work for the world’s greatest football club for the past 16 years,” Woodward, who joined United in 2005 and took over in his current role in 2012, said in a statement.
“The club is well positioned for the future and it will be difficult to walk away at the end of the year.
“The last 16 months have brought so many unique challenges… The financial impact on football clubs has been severe, but United have been one of the most robust and resilient in the face of extraordinary financial pressures.”
Woodward’s decision to leave his position came just as the plans for the Super League began to unravel after Manchester City announced they were planning to pull out of the planned breakaway which has received intense criticism and opposition.
The BBC reported Chelsea are also set to back out of the competition.
The Super League, which 12 of Europe’s top soccer clubs announced on Sunday that they planned to launch, argued it would increase revenues to the competing clubs and allow them to distribute more money to the rest of the game.
However, the sport’s governing bodies, other teams and fan organisations say it will increase the power and wealth of the elite clubs and the closed structure of the league goes against European football’s long-standing model.
Unlike Europe’s current elite Champions League competition, where teams have to qualify through their domestic league, the founding Super League teams would guarantee themselves a place in the new competition every year.
(Reporting by Simon Evans, additional reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris and Toby Davis)

Cowboys CB Rashard Robinson gets two-game PED suspension

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FILE PHOTO: Nov 26, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Washington Football Team running back J.D. McKissic (41) is tacked by Dallas Cowboys corner back Rashard Robinson (28) during the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports April 21, 2021
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Rashard Robinson was suspended without pay for the first two games in 2021 for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances, the league announced Tuesday.
Robinson, 25, had 20 tackles in four games (three starts) in his first season with the Cowboys in 2020.
He missed the entire 2019 season after being suspended for the first 10 weeks for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Robinson is entering the second year of a two-year, $1.815 million contract with Dallas and is due to earn $990,000 in 2021, per Spotrac.
He will be allowed to participate in offseason and preseason activities.
A fourth-round pick by San Francisco in the 2016 NFL Draft, the LSU product has recorded 85 tackles and two interceptions in 42 games (18 starts) with the 49ers (2016-17), New York Jets (2017-18) and Cowboys.
(Field Level Media)

Giants reinstate pitchers Jake McGee, Logan Webb from IL

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FILE PHOTO: Apr 7, 2021; San Diego, California, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Jake McGee (17) pitches to a San Diego Padres batter during the ninth inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports April 21, 2021
The San Francisco Giants reinstated left-hander Jake McGee and right-hander Logan Webb from the COVID-19 injured list on Tuesday.
Both pitchers landed on the IL on Sunday after experiencing adverse reactions to their second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
McGee, 34, leads the majors with six saves in nine appearances and has a 2.16 ERA.
Webb, 24, is 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA in three appearances (two starts).
To clear room, the club designated right-hander Trevor Gott for assignment and optioned left-hander Sam Selman back to the team’s alternate training site. Both were on the roster for just one day.
Gott, 28, has not pitched this season after he had a 10.03 ERA in 15 outings for the Giants in 2020. He is 13-6 with five saves and a 5.01 ERA over six seasons and 146 relief appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals and Giants.
Selman, 30, has not made an appearance for the Giants this season either. He was 1.1 with a 3.94 ERA and one save in 34 career relief appearances for the Giants over the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
(Field Level Media)

Veteran infielder Neil Walker retires after 12 seasons

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FILE PHOTO: Sep 2, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Neil Walker (12) and third baseman Alec Bohm (28) celebrate a victory against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports April 21, 2021
Infielder Neil Walker, a former first-round pick who played 12 seasons with six different teams, announced his retirement Tuesday in a Twitter post.
The 35-year-old Walker played the bulk of his games at second base, batted .267 over 1,306 games. He played 18 games with the Philadelphia Phillies last season, batting .231 with three doubles and three RBIs.
“Officially retired, thank you to everyone that helped me in my journey to live out my childhood dream of being a Major Leaguer,” Walker posted to Twitter. “I loved & cherished every day. From Pittsburgh, NY Mets & Yankees, Milwaukee, Miami, and Philly, nothing but love to those Organizations, Cities & Fans!”
An 11th-overall draft pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2004, Walker finished fifth in rookie-of-the-year voting in 2010 with the Pirates. He played seven seasons in Pittsburgh before also playing for the Mets (2016-17), Brewers (2017), Yankees (2018), Marlins (2019) and Phillies (2020).
(Field Level Media)

Soccer-Man City become first to confirm quitting Super League

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A metal figure of a football player with a ball is seen in front of the words “European Super League” and the UEFA logo in this illustration taken April 20, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration April 21, 2021
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) -Premier League leaders Manchester City became the first of the 12 founder clubs to withdraw from the new European Super League (ESL) on Tuesday as the project started to disintegrate.
Chelsea were earlier reported by the BBC to be preparing the paperwork to quit the controversial new competition but City made it official.
A brief statement on the club’s website read: “Manchester City Football Club can confirm that it has formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League.”
Abu Dhabi-owned City were one of six English clubs to join the new competition on Sunday, triggering a torrent of condemnation from within the game and beyond and threats of sanctions by European soccer’s governing body UEFA.
The move was praised by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.
“I’m delighted to welcome City back to the European football family… It takes courage to admit aa mistake but I never doubted they had the ability and common sense to make that decision. City are a real asset for the game,” he said in a statement.
The English FA also welcomed the news.
“English football has a proud history based on opportunity for all clubs and the game has been unanimous in its disapproval of a closed league,” it said in a statement.
Unlike Europe’s current elite Champions League competition, where teams have to qualify through their domestic league, the founding Super League teams would guarantee themselves a place in the new competition every year.
City’s dramatic U-turn came hours after manager Pep Guardiola spoke out against the new competition which would have been almost a closed shop for elite clubs.
The Spaniard said the ESL went against the ethos of sport as 15 of the 20 clubs involved would be permanent members without the threat of relegation.
GUARANTEED SUCCESS
“It is not sport when the relation between the effort and the success, the effort and the reward, does not exist,” Guardiola told a news conference ahead of his team’s Premier League clash at Aston Villa on Wednesday.
“It is not a sport where success is already guaranteed or it is not a sport when it doesn’t matter if you lose.
“It is not fair when one team fights to arrive at the top and cannot be qualified because the success is already guaranteed just for a few teams.”
Guardiola said he had been told of the ESL proposal hours before it was announced on Sunday, and called on Real Madrid president Florentino Perez to explain his position.
“I would love the president of the committee to go out around the world and explain how we got this decision,” Guardiola said.
The club’s website carried Guardiola’s candid quotes, a hint of what was to come later.
City and their fellow English breakaway clubs — Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur — have come in for fierce criticism for their plan to join the ESL even from their own fans.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Premier League’s 14 other clubs met to discuss the crisis along with the Football Association.
The Premier League issued a statement saying it “unanimously and vigorously rejected” the plans and were considering action to bring the six clubs to account.
With City pulling out and Chelsea set to leave, while Liverpool’s players posted a shared twitter message saying they want no part of the new league, the project looks doomed.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had threatened legislation to stop the six English clubs taking part, said shortly before City confirmed their exit that it would be welcome news.
“The decision by Chelsea and Manchester City is — if confirmed — absolutely the right one and I commend them for it,” he said. “I hope the other clubs involved in the European Super League will follow their lead.”
(Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Toby Davis/Christian Radnedge/Ken Ferris)

Nationals put Juan Soto on 10-day IL

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FILE PHOTO: Apr 14, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Juan Soto (22) celebrates with teammates after the Nationals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports April 21, 2021
The Washington Nationals put outfielder Juan Soto on the 10-day injured list Tuesday evening due to a strained left shoulder.
Soto was scratched from the lineup a couple hours before the Nationals’ game against the St. Louis Cardinals. He was replaced in right field by Andrew Stevenson, who was penciled in at the leadoff spot in the batting order.
The 22-year-old Soto is hitting .300 with two homers and eight RBIs in 14 games this season. He led the National League in 2020 with a .351 batting average to go along with 13 homers and 37 RBIs in 47 games.
The Nationals recalled outfielder Yadiel Hernandez from their alternate site to take Soto’s spot on the active roster. Hernandez is hitting .143 (1-for-7) in five games with Washington this season.
Before the game, Washington also announced it has recalled right-hander Steven Fuentes, and optioned right-hander Ryne Harper to the club’s alternate site in Fredericksburg, Va.
(Field Level Media)

Nets G James Harden out indefinitely after injury setback

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FILE PHOTO: February 15, 2021; Sacramento, California, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports April 21, 2021
Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden is out indefinitely after sustaining a setback during his rehabilitation from an injured right hamstring, the team announced Tuesday.
“We’re back to square one,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “He will be back when he’s back. It might be the playoffs. It might be sooner.”
The 31-year-old was re-injured during an on-court session, according to the team. He underwent an MRI exam Tuesday to learn the severity of the injury.
Harden is averaging 25.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 11 assists in 34 games since joining Brooklyn early in the season from the Houston Rockets in a three-team trade. He has not played since April 5, when he left after less than five minutes of action against the New York Knicks.
Last weekend, Nets general manager Sean Marks spoke optimistically about Harden’s return.
“James is progressing well,” Marks said. “He’s looking forward to having at least one or two more play days, which means he’ll play four-on-four, five-on-five with the group in practice. And then hopefully if things go smoothly, he’ll be out and joining the guys in a game.”
Harden is a nine-time All-Star, three-time NBA scoring champion and the league’s 2017-18 MVP. He was considered a strong candidate for this season’s MVP honor before his injury.
(Field Level Media)

An Angry Email on Immigration

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In response to this column:
Basically, what you’re saying is 11+ million (most of them been here15+yrs, no criminal record barring re-entry) people have to miss out on life over here, never see their family members from the respective emigree countries, unless/or they self deport because people like you posture ad infinitum on unsubstantiated expectations of failure in future immigration enforcement efforts regarding people who aren’t even here in this country today, and ignore 11+ million lives as artifacts of abstraction? All because they made a conscious decision to live amongst us citizenry by jumping the border or overstaying a visa?
Most of these people have lived amongst us for 15 years,  and don’t hold criminal records, and have contributed as much to life here as you and I have.
How much longer do these individuals have to be treated like tin cans with expiry dates two decades henceforth?

They have lives. Holding that essence of time in a human being’s life hostage to satisfy your punditry-infused audience, or phony policy chop-jollies is unbecoming.

You have provided no substantive, econometric, qualitative evidence; other than to give your preferred political body(the GOP primary audience and their political overlords) a cop-out for bigotry.

For every Borjas, there are many more Giovanni Peris, Skocpols, etc.
I’m an Indian immigrant, with a PhD in applied mathematics from a top twenty-five ranked west coast university.

I’m more skilled than you could ever be, so it’s quizzical to hear you wax lyrical about “high skilled” people like me.

I’ll always have more respect for undocumented immigrants generally speaking, than individuals like you, who lucked out through family and posture in society by hurting other immigrant families.

You don’t understand family. You just posture.

None of the ad hominem stuff here is worth addressing. As for the rest of it: The widespread concern that immigration laws will not be enforced is based on decades of nonenforcement and under-enforcement, especially at the workplace. There is no moral obligation to extend legal status or citizenship to people who voluntarily came to or stayed in this country illegally; hence the widespread intuition that people who came here as minors have a stronger claim. So it is not unjust to condition such legalization on the implementation of measures that will build confidence in enforcement.
And even if I am wrong about both of these points — if we should have full confidence that immigration laws will be enforced in the future, and we are morally obligated to provide legal status to most illegal immigrants — my political analysis stands. Mass legalization is not going to happen anytime soon so long as concern about enforcement is widespread, and telling people they are wicked and dumb for having that concern isn’t going to change that.

Hey — Why Not Squeeze Out Another Trillion for Uncle Sam?

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In today’s Wall Street Journal, columnist William Galston argues that the feds could collect another trillion or so if only the IRS would hire some more tax officials.
It’s amazing to me that Professor Galston (and like-minded “progressives”) never stop to think about the opportunity costs of their proposals. Here’s the letter I sent off to the editors:
Perhaps in some future column, Mr. Galston would care to explain how it makes us better off for the government to spend still more on tax collectors (whose efforts produce nothing) to take more money away from the people who earned it. Those people would other wise spend, invest, or donate that money in accordance with their values and expectations. They stand to gain from making good decision or to lose from bad ones. Conversely, if we transfer that money into government coffers, it will be spent as politicians desire. Politicians have very different incentives and the results of their expenditures are often wasteful and even counterproductive.
Why does that transfer of resources make the country better off? To me, it appears to make us worse off.

Sherrod Brown, Stand Down

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Senator Sherrod Brown (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

This morning, Ohio senator Sherrod Brown tweeted the following:

While the verdict was being read in the Derek Chauvin trial, Columbus police shot and killed a sixteen-year-old girl.
Her name was Ma’Khia Bryant. She should be alive right now. #MaKhiaBryanthttps://t.co/8SBdK4mxlE
— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) April 21, 2021

This is, at best, a tendentious reading of events. Facts have emerged about the police encounter Brown is referencing that complicate this simple narrative. For one, Bryant was armed and in the middle of an attempt to stab another person when shot by police. But Brown, the media, and other interested parties are ignoring such facts in service of their preferred narrative.
For these latter groups, one can at least understand what they are doing, while also disdaining it, as I do: They are trying to connect two isolated events that occurred hundreds of miles apart and lump them into the same ineffable category of systemic racism, regardless of the details involved. This conditions the same kind of national-level groupthink that has made Minneapolis the center of attention for almost a year now to direct its gaze to the next item of controversy, an unceasing search made necessary by an inexhaustible ideology. But why is Sherrod Brown playing along? The man is a senator representing the state of Ohio (where I am from, and of which I remain fond). It is unseemly for such an individual to reflexively and thoughtlessly join a mob of people who will now undoubtedly use this incident to castigate unfairly the state he represents. In doing so, he does not merely render a disservice to Ohioans, but also violates one of the Senate’s original purposes. The Senate was designed from the start to act as a refining agent of popular passion, not an agitator thereof. From Federalist No. 63, which advocated the utility of the proposed body as part of The Federalist Papers‘ broader case for ratifying the Constitution:
Such an institution may be sometimes necessary as a defense to the people against their own temporary errors and delusions. As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought, in all governments, and actually will, in all free governments, ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are particular moments in public affairs when the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn. In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of some temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career, and to suspend the blow meditated by the people against themselves, until reason, justice, and truth can regain their authority over the public mind?
Brown would be well within his rights to represent the sorrow of the state that such an encounter occurred, to investigate it (which he apparently has not done), and to work to prevent such things from happening. And the tragedy of Ma’Khia Bryant’s death is not one to downplay. It must be understood correctly, however, and not yielded over thoughtlessly in service of ideology. Brown’s decision to abandon sober, particularistic advocacy for his state in favor of a national-inflected, convulsive passion that seeks to advance its preferred narrative irrespective of facts suggests that he does not seem interested in ensuring that “reason, justice, and truth can regain their authority over the public mind.” He would have been better off saying nothing at all. 

South Korea court dismisses ‘comfort women’ lawsuit, contradicts earlier ruling

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FILE PHOTO: Former South Korean “comfort women” Lee Ok-sun and Gil Won-ok attend a news conference in Seoul, South Korea, November 13, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji April 21, 2021
By Hyonhee Shin and Daewoung Kim
SEOUL (Reuters) – A South Korean court on Wednesday upheld Japan’s state immunity to dismiss a lawsuit raised by a group of women who were forced to work in Japanese wartime brothels, contradicting a ruling in a separate earlier case that ordered Tokyo to compensate victims.
Remnants of Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula remain contentious for both sides, with many surviving “comfort women” – a Japanese euphemism for the sex abuse victims – demanding Tokyo’s formal apology and compensation.
Diplomatic tension flared in January when another judge at the Seoul Central District Court ruled in favour of other women in a separate case, ordering Japan to pay compensation for the first time. That verdict had drawn a rebuke from Tokyo which says the issue was settled under a 1965 treaty and a 2015 deal.
But on Wednesday a judge at the same court recognised Japan’s right to state immunity from overseas lawsuits, contradicting the January ruling that Japan could not assert immunity for “a crime against humanity.”
“If an exception on state immunity is acknowledged, a diplomatic clash would be inevitable during the process of forcing the ruling’s implementation,” judge Min Seong-cheol said, dismissing the latest case brought by the 20 “comfort women” victims and their relatives.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said after Wednesday’s ruling that the Japanese government cannot be subject to South Korean jurisdiction and the entire lawsuit should be dropped.
“As the Japanese government, we will continue to strongly ask the South Korean side for an appropriate action,” Kato said during a regular briefing.
Lee Yong-soo, a “comfort women” victim and one of the plaintiffs, called the ruling “absurd, nonsense,” saying she would seek international litigation over the case.
Justice Min also said the issue should be resolved via diplomatic consultations, and the 2015 agreement could provide the groundwork for a solution despite some flaws in negotiations.
Under that deal, Tokyo issued an official apology and provided 1 billion yen ($9.3 million) to a fund to help comfort women victims, with both sides promising to “irreversibly” end the dispute.
But some victims, including Lee, had rejected the settlement saying the government did not sufficiently consult them during the negotiations.
($1 = 107.9700 yen)
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Daewoung Kim; Additional reporting by Elaine Lies, Ju-min Park in Tokyo; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

France expects to lift domestic travel restrictions on May 3

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FILE PHOTO: A woman makes her way in the departures area of the Terminal 2E at Charles-de-Gaulle airport amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Roissy, near Paris, France April 2, 2021. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann April 21, 2021
PARIS (Reuters) – Domestic travel restrictions imposed to tackle the spread of the COVID-19 virus are expected to be lifted on May 3, the government said on Wednesday after a cabinet meeting.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal also said that President Emmanuel Macron’s administration was sticking to a base case scenario of bars and restaurants to re-open outdoor seatings by mid-May.
“On May 3, it is expected that travel restrictions will be lifted”, he told reporters.
The French government has also decided to order COVID-19 tests for travellers coming from India, Attal said, in a bid to prevent the spread of a coronavirus variant.
The prime minister’s office on Saturday said the country would order a strict 10-day quarantine for all travellers coming from Brazil starting April 24.
The office added that same measures would gradually be put in place by April 24 for people returning from Argentina, Chile and South Africa, where the presence of other coronavirus variants were detected.
(Reporting by Michel Rose; Writing by Matthieu Protard; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta, William Maclean)

Syrian President Assad to run for re-election in May – state media

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FILE PHOTO: Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad speaks as he meets with the Syrian cabinet in Damascus, Syria in this handout picture released by Sana on March 30, 2021. SANA/Handout via REUTERS April 21, 2021
(Corrects in lead to run for fourth term instead of third)
AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday submitted documents to run for a fourth term in an election scheduled for May 26, parliament’s speaker said on state media.
Parliament announced the election on Sunday. Washington and the Syrian opposition have denounced it as a farce designed to cement Assad’s authoritarian rule.
Assad’s family and his Baath party have ruled Syria for five decades with the help of the security forces and the army, where his Alawite minority dominate.
This year is the 10th anniversary of a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters which triggered a civil war that has left much of Syria in ruins.
The multi-sided conflict has sucked in world powers, killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more, but is now nearing its end with Assad, supported by Russian and Iranian allies, back in control of most of the country.
Candidates must have lived in Syria for the last 10 years, which prevents opposition figures in exile from standing.
(Story corrects in lead to run for fourth term instead of third)
(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; editing by John Stonestreet and Angus MacSwan)

Pakistan probes shooting of former prominent journalist critical of military

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FILE PHOTO: Absar Alam, then Chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), attends a planning meeting with senior staff in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Caren Firouz/File Photo April 21, 2021
By Umar Farooq
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani police on Wednesday opened an investigation into the shooting and wounding of a former prominent journalist and head of the state media regulator, who has been a vocal critic of the military and its alleged meddling in politics.
Absar Alam, who is in his 50s, was shot at by an unknown person in a park close to his home in Islamabad on Tuesday, police said in a statement.
He headed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) for two years under former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had fallen out with the military before he was sacked by a court on corruption charges, which he denies.
Alam was shot in the ribs and was in hospital but out of danger, police said.
“I have not lost my spirit, and I will not lose my spirit,” Alam said in a video message he recorded in a car on his way to hospital after the attack.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s relations with the press and broadcasters have become increasingly strained since he took office after an election in 2018.
Opponents say Khan secured office with the help of a crackdown on the media by the military, which has a history of involvement in Pakistani politics, including staging coups to oust civilian governments.
The military denies meddling in politics or involvement in the shooting.
“We vehemently deny this. The military has nothing to do with this,” the military’s Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) wing told Reuters.
Activists say the crackdown on the media since 2018 has left 3,000 journalists and other media workers jobless.
Alam alleged in a tweet over the weekend that the current chief of the military’s ISI spy wing called him when he was PEMRA chief to reinstate live coverage by a local TV channel of an Islamist group. The Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) had choked Islamabad in 2017 protests against cartoons published in France depicting the Prophet Mohammad.
The TLP called an end to violent nationwide anti-France protests on Tuesday after the government called a parliamentary vote on whether to expel the French ambassador over the same issue.
Amnesty International and the Community to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on authorities to investigate the shooting and find those responsible.
The shooting “highlights the dangerous climate that all members of the press face in Pakistan if they dare to criticize the country’s powerful military”, said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator.
Reporters Without Borders ranked Pakistan among the five deadliest countries for journalists in 2020, when four journalists were killed.
(Reporting by Umar Farooq; Writing and additional reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Nick Macfie)

European countries to resume J&J COVID vaccine deliveries

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FILE PHOTO: Vials labelled “COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine” and sryinge are seen in front of displayed Johnson&Johnson logo in this illustration taken, February 9, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration April 21, 2021
By Reuters Staff
BERLIN (Reuters) – European countries prepared on Wednesday to resume deliveries of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and speed up the rollout after Europe’s drug regulator backed the shot.
Germany’s health ministry said it would start deliveries to federal states for use in vaccination centres shortly, and that family doctors should receive the vaccine from week after next.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Tuesday that it had found a possible link between J&J’s vaccine and rare blood clotting issues in adults who received doses in the United States, but it said that benefits of the one-dose shot outweigh its risks.
The review of a handful of cases prompted a pause in the rollout of the J&J vaccine in Europe and the United States last week, the latest setback to efforts to tackle the pandemic, which has killed more than 3.1 million and infected 142.1 million worldwide.
While the EMA said it considers the vaccine safe, it has left it up to the European Union’s member states to decide how to use it, taking a similar stance to that with rival AstraZeneca’s shot.
The Netherlands plans to resume the use of the vaccine as of Wednesday. Italy’s health ministry recommended that the J&J vaccine be used for people over the age of 60.
In Germany, it was not immediately clear whether regulators would limit the use of J&J’s vaccine to a certain age group, as it had done with the vaccine by AstraZeneca, which its vaccine committee recommends for ages 60 and over. The committee, known as STIKO, is due to meet on Thursday.
Denmark’s health authority expects to announce its decision next week on how to proceed, pending further investigations into the vaccine’s possible link to rare blood clots.
Use of the J&J vaccine was temporarily halted by U.S. regulators last week after rare brain blood clots combined with a low blood platelet count were reported in six women, prompting the company to delay its rollout in Europe. Nearly 8 million people in the United States have received the J&J vaccine.
J&J has said it is working closely with regulators and noted that no clear causal relationship had been established between the clotting cases and its shot.

With enough supplies, Israel looks to re-route AstraZeneca vaccine delivery

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FILE PHOTO: A medical worker prepares a dose of Oxford/AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Antwerp, Belgium March 18, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman April 21, 2021
By Reuters Staff
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel no longer wants AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and is exploring with the company whether a big shipment in the pipeline could be sent elsewhere, Israel’s pandemic coordinator said on Wednesday.
“We are trying to find the best solution. After all, we don’t want (the vaccines) to get here and have to throw them into the trash,” the official, Nachman Ash, told Army Radio, saying Israel’s needs were being met by other suppliers.
In his remarks, Ash made no reference to AstraZeneca’s vaccine having been associated with very rare blood clots in Europe. Many countries there resumed administering it after the European Union’s drug watchdog said benefits outweighed risks.
Israel cast a wide net last year when trying to secure vaccine doses at the height of the pandemic and pre-ordered from a number of companies.
It largely settled on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, launching one of the world’s swiftest rollouts. COVID-19 infections in Israel have dropped dramatically and the economy has reopened.
Israel is also buying the COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna, which uses a similar messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.
Ash said that with supplies secure through 2022, Israel no longer required the 10 million doses it agreed to purchase from AstraZeneca.
“They can certainly be used in other places in the world. At the moment, we are trying to find, along with the company, the best way to do this,” he said.
“We believe it would be best if they (the vaccines) did not come to Israel and we agree with the company on some sort of way to divert them elsewhere.”
Officials at AstraZeneca had no immediate comment.
Around 81% of Israeli citizens or residents over 16 – the age group eligible for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Israel – have received both doses.
Some 167,000 of the 5.2 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Islamist Hamas-run Gaza have had at least one dose of vaccine, with supplies coming in from Israel, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, the global COVAX vaccine-sharing programme and China.

Oxygen leak kills 22 in Indian hospital as coronavirus infections mount

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A patient wearing an oxygen mask is wheeled inside a COVID-19 hospital for treatment, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ahmedabad, India, April 21, 2021. REUTERS/Amit Dave April 21, 2021
By Rajendra Jadhav and Neha Arora
SATARA, India, (Reuters) – At least 22 patients died on Wednesday in a hospital in western India after a disruption to their oxygen supply caused by a leaking tank, the health minister said, as a nationwide surge in coronavirus cases soaks up supplies of the gas.
The incident in the city of Nashik, one of India’s worst-hit areas, happened after the tank of oxygen leaked, said Rajesh Tope, the health minister of Maharashtra, the richest state, where the city is located.
“Patients who were on ventilators at the hospital in Nashik have died,” Tope said in televised remarks.
“The leakage was spotted at the tank supplying oxygen to these patients. The interrupted supply could be linked to the deaths of the patients in the hospital.”
The world’s second most populous nation reported 295,041 new infections on Wednesday – the biggest daily rise reported in any country – stretching its hospitals to breaking point, officials said.
Only the United States had a slightly higher one-day rise of 297,430 cases in January, though its tally has since fallen sharply. India’s 2,023 deaths were also its highest in the pandemic.
Adding to the sense of alarm, the Serum Institute of India, which manufactures the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, said it will be able to raise its monthly output to 100 million doses by July from 60-70 million now, later than its previous timeline of end-May.
The delay could slow India’s immunisation drive, which the government has opened for all adults from next month to try to stem the deadly second wave.
Hospitals in Delhi, the capital, and elsewhere have been warning that their supplies of medical oxygen that are given to severely ill COVIOD-19 patients are running low as cases pour in.
Max Healthcare, the largest private sector healthcare provider in Delhi and its suburbs, said some of its hospitals had barely two hours’ worth of oxygen left.
“For the last few days the hospital has been facing serious difficulties in procuring adequate and regular supplies of oxygen,” it said in a statement.
“Presently, most of the hospitals in the network are working on dangerously low levels of oxygen supply, which can lead to a very serious adverse patient incident,” Max said.
Television showed images of people with empty oxygen cylinders crowding refilling facilities in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, as they scrambled to save stricken relatives in hospital.
The situation was so severe that some people had tried to loot an oxygen tanker, forcing authorities to beef up security, said the health minister of the northern state of Haryana.
“From now, I’ve ordered police protection for all tankers,” Anil Vij told Reuters partner ANI.
LOWERING THE GUARD
Health experts said India had let its guard down when the virus seemed to be under control during the winter, allowing big gatherings such as weddings and festivals.
India now faces a coronavirus “storm” overwhelming its health system, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a national address overnight, adding that authorities were working with states and private firms to deliver oxygen with “speed and sensitivity”.
Modi is himself facing criticism for addressing packed political rallies for local elections and allowing a religious festival to go ahead in which millions take a ritual bathe in the river Ganges, considered sacred by Hindus.
India has so far administered nearly 130 million doses of vaccine, the most in the world after the United States and China but still small relative to its population of 1.35 billion people.(https://tmsnrt.rs/3tlH6Gq)
Vaccine doses have already run short in many states though inoculations are currently restricted to frontline workers and those aged above 45.
(Global vaccination tracker: https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/vaccination-rollout-and-access)
(Additional reporting by Aditya Kalra, Devjyot Ghoshal and Krishna N.Das in New Delhi, Sachin Ravikumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

UK Johnson’s tax reassurance to James Dyson warranted by COVID emergency: minister

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FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a news conference at 10 Downing Street, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain, April 20, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Pool April 21, 2021
LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s text to tech boss James Dyson saying he would “fix” tax issues for Dyson workers developing ventilators was warranted by the emergency facing the country in the pandemic, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said.
The BBC reported that Dyson had asked the finance ministry for no change in tax status for his staff coming to Britain to work on the emergency project. He also contacted Johnson directly, who replied: “I will fix it”, the BBC said.
“We were in the middle of a national emergency and the prime minister was doing this not for his own gain, James Dyson wasn’t doing this for his own gain, we were doing it in order to ensure that we got these ventilators rapidly in order to ensure that we dealt with a national emergency and it was a temporary measure,” Dowden told BBC TV on Wednesday.
“This measure went before parliament in the proper transparent way.”
(Reporting by Sarah Young and Paul Sandle; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

Russia’s Putin, with election looming, sets out new social support measures

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Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow, Russia April 21, 2021. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS April 21, 2021
By Gleb Stolyarov and Andrey Ostroukh
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin announced new social support measures for families with children on Wednesday and hinted at more tax changes, saying the corporate sector was on course for record profits this year.
Addressing falling living standards is one of the priorities for Putin before a parliamentary election due in September. The economy shrank 3% last year, its sharpest contraction in 11 years, and inflation hit 5.8% last month, its highest level since 2016.
In his annual address to both houses of parliament, Putin said he wanted to ensure an increase in real incomes to fight poverty.
“First of all, the state must provide direct support to families with children who find themselves in a difficult situation,” Putin said.
All elementary and secondary school students will receive a one-off payment of 10,000 roubles ($130.53), while children aged eight to 16 years from families with one parent will start getting on average 5,650 roubles a month, Putin said.
Pregnant women with low incomes will receive on average an extra 6,350 roubles a month, he said, promising to spend 10 billion roubles on repairs of teaching colleges.
Putin’s pledges will cost the budget around 400 billion roubles ($5.24 billion) over two years, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said.
This year, Russia will receive an extra 1.5 trillion roubles in oil and gas revenues if oil prices average $60 per barrel. A better-than-expected economic performance and a recovery in tax collection will generate another 500 billion roubles in extra non-oil and gas revenues this year that could be used for fresh spending, a deputy finance minister told Reuters.
Putin said this year would see record corporate-sector profits.
“Let’s see how these profits are spent, and with this in mind we will take some decisions on the possible fine-tuning of tax legislation at the end of the year,” Putin said.
Russia has recently raised taxes for individuals with annual incomes over $65,265, applied taxes on bank deposits and targeted the mining, tobacco and oil industries.
($1 = 76.6100 roubles)
(Additional reporting by Oksana Kobzeva, Writing by Andrey Ostroukh, Editing by Katya Golubkova and Timothy Heritage)

‘Nope! Done!’: Tucker Carlson Cuts Off, Mocks Ex-Cop Who Dared Criticize Derek Chauvin

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Tucker Carlson devoted much of his Tuesday night show to staking a decidedly anti-anti-Chauvin position, complaining that former police officer Derek Chauvin was only found guilty of murder because jurors were afraid of Black Lives Matter and suggesting the verdict shows that the U.S. has “already given up on civilization.”At the same time, the far-right primetime star melted down when a former New York corrections officer who described Chauvin’s actions against George Floyd as “excessive” and “savagery,” letting out a bone-chilling laugh in his guest’s face while cutting him off mid-sentence.While interviewing Ed Gavin, a former deputy sheriff at the New York City’s Sheriff’s Department, Carlson asked if anyone will want to become a police officer moving forward in a post-Chauvin environment. Gavin, for his part, said he believed “people will still become police officers” before focusing his attention on Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd.“This really is a learning experience for everyone,” Gavin said. “Let’s face it, what we saw in that video was pure savagery.”He continued: “I mean, the documentary evidence showed the police officer putting his knee on the perpetrator’s neck while he was rear cuffed and his stomach was on the ground, causing asphyxia. What I would like to see, Tucker, I would like to see more training for police. I would like to see the police trained as EMTs like the fire department.”Gavin went on to applaud the jury’s verdict, noting that he’s personally used force “on literally over 500 people in my 21-year career” as an officer and never once had a person go unconscious.“That was clearly an excessive, unjustified use of force,” he added. “I think the verdict was just, we had documentary evidence, testimonial evidence, and it was an open and shut case. Moving forward, we need to…”Interrupting Gavin, Carlson then bellowed: “How about enforce the law, do we need to do that? Slow down, do we enforce the law? Let’s say people are going through the window at Macy’s and the cops are just standing there, do they resign?”The Fox News star also wondered aloud when the police would “protect everybody else, not just George Floyd.”Asserting that he also wants “police to protect people,” Gavin explained that his point was specifically about law enforcement dealing with someone already handcuffed and subdued. Police should “take a different tact” in that situation, he insisted.Calling on law enforcement to read previous Justice Department studies on “positional asphyxia and sudden death,” saying they talk about the “physiology of a struggle,” Gavin once again described Chauvin’s actions as excessive, prompting Carlson to interrupt one final time.“Well, yeah, but the guy that did it looks like he’s going to spend the rest of his life in prison so I’m kind of more worried about the rest of the country, which thanks to police inaction, in case you haven’t noticed, is, like, boarded up,” Carlson sneered, punctuated by a bizarre, high-pitched laugh.“So that’s more my concern. But I appreciate it, Gavin, thank you,” Carlson quickly added.“Look, look,” Gavin attempted to respond before his feed was cut off and he was removed from the screen.“Nope. Done!” Carlson exclaimed before moving on.

UK charities accuse government of delivering 'tragic blow' to world's poorest with aid cuts

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Two hundred of the UK’s charities and aid organisations have accused the government of delivering a “tragic blow” to the world’s most marginalised people following confirmation of foreign aid cuts.In a joint statement, groups including Save the Children, Oxfam, ONE, Christian Aid, Care International and The HALO Trust have criticised the government’s action in slashing Official Development Assistance (ODA).
It comes after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab set out the allocations for UK ODA spending for 2021-22 to MPs, with the government acting on it’s decision to cut the UK’s annual foreign aid commitment from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income.

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The government was accused of a lack of transparency over where the axe would actually fall on aid spending

In their statement, the 200 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) said: “Today’s announcement is a tragic blow for many of the world’s most marginalised people the UK once supported, and for the UK’s reputation as a trusted development partner.”The government has not even spared countries ravaged by humanitarian crisis, disease, war and poverty.

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“When other nations are stepping forward and bolstering their aid budgets, the UK has instead chosen to step back.
“In a year when the UK has the chance to show leadership at G7 and COP26, withdrawing vital investment needed to keep everyone safe from health pandemics, conflicts and climate change, is the wrong move.”

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Meanwhile, Mr Raab has been warned he faces a grilling by a group of MPs on Thursday about where the axe will actually fall on foreign aid spending.Labour MP Sarah Champion, the chair of the House of Commons’ International Development Committee, was scathing of Mr Raab’s written statement to parliament.”To sneak out a written statement at the end of the day, shows a lack of respect for both parliament scrutinising these cuts and the aid organisations that are hearing about the spend for the first time only now,” she said.”To say the statement is scant on detail is an understatement.”Whilst we now have limited understanding on the areas the government is prioritising for its shrinking aid pot, we are still awaiting guidance on country-by-country allocations.”People’s lives are directly impacted by these decisions and it is shocking that they still don’t have clarity they need.”She added her committee would be “demanding answers on the aid cuts” when Mr Raab appears before them on Thursday morning.Laurie Lee, chief executive of Care International, also attacked the lack of detail in Mr Raab’s statement.”This statement says nothing about what has been cut or why – we need full transparency,” he said.”Parliament should be allowed to vote on the budget and the 0.7% promise should be kept.”

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the cut from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI last year

In his written statement, Mr Raab said his department was responsible for delivering £8bn of Official Development Assistance (ODA) – approximately 80% of the UK’s total foreign aid spending.He added around half of the ODA administered by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Office (FCDO) would be spent in Africa, with one-third to be spent in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region.Mr Raab’s statement gave allocations for each area of aid spending – with £1.3bn allocated to “COVID and global health” – but offered little detail on country-specific allocations.The only country-specific example included was Mr Raab’s announcement that he had reduced the FCDO’s foreign aid spending in China by 95% to £0.9m, with additional ODA in this year only to meet the contractual exit costs of former programmes.Ms Champion said it was “very surprising that China is still receiving money”.
Subscribe to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, SpreakerAt last year’s spending review Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the government would cut foreign aid spending from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5% and breach an election manifesto promise.Mr Sunak said sticking to the 0.7% target – which had been written into law by former prime minister David Cameron – would be “difficult to justify to the British people” amid the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.Danielle Boxall, media campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said that cutting foreign aid to China was “long overdue”.”Previous projects, like helping the Chinese produce rice, saw wanton waste of taxpayers’ cash,” she added.”This should be a stepping stone to a proper and permanent cut in the ostentatious overseas aid budget.”In his statement, Mr Raab said the UK would “return to our commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on ODA when the fiscal situation allows”.

Russia Plunges Into Era of ‘Dictatorship’ as Putin Looms Over Eastern Europe

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MOSCOW—The day began with a dystopian wave of pre-emptive arrests. Many of his opponents were already under lock and key by the time President Vladimir Putin used an annual state of the nation address to remind people what happens to popular uprisings within striking distance of the Kremlin.With Russian troops massed on the border of Ukraine in numbers not seen since the invasion of Crimea, Putin gloried in the fate of the pro-Western movement in Kyiv, seven years after he annexed a chunk of its territory.Similar forces were at play in Belarus, Putin said, where the CIA was accused of stirring up a coup plot against the pro-Russian leader, who rigged elections last year. Putin has helped President Lukashenko crack down on the protest movement, which sprung up against the blatantly stolen election.Domestic protesters were gathering across the Russia as he spoke, fully aware that a similar crackdown is underway here as Putin’s rule slips toward dictatorship.The president will meet Lukashenko on Thursday amid increasingly close military and political ties between Moscow and the former Soviet client state. Putin has long wanted to place a missile base in Belarus and would love to further integrate the countries, putting the former Soviet port of Kaliningrad within reach.In an apparent slip of the tongue, Putin evoked the Cold War era by referring to his Eastern European allies as being members of the “Warsaw… [Pact]” before catching himself.In the major set-piece speech, Putin claimed that while the West was supposedly stirring up insurrection in the region, “Nobody thought of Ukraine’s fate and does not think of consequences for Belarusians.”He warned that any further interference in Eastern Europe would be a “red line” for Russia. “The organizers of any provocations against Russia will regret [it] in a way they never have before,” he said, promising asymmetric warfare while an estimated 100,000 troops, tanks and fighter jets wait on Ukraine’s border.The recriminations against uprisings within Russia have already begun. Alexei Navalny, the leader of Russia’s opposition, was targeted in nerve-agent attack last year and then jailed on trumped-up charges earlier this year.While Navalny’s supporters were being snatched out of taxis or arrested in their homes ahead of protests Wednesday, he was languishing in a prison hospital in a Siberia penal colony. Doctors say his life is “hanging by a thread.”After Navalny was taken ill during a hunger strike and denied access to independent medical professionals, his team called for a nationwide protest. Police stormed the apartments of Navalny supporters on Tuesday and Wednesday, hours before the rally, arresting people in the streets and at work in Krasnodar, Kurgan, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and many other cities.Many people are reluctant to join the protest because they fear lengthy prison terms, not just the short administrative detentions of up to 15 days, which have been commonplace throughout the Putin era.And yet, still thousands took to the streets in what they saw as the final battle in Putin’s transformation into a dictator.One of those who protested regardless was Navalny’s close friend Yevgeny Roizman, the former governor of the Sverdkovsk region. He led several thousand people on a march through Yekaterinburg, despite road closures and police vehicles equipped with water cannons.Roizman told The Daily Beast on Wednesday that several years in prison was an unpleasant thought for a 58-year-old but he was unwavering in his determination. “This is a philosophical question for every Russian: Either you live for the rest of your life as a slave and coward, or you come out to feel yourself a free and brave man,” he said.Since the imprisonment of Navalny—which Amnesty International has described as a slow-motion execution—experienced Kremlinologists, opposition politicians, and journalists have begun to openly describe a hard shift in domestic politics, a path toward “dictatorship,” not the so-called soft authoritarian model sometimes ascribed to Russia.Moscow politician Vladimir Ryzhkov told The Daily Beast that the country has changed since Navalny’s arrest at the airport as he returned from Germany three months ago.“Russia is a dictatorship now, where young people, university students get prison terms for innocent posts on social media,” he said. “It will be even worse. Decline of the economy, capital outflow, shrinking incomes, technological lag—these are the inevitable consequences of Vladimir Putin’s domestic and foreign policies.”After speaking to The Daily Beast, Ryzhkov was one of hundreds arrested for supposedly organizing Wednesday’s rallies after he reposted details on social media.Professors and students have been deeply traumatized by police persecutions against the authors of university newspaper Doxa this month. Four of the young journalists have been arrested and others are being questioned—the crackdown on a student paper is seen as a new low in media suppression even under Putin.“Police broke the door to our apartment, arrested my friend for her call not to be afraid of exercising our constitutional right of peaceful assembly,” a witness told The Daily Beast. “Many want to leave the country but the courage of Doxa authors, who continue to publish in spite of their friends being under arrest, inspires all the paper’s readers.”Gennady Gudkov, a Russian opposition figure in exile, insisted that this dark new era would never snuff out all opposition to Putin. “This is not the end of the resistance in Russia,” he told The Daily Beast. “When Putin turns into a dictator supported by military forces, the opposition will radicalize and work from the underground.”On Wednesday morning, Navalny’s wife, Yulia, posted an Instagram video of herself with the caption: “I am the queen of the underground.”

Conservatives standing ground on free speech

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OAN NewsroomUPDATED 8:40 AM PT – Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Conservative congressional candidates are now distinguishing themselves as those who will stand up to Democrat bullies. This comes as freedom of speech and expression for conservatives appears to be under attack.
One America’s Christina Bobb sat down with Illinois congressional candidate Catalina Lauf to learn more.

MORE NEWS: Right to Try proponent to sue MoveOn.org over false Jan. 6 claims

Biden Administration Moves to Force Religious Hospitals to Uphold Transgender Mandate

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Rep. Deb Haaland holds a Transgender Pride flag beside democratic colleagues on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C, February 25, 2021. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

In 2016, the Obama administration attached a transgender mandate to the Affordable Care Act. Framed as a nondiscrimination provision, it would require doctors and hospitals to perform sex-change surgeries and provide insurance coverage for this controversial clinical practice. Notably, the mandate did not include religious or conscience exemptions.
Given that most doctors receive some Medicare and Medicaid funding, legal experts warned that the mandate would have universal application.
In January, a judge in North Dakota sided with Catholic hospitals in striking down this transgender mandate. However, on Tuesday, the Biden administration appealed that ruling.
Luke Goodrich, Vice President and senior counsel at Becket law, summarized his arguments on Twitter:
The plaintiffs are religious doctors, hospitals, and clinics who joyfully serve ALL patients regardless of sex or gender identity. They routinely provide top-notch care to transgender patients for everything from cancer to the common cold.
They also provide millions of dollars in free and low-cost care to the elderly, poor, and underserved–care that is jeopardized by the government’s attempt to punish them with multi-million dollar penalties.
The Transgender Mandate not only threatens religious doctors and hospitals. It also threatens patients, as there is ample evidence that certain gender transition procedures can be deeply harmful.
Multiple federal courts have reached the same conclusion: “There is no medical consensus that sex reassignment surgery is a necessary or even effective treatment for gender dysphoria.” Gibson v. Collier, 920 F.3d 212, 223 (5th Cir. 2019).
The government’s own doctors during the Obama Admin agreed: “Based on a thorough review of the clinical evidence…there is not enough evidence to determine whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes for [patients] with gender dysphoria.
And just weeks ago, a study commissioned by NHS England found “very low” evidence for the effectiveness of “puberty blockers” and cross-sex hormones.
The Biden Admin shouldn’t have appealed. But we look forward to another ruling that protects patients, aligns with current medical research, and ensures doctors aren’t forced to violate their religious beliefs and professional medical judgment.
Religious objections aside, the idea that an invasive and high-risk treatment on a highly vulnerable population for which there is (at best) conflicting evidence of safety and efficacy, should be mandated makes no sense. But then, neither does the ideology behind such aggression.

Gov. DeSantis says Democrats have spread misinformation on ‘anti-riot bill’

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OAN NewsroomUPDATED  8:32 AM PT – Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) accused the media and congressional Democrats of spreading misinformation suggesting his ‘anti-riot bill’ will negatively impact peaceful protesters.
One America’s Caitlin Sinclair caught up with the governor to set the record straight.

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MP's dog – Maisie the collie – barking mad with Boris Johnson at PMQs

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They say every dog has its day – and one political pooch had hers during prime minister’s questions.It wasn’t Dilyn, Boris Johnson’s Jack Russell cross, however, but Maisie the collie, the SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford’s dog.
As Mr Blackford, appearing virtually from his home on the Isle of Skye in his constituency, attempted to put the prime minister in the dog house over sleaze and cronyism, Maisie could be heard barking loudly during his questions.MPs in the chamber howled with laughter, but the prime minister, whose shaggy dog hairstyle gives him the appearance of a highland sheepdog at times, couldn’t resist bringing Mr Blackford to heel.Claiming the SNP MP was barking up the wrong tree, Mr Johnson said: “I thought his dog just made a more sensible contribution to the discussion than he did.”

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🗣️ If the PM says there is nothing to see here let’s have the transparency he has promised today. The 3 million people left behind by his Gov didn’t have a David Cameron or a James Dyson to text the Prime Minister for them. Even my dog Maisie knows @BorisJohnson is at it 🐶 #PMQs pic.twitter.com/jpxSy8fR5n— Ian Blackford (@Ianblackford_MP) April 21, 2021

Later Mr Blackford tweeted: “The three million people left behind by his government didn’t have a David Cameron or a James Dyson to text the PM for them.”Even my dog Maisie knows that.”And in more dog whistle politics, Mr Blackford also tweeted a photo of himself with his hound, claiming she was barking mad with the prime minister.”Here is the offending Maisie, who seems to want to call out the behaviour of Boris Johnson,” Mr Blackford growled.Well, they do say that in politics it’s dog eat dog.

Chauvin to await sentencing in Minn. correctional facility

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In this image from video, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin listens as the verdict is read in his trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
OAN NewsroomUPDATED  7:43 AM PT – Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin will await his sentencing in a Minnesota correctional facility. According to reports Tuesday, he arrived at the Oak Park Heights prison shortly after the jury handed down their verdict.
This facility is Minnesota’s only level five maximum security prison and is located about 25-miles east of downtown Minneapolis. The transfer was reportedly part of a deal between the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
Chauvin was found guilty on all charges in connection with the death of George Floyd. A jury in Hennepin County convicted him of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Now we look to the sentencing guidelines in the sentencing of #DerekChauvin. Third and second degree murder are level 10 severity. Judge could go above the guidelines if aggravated departures found. Former Officer Noor got 150 for reference. Thank you @MaryMoriarty for guidance pic.twitter.com/sVb5A9HeyK
— Brian G. Buckmire (@BuckEsq) April 21, 2021

It took the jury a little over 10-hours of deliberation to reach the verdict after hearing two-weeks of testimony from witnesses called by the prosecution and several days of defense witnesses.
Chauvin’s bail has been revoked and sentencing will begin in eight weeks.
Mike James stands with a sign reading “Guilty” at the Texas Capitol, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Austin, Texas, after the guilty verdict in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was announced in the death of George Floyd. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
MORE NEWS: Lin Wood Advances Effort To Become New S.C. GOP Chair

Cops Don’t Get to Print Corrections

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Police officers from the NYPD investigate a crime scene in Queens, N.Y., July 6, 2020. (Lloyd Mitchell/Reuters)

There is a telling disclaimer in NPR’s report on the police shooting of a 16-year-old girl, Ma’Khia Bryant, in Columbus, Ohio, which was initially blasted out on Twitter as “cops shoot unarmed black girl” when it actually turns out that video shows that Bryant was in the process of stabbing another black teenage girl when she was shot. NPR concludes its writeup with this warning:
This is a developing story. Some facts reported by the media may later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene, and we will update as the situation develops.
This is the nature of journalism on a deadline: You may have the facts wrong, and if so, you need to correct them later on. But the police do not have that luxury. If you watch the video of the shooting, you can clearly see that the officer had to make a split-second decision whether to let Bryant stab someone, or whether to use the only force available that could stop the stabbing. As I noted yesterday, some police cases do not unfold that quickly — Derek Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd did not — but many do. Journalists who have occasion to go back and realize that they have reported some key facts wrong in the heat of a breaking story should have a little more humility in judging people whose jobs involve making graver decisions in less time with no ability to edit their own mistakes later.

The Softest Bras I’ve Tried Are Parade’s Newest Bralettes

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Scouting Report: These bralettes from Parade are made from the same material as their incredible underwear. They can accommodate cup sizes up to DDD with adjustable straps and hook-and-eye closures.If there’s one article of clothing that I’ve become incredibly picky about over the last year, it’s bras. I am fully fed up dealing with uncomfortable undergarments whose only functions, it seems, is to dig into my sternum, slide off my shoulders, or embed into my ribs. I’m done! That’s why when I got the chance to try Parade’s newest bralette line — a first for the underwear line — I was ecstatic. It’s everything I love about their underwear, just in a bra.Triangle BraletteScoop BraletteThe bralettes are made from the same soft and supple fabric that the brand’s fabulous underwear is crafted from. Re:Play is made from soft, recycled yarn which makes it soft, breathable, and cooling. Plus, it stretches 2x times its size, according to the brand. Each bralette has a layer of the Re:play fabric with a cotton lining for extra softness. These bralettes are not just comfortable, but also supportive. The band itself is made from an ultra-light fabric so there’s no red marks or digging, even after wearing it all day. The two styles (Triangle and Scoop) both feature adjustable straps and a classic hook-and-eye closure, unlike the pullover styles of other bralettes. They come in multiple colors including soft neutrals and bright and bold solids. But the best part, by far, is the sizing options. Not only do they run from XS-2XL (which includes A-DD cups), but they also have options for DD-DDD with thicker straps for even more support, which is incredibly rare for a bralette. There’s even a handy size guide to make sure you get the right fit.I’m not saying you should go out and replace your entire drawer with these bralettes, but Parade has made a pretty convincing argument to do so.Scouted selects products independently and prices reflect what was available at the time of publish. Sign up for our newsletter for even more recommendations. Don’t forget to check out our coupon site to find activewear deals from Nike, adidas, and more. If you buy something from our posts, we may earn a small commission.

The New Abnormal Has Turned One And Is Celebrating 20 Million Listens

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It’s been a weird year–some might even say an abnormal year–but we’ve had a consistent bright spot: the loyal listeners of The New Abnormal podcast. Thanks to you, we’re celebrating our one-year anniversary with a major milestone: twenty million listens. Producer and host duo Jesse and Molly sat down for a speed-round of twenty questions to celebrate in style. Check out Molly’s hilarious and insightful responses in an exclusive mini-episode here or scroll down to see some of our faves:Q: Describe yourself in a hashtag.A: #frostingcanbeafoodgroupQ: What is your kryptonite?A: Bad wi-fiQ: Who wins the fuckiest “fuck that guy” to date?A: Anti-vaxxers like Alex Berenson may not be famous, but they’re costing lives.Q: Do you have a dream guest you’d like to bring on The New Abnormal one day?A: Kamala, Joe, Liz Warren, Steve Martin, and Chrissy Teigen.If you aren’t yet a fan of The New Abnormal, subscribe on any major podcast platform, including: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, and Amazon Music.

NYC parents want to take legal action to reopen schools

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OAN NewsroomUPDATED  6:49 AM PT – Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Frustrated New York City parents have started an online petition to immediately open schools five days a week. One America’s Caitlin Sinclair has more.

MORE NEWS: Lin Wood: Election integrity is #1 issue

‘Troubled Waters’

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This week on The Editors, Rich, Charlie, Alexandra, and Jim discuss Maxine Waters’s comments on the Chauvin trial, Biden’s flip-flop on refugee limits, and George W. Bush’s chastisement of the GOP on immigration. Listen below, or follow this show in iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, or Spotify.
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Number 10 rejects Juventus chair's claim PM saw European Super League as 'attack to Brexit'

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The chairman of Italian football giants Juventus – one of the clubs who attempted a breakaway European Super League – has suggested Boris Johnson was so opposed to the plan because it was viewed as “an attack to Brexit”.Andrea Agnelli, one of the chief architects of the closed-shop competition for elite clubs, on Wednesday admitted the idea of a European Super League could no longer proceed.
It follows the decision by six English clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – to withdraw from the plan.Spanish side Atletico Madrid and Italian rivals AC Milan and Inter Milan have also abandoned the scheme.

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Juventus chair Andrea Agnelli was one of the chief architects of the scheme

The project turned into a humiliating spectacle for the clubs involved, with their plans collapsing within 48 hours of them first being announced amid a furious backlash from fans and politicians across Europe.

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Mr Johnson had vowed to explore “every possibility” to stop the “very damaging” European Super League, as he mulled what new or existing laws could be used to put a halt to the plans.
And Mr Agnelli suggested the UK government’s intervention had pushed the six English clubs to withdraw.

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“I have had speculation to that extent that if six teams would have broken away and would have threatened the EPL (Premier League), politics would have seen that as an attack to Brexit and their political scheme,” he told Reuters.

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Super League ‘not up and running’, says founder

However, Mr Agnelli added he remained “convinced of the beauty of that project”, despite the likelihood it would no longer proceed.Asked about the Juventus chairman’s comments, Downing Street dismissed the suggestion that Mr Johnson’s opposition to the European Super League was linked to Brexit.The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “I would reject that.”The prime minister was very clear on why it was right for the government to step in and take action that contributed to these clubs stepping back from this proposal, which was the importance of football at the heart of communities up and down the country.”Speaking in the House of Commons earlier on Wednesday, Mr Johnson had told MPs that “one of the most worrying features about the European Super League proposals is that they would have taken clubs that take their names from great, famous British towns and cities, English towns and cities”.

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The PM branded the proposal ‘very damaging’

He added the new competition would have turned English clubs “just into global brands with no relation to the fans, to the communities that gave them life and that give them the most love and support”.He promised that a “root and branch investigation into the governance of football” – to be conducted by former sports minister Tracey Crouch – would look at “what we can do to promote the role of fans in that governance”.Conservative MP Saqib Bhatti has asked Mr Johnson to ensure that “football clubs must put fans at the heart of their decision-making”.

What Is the Value in a Liberal-Arts Education?

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(Nicola Patterson/Getty Images)

Is there any point in spending a load of money to send your son or daughter to college for anything other than a straight path to a job?
That is the question Patrick Gray of Rhodes College tackles in today’s Martin Center article.
He thinks there is value in a liberal-arts education: “Its true value resides not in what it delivers, in terms of knowledge or skills, but in what it reveals: namely, our ignorance.” Liberal-arts students may learn a lot of things, but arguably the most important is intellectual humility. In other words, they acquire the wisdom of knowing what they do not know.

At Rhodes, students read and discuss some of the Great Books. Where does that leave them? Gray writes, “When it goes well, the student cultivates a posture of intellectual humility. Are they better educated than they were at the start of the year? I hope so, but now they should know more fully what there is to know, how little of it they have mastered, and how complex are those relatively few texts they have studied.”

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Gray knows that college degrees are largely about signaling and says that a liberal-arts degree signals that the student is “thoughtful, literate, and adaptable.” That’s pretty good.
He concludes,
Parents will not be happy to pay $50,000 a year and be told that our mission is to convince their children of their ignorance. It will be an even harder sell if they sense that faculty in the liberal arts are unable or unwilling to admit what we don’t know.
Whatever one thinks of the charge that we are, like Socrates, corrupting the youth, the bottom line—professionally, institutionally—may be the same.

Policing: The Brutal Side of Civility

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There was something I left out of my last two columns about the orphaned elephants at South Africa’s Pilanesberg Park where I compared what happened there to the fatherless “orphans” in troubled black neighborhoods.  Fixing the elephant youth gang problem had a two-pronged solution: policing the elephants with father figures and policing them with humans outside the herd.  I wrote mostly about the first, where father figures – adult males – were relocated to Pilanesberg who “kicked butt” to keep the delinquents in line.  They took on the role of policeman inside the herd when youthful exuberance threatened to spill over into troublemaking.A case in point was Amarula, the largest of the adult bulls. He encountered an aggressive youngster who had the gumption to walk up and provoke him.  Amarula hit the young elephant so hard in the stomach that it lifted him several feet into the air.  Others took note.  Problem solved.The lesson?  Amarula didn’t obsess over the troublemaker’s emotions.   He wasn’t twisted into knots about the troubled background that created his aggression.  He just knew this snot-nosed juvenile was out of line.  So he and other adult males – majestic and gentle by nature – morphed into “agents of wrath” when circumstances left them no choice.   They nipped the violent streak in the bud because, in the herd, chaos is not an option.   When the adult males policed the young ones inside the herd, it stopped the violence and killing outside the herd.Policing outside the herd was that second prong. It was brutal. It only came into play when there were no adult male role models around to “kick butt.”  With rhino violence and killings gone wild, park staff had no choice but to intervene. Doing nothing was not an option.  That’s when things got ugly. Elephants that refused to stop the violence were shot. Five at Pilanesberg. It wasn’t ideal, but drastic measures protected rhinos from death and eliminated the negative influences that pushed gangs of orphans to crime. This is the brutal side of civility and compassion.  Jock McMillan, park ecologist at a private reserve next to Pilanesberg, was in anguish when one juvenile elephant, Mafuta, had to be shot.  McMillan took pains to reform Mafuta, at times with great risk to his own life. But Mafuta refused to comply with human authority, continued his violence, and employed himself as a gang leader.“I wasn’t happy,” said McMillan. “I realize it had to be done, but because you’ve been working rather closely with these animals, you form emotional attachments.”“… it had to be done.”  That’s the attitude we need when we ask police to deal with rampant violence and killings in the streets of urban black neighborhoods.  Not that human beings – even thugs – should be shot down willy-nilly like animals.  That’s not the answer.  But the problem of black crime must be dealt with head-on.  I think of the horrific video of Brittany Hill, 24, who was shot and killed in Chicago a few weeks ago while carrying her 1-year-old daughter.  Or Chantis Greene, 39, whose boyfriend bludgeoned her to death with an ax in South Carolina.  And I think of the 24 people who were shot last weekend in Chicago – three fatal – including Jaslyn Adams, a 7-year-old who was with her dad at a McDonald’s.  The lack of policing inside homes has forced troubled neighborhoods to rely too heavily on police outside the home.  Outside is where things have turned ugly.When a boy like Adam “Lil Homicide” Toledo pals around past midnight with a gang member and a gun, then runs from police responding to a “shots fired” call, there’s a chance he won’t make it home.  When a big man like George Floyd gets high on fentanyl, uses counterfeit money, and resists arrest, he opens the door to things turning ugly.When Daunte Wright runs from police while being handcuffed, he triggers the event that leads to police accidentally pulling the trigger that ended his life.  When Jacob Blake defies a restraining order to trespass on the property of the girlfriend that he digitally raped, then fights off police after he’s tasered, we shouldn’t be surprised that police shoot him as he goes for a knife in his car.   When Rayshard Brooks manhandles police officers trying to arrest him, grabs their taser, then aims it at them while running into the dark, it’s not shocking that things turned ugly.Police are not surrogate fathers – they are law enforcers.  We expect them to strike terror in the hearts of aggressive young adolescents turned hard-nosed criminals and killers who put innocent people in danger.  This is the brutal stuff of civility that must be done.  Chaos should never be an option.  
But tragically, chaos is optional when it reinforces a narrative.Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict has not solved the black crime problem.  It has only reinforced the false narrative that police are the biggest problem in troubled neighborhoods. That’s a lie.According to Jim Quinn, a New York prosecutor for 42 years, police shootings of black men are “rare in Gotham, rare nationwide.”  “When they do happen, there is always a back story,” Quinn wrote in a New York Post column.  “… the victim resisting arrest, attempting to grab the officer’s pistol or Taser.  Watching the heartbreaking footage, I keep thinking, ‘Stop fighting the cops!’”But there’s a real threat to New Yorkers of color, Quinn wrote. Crime. The political response?  Relaxing bail laws, releasing dangerous criminals from jails, and defunding the police.“And now murder is up 30 percent, shooting victims are up 89 percent, burglary up 43 percent, car theft up 59 percent over the last year,” he wrote.The elephants at Pilanesberg Park had a happy ending because park staff, who genuinely loved them, were dead serious about solving the crime problem.We’re not.Black crime is a bottomless pit because lawless gangs of media pundits, activists, and Democrat politicians herd through black neighborhoods to feed on the blood and death of broken black families created by their failed policies.Having orphaned themselves from the rule-of-law principles of the Founding Fathers, institutionally, they’ve become Fatherless – political delinquents who perpetuate crime in urban black communities to get and keep political power.  Humans are not elephants, but nature is nature.  Fatherhood is primal.  If troubled black neighborhoods are infused with fathers or father figures to “curb youthful exuberance” of young males in the home, we wouldn’t need police to do it in the streets.  Until then, policing is the brutal and necessary side of civility.  It has to be done.  

State Dept. officials describe Iran nuclear talks as ‘positive’

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State Department Spokesman Ned Price speaks to reporters during a news briefing at the State Department, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Washington. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool via AP)
OAN NewsroomUPDATED 8:11 AM PT – Wednesday, April 21, 2021
The Biden administration said negotiations with Iran have been “positive” even as the Islamic Republic inches ever closer to acquiring a nuclear weapon. This was the assessment shared with reporters by State Department spokesman Ned Price during a Tuesday press briefing.
Yet, even as the Biden State Department was declaring its confidence in the progress of talks, Iranian officials stated they would consider walking away from negotiations altogether. They warned this would be the case unless the U.S. agreed to unilaterally remove the entirety of Trump-era sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
“We think that if the United States decides to distance from (Donald) Trump’s failed legacy and to live up to its commitments, the consultations will advance easily,” stated Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In interview with @camanpour, clarified that @POTUS has a choice to make:
He can stick with Obama’s deal. Or he can cling to Trump’s sanctions, incl those anti-JCPOA designations with faux labels.
What he can’t do is to simultaneously pursue both.https://t.co/4Ud6NLhr5g pic.twitter.com/FGtbiDEFij
— Saeed Khatibzadeh (@SKhatibzadeh) April 10, 2021

Many critics of the plan suggest returning to the accords could weaken America’s position in the Middle East and allow Iran to get closer to achieving nuclear weapons.
MORE NEWS: Ariz. audit under fire before it begins

The Plan to Regulate Ghost Guns

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(George Frey/Reuters)

The Reload, the new site from gun reporter Stephen Gutowski, has a preliminary, leaked draft of a forthcoming rule on “ghost guns.”
As I’ve discussed previously, it’s legal to make your own guns for personal use, and these guns don’t need serial numbers — but the law is ambiguous as to how much businesses can help you. Specifically, serial numbers and background checks are needed when a business sells a “firearm,” a term that applies not only to fully functional weapons but also a gun’s “frame or receiver” or a weapon that “may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.”

Currently, companies can sell receivers that are “80 percent” complete, meaning they still need some machining, but nothing too elaborate. Some companies have even been selling full kits, which include the 80 percent receiver and the other parts needed to make a gun.

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The proposal would tighten up the standards dramatically. It would treat “a weapon parts kit that is designed to or may readily be assembled, completed, converted, or restored to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive” as a firearm. So too a “partially complete” receiver that “is clearly identifiable as an unfinished component part of a weapon” and “may readily be completed, assembled, converted, or restored to a functional state.”
As Gutowski adds,
The proposal provides only subjective standards for what makes an unfinished part “readily” convertible into a finished firearm but provides footnotes to court cases where the term has been applied. One court example included in the document said a part completed in “around an eight-hour working day in a properly equipped machine shop” was considered “readily” convertible. The only example of a ruling defining when a part is not “readily” convertible involved a process that “required [a] master gunsmith in a gun shop and $65,000 worth of equipment and tools.”
The examples provided in the document show the proposed rule would likely outlaw the sale of any unfinished receiver, especially when included in a kit with other parts and instructions or tools needed to complete the part. That’s because most unfinished parts sold in America today, including so-called 80% AR-15 lowers, can be finished at home in a few hours with commonly available tools like drill presses and compact mills.
The rule would also fix the problem I discussed here, in which the current regulatory definition of “receiver” seems to allow people to sell finished AR-15 receivers without background checks, because the gun requires both a “lower” and an “upper” receiver and neither meets the definition by itself.

Indian Hospitals Run Out of Oxygen After Foreign Sales Boom

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Hospitals in the Indian capital of New Delhi are pleading that if they don’t get vital supplies of oxygen, they will run out within 24 hours, putting the lives of hundreds of COVID-19 patients in peril as many local media outlets claim the government exported oxygen supplies that could have averted the current disaster.India is gripped by one of the worst third pandemic waves in the world, topping more than 200,000 new COVID-19 cases a day for a week. Hospitals are horrifically overcrowded, with patients sharing beds in some cases. In the western state of Maharashtra, where nearly 60 percent of all COVID-19 cases have been reported, 22 patients died Wednesday after a leak caused the oxygen tank they were using to run out. “The oxygen tank had a leak while refilling, and that caused deaths of 22 patients,” Suraj Mandhare, health official in the Nashik district of Maharashtra, told Reuters. India’s Business Today newspaper reported that there has been a sharp rise in the amount of oxygen exported out of the country despite shortages at home. “Oxygen export data from the Department of Commerce showed that the country exported twice as much oxygen to the world during the first 10 months of FY21 in comparison to the previous financial year,” the newspaper reported. The exports consisted of liquid oxygen that can be used for both medical and industrial use, according to local media reports. Government officials have insisted the country did not export medical-use oxygen, though it is unclear why there was such a demand for global oxygen exports during the pandemic if not for medical use. The Indian government has also passed legislation that will ban some industrial use of processed oxygen from April 22 to ensure hospitals have enough to save patients’ lives. Government sources told India Today that the issue is not one of supply and demand but of distribution and delays in the supply chain that are not related to the pandemic.“The issue is that supply is available in places that are very far away from the demand,” Inox Air Products Director Siddharth Jain told the paper. “We are trying to find a way to transport the same.”Last week, the government ordered several cryogenic rail tankers dubbed the “oxygen express” to industrial areas to retrieve liquid oxygen that can be converted to medical oxygen for local hospitals. India Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the current crisis a “storm” and pleaded with citizens to comply with strict lockdowns and other measures in place to mitigate the spread. His government has been criticized for allowing religious ceremonies and political rallies to take place, including the month-long Kumbh Mela, or the pitcher festival, that attracted 50 million people to group bathe in the Ganges river to wash away their sins. “Oxygen demand has increased,” Modi said earlier this week in a taped address. “We are working with speed and sensitivity to ensure oxygen to all those who need it. The center, states and private companies, all are working together.”

On Race, It's Heads the Left Wins, Tails America Loses

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Remember that “national conversation about race” the political Left has been demanding for decades in this country? Well, apparently, we are having it now. This is what that conversation looks like. Democrats yell at you about how racist you, your history, and your country are, and you must agree with them. If you explain you aren’t racist, you are told that this merely proves how racist you are. If you point out that there is nothing you have ever done or said in your entire life that is in any way racist, you are told that you haven’t actively been “anti-racist,” so, therefore, you are racist. If you point out that you married a person of a different race and brought into this world mixed-race children and that it’s pretty obscene that you would be called a “white supremacist” since, by the very nature of your progeny, you have helped to advance the notion that race is meaningless and what matters is the content of one’s character, you are labeled a white oppressor who has used his own family to expand his racist colonialism instinct. You are then told to shut your mouth, listen to the rest of your company’s critical race theory-infused diversity training and sign a document agreeing with everything you’ve been told or else lose your job. This is the conversation on race. Stop talking and admit you and your country are racist. It’s not really a conversation as much as a lecture under extreme duress. So… when does it end? The answer could be found in the streets of Minneapolis last night: BLM MINNEAPOLIS: “WE ARE NEVER GOING TO BE SATISFIED” #DerekChauvinTrial pic.twitter.com/F1j96NHYCi— Drew Hernandez (@DrewHLive) April 21, 2021″We are never going to be satisfied,” said an anonymous Black Lives Matter protester after Derek Chauvin received guilty verdicts in the George Floyd murder trial. This woman is not a one-off and not an outlier. This woman represents the Democrat’s base. This woman represents the voters being exploited and used as political pawns by rich, white, liberal Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden who have questionable race records of their own. This woman represents the rage on the streets of America’s largest cities that have been destroyed by Democratic mayors and city councils over the past several decades. She is angry, and that anger is being exploited by the very individuals who contributed to the conditions that brought rise to the anger in the first place. And yesterday, the reactions from Democrats and their partners in the corporate-controlled, propaganda media told you everything you need to know about the conditions of race relations in America in the post-Obama and Trump era. The adults in the room who understand our system of justice and recognize that our laws, courts, and law enforcement institutions are not designed to prevent people from doing evil acts, they are designed to render justice and punish those fallen human beings who will inevitably do evil things, should have rejoiced that our system works. They should have rushed to the microphones and cameras to thank God for the US Constitution and our Founding Fathers for providing the greatest system of justice the planet has ever known. They should have proclaimed that this guilty verdict proves that our system is not systemically racist and our judicial system, slow and methodical as it must be, ultimately works. That’s what they should have done, but they didn’t. Instead, they rushed to those same microphones and cameras to proclaim that this guilty verdict proves that we have a broken, systemically racist country, and this verdict means nothing. They used this guilty verdict to make a case for sweeping “reforms” that will castrate law enforcement efforts in America and make those very same African-Americans who have been convinced they are daily victims of cops actual victims of horrific criminal elements in their own neighborhoods. 
Of course, if the jury had returned a “Not Guilty” verdict, these same politicians would be showing that the verdict proves that we have a broken, systemically racist country, and the verdict means nothing. The difference is they’d be making those statements while cable news shows video of cities burning, storefronts being smashed and looted, and cops in riot gear being attacked by Antifa thugs during “mostly peaceful protests.” Either way, you see the trap we are stuck in, right? A not guilty verdict proves we have a broken, systemically racist country, and the judicial system and policing must be blown up, defunded, and reconstructed in the vision of Ibram X. Kendi. Meanwhile, a guilty verdict proves we have a broken, systemically racist country, and the judicial system and policing must be blown up, defunded, and reconstructed in the vision of Ibram X. Kendi. It’s heads they win, tails the country loses when it comes to the politics of race and criminal justice in this country. When does it end? It ends when the politicians, corporations, and media giants no longer benefit from dividing our country with hate and lies. Now, it’s on us to see that through. 

Now We Know (Not)

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So, a Minnesota jury in 2021 has found that a white policeman committed second-degree murder in the course of arresting a black man in 2020. What does this tell us about the police, and race, and the criminal-justice system in America? Well, it’s one datum. That’s it.
We humans like to tell one another stories, and listen to them, and then stare into the fireplace to think about the great truths they contain and what the characters and events in them symbolize. The media especially love this: Reporters report “stories” after all, not just incidents.

But most of the time, one case is just one case. The first time I recall making this point was with Ferguson, when the circumstances of Michael Brown’s death were being hotly disputed. No murder there, by the way: another datum.

Prince Harry Flies Home, Skipping Queen’s Birthday, as Hopes Fade for Reconciliation

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Prince Harry has flown home to California—missing the queen’s first birthday as a widow—amid growing evidence that his visit to the U.K. did not significantly improve “strained” relations with his father and brother despite some positive signs.Harry arrived at LAX airport Tuesday afternoon, getting back to his home in Montecito by 4pm local time, dailymail.com reports.He is understood to have flown into Los Angeles on an American Airlines flight from London Heathrow. A chauffeur-driven MPV was seen leaving the private terminal at LAX and arriving at their Montecito mansion.However hopes were fading that a brief carefully choreographed chat between Harry and William as they walked out of their grandfather’s funeral on Saturday would herald a new era of royal relations Wednesday.The Times reported that Harry’s relationship with his father and brother continues to be “strained” and said any exchanges between them at the funeral will have done little to improve matters.Sources told The Times it was “unthinkable” there would have been serious discussions on the grave matters raised by Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah after the funeral. Harry told Oprah Winfrey his brother and father were “trapped” in the monarchy and angrily criticised his father’s lack of understanding for his and Meghan’s unhappiness. The couple also accused an unnamed family member of making racist enquiries about the likely color of the skin of any children Meghan and Harry might have.Harry returned home before his grandmother turned 95 Wednesday, just days after the funeral of her husband of 77 years.Having been obliged to sit alone at the funeral due to strict British coronavirus regulations, the queen is also thought unlikely to see her family on her birthday. She is likely to spend the day at Windsor Castle with only a small bubble of staff. Current English coronavirus rules forbid families from gathering inside, however gatherings outside or in gardens are permitted.Harry’s speedy return to the U.S. comes after several days of mixed reports on the progress of reconciliation attempts with his father and brother. Much seems unresolved, despite reports that Harry, William and Charles spent several hours locked in conversation after the funeral.Conflicting reports have emerged about this alleged conversation.The Mail claimed that Charles and William insisted on meeting with Harry together so that nobody’s words could be misconstrued afterwards, and that the meeting happened in the grounds of Windsor Castle. The Sun said the meeting happened at Harry’s home, Frogmore Cottage, and that Kate was present. The palace has refused to comment for fear of inflaming the delicate situation.What is not in doubt is that after Saturday’s funeral, William and Harry walked back to Windsor Castle from St George’s Chapel together. Harry’s brief visit to the U.K. for the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh was his first trip back to Britain in a year. The brothers had not seen each other in person since a frosty encounter at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.Upon leaving the funeral, Harry first spoke to Kate Middleton, who diplomatically appeared to engineer the situation so that the brothers walked together. Just weeks previously, Harry’s wife had accused Kate of allowing the uncorrected circulation of lies about who made who cry in the run-up to Meghan’s wedding. Meghan, who is expecting a baby girl in the summer, did not travel on doctor’s orders but did send a handwritten note and a wreath.The trip marked the first time Harry has seen his family since making explosive allegations about royal racism during an interview with Oprah last month and claiming his father and brother are “trapped in the system.”William is known to have been deeply hurt by what Harry said, and Charles was upset by Harry saying he felt let down by his father and Harry’s accusation that he cut him off financially, and refused to take his calls.Harry will now begin another 10-day quarantine as recommended for travellers to the U.S. by the CDC.

Beware of Dems' Proposed Domestic Terrorism Law

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Top congressional Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are pushing new laws to stamp out “domestic terrorism.” But they’re targeting only right-wing organizations. If rioters are looting and setting fires for a leftist cause, that’s OK.President Joe Biden’s newly appointed attorney general, Merrick Garland, labels the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol invasion as “domestic terror,” but refuses to apply the same term to the left-wing rioters who attacked the Portland federal courthouse last summer.The Democrats’ efforts to label only right-leaning groups as domestic terrorists is un-American. The First Amendment guarantees that we can join any political group we like, as long as we don’t commit a crime.If protesters attack a courthouse, assault cops or loot stores, there are enough laws on the books to punish them. And offenders should get the same treatment, whether they identify with antifa or the Proud Boys.Tell that to Schumer. He introduced a Senate resolution calling on the FBI and intelligence community to examine the leadership and membership of right-wing groups and “prioritize the investigation and prosecution of such groups.”Schumer’s proposal is dangerous. Belonging to an ideological group — far left or far right — isn’t a crime in the U.S. You can be a Nazi, a Marxist, a member of the Proud Boys or any other despicable movement. The FBI’s job is to investigate violent crimes, not ideology. It doesn’t designate certain groups as domestic terrorists, though Schumer’s resolution is suggesting they do that.Schumer also promises to fast-track the proposed Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021, a bill that calls for law enforcement “monitoring” of right-wing groups. You could become a target by interacting with such a group, even if you don’t commit a crime.The same bill would stiffen penalties for lawbreakers motivated by political beliefs the authorities don’t approve of. Picture jails filled with right-wing protesters serving long sentences when Democrats are in power and vice-versa. Welcome to Putin-ville.In the past, the U.S. has dealt effectively with extremist violence. In the 1970s, lefties from the Animal Liberation Front attacked animal testing facilities. The Symbionese Liberation Army committed murders and robbed banks. The individuals who committed the crimes were punished, but the federal government didn’t designate the groups as terrorists or criminalize belonging to them.Now, Democrats claim a right-wing threat justifies drastic action. The Washington Post says “domestic terrorism incidents have soared to new highs in the United States, driven chiefly by white supremacist, anti-Muslim and anti-government extremists on the far right.”That’s untrue. The Washington Post cites a report from the highly woke Center for Strategic and International Studies, which recorded 73 “far-right” violent incidents with two resulting deaths in 2020, compared with 25 leftist incidents with one resulting death. The numbers are minuscule, and the comparison between left and right incidents is meaningless because CSIS didn’t count many of the violent events during last year’s nationwide unrest after George Floyd’s death.During that riots, as many as 700 law enforcement officials were injured and property damage reached $2 billion. That shows leftist protesters, often acting with impunity, are a major threat.
Tell that to Garland.In May 2020, as rioters were attacking public buildings in Portland and Minneapolis, Garland’s predecessor, William Barr, deplored the attacks as “domestic terrorism” and named left-wing groups such as antifa.But in a Senate hearing this February, Garland refused to call burning the Portland courthouse domestic terrorism. People are more likely to call something terrorism when they disagree with the ideology of the perpetrators.Therein lies the danger. Even the ACLU and some Democratic lawmakers oppose a domestic terrorism law.It’s not needed to keep the peace. What’s needed is a clear message that if protesters resort to looting, assaulting police or destroying public buildings, then they’ll be punished, no matter how just their cause.That’s the opposite of California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters’ message to Minneapolis protesters early Sunday, when she urged them to be “more confrontational.” Yet, in Congress, she’s exhorting federal investigators to shut down right-wing protesters.Waters’ hypocrisy shows how dangerous a domestic terrorism law would be.Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and author of “The Next Pandemic,” available at Amazon.com. Contact her at betsy@betsymccaughey.com or on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey.

Lobbying system 'pretty clean', says former PM Tony Blair

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Tony Blair has told Sky News that issues around lobbying should be looked at “thoroughly”, but “by and large” the British system is “pretty clean”.The former prime minister said a set of rules should be established “which make sense”.
Mr Blair, who was in Downing Street from 1997 to 2007, added that there has “probably been quite a lot of change” in how lobbying is conducted since he was in office.

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There has been a renewed focus on lobbying in light of David Cameron’s activities in relation to the firm founded by Lex Greensill

He said he did not have a mobile phone during his spell in Number 10, “so the issues of texting didn’t arise, obviously it’s a different world today”.There has been a renewed focus on the issue of lobbying after a series of revelations about former prime minister David Cameron and Greensill Capital, which has dragged in former and current government ministers and officials as well.

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Mr Cameron approached serving ministers and officials about the involvement of the firm in government-backed financial support schemes in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, lobbying that included sending text messages to Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

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Mr Cameron said he broke “no codes of conduct and no government rules”, but acknowledged: “As a former prime minister, I accept that communications with the government need to be done through only the most formal of channels, so there can be no room for misinterpretation.”Boris Johnson has asked top lawyer Nigel Boardman to look into the activities and said he will be given “carte blanche to ask anybody whatever he needs”.But Labour is pushing for a wider inquiry into lobbying.
Subscribe to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, SpreakerSpeaking about lobbying generally, Mr Blair said there was “nothing wrong” with it per se and it had become a “loaded” term.”People in government, of course they should receive information,” he said.

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Cameron ‘meticulously observed the rules’, says Eustice

“What’s necessary is that the decision making process is done in an objective way. By and large in our system I think it is.”We’ve got to be careful of overstating the problems in our own system.”By and large the British system is a pretty clean system.”

These Shower Steamers Woke Me Up Better Than Coffee

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Scouting Report: These are Bath bombs but for shower people, perfect if you have allergies or are just in need of a morning jolt. I’m not a bath bomb person, mainly because I’m not a bath person. Don’t get me wrong, baths are all well and good. The issue is really that they just are a whole ordeal. You have to run the bath, and then get in the bath for like, 30 minutes and just, sit there? Well, if you’re not a bath person either, you’re in luck. I recently found out about a way to enjoy bath bombs in the shower.Cleverfy’s Shower Steamers Instead of bath bombs that look like little orbs, Cleverfy’s Shower Steamers come in little hockey pucks. They are extremely easy to use. All you do is plop one on the ground in the shower, and aromas begin to waft their way up to your nose. It helps me a lot with congestion I’ve been having related to seasonal allergies and after a shower, I feel more rejuvenated than ever. Each pack comes with 6, and each has a different scent so you can try and find your favorite. Scents include, lavender, menthol & eucalyptus, vanilla, watermelon, grapefruit, and peppermint. I personally like the lavender for an end of the day shower, and the peppermint for an early morning shower.The bottom line is this: bath people don’t get to have all the fun. Us shower people can enjoy a shower bomb, or steamer, to make showers that much more relaxing and enjoyable.Scouted selects products independently and prices reflect what was available at the time of publish. Sign up for our newsletter for more recommendations and check out our coupon site for more deals. If you buy something from our posts, we may earn a small commission.

Sir James Dyson defends texts to PM over tax status of employees

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Sir James Dyson has said it is “absurd to suggest” his company was doing anything other than trying to follow the rules, after it was reported that the prime minister personally promised him he would “fix” an issue over the tax status of his employees.The BBC reported that it had seen a series of text messages between the pair after Sir James was unable to get the assurances he was seeking from the Treasury.
It said the conversations took place last March in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The PM messaged Sir James: ‘I will fix it tomo! We need you. It looks fantastic’. Pic: Simon Dawson/10 Downing Street

At the time, the government was appealing to companies to supply ventilators in case the NHS ran out.Labour said the revelations were “jaw-dropping” and declared: “Tory sleaze has reached the heart of Downing Street.”

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Responding to the report, the government said it was right to secure equipment for the health service in “extraordinary times”.
And in a statement sent to Sky News, Sir James said: “When the prime minister rang me to ask Dyson to urgently build ventilators, of course I said yes.

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“We were in the midst of a national emergency and I am hugely proud of Dyson’s response – I would do the same again if asked.”Our ventilator cost Dyson £20m, freely given to the national cause, and it is absurd to suggest that the urgent correspondence was anything other than seeking compliance with rules, as 450 Dyson people – in UK and Singapore – worked around the clock, seven days a week to build potentially life-saving equipment at a time of dire need.”Mercifully they were not required as medical understanding of the virus evolved.”Neither Weybourne nor Dyson received any benefit from the project, indeed commercial projects were delayed, and Dyson voluntarily covered the £20m of development costs.”Not one penny was claimed from any government, in any jurisdiction, in relation to COVID-19.”A government spokesman said: “At the height of the pandemic, there were genuine fears that we would quickly run out of ventilators, leaving the NHS unable to treat patients and putting many lives at risk.”As the public would expect, we did everything we could in extraordinary times to protect our citizens and get access to the right medical equipment.”Responding to the report, a Labour spokesperson said: “These are jaw-dropping revelations.”Boris Johnson is now front and centre of the biggest lobbying scandal in a generation, and Tory sleaze has reached the heart of Downing Street.”The prime minister appears to have used the power of his office to personally hand public money to a billionaire friend in the form of tax breaks.”If true, it is clearer than ever there is one rule for the Conservatives and their friends, another for everyone else.”The stench of sleaze has been building up around this Conservative government for months.”Boris Johnson must now agree to a full, transparent and independent inquiry into lobbying – and end the scandal of Conservative politicians abusing taxpayer money.”Sir James, whose company is based in Singapore, wrote to the Treasury seeking assurances that his staff would not have to pay more tax if they came to the UK to help with the ventilators project.The BBC reported that when he did not receive a response, Sir James raised the issue personally with the PM.He said in a text that his company was ready but “sadly” it seemed like no-one wanted them to proceed.Mr Johnson messaged back: “I will fix it tomo! We need you. It looks fantastic.”He texted Sir James, again, saying: “[Chancellor] Rishi [Sunak] says it is fixed!! We need you here.”When he sought further assurance, the PM said: “James, I am First Lord of the Treasury and you can take it that we are backing you to do what you need.”Speaking at the Treasury Select Committee two weeks later, Mr Sunak said the tax status of those who arrived to provide specific help during the pandemic would not be affected.The Dyson revelation comes after a range of disclosures about former PM David Cameron’s activities on behalf of Greensill Capital.Mr Johnson has ordered a review by top lawyer Nigel Boardman into lobbying.

Conservatives Should Oppose the College Transparency Act

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With ominous rumblings about vaccine passports, perpetual contact tracing, and other means of government and corporate surveillance, totalitarian spying on U.S. citizens seems closer than we could have imagined. Now the Senate has stepped in – again – to ramp up surveillance in the realm of higher education.For several years, even so-called conservative Republican senators have pushed bills to allow the feds to track and compile data on any student from any institution of higher education (IHE) for the rest of his or her working life. The excuse for this startlingly intrusive initiative is twofold. First, lifetime tracking will allow prospective students to see what jobs people get and how much money they make after studying at particular institutions. Second, tracking will enable the federal government to evaluate its massive student-loan programs. The short answer for excuse number-one is that no one has the right to demand surveillance of his fellow free-born citizens, regardless of whether the resulting data might theoretically help in his decision-making. To excuse number-two, any government program that requires dragooning citizens into a lifetime of governmental surveillance, without consent, is a program that should be abolished. This is one of a multitude of reasons the federal government should relinquish control over student loans.But “conservatives” in Congress don’t see that. This year’s iteration of the surveillance bill is the College Transparency Act (CTA), recently reintroduced by Republican senators Bill Cassidy (LA) and Tim Scott (SC) and Democrat senators Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI). Strange bedfellows indeed – and two of them are either being shamefully hoodwinked or are shamefully hoodwinking the voters who sent them to the Senate.Here’s how CTA will work. First it will require any IHE that enrolls students with federal student loans – that is, almost every IHE in the country – to compile an enormous amount of student data and send it to the federal Commissioner for Education Statistics. The data must cover “enrollment patterns, progression, completion, and post-collegiate outcomes, and higher education costs and financial aid.” All the required data elements are specified in the bill (age, race, “gender,” full-time or part-time status, veteran status, program of study, etc.), but they’re just a beginning – the Commissioner may add others later when the mood strikes. And don’t think the voracious federal government will stop with the data requirements currently included.Second, the Commissioner must share all this personal data with multiple other federal agencies. After all, the point of the new Chinese-style system is to track every student’s life choices, “including earnings, employment, and further education,” forever. So student data will be matched to data in the IRS, the Treasury Department, the Defense Department, the VA, the Census Bureau, and the Social Security Administration, among others. CTA would apply even to students who don’t receive federal aid. So merely by the act of enrolling in higher education, every student will now have an official government dossier that will be updated as he progresses through life and career. There’s no requirement that the student consent, and there’s no opt out. And this is individual, personally identifiable information that can be matched to particular students. In fact, Cassidy and Scott’s CTA would repeal current federal law that prohibits collecting “personally identifiable information on individuals receiving” federal student-loan assistance. It should be unthinkable that constitutional conservative senators would mandate government surveillance of individual, identifiable Americans, but the universe of the unthinkable is shrinking by the day.Our political overlords do allow IHE’s to “provide notice to students outlining the data included in the system and how the data are used.” Students will star in their own Truman Show, but at least they’ll be told about it. And they’ll even be allowed to peek at their data and “request corrections to inaccuracies.” The bureaucrats won’t be required to actually make those corrections, but the peasants shouldn’t be too demanding.Another assurance is that these dossiers won’t be kept in a “single-standing, linked Federal database at the Department.” Apparently students are to be comforted that bureaucrats will have to click several times, not just once, to access their highly personal information.
Even if “transparency” justified obliterating the right to privacy, what about the more pedestrian problem of hacking? Cassidy and Scott are on it. Under CTA, data matches among the various federal data troves will have to be “secure” and to comply with the same protocols that have created scandalously insecure data systems at multiple federal agencies (see here, here, and here). Feel better?Not only bureaucrats but also “researchers” will have access to this highly sensitive data trove, but only “vetted” research will be allowed. Who will do this vetting and according to what criteria remains unspecified. And though the data given to researchers will be de-identified, with “direct [not indirect] identifiers removed,” anonymity won’t be guaranteed. Tech-savvy researchers who are told a citizen’s education history and job titles and earnings and whatever else any government agency may have collected on him over the years will find the absence of a name on the records merely an inconvenience, not an obstacle, to re-identification. Americans who actually believe in freedom, privacy, and limited government are growing weary of “conservative” politicians who ignore the ramifications of what they propose.  Just in the last few weeks, we’ve seen Republicans in Congress spearhead the imposition of radical “action civics” that will teach future generations to hate their country. Now Cassidy and Scott are pushing a government surveillance system that, if they bothered to think about it, should make them recoil in disgust. These are not difficult issues. From a constitutional perspective, there are right and wrong answers. Why are politicians on the right so often choosing the wrong ones?

Think You’ve Seen the Best of LA? You Might’ve Missed this Neighborhood

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This is the latest in our series on underrated destinations, It’s Still a Big World.The busiest intersection in the world is Japan’s Shibuya crossing; it’s fascinating to watch from above the way tiny people weave in and out on foot, just walking—never talking—and always with a destination in mind.A sharp contrast to Tokyo, nobody really walks in Los Angeles. This is a city built around cars, so it’s no surprise to find the busiest freeway interchange in the world a stone’s throw from Downtown LA. The East LA Interchange runs through Boyle Heights, a historic, multicultural borough just east of the Los Angeles River and a 10-minute drive from hipster Silver Lake.If you happen upon Boyle Heights, you’ll want to check out historic spots like the Benjamin Franklin Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, which has been open for more than 100 years. Then there’s Mariachi Plaza, where musicians have gathered since the 1930s to vie for the attention of passersby who might be looking to hire a band. Those who don’t know much about Boyle Heights will probably end up there for the food. The original Guisados, serving up Mexican comfort food (homestyle braises on corn tortillas using fresh masa that’s made at Carniceria Uruapa just next door), is a main attraction and the perfect start to an afternoon getting to know the neighborhood.I find myself in the area on a chilly March day, passing Farmacia Ramirez on my way in before securing street parking in front of a Jack in the Box. There is mild traffic, but nothing to write home about. I am meeting up with Mario Christerna who is a Boyle Heights native and for him, there’s no place like home. The Chicano chef travels abroad with his wife and daughters as often as possible, yet LA is still his favorite. “I’m a custodian of my neighborhood,” he tells me as we embark on a walking tour of Cesar Chavez Ave.He’s promised me food and fun and stories that are sure to blow my mind. “How much time do you have again?” he asks, and I already know I’ve messed up by not blocking an entire day, at least.Formerly known as Brooklyn Ave., everything you could possibly want or need is here on this one street. Its name was meant to entice travelers from the East Coast to settle in LA’s first suburb, and it worked. For quite some time, this was the Ellis Island of the West, home to the largest Jewish population in the US outside of New York. The neighborhood’s nickname? “The Lower East Side of Los Angeles”—a melting pot of Japanese, Mexican, Italian, and Eastern European working-class immigrants. Native to LA, indigenous people from the Tongva tribes also made Boyle Heights (at the time it was called El Paredon Blanco) their home in the 1800s.There is an instant connection when I tell Mario I originally hail from Miami. “Oh, Miami’s my second home,” he says. “I love Miami.” It turns out we have friends of friends in common since Mario was once a tour manager, hanging around megaclubs like the infamous Space and the (now defunct) Prive and Mansion. As a young chef, he moved to Spain to pursue a dream job with three-Michelin-starred Chef Martin Berasategui and continued working in music, simultaneously. When he wasn’t in the kitchen, he was probably at an electronic music party in Ibiza.Christerna greets people left and right, pointing out the artistic intricacies I might’ve missed if I were here on my own. He finds beauty in everything, from the hand-lettered storefronts to the sidewalk planters (really), which have little mosaic tile designs on the sides to represent the diversity of the people who have lived in the neighborhood over the years. It’s his personal mission to fight gentrification while preserving everything that’s special about Boyle Heights.We stroll down Cesar Chavez Ave. and at times, I feel like I’m in a movie. There are women selling frutas, nodding as we pass; a fluffy white dog runs out in front of a truck at a green light. I hold my breath and feel the whole block let out a collective sigh when the pup is spared another day. We cruise into La Barbacha, a small Mexican shop still not allowing indoor dining because of the size of the space, but the woman working is in good spirits nonetheless. “¿Qué quieren, mijo?” She asks Mario, and he orders gorditas for the two of us: de barbacoa — the regional style of Hidalgo, Mexico — and chicharron.They smell so good, yet there’s no time to sit and eat as we move from one shop to the next. Mario tells me we’ll take our food back to his restaurant after we’ve made a few more stops, the next being Sonido del Valle. The only record store in Boyle Heights, it has more Latin vinyls than I’ve ever seen in one place. Cumbia, mariachi, Spanish rock — you name it, Sonido’s got it. Mario picks out and pays for two records: Cumbias con Mariachi by Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan and The Kennedy Dream by Oliver Nelson and His Orchestra. “You sure you don’t want one?” he asks me on the way out.We grab a burger to share at George’s Burger Stand (owned by the same people as the well-known Guisados) along with a couple of grape sodas, which remind me of hot Florida summers and old, faded vending machines by the pool. Mario is approached by two kids selling bouquets of flowers who can’t be older than 10. They speak both English and Spanish, jokesters trying to hustle him for $20. “OK, OK, come with me to the ATM,” Mario says, and they go. He pays the boys for the flowers and points to a street vendor nearby. “See that lady selling produce over there? Go give these to her and thank her for providing fresh food to our community.” The boys run over, hand off the flowers and she waves at us, grinning from ear to ear.With our bags of food, we stop in to say hi to his barber, then Mario points out the neighborhood plant shop, LatinX With Plants. The owner’s mission is to build a community that tackles environmental racism in communities of color and, in collaboration with plant designer Plantitas Verdes, she’s recently brought life to Mario’s restaurant window with fiddle leaf figs and other flora. Friendly competition and unconditional support seems to keep the locals in business here. This includes two ice cream shops within 700 feet of each other, La Michoacana and La Jerezana Ice Cream Parlor.Our last stop of the afternoon is Chef Mario’s pride and joy, the beautiful brick building that’s home to Brooklyn Avenue Pizza Co. Opened inside the historic Paramount ballroom at the height of the pandemic, this space has a 100-year history that includes performances by Sonny and Cher (when they were called Caesar & Cleo) and Afro-Cuban musician and composer Arsenio Rodriguez, who had a weekly residency there in 1965. Before all that, it was used as a meeting hall, barbershop, a center for socializing and organizing, and a place for the Jewish Bakers’ Union to work.Mario takes me up a narrow staircase to show me the rest of the space and then all of a sudden, we’re on the roof. “Come on,” he says. “We’re going to eat up here.” If he’s trying to convince me how amazing his neighborhood is, I was already sold, but there’s nothing like seeing a city from above. Finally, I can dig into the food we picked up earlier, while remembering to save room for some pizza. I’m in awe of the views — the Downtown LA skyline to one side, and to the other, the expansive greenery that is Evergreen Cemetery.The first official and sanctioned cemetery in Los Angeles, Evergreen is nearly 150 years old. The 67-acre cemetery is where many notable Californians are buried regardless of race or ethnicity. The Lankershim/Van Nuys families (LA real estate tycoons with full-blown city subdivisions named after them) are buried here, as is the founder of Ralph’s supermarkets. Then there’s Biddy Mason, a formerly enslaved African-American woman who was successful in real estate and philanthropy and even founded the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. The cemetery is segregated into sections (Armenians, Japanese, Chinese, European, Mexican), and unlike other cemeteries in the country, never banned African-Americans from being buried there.Back downstairs, we talk about Mario’s life before opening Brooklyn Ave Pizza Co. and how he’s managed to stay true to his upbringing. The menu pays homage to his heritage and his hood with Flaming Hot Cheetos wings, mole pizza, Chicano gravy, boozy horchata, and cocktails like the elote old fashioned and an Evergreen negroni named after—you guessed it—the neighborhood graveyard.By merely doing business in Boyle Heights, by getting his haircut there, and filling his restaurant with plants curated by the local shop, by hosting musicians and live concerts post-pandemic, Mario is giving back to his community in the most organic of ways. Growth is inevitable, but he sticks close to his roots which I think is the secret for everyone who’s chosen to stay and flourish there.My time is cut short, and before heading back to my car, ready to brave rush hour traffic, I tell Mario I wish I could stay a little longer. He has a piano in his office at Brooklyn Ave Pizza Co. and another in his kitchen at home; music is still a major part of the process in everything he creates and this feels familiar to me.“If you ever come over for dinner with me and my wife, you’ll see it,” he says about the piano. I’ll hold him to it, too. Even if it means crossing the East LA Interchange during gridlock, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’ Cast on Finally Getting to Be Black, Fat, Mean, and Funny

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Trinity is an “invisible” spy, accomplishing missions impossible because, as a plus-sized Black woman, society doesn’t see her.Elisa is the leader of gang orientation, instructing new members on updated work-from-home procedures and paid parental leave policies.Commanch Pitters II is a “Blackstorian” who explains that, in 1896, two Black women were eaten to death by zombies after being the first people to arrive at a party, a trauma that “reverberates across generations of Black people who refuse to be on time for anything, for fear of meeting certain death.”These are the three of the approximately 30 characters—each—that Ashley Nicole Black and Gabrielle Dennis, along with their co-star and series creator Robin Thede, play on A Black Lady Sketch Show, which launches its second season on HBO on Friday.When it premiered in August 2019, A Black Lady Sketch Show made history as the first-ever sketch show featuring an all-Black female cast and all-Black female writers’ room. As Thede told The Daily Beast at the time, “We’re just showing the world that we can do everything that other sketch shows really haven’t given us the opportunity to do.”The series corrected the industry’s lie whenever a show is called out for its lack of diversity: that there aren’t women of color with enough experience or talent to fill the roles. “They’ve been here,” Thede said. “So that is a big lie, in front of and behind the camera, that needs to be debunked. And I think that’s what this show can do.”Suffice to say, that’s exactly what the show did. It earned three Emmy nominations, won the Television Critics Association award for best sketch/variety series, scored the rare 100 percent fresh rating from reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes, and, maybe more importantly, inspired weekly Twitter viewing parties from enthusiastic fans relishing in sketch comedy that celebrated and showcased a Black female perspective.“The best compliment that I ever get about this show—and I’ve gotten it a lot—is people saying, ‘I feel seen,’” says Black, talking to the Beast the week before the show’s premiere. “That’s all I ever wanted growing up as a little girl. Comedy didn’t even feel available to me because all the people you saw doing comedy didn’t look like me. I didn’t even know that it was an option for me.”She remembers that, after the first season premiered, an interviewer asked what she hopes happens in the industry as a result of the show. “I said I hope a lot more fat people get into comedy,” she laughs. “Because there hasn’t been a lot of representation for us. The real point of it for me is for women, people of color, people with different bodies, and LGBTQ people to see themselves in a comedy show and not be getting made fun of, but being the one who’s having the fun.”Adds Dennis, speaking with Black in a Zoom call, “Our show does a really good job of not punching down with our jokes. We uplift equally with our comedy.”Before A Black Lady Sketch Show, Dennis was known for her roles on the TV series The Game and Luke Cage and for playing Whitney Houston in the BET miniseries The Bobby Brown Story. Black was a writer and correspondent for Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, winning an Emmy in 2017, and is on the writing staff for The Amber Ruffin Show.What strikes them about being a part of the Black Lady Sketch Show cast is being able to tap into the different sensibilities and talents that, because of the limited opportunities for Black women in television and the instinct to protect themselves against stereotypes, they’d never been able to fully embrace before.“One of my favorite hands-down things to do is physical comedy, and I haven’t gotten a chance to do that in the past. Usually that’s reserved for men,” says Dennis.“As artists, we train,” says Black. “When you’re coming up, you learn how to sing, how to dance, how to do Shakespeare. I did Thai classical dance in college. You learn how to do all these things, and then you get into the industry and it’s like, ‘Stand here and say the setup so the man can say the punch line.’ You don’t get to do all those things. What I love about this show is we do get to incorporate all those different styles.”Last season there was a sketch written in iambic pentameter. That Shakespeare class paid off.“This is going to sound weird, but I also love getting to play characters that are bad,” Black says. “When you’re the only Black woman on a show, you’re kind of representing Black women. Often you feel a pressure not to be mean or ugly or nasty because then you question, ‘Are you saying all Black women are mean?’ Now when you’re playing so many characters you can really indulge those other sides, because obviously we’re not saying all Black women are like this one character when there are 300 Black female characters on this show.”The show also gets to make the point that not every type of person who earns the honor of being mocked—or, in this case, celebrated—has to be the outrageous, over-the-top variety. Especially when it comes to marginalized communities for which TV representation has often meant presenting the idealized version of that identity.Take, for example, season one’s “Basic Ball,” a spoof of the ballroom competitions from Pose with categories such as “Clinical Depression” and “Just Awkward in the Body,” with contestants including “Mother Exhausted from the House of Tired” and “one of the eternal children of the House of Forever 21.” The commentary here: Unlike what you see on TV, not every LGBT+ person in the world is extremely attractive or talented. Even the normal gays deserve to be seen.“I love that there’s so much more gay representation on television, but they’re all so hot,” laughs Black, who wrote the sketch. “I’m like, a lot of the gay people I know are just, like, dropping their kids off at preschool. Like, not everybody is this hot. So I really wanted to celebrate the basic people, of which I am one.”Of the many systemic reasons why a series like A Black Lady Sketch Show took so long to exist, one is the fallacy that’s long-circulated in the industry: that white audiences wouldn’t relate to characters and stories revolving around people of color, or that convincing them to watch a show would require too much hand-holding to bridge a perceived cultural gap.One of the things Black Lady Sketch Show explicitly does not do is waste its airtime educating or over-explaining its references or the experiences that may be specific to the Black community that it’s sending up in the show.“It’s such a gift as a writer because, often when you’re the Black writer, you’re the only one,” Black says. “So you start your pitch by being like, ‘OK, here’s the thing that Black people do…’ and you kind of have to, like, educate the room. Then when you actually write the piece, you have to then build into the piece educating the audience.”“I think the audience is much, much smarter than that,” she continues. “And I think what we’ve seen in the response to this show is that lots of people who are not Black women love this show. I feel like the more specific you are, the more universal it becomes.”To that point, there was a decision that Thede made about the series when she, Black, and Dennis were partway through production that, while seemingly inconsequential, made a profound point. She changed the working title from “The” Black Lady Sketch Show to “A” Black Lady Sketch Show. Just because their show was the first, it shouldn’t be the only one. “What is the point in creating A Black Lady Sketch Show if I can’t open that door, you know?” she told the Beast.While the pandemic shutdown may have slowed the reverberation of the show’s impact—season two is premiering 19 months after season one—Dennis and Black say they already see the effects of that door being opened.“A lot of times we’re up against other images of what the country thinks and feels that we are and should be,” Dennis says. “It’s nice to have a sketch comedy show where you’re laughing with Black women and not at Black women.”Plus, their show isn’t the only one with Black women in the forefront, and each one “helps add another step to the staircase in the right direction,” she adds. Together, these shows prove there are “other ways to take in Black women that are not in a traumatic space.”“We’re showing our joy, our silliness, our craziness, our love of science fiction—these things that you haven’t seen a lot of Black women getting to play in this space,” says Black. “But I think we’re going to see more.”

COVID-19 Vaccinations Are Slowing—Just in Time for the Indian Variant

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India is in the throes of a devastating surge in COVID-19 cases. The wave of infections, propelled by a new variant of the coronavirus, could spill into the United States. Indeed, the Indian variant—“lineage” is the scientific term—is already here.With most states reopening and governors and mayors relaxing mask mandates as pandemic fatigue sets in, realistically just one thing can spare Americans from another spike in cases, experts say.The country must double down on its successful vaccination campaign. Getting tens of millions more jabs in arms in the coming weeks could block the new lineage’s transmission pathways—and stop it cold.

Whether They Egged On Jan. 6 Rioters or Cleaned Up After, These Lawmakers Raked In Fundraising Cash

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After the chaos at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) went to the Rotunda to help pick up the pieces, helping custodial staff sweep up some of the mess from the attack. Meanwhile, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) tried to distance himself from that same mess while defiantly defending the fiery speech he gave to that pro-Trump crowd before the riot.It’d be hard to find two more different responses from members of Congress to that day. But three months later, the two lawmakers announced they’d raised the same remarkable amount of money for their campaigns—around $1 million—after a quarter in which the events of Jan. 6, and their aftermath, overshadowed the political terrain.Coming off a 2020 election that cost an estimated $14.4 billion, donors might have been expected to sit on their wallets before giving to candidates for an election over 20 months away. The first quarter in the so-called “off year” is typically the quietest of the entire two-year election cycle.Not so this year: since federal filings were due last week, lawmakers and candidates have announced historic hauls. A handful of House Democrats and Republicans cleared $1 million, while some senators banked several million dollars.Seemingly every recent election cycle has yielded bigger fundraising numbers than the last. But there’s never been anything like the Capitol insurrection and the subsequent second impeachment of Donald Trump, and the shock of January 2021 has clearly opened the political money spigot earlier than ever.Fundraisers and operatives on both sides say that this turbulent year has underscored the stakes of political engagement for people nationwide. But Kim and Cawthorn show how different each side’s reasons for engagement have been: liberals have largely kicked in cash with the aim of protecting their vulnerable majorities in Congress, while conservatives have sent millions to support those politicians who have been the staunchest defenders of Trump and the effort to contest the 2020 election results.“After 2020 there was an open question of whether Democratic donors would stay engaged once Trump had exited,” said Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist who previously was executive director of the party’s House campaign arm. “This report answers that question.”Meanwhile, the loudest conservative figures have always proved best at raising cash, said Republican strategist Liam Donovan, who pointed to the surge to figures like Cawthorn as a natural outgrowth of that trend.“It should be no surprise that in an otherwise sleepy time of the election cycle, with traditional sources like business PACs largely on the sideline, that the most bombastic members are the ones with the gaudiest numbers,” said Donovan.Kim, who was interviewed last week by The Daily Beast in the Capitol’s rotunda—where he was photographed after Jan. 6 cleaning up debris—said he was reluctant to talk fundraising in that hallowed space, but allowed that his $960,000 haul was “more than I expected.” Outside of the quarter’s closing days, which are packed with fundraising pitches, Kim’s biggest fundraising day of the period was Jan. 8, according to Federal Election Commission records. His campaign suspended solicitations for two weeks after Jan. 6, so the groundswell was likely sparked by his viral clean-up moment.“People recognize it wasn’t just Jan. 6—it was the election results and the fact that I think Trump was stronger than a lot of people were necessarily expecting,” Kim said. “And Republicans made gains in the House in ways that, again, I think a lot of people weren’t necessarily expecting… It was a combination of those things that showed people that we’ve got a long road ahead of us.”That early money will be important for Kim, one of just seven Democrats to represent a district Trump carried in 2020. But Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), who pulled in more than $1.2 million during the quarter, holds a safely blue Chicago-area seat.Krishnamoorthi told The Daily Beast that his work on the House Oversight Committee, and a special panel overseeing the pandemic response, might have galvanized donations, but said the insurrection did, too. “Jan. 6 made it even more imperative to support people who really are supporting what we imagine to be the American dream,” said Krishnamoorthi, who was born in India. “And if I could humbly say so, I’m that racial, religious, ethnic minority kid, who is an immigrant with 29 letters in my name, and to a lot of people, that’s, ‘We need more people like that.’”Aside from exceptions like Krishnamoorthi, if there has been a pattern of cash flow from liberal donors, it’s been to the party’s most vulnerable incumbents who will make or break their chances to keep the majority in 2022. Twenty-five House Democrats on the GOP’s official target list netted over $500,000, while only nine Republicans on the Democratic target list cleared that bar—a discrepancy that some observers partially chalk up to the blanket suspension on political giving instituted by many companies after Jan. 6.The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s official House campaign arm, raised $34 million, their best first quarter in an “off year” in history, though their GOP counterpart was only about $400,000 behind.The GOP’s most notable fundraising leaders were conservative celebrities in safely red seats. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), the freshman who has said that “antifa” was behind Jan. 6 and has already moved to impeach President Joe Biden, raked in an astonishing $3.2 million. Greene, whose colleagues booted her from committee assignments for her record of inflammatory statements, explained the surge in a tweet: “I stood my ground and never wavered in my belief in #AmericaFirst policies and putting #PeopleOverPolitics!”Other top GOP fundraisers, besides party leaders, were Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)—a leader of the effort to object to the Electoral College results—and MAGA diehard Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Devin Nunes (R-CA), and Cawthorn.Cawthorn’s fundraising messages on Facebook, where he is very active, offer a viewpoint into his appeal—heavy on culture-war touchstones like guns and kneeling during the national anthem, while emphasizing his support for Trump’s border wall and opposition to Democrats’ immigration policy. The Capitol attack and impeachment are not mentioned much—though they occurred during a Facebook political ad blackout—but Cawthorn often alludes to “attacks” from Democrats and the “Fake News.”“I never betray my base, the people who elected me,” Cawthorn told The Daily Beast on Tuesday when asked about his fundraising. “If you have the back of the American people, they have your back.”The Republican base may have rewarded figures like Cawthorn. Their opposites within the party—the members who voted to impeach Trump—found themselves heckled and censored by the GOP base. But they saw their own fundraising surge, too.Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the most high profile House lawmaker to impeach Trump, raised over $1.5 million—five times more than she raised in the first three months of 2020, an election year. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), perhaps the House GOP’s most vocal critic of the Trump movement, raised over $1 million, while Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), who came forward with an account of Trump’s callous attitude toward the Capitol attack, raised $633,000, three times what she raised during the same period in 2019.One of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), raised over $500,000 this quarter—and he attributed that sum to “going into my first re-elect obviously not taking the easy path when it comes to re-election.” Meijer said he hadn’t done an exact breakdown of his sources of support, but said it was a “strong blend” of contributions from his west Michigan district, the state, and nationally. “I tend to think that voters value leaders who will exercise judgment and discretion,” he said.The surge in campaign cash now, so far from Election Day 2022, is reflective of more than just a chaotic first stretch of 2021. Increasingly, campaign season has become constant, owing to the forces of polarization and the decline in fundraising regulations. And the growth of online, small-dollar fundraising through platforms like Democrats’ ActBlue and the GOP’s WinRed. “We’re in the uncharted territory of a perpetual campaign cycle that never ends,” said Kate Barton, director of campaign strategy for Grassroots Analytics, a digital fundraising firm that works for Democrats.But even to seasoned operatives, there’s something clearly different about 2021. “Campaign fundraising and online fundraising has been exponentially growing cycle after cycle, but these first quarter numbers look like a natural growth, plus a supercharge,” said Ferguson, speaking about trends on the Democratic side. “There’s extra fuel in the tank because people are genuinely worried not just about Trump, but about what’s taken control of the Republican Party.”—with reporting from Matt Fuller

Inside the Pro-Trump Conference Where COVID Denial and Calls to Kill Political Enemies Reign

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In Tulsa, Oklahoma, this past weekend, thousands gathered at the Health and Freedom Conference—maskless, of course—to bask in the glow of Trumpworld luminaries and scheduled speakers such as pillow magnate Mike Lindell, MAGA attorney Lin Wood, and the actor who played Jesus Christ in the Mel Gibson movie. The crowd was there to reaffirm their fealty to twice-impeached former President Donald Trump, the QAnon conspiracy theory, coronavirus denialism, their religious faith, and the belief that their high-profile political enemies deserve to be executed.And Fever Dreams co-host Will Sommer was on the ground in Tulsa to take it all in.“[It was] sort of a confluence of COVID denialism, QAnon, evangelical Christianity, all this kind of stuff, gathering outside of Tulsa, 4,500 people,” Sommer told co-host Asawin Suebsaeng on this week’s episode of The Daily Beast’s Fever Dreams podcast. “They were ready to throw down and talk about how much they love both Trump and QAnon, no masks, [of course]… I didn’t see a single mask… I, too, had to go sans mask to fit in.”There were, naturally, “a lot of people who are big deals in Trumpism. I mean, it was Lin Wood, and Michael Flynn, and Sidney Powell. Jim Caviezel, who you may remember from The Passion of the Christ,” Sommer said. “These were people who were fringe in a way, but who still have a lot of sway in the Republican Party… Look, the chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party was at this thing.”According to Sommer, one of Wood’s addresses to the audience included a moment when he blathered on about “people [who] are torturing children,” and how “the punishment for treason is a firing squad”—at which point the crowd of roughly “5,000 people just explode, like standing ovation, all this stuff. So, I mean, it was really something to see.”Later in this Fever Dreams installment, Suebsaeng and Sommer welcome guest Sara Kenigsberg, a veteran video producer for the 2020 Democratic presidential campaigns of both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. On this episode, she opens up about what it was like when the Trump re-election campaign, conservative media, and MAGA icons aggressively went after her last summer… for her past tweets about pigs.That’s right: Last summer, as the United States was engulfed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a tumultuous presidential race, a torpedoed economy, and mass protests, the Trump campaign found time to devote considerable messaging resources to denouncing a mid-level Biden 2020 official over her love of pigs, yoga, and adorable piglets.Kenigsberg, who at that point had recently assumed the position as a producer on Biden’s presidential campaign, had shared a meme spreading the message of: “Please stop calling cops pigs. Pigs are highly intelligent and empathetic animals who would never racially profile you.”It wasn’t long before MAGAland declared her a new public enemy, with the Trump campaign putting out multiple statements about her. Kenigsberg recalls what happened behind the scenes, as she and the Biden staff responded to these salvos, and the torrent of threats and hate mail that followed. “It was just such a ridiculous controversy when so many other important things were happening in the world,” she said. “It was really pathetic on the part of the Trump campaign.”For more on this, as well as on Sommer’s dispatch from what Suebsaeng calls the misadventures in “the COVID and QAnon wilderness,” enjoy the rest of our latest episode.Listen, and subscribe, to Fever Dreams on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

This Trump Wannabe Just Might be the Worst of the Rotten Bunch

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Among the Republican members of Congress who used their inherent loathsomeness to shoot to fame, who never turn down a Fox News hit or a chance to tweet something racist or inflammatory, there is one who stands out as the shittiest among the shitty.This MAGA Mutt may be dumber than Jim Jordan, crazier than Marjorie Taylor Greene and fouler than Louie Gohmert, yet he has somehow flown beneath the radar of the national press.That’s Paul Gosar (D, for dentist) of Arizona, though the American Dental Association has published numerous letters from dentists disavowing him. Dentists think Gosar is bad for their brand.

New Docs Show Matt Gaetz Campaign in Full Damage Control Mode

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As Rep. Matt Gaetz combats allegations that he was involved in a sex ring, the Florida Republican’s latest campaign finance report reflects a public relations scramble that began even before he acknowledged being the focus of a federal investigation.The filing, which covers the three months between January and March, shows that Gaetz has incurred unprecedented fundraising expenses during a typically quiet period. In that time, Gaetz dropped six figures on a direct mail blitz, shelling out more for fundraising services than he did in all of 2020.Gaetz also paid $5,000 in “strategic consulting” fees to notorious political operative Roger Stone, and he gave money to a number of GOP Florida state lawmakers that he’s never supported before. The report also indicates that Gaetz—who cites his lack of friends in Washington as a point of pride—may be increasingly isolated; he’s received no contributions from his GOP colleagues.More than anything, the filing reflects a concerted effort to bolster support ahead of the creeping shadow of the investigation. Gaetz has spent roughly $170,000 on direct mail outreach this year, $116,543 of it on one day—March 31. The previous day, The New York Times broke the news that the Justice Department was looking into whether the third-term congressman had sex with a 17-year-old and paid for her travel, a possible violation of federal sex-trafficking laws.Gaetz has also invested heavily in fundraising, paying Nevada-based Red Rock Strategies nearly $160,000 for fundraising consulting. That’s roughly $10,000 more than the campaign spent on fundraising services in 2019 and 2020 combined, according to The Daily Beast’s analysis of filings in the FEC database.Last week, Politico also reported that Gaetz recently spent six-figures on TV ads punching back against the accusations. The 30-second spots, slated to run in his panhandle home district and on select national cable networks, ask supporters to “fight back” against “a multi-week fake news cycle,” targeting CNN specifically. The ad buys came after the quarterly filing deadline and aren’t included in the latest report, but should appear in the next filing, which is due in July.However, one expense in particular will raise eyebrows: A $5,000 “strategic political consulting” fee to Drake Ventures, the company belonging to longtime GOP smear artist and Gaetz associate Roger Stone. On Friday, the DOJ sued Stone and his wife, Nydia, alleging that the couple owes millions in unpaid taxes and have used Drake Ventures to shelter more than $1 million.The campaign paid Stone’s company on March 24, just days before Gaetz’s father held an in-person meeting with a former DOJ prosecutor, according to a person familiar with the meeting. In a bizarre March 31 interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Matt Gaetz claimed that his father recorded that conversation at the direction of the FBI, alleging without evidence that the former prosecutor was at the center of a convoluted scheme to extort the congressman. The Gaetz campaign had never paid Drake Ventures until then.The report also suggests that Gaetz has few friends in Washington. While Gaetz swore off donations from corporate PACs, he kept the door open to donations from candidate committees. But he has so far reported no financial support in 2021 from friends in Congress such as Jim Jordan and Stephen Scalise, both of whom donated to his 2020 campaign. And while he made same-day $4,000 donations to Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) in mid-February, Gaetz did not give money to any House colleagues.Gaetz did, however, send out $1,000 donations to five GOP Florida state senators on Jan. 26. Gaetz hadn’t donated to any of their campaigns previously.One of the contributions reflects Gaetz’s ties to Joel Greenberg, his longtime friend whose federal indictment on a range of offenses—including sex trafficking—led to the probe targeting Gaetz. The contribution went to Jason Brodeur, a longtime Gaetz ally who was also close with Greenberg through local GOP circles. Brodeur’s campaign drew scrutiny for dirty tricks, including an alleged sham candidate scheme. Brodeur has denied involvement and went on to win that race, now representing Greenberg’s Seminole County at the state level.Gaetz has also continued to rack up legal fees, a pattern established last summer around the time the DOJ investigation was reportedly launched. The Daily Beast reported earlier this month that weeks after Greenberg was first indicted—in June 2020—Gaetz paid the law firm Venable LLP $38,000, nearly four times the combined amount of legal fees incurred in the previous five years. The new filing reveals a $21,000 payment to Venable in February, bringing total legal expenses up to $85,000 since Greenberg was charged.Caleb Burns, a partner at Wiley Rein who specializes in campaign finance law, told The Daily Beast that spikes in legal fees are often accompanied by a parallel spike in fundraising.“The law permits candidates and officeholders to use campaign contributions for legal expenses that arise from their candidate and officeholder duties and responsibilities,” Burns explained. “But if an officeholder gets into a car accident on the way to the grocery store—which has nothing to do with running for or holding office—the law bars the use of campaign funds to cover any resulting legal expenses. Therefore, it is not uncommon for candidates and officeholders facing scrutiny for their political activities to raise additional funds into their campaigns to help offset associated legal expenses.”While the thrust of the Gaetz investigation is said to focus on the sex trafficking allegations, CNN reported earlier this month that federal investigators are also examining campaign finance irregularities as part of their broader inquiry. Gaetz can legally tap his campaign coffers for those expenses.The congressman has already raised money from the scandal. On April 7, Talking Points Memo published a fundraising email in which Gaetz slammed “The far-left New York Times” for reporting “salacious allegations against me in an attempt to end my career fighting for the forgotten men and women of this country.” The email added that it was “a shame that the Left tries to drag my dating life into their political attacks,” and included a donation link asking supporters to “fight back against the fake news.”Gaetz donor Richard Bell, who gave to the congressman late last month, told The Daily Beast that while he has liked Gaetz’s policies since he arrived in D.C., Gaetz “should pay the price” if the allegations are true.“I know there is a big expense in defending and felt I wanted to help out,” Bell said.Another recent donor, Florida resident Jerry Klinger, told The Daily Beast that he gave to Gaetz because he agreed with the congressman’s “small-government philosophy.” However, Klinger said that “the shadows that have come out since may have given me pause to reconsider.”Klinger expressed skepticism about the merits of the DOJ investigation, and said he has “no objection” if Gaetz uses his donation for legal expenses. But he pointed out that the congressman comes from a wealthy and influential family.“If daddy wants to pay for junior, that’s a different story,” he said.

Should We Even Have the Oscars During a Deadly Pandemic?

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Marlow: Well… we’re back. It feels like a lifetime ago that Bong Joon-ho stumbled up to the Oscars stage, hugged Spike Lee, shouted out Scorsese, and proclaimed, “I will drink until next morning.”Kevin: Little did he know that there would be a pandemic, the world would shut down, our everyday existence would be blanketed by fear, anxiety, sadness, and rage, and we would, in fact, be drinking until next April.Marlow: There’s been a lot of red wine consumed in this apartment. And yes, things have been pretty downhill since then to say the least, what with that deadly global pandemic you mentioned, police killings of unarmed Black people, an endless series of mass shootings, the storming of the U.S. Capitol by rabid Trump cultists, and that L.A. fro-yo shop that had the audacity to sell sugar-free cookies (kidding). But the 93rd Academy Awards will air this Sunday, April 25, following a two-month delay due to the ongoing pandemic. Given the massive ratings dips for the Golden Globes and Grammys, and the fact that most 2020 studio films were pushed a year, the ceremony—which will again go host-less—is poised to attract the smallest audience in living memory.Kevin: It is literally my job, and I keep forgetting the Oscars are Sunday. It’s sad… Baby Kevin used to treat this as the holiest day of the year. It was more like Christmas than Christmas. Now it’s an annoying plan that I keep having to mutter “oh shit” about because I keep forgetting it’s happening.Marlow: Aw, Baby Kevin! OK, so what’s all the chatter about? Unlike last year, when you had the ghost of Jeffrey Epstein, the silly Joker hullabaloo, and Scarlett Johansson’s full-throated defense of Woody Allen (which certainly hasn’t aged well) looming over the proceedings, this year’s biggest controversy is over… Amazon, apparently?Kevin: I assume you’re talking about the Nomadland discourse, but before we get into that I want to counter with what I actually think has been the biggest controversy: that the Oscars are happening at all—and the way that they’re happening. And I’m not talking about the “do we really need to have a show in which famous people give each other awards while we’re still struggling to control a deadly pandemic” question. Or the “despite the fact that this year you can actually watch all the nominees from your home, it’s still the annual situation where no one has seen the movies” conundrum.Marlow: I’d be lying to you if I didn’t admit that it’s been challenging watching so many movies from home this year. Often, I’d opt to re-watch light TV fare, like Gossip Girl or How To with John Wilson (seriously, everyone please watch this if you haven’t).Kevin: I’m talking about the completely botched messaging about how producers, who this year include Steven Soderbergh, want the ceremony to take place. Like many of us, they’ve had enough of awkward Zoom award shows—though I’ve come to adore chaos—and originally insisted that nominees and winners would only be included in the show if they flew to Los Angeles and attended in person, a demand for non-essential travel that is patently outrageous given the current case numbers and practically impossible for nominees in Europe and many other countries, where there are bans against leaving. They finally caved after the lunacy of the idea was exposed.Marlow: And it was pure lunacy.Kevin: But now it’s come out that, following months of messaging that the ceremony will be filmed “like a movie”—whatever the hell that means—the show will be treated like a film production abiding by COVID-19 safety regulations. That means that attendees won’t have to wear masks while it’s shooting. Nothing combats the criticism that Hollywood abuses its privilege and power like skirting safety protocols on a technicality and telegraphing a horrible message about group gatherings in this late stage of the pandemic for purely aesthetic reasons!Marlow: I’m with you on this. As our own Tarpley Hitt reported, there have been a number of COVID-19 outbreaks on Hollywood sets during the pandemic—including an outrageous incident wherein the She’s All That television remake, starring a number of TikTokers, attempted to shut down a popular COVID testing site to shoot there.Kevin: Hollywood pretended to work alongside the people and help us all get through the pandemic together as equals, but then took off its glasses and turned out to be vapid, destructive, and self-serving all along!Marlow: Imagine all the people… And while I’m sure (or rather hope) that all these celebs are vaccinated, since a lot of Hollywood folks jumped the vaccine line and got ahold of COVID vaccine codes ahead of eligible recipients, it’s indeed a strange message to send at a time when there’s still a considerable amount of unwarranted skepticism concerning vaccinations and proper safety protocols, and when we’re so damn close to beating this thing. Perhaps Donald Trump will lean into his culture-warrior BS and hate-tweet the Oscars, as he’s done in years past?“Hollywood pretended to work alongside the people and help us all get through the pandemic together as equals, but then took off its glasses and turned out to be vapid, destructive, and self-serving all along!”Kevin: I live for the idea of Donald Trump starting an alt account on Twitter to anonymously shit-talk the pandemic Oscars. But the interesting thing about this year is—and brace for the rare revelation that portrays Hollywood in a nice manner—there’s not been much to truly hate about the Oscar season. Do I still reject the idea that Mank is a movie, let alone the one that earned the most nominations this year? With the swiftness of my digestive system when I consume dairy. But at the same time… good for Amanda Seyfried, the epitome of an “I root for her!” star.Marlow: You go, Amanda Seyfried! But yes, it took me three attempts to finish Mank—because I kept falling asleep. Yet another example of Hollywood manking itself off.Kevin: That is to say that the season has been blessedly light on bad-faith controversies planted to torpedo awards campaigns.Marlow: Enjoy that cell, Harvey!Kevin: As you had mentioned, I think probably the biggest “scandal” surrounds Nomadland, and it’s a quiet one. The film is so elegiac and lovely and timely and Frances McDormand-y that I would consider it double-vaccinated and immune to criticism. But amid the headlines and debate about Amazon’s workers, their attempts to unionize, and the working conditions they’re forced to endure, the segment of Nomadland that depicts McDormand’s character’s time working at a distribution center with a non-judgmental matter-of-factness certainly starts to sour.Marlow: It certainly paints Amazon as a pleasant place to work, where factory laborers are treated to comfortable lunch breaks which, given the numerous reports of workers pissing in bottles because they’re so overworked, seems like the stuff of fantasy.Kevin: Wilfred Chan wrote a piece in Vulture titled “What Nomadland Gets Wrong About Gig Labor,” pointing out the problematic nature of the film portraying an older American’s experience working for Amazon without zeroing in on the company’s sins and allegedly abusive treatment of its employees. I wonder, to play Devil’s advocate, if that judgment belonged in a film that’s such a character study—that’s not the story that writer-director Chloé Zhao is telling, so do we have the right to demand it?—but also wonder, in this odd awards season with this small and quiet movie… does anyone, at least anyone voting for the Oscars, care?Marlow: I don’t think they’ll care too much. I agree with the criticism though, and found the Amazon scenes to be tone-deaf, and the overall portrayal of these migrant laborers pushing through life with quiet contentment to be a considerable stretch. But the film is beautifully directed—nobody pulls off those magic hour shots quite like Chloe Zhao—and McDormand is an absolute force in it.Kevin: In Heaven, life exists purely in Zhao’s Nomadland magic hour shots.Marlow: It will still likely win Best Director and Best Actress, though Viola Davis could take home the latter for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. I do want to pour one out for poor Glenn Close, who was forced to degrade herself in Hillbilly Elegy to win her long-overdue Oscar, only to have her run spoiled by the author of the source material, J.D. Vance, being such an exasperating shithead. Over the past several weeks, Vance has taken it upon himself to praise Tucker Carlson after his white-supremacist “replacement theory” speech and applaud the passage of racist voting laws in Georgia.Kevin: What I’m very curious about is whether this was legitimately unexpected by Netflix. Vance has kind of always been a surface-level dipshit. This is the classic situation where you give someone a tiny soapbox and turn up the volume oh-so-slightly on their megaphone, and then it starts to register on the Richter scale.Marlow: I do wonder if Netflix successfully had him muzzled until the Oscar nominations were announced, because his Peter Thiel-backed Senate run announcement—and the white-nationalist comments that came in its wake—only happened after. Though really, everything about this film was a mess, from the movie itself to that time director Ron Howard retweeted far-right pundit Ben Shapiro’s glowing review of it.Kevin: The other thing that isn’t so much a controversy, but just something I’m very curious about, is how Promising Young Woman will fare. Of all the nominees this year, it’s probably the film that people have the most extreme and passionate opinions about it. I find that thrilling, especially in a sleepy season like this, and consider it a boon to its chances. (Not only does it stand a strong chance at screenplay and actress wins, the New York Times awards pundit Kyle Buchanan has been speculating that the amount of voters ranking it number one on their ballots could even earn it Best Picture.) But the thinkpiece engine has churned out more about this film than any other, with some critics affronted by its depiction of rape culture, revenge, and consent. But again, in a year like this, those grenades start to seem more like little cherry bombs.Marlow: Odd how it’s provoked such strong reactions since it’s not a very daring film. I told you right after its first screening at Sundance how, despite an excellent Carey Mulligan, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Promising Young Woman. I felt the film pulled its punches and contained plot holes so big you could roll Donald Trump through them—namely, the misguided notion that these predatory men will have learned some deep, life-changing lesson after these tense encounters (attempted rape as… a teachable moment?), the messy ending, and the illogical Bo Burnham twist. Then again, it’s not nearly as bad as The Trial of the Chicago 7—a film that played like a bad SNL sketch.Kevin: Ah, and so we end with the most controversial opinion of all: Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue is like sweet, didactic, overly earnest music to my ears, and I legitimately loved Trial of Chicago 7. The longest awards season in modern Oscar history finally wraps as it was always meant to: Kevin gets canceled.

'Right result': PM welcomes withdrawal of English teams from European Super League

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The withdrawal of the six Premier League teams from the proposed European Super League is the “right result for football fans, clubs and communities across the country”, the prime minister has said.Welcoming the withdrawal of Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United from the controversial competition, Boris Johnson said: “We must continue to protect our cherished national game.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told Sky News that it was a “victory for fans” and “the country has been united in condemning these proposals”.In light of the English clubs’ withdrawal, the Super League said it was considering “appropriate steps to reshape the project”.It said in a statement: “Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due to the pressure put on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations as was demonstrated today [Tuesday] by a court decision to protect the Super League from third party actions.

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“Given the current circumstances, we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project, always having in mind our goals of offering fans the best experience possible while enhancing solidarity payments for the entire football community.
“The European Super League is convinced that the current status quo of European football needs to change. We are proposing a new European competition because the existing system does not work.”Our proposal is aimed at allowing the sport to evolve while generating resources and stability for the full football pyramid, including helping to overcome the financial difficulties experienced by the entire football community as a result of the pandemic.”

Man Utd co-chair Joel Glazer 'apologises unreservedly' to fans after Super League backlash

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Manchester United co-chairman Joel Glazer has “apologised unreservedly” to fans following the club’s aborted plans to join the European Super League.He said: “We got it wrong, and we want to show that we can put things right.
“In seeking to create a more stable foundation for the game, we failed to show enough respect for its deep-rooted traditions – promotion, relegation, the pyramid – and for that we are sorry.”

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Joel Glazer was previously announced as vice-chairman of the Super League

Mr Glazer added: “This is the world’s greatest football club and we apologise unreservedly for the unrest caused during these past few days.”Previously, Mr Glazer had been announced as a vice-chairman of the Super League, saying it would “open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world-class competition and facilities, and increased financial support for the wider football pyramid”.

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Mr Glazer joins the owner of Liverpool FC, John W Henry, who apologised to fans, manager Jurgen Klopp and his players over the club’s bid to join the project – which is now expected to not go ahead.

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In a video posted on the club’s official Twitter feed, Mr Henry said: “I want to apologise to all the fans and supporters of Liverpool Football Club for the disruption I caused over the past 48 hours.”He said the project “was never going to stand without the support of the fans”, adding: “No one ever thought differently in England and over these 48 hours you were very clear that it would not stand. We heard you, I heard you.”He also apologised to Klopp, his players and staff, saying: “They have absolutely no responsibility for this disruption.”

Welcoming the exits of Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United from the controversial competition, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We must continue to protect our cherished national game.”He called the withdrawal of the six Premier League teams from the proposed Super League the “right result for football fans, clubs and communities across the country”.

I welcome last night’s announcement. This is the right result for football fans, clubs, and communities across the country. We must continue to protect our cherished national game.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 21, 2021

I’m glad the united voice of football fans has been heard and listened to. It is now really important that we use this moment to secure the future health of the game at all levels. As President of the FA, I’m committed to playing my part in that work. W— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) April 21, 2021

The Duke of Cambridge, who is president of the Football Association (FA), tweeted that he is “glad” fans have now been listened to.The teams announced their departures amid protests from fans and fierce criticism from many within the game, including former players and pundits.Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told Sky News that it was a “victory for fans” and “the country has been united in condemning these proposals”.”We were willing to take very very bold measures to stop this proposal going ahead,” he said.Mr Dowden added that it was “very important that we don’t see this as the end of the process”, saying: “What this has highlighted more than ever is the need to look at the wider governance of football.”He said a government review announced on Monday will continue and examine “how we address football governance, football finance and indeed the whole fan experience”.In light of the English clubs’ withdrawal, the Super League said it was considering “appropriate steps to reshape the project”.It said in a statement: “Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due to the pressure put on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations as was demonstrated today [Tuesday] by a court decision to protect the Super League from third party actions.

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‘We have given strength to fans in stopping this’

“Given the current circumstances, we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project, always having in mind our goals of offering fans the best experience possible while enhancing solidarity payments for the entire football community.”The European Super League is convinced that the current status quo of European football needs to change. We are proposing a new European competition because the existing system does not work.”Our proposal is aimed at allowing the sport to evolve while generating resources and stability for the full football pyramid, including helping to overcome the financial difficulties experienced by the entire football community as a result of the pandemic.”Chelsea, faced with an angry protest from their fans outside their Stamford Bridge stadium, was the first club to act, preparing documents to formally withdraw.

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Fans celebrate victory over Super League

Owner Roman Abramovich is understood to have driven the decision, having listened to fan protests and opted to back out.Manchester City soon followed, with the club saying in a statement that it had “enacted the procedures to withdraw” from the competition.Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said he regretted the “anxiety and upset” caused as he confirmed the club had “formally commenced procedures” to pull out.Meanwhile Arsenal admitted to making “a mistake” and apologised after confirming its departure.An open letter from the club’s board said: “The last few days have shown us yet again the depth of feeling our supporters around the world have for this great club and the game we love.”We needed no reminding of this but the response from supporters in recent days has given us time for further reflection and deep thought.”

Xi to attend Biden’s climate change summit in first meeting of two leaders

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China’s President Xi Jinping will attend a U.S.-led climate change summit on Thursday at the invitation of President Joe Biden, in the first meeting between the two leaders since the advent of the new U.S. administration.

Biden has invited dozens of world leaders to join the two-day virtual summit starting on Thursday, after bringing the United States back into the 2015 Paris Agreement on cutting global carbon emissions.

Xi will attend the summit via video and will deliver an “important” speech, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman at the Chinese foreign ministry, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Beijing and Washington have persistently clashed over a range of issues from alleged human rights abuses to China’s economic clout over other nations.

In Alaska last month, U.S. and Chinese officials held the first high-level in-person talks that bristled with rancor and yielded no diplomatic breakthroughs.

But the two countries, the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, have rediscovered a common interest in battling climate change.

Last week, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry traveled to Shanghai to meet with his Chinese counterpart in the first high-level visit to China by a Biden administration official. Both agreed on concrete actions “in the 2020s” to reduce emissions.

The talks also marked a resumption of climate dialogue halted during the Donald Trump administration, who withdrew from the Paris agreement.

Jimmy Kimmel Gives Ellen DeGeneres a Pass for ‘Toxic’ Behavior

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Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen DeGeneres were all smiles during their late-night 4/20 sit-down on Tuesday. But just beneath the surface, things were fraught.Beyond the tightly controlled set of her daytime talk show, which has seen its ratings plummet in recent months following the backlash against her “toxic” workplace culture and eventual public apology, DeGeneres has almost completely avoided any interactions with outside interviewers who may have asked her an uncomfortable question or two about her behavior.Hardly the toughest interviewer in the mediasphere, Kimmel was especially soft on DeGeneres, who is attempting some image rehab ahead of the premiere of her new HBO Max furniture show, Ellen’s Next Great Designer. They joked about smoking “wacky-tobacky” and even played a quick round of “Who’s High?” with pedestrians on Hollywood Boulevard.After all of that silliness, it would not have been easy to pivot into the serious allegations against her guest. And Kimmel didn’t try. Instead, he set DeGeneres up for a simultaneously endearing, humorous and concerning story about how she had to drive her wife Portia de Rossi to the emergency room for an appendectomy while very stoned. “It’s probably not safe, I shouldn’t be saying any of that,” she admitted at one point.The second half of their interview was dedicated to DeGeneres’ love of furniture and charity work to help endangered species. From there, the two hosts related to each other by trying to see if they remembered various strange things they have done on their talk shows over the course of many years.In fact, the only sketchy behavior that did come up was something that Kimmel did on the air. Ending the game, DeGeneres read from her card, “Did you ever surprise a guest—oh my god!—did you ever surprise a guest by showing him or her your penis on air?”“Yeah, I did do that,” Kimmel told her. “I did that to George Clooney and Hugh Laurie.” After playing a clip of that moment from a past sketch with the two actors, the host ended the segment.Now, obviously, Jimmy Kimmel—who’s hosting DeGeneres’ buddy George W. Bush on his show this Wednesday night—is not Anderson Cooper or Oprah Winfrey. And a late-night comedy show is not necessarily the best place for DeGeneres to address the allegations, which included sexual misconduct by her top producers and the host herself accused of secretly being “one of the meanest people alive.” But for it to not even come up reveals just how much celebrities tend to give their celebrity friends cover when low-level staffers suffer abuse.And it also raises the question of whether DeGeneres only agreed to the appearance under the condition that her scandal would be ignored—or if she just knew it would be.For more, listen and subscribe to The Last Laugh podcast.

Air COVID: Ted Nugent and Kristi Noem Flew Together While He Was Infected

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Right-wing rocker Ted Nugent expressed not a peep of concern for anybody he might have infected as he announced that he had tested for COVID-19.“I have had flu symptoms of the last 10 days,” Nugent reported via Facebook Live on Monday evening. “I thought I was dying.”That timing meant the people who had cause for concern prominently included South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

Canada on Road to Outlaw ‘Organ Tourism’

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A medical team performs surgery in an operating room onboard USNS Comfort, off the coast of Riohacha, Colombia, November 27, 2018. (Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters)

Good for Canada — a sentiment I haven’t been able to make very often lately. But a Senate committee has unanimously passed a bill that would outlaw Canadians from entering the black market for organs overseas, an exploitive phenomenon sometimes called “organ tourism.” From the Epoch Times story:
The Senate Bill S-204, sponsored by Sen. Salma Ataullahjan, makes it illegal for Canadians to get organs abroad without the consent of the donor, and makes people involved in forced organ harvesting inadmissible to Canada . . .
“We do know that Canadians continue to travel abroad for commercial organ transplant,” Ataullahjan told the committee on April 19.
Canadian human-rights campaigner, David Kilgour, described the situation in stark terms:
Former MP David Kilgour, who has extensively investigated China’s state-sanctioned organ harvesting of Falun Gong adherents, Uyghurs, and others, told the committee that China is the only country in the world where the government is involved in forcibly taking organs from persecuted groups, rather than criminals operating in the black market.
“They don’t just take one kidney, they take the heart, liver, lungs—everything that they can take. And of course, the donor dies in the process,” Kilgour said.
Kilgour said one way Canada is impacted by this is that brokers go to hospitals in Canada and other countries looking for patients who need an organ, and then arrange to take the patient to China for an organ transplant for a considerable sum of money.
This is an urgent matter of protecting human rights and thwarting biological colonialism.

It isn’t just China. Pakistan was forced to outlaw live organ donations to non-relatives because destitute people were being so taken advantage of by organ merchants. The Philippines outlawed all organ transplants for non-citizens to inhibit the practice.
The U.S.A. should get on this band wagon. But too many of us could care less. Some even brag of their participation, such as the book Larry’s Kidney, in which Daniel Asa Rose described the comic adventures of going to China to get his cousin a new kidney. It was reviewed in major newspapers as a tour de force. I wonder if the probably murdered “donor” had a good laugh before his life was extinguished.
I hope Canada passes the bill into law and that we follow that nation’s lead. The desperate destitute should not be treated as so many organ farms. When common decency no longer serves to keep society moral, sometimes the law has to step in.

4/20: A Dissent

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Chemdawg marijuana plants in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada, October 29, 2019 (Blair Gable/Reuters)

Today is 4/20, which has become, for complicated reasons, a “holiday” of sorts for enthusiasts of weed. Every year, it seems they have more to celebrate: Legalization is spreading, the legal marijuana industry is booming, and more and more people are open to using this particular drug, or are at least less disapproving of others’ use. My own views on pot have gone back and forth over the years. At this moment, I lean against, without much of a desire to defend or to inherit all of the drug war’s legacy, but with a concern that we are rushing into this too quickly without considering the possible consequences. I am well aware that the current reality on the ground makes my view unrealistic (and in dissent from National Review‘s own editorial line). Still, there is one complaint I would like to make that I do not think is rendered moot by the sheer unpopularity and infeasibility of my general position at this moment. And one pot proponent’s account has reminded me of it. In Reason magazine, Liz Wolfe has written a paean to weed, claiming that, “amid an impressive amount of worldly despair, smoking weed made our lost pandemic year not good exactly, but more joyful for many people — myself included.” At a time when so much of the world was closed off to her and to many others, the drug provided for them a form of inner, solitary recreation and enjoyment. “People need play, and when that’s been taken away from you, you must make do with the plaything of your own mind,” she writes. And, in defiance of the shrinking number that favor some kind of limitations on marijuana usage, she asserts that, of all the tributes she could have written to how she has derived pleasure during a largely unpleasurable time, “a paean to the act of getting high feels more fitting since this private, peaceful, solitary act is still one that some people still seek to condemn, as if this little bit of respite in a time of hardship is any business of theirs at all.” 
She is right that it is increasingly not the business of anyone else. And I try not to begrudge anyone’s pandemic-era accommodations; it has been a difficult time for us all. But Wolfe’s account brought to mind an aspect of this period that has bothered me. In large part due to the impositions of various governments, many other avenues of life were closed off to her (and to the rest of us), leaving this as one of a reduced number of options to derive solace and comfort in life. Indeed, this was true from the start. Around this time last year, marijuana dispensaries were deemed essential businesses, while many others were not so lucky. And, on the whole, far less luckier were institutions of voluntary association, such as houses of worship, which at this time last year were closed virtually everywhere. And most of them are still in various conditions of restriction (some after having fought off even worse restrictions). I am not trying to make a cheap shot here, or to identify a kind of double standard: “Pothead Libertarians Happy to Smoke, Don’t Care about Church.” For one thing, this is not true. The consistent libertarians of Reason magazine have covered the struggles of houses of worship against government regulations during this period well. And Wolfe herself has written eloquently about religion and its importance. Last October, reviewing Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World by Tara Isabella Burton, Wolfe identified as a Christian, and observed of the ersatz faiths, assembled on the fly by their new adherents, that Burton covers:
This rise in choice is good for personal autonomy, but these new religions tend to be thin on community building. Burton’s thoughtful analysis bolsters the sense that these young, syncretic religions might be less durable than traditional communities of faith.
It seems not to have been the case for Wolfe, who does not “think weed or psychedelics should be verboten for believers.” But my concern here is not so much her double standard, which I’ve already admitted as fallacious, as it is the government’s. One form of activity, one that involved solitary pursuit of pleasure, the state did not obstruct; a different form of activity, one that involved the building of community, the association of individuals, and the formulation of mutual interests independent of the state, the state saw fit at first to forbid and still sees fit to restrict. There is a kind of perversion in this, I think, that arises partly as a consequence of the nature of individuals vs. civil society: The former is simply harder to regulate, whereas the latter, in carving out a recognized, public niche in society, becomes more easily intelligible to the state for control. 
But in this perversion I also see a possible lesson. Wolfe is undoubtedly correct that marijuana regulation was once pervasive and is now declining, and as someone interested in the drug, she is acting rationally to celebrate this. But in the different treatments of these two activities by a state that libertarians generally still recognize and accept as growing and a threat to liberty, one can, I think, identify which of these activities the state might feel more threatened by (still-extant restrictions on pot use notwithstanding). An expanded state that is content to let people enjoy their pot but that still regulates them in other ways, such as associationally, does not strike me as a gigantic victory for liberty. 
Again, I am sure that Wolfe would prefer both forms of this freedom, as libertarians tend to. But in this, there is a discernible weakness in a worldview that does not recognize the ways in which certain forms of increased individual autonomy can coexist, and perhaps exist in a sort of feedback loop with an expanded state and concomitant diminution of civic associational life. And even if Wolfe doesn’t fall victim to this, I fear a culture in which others do, with marijuana serving as a kind of analgesic (or, at its worst extreme, a new religion unto itself), as the hollowing out of the vast space between individuals and the state proceeds apace, ultimately leaving us less free, or at least with more of a freedom that is fundamentally shallow. 

I might be overreacting; I am fully aware that I am a stick in the mud here. But I don’t think you have to be scared of reefer madness to worry about the trend I describe.

AOC’s ‘Justice’ Rant Is Wrong: U.S. Spends Nearly Twice as Much on Health Care as on Defense

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, June 12, 2019. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez has taken to Instagram live to explain why she believes the Derek Chauvin conviction was “not justice.” She started by noting that George Floyd and other black men would still be alive in a just world, and then expanded her commentary on police conduct into a broader complaint about the ills of American society.
I will leave it to others to comment on the rest of her remarks, but as somebody who has spent a fair amount of time studying health care and budget data, this one part jumped out:
Justice is a municipality and a government that does not — because it trickles down right? — that does not value military and armaments more than it values health care, and education, and housing.
The suggestion that we spend more money on the military than all sorts of other national priorities is a popular one on the Left, but it is also completely untrue. And it is egregiously wrong when it comes to health care.
As illustrated in the chart below, the federal government spent $1.45 trillion on health care programs in 2020, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That’s nearly double the $757 billion that was spent on defense. In fact, Medicare alone costs more than the entire defense budget.

It’s also worth noting that this chart understates the costs of health care spending because it does not include state expenditures on Medicaid, which added an additional $222 billion to the overall cost of the program in 2019. 

So does that mean that we’re slightly closer to AOC’s ideal form of “justice?”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey sending National Guard to southern border

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PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said Tuesday he is sending 250 National Guard troops to the state’s southern border with Mexico amid the increased arrivals of migrants.

The announcement came the day Customs and Border Protection held an open house at a new tent-like migrant processing center in the border community of Yuma. It is the first of two planned in Arizona to help agents process and temporarily shelter a growing number of asylum seekers arriving at the border. A similar structure is opening later this month in Tucson.

The Republican governor has quarreled with the administration of President Joe Biden over immigration policies, and he calls the situation on the border a “crisis.”

“If this administration isn’t going to do anything, then we will,” Ducey said.

There was no immediate response from Customs and Border Protection officials.

The American Civil Liberties Union in Arizona said Ducey’s actions “do nothing more than further militarize our border communities and stoke unnecessary and unjustified fear.”

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Democrat whose district includes Arizona’s southern border, said the deployment was purely political and will do nothing to resolve backlogs, improve care of unaccompanied minors, or help border communities.

The governor’s office said $25 million will initially be set aside to help local and state law enforcement officers such as state troopers.

Guard members could help with medical operations at detention centers, install and maintain border cameras, collect data from public safety cameras and analyze satellite imagery for current smuggling trends, the announcement said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who also is a Republican, last month deployed about 500 members of his state’s National Guard to the border in Texas, which is seeing the largest share of current arrivals

Ducey said in his announcement he will travel Wednesday to Yuma to meet with local officials and law enforcement agencies.

Officials in small Arizona border towns including Yuma, Ajo and Gila Bend have called on the federal government to help them manage small groups of asylum seekers being suddenly released in their communities by CBP officials who say they don’t have capacity to hold them. The towns don’t have the resources to transport the migrants to larger cities where they can get temporary shelter and logistical help reuniting with relatives elsewhere in the U.S.

An earlier statement from Customs and Border Protection said the Yuma and Tucson shelters will be similar to a soft-sided, 90,000-square-foot (about 8,360-square-meter) processing center for migrants that recently opened in Eagle Pass, Texas. One like it was temporarily erected in Yuma in 2019, when a large number of migrant arrived during the Trump administration.

The soft-sided processing centers are separate from shelters that Health and Human Services operates for unaccompanied children, who are housed separately from other migrants after processing.

CBP is turning away most adult migrants attempting to enter the U.S. under a public health order issued at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Biden administration is allowing unaccompanied minors and some families to remain, at least temporarily, while authorities determine whether they can stay through the asylum process or under another legal category.

Americans Say Why They’re Pro-Life: My Baby Was ‘Sucking His Thumb’

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Many in the media readily accuse pro-life Americans of everything from racism to attacking women’s bodily autonomy. But Americans who challenge abortion are telling a different story – their own story.They recently flocked to Twitter to share why they are pro-life. Lila Rose, president of pro-life group Live Action, prompted them by asking, “What was the moment you realized you were pro-life?” Hundreds of people responded and many openly shared what inspired them to identify as pro-life, from realizing what abortion entails to being personally wounded by abortion.“For me, it was seeing my baby sister’s ultrasound picture and marveling at the miracle of her life,” Rose tweeted on April 14.  Several people on Twitter said that they identified as pro-life when they realized the reality of what abortion is: the violent destruction of an innocent human being.“When in college someone handed me a picture of a victim of abortion,” Penny Nance, CEO, and president of Concerned Women for America responded. “They warned me and I choose to look. I saw arms and legs and I knew… that’s the remains of a baby who was violently killed. I was never the same.”Kira Davis, editor-at-large at Redstate, agreed.“Seeing my first child in an ultrasound. He was sucking his thumb,” she remembered. “I told my husband, ‘If we wanted to, we could go to a clinic right now & have this baby taken out & no one would bat an eye.’” That’s when she knew “for sure.”Last year, “I started doing research on abortion, and I couldn’t stop,” one woman named Nenechi replied. “I’ve always said that I want children to reach their full potential, but they can’t if they aren’t born.”Another woman named Chloe tweeted that she realized she was pro-life “When I read about how abortion procedures are performed and watched doctors talking about how it’s done.”Bernadette added, “I was a small child and saw some dead baby photos that were going to be used outside a clinic. My mom explained what abortion was and I couldn’t stop crying for a week.”Another admitted, “I was militantly pro-abortion until I saw the pictures.”Many Twitter users said they realized that they were pro-life because of their children.One mother revealed that she “got pregnant by my abuser at 20.” “I realized my life isn’t over just because I had a baby,” she said. “My baby gave me strength to leave my abusive relationship.”Another mom named Abigail added that she “didn’t feel so strongly about it until I heard my own unplanned child’s heartbeat.”A dad knew he was pro-life “When a nurse was insisting my daughter should be aborted” because “she would not survive the womb.” Today, she’s completely fine, he said, and now has two children of her own.Others realized they were pro-life after suffering miscarriages.“I actually miscarried twice… until I got pregnant I didn’t know how quickly they grew that their heart begins beating at 4-6 weeks,” one mom tweeted. “Even though they were tiny they were still my babies.”A dad wrote, “Years ago my wife miscarried 4-5 months into the pregnancy. I held my little son in my hands and wept. He was a perfectly formed tiny little baby.”Others knew they pro-life when a family member became pregnant.“It was when I realized that my younger sister could have been aborted,” one woman named Audrey typed. Her sister “was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome, which she does not have.” But “Even if she did, her life would be no less precious.”Some Twitter users said that they were pro-life because they realized that they – or their friends – could have been aborted.While she had always been pro-life, Christina said that she became firm in her stance when “I grew up enough to realize that my birth mom very well could have aborted me to cover the mistake she made.”
Sheryl remembered that, while in high school, a younger friend admitted that her mother told her, “You would have been an abortion if I could have gotten one.”Others were pro-life because of their friends’ experiences.One Twitter user realized she was pro-life “When I went with my friend to her abortion.”It “was botched & she had to go to the hosp. to finish the procedure,” she continued. “I held her hand throughout the process, when done the doctor held up the remains with much joy. I was sick & [heartbroken].”Molly said that she changed “When a woman I knew seriously considered abortion because it was twins and she already had two young kids, then changed her mind and I met those amazing babies.”Someone else added, “What cemented it for me was sitting with a high school friend who was weeping after her father forced her to have an abortion.”Others had experienced abortion personally.One woman wrote, “To Be 100 % Honest. After my Abortion. It was the Worst experience of my Life! I had a nervous breakdown.”There are countless reasons why Americans challenge abortion, but they all point to one truth: the inherent dignity and worth of every person, from the moment of conception. 

Russian and Chinese Shows of Force Confront Biden Administration

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Russia and China are conducting multiple probing operations intended to test President Biden’s administration as a whole and, to be frank, directly target Joe Biden as the septuagenarian human being who ostensibly leads what China’s communist propagandists ritually deride as the U.S.-led “Liberal International Order” but recently scorned as “U.S.-led anti-China cliques.”These cliques include but are not limited to Japan, South Korea, France, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, Poland, and, in my view, Taiwan.The ongoing probing operations are classic examples of “power cocktails” mixing what strategists dub the basic elements of power. The Pentagon uses the acronym DIME to sketch them: diplomacy, intelligence/information, military, and economic.The key operational cocktails Russia and China currently serve are Military shows of force (ships, planes, tanks), Diplomatic threats, and Information-warfare operations (propaganda and psychological warfare). Military shows of force, like the one Russia is conducting on Ukraine’s borders with massed mechanized forces, could result in a sudden attack — in other words, a drastically escalated war in Eastern Europe.At the moment, we have reason to doubt that is the Kremlin’s intention, but no one really knows. However, it’s a slam-dunk guarantee the military demonstrations, diplomatic intimidation, and provocative lies are threats of war calculated to achieve a strategic effect: inciting fear that erodes the will to confront the Russian regime, first and foremost in America but also in other powerful democratic states.China has the same goals, as it targets Taiwan and the Philippines, threatens Japan, and confronts India in the Himalayas.A key assumption this column makes but that is based on experience: Beijing and Moscow are coordinating their probes, at least at the wink and nod level.This column’s bottom-line argument: Without strong leadership by democratic nations, primarily from the powerful U.S., our weaknesses, especially our self-inflicted weaknesses, could quickly become debilitating wounds the authoritarians will leverage, to our great loss.Credit French President Emmanuel Macron with recognizing that, at least regarding Russia. He told CBS News the democracies must continue discussions with Russia but “define clear red lines” with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime. He added, “sanctions are not sufficient in themselves, but … are part of the package.”Macron criticized “a failure of our collective credibility” to respond effectively to Russia’s 2014 Ukraine invasion. The “international community” also failed to enforce the Obama-Biden administration’s now-infamous August 2012 “red line” forbidding use of chemical weapons by Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad. During the interview, he made this strong statement: “We will never accept new military operations on Ukrainian soil.”Bravo. But Macron knows that making that stick in the Kremlin craw requires U.S. diplomatic, economic, and military power.In August 2013, the Assad government launched a nerve gas attack on a rebel-held suburb of Damascus. The attack killed over 1,200 and clearly violated Obama’s red line. He was saying he would not permit a war crime of that magnitude on his watch. But Assad crossed the red line, and he failed to take punitive military action.
The 2014 Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea also took place on the Obama-Biden watch.The 2021 saber-rattling is fueled, figuratively and literally, by the sharp jump in oil prices spurred by the Biden administration’s “green policies” that undermine U.S. energy independence. High oil prices give the Kremlin money to spend on armed troublemaking and strategic spoiler operations. This is a telling example of self-inflicted U.S. weakness.The Pentagon says Moscow’s current military buildup on Ukraine’s border exceeds that of 2014. The Kremlin announced that it has closed the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. This denies Ukraine’s use of two major seaports.Meanwhile, Chinese strike planes penetrate Taiwan’s air space, and Chinese warships probe Japanese islands. China’s “sea militia” coast guard and fishing vessels occupy shoals and waters clearly belonging to the Philippines. China’s diplomats and propagandists claim the water belongs to China.The Obama-Biden Syrian red line debacle worries Macron — for Joe Biden now resides in the White House.

America's Streets Are Spared, But Was Justice Done in the Chauvin Trial?

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I spent an entire talk show Tuesday morning telling the audience why I found reasonable doubt dripping from multiple layers of the case against Derek Chauvin.  A unanimous jury verdict to the contrary does not change my mind in the least. However, I am now tasked with how to process this result as relief and celebration spread across the land, amid talk of healing and renewed faith in our system among those who had grown distrustful.  Who wants to ruin that vibe?So I’ll pivot to a position I have often instructed others to follow, showing respect to jurors who saw every moment of evidence, granting them benefit of the doubt for acting in a good-faith dispatch of their duties.My perception of reasonable doubt, however, was not some snap judgment.  It did not stem from my whiteness, my conservatism or my consistent support of police. It came from my eyes and ears, focused on every day of testimony.  I am well familiar with the state’s case, and the defense’s assertions.  The infamous video is indeed damning, and the defendant is not exactly sympathetic as a result.But in navigating the actual Minnesota statutes defining the charges against Chauvin, I found multiple judgment calls that fell short of the burden of proof.  The second-degree murder charge required the restraint of George Floyd to be an actual criminal assault; third-degree murder requires a “depraved mind” and lack of “regard for human life.”  Even the least of the charges, second-degree manslaughter, requires taking “unreasonable risk” and “consciously” taking a chance of causing death or bodily harm.I won’t relitigate the countless instances of suspects detained while prone, with varying levels of restraining pressure, who somehow manage to survive the experience.  That invites the speculative matter of the drugs in George Floyd’s system, and how much they contributed to the vigorousness of his resistance to arrest, or to any physical vulnerability that contributed to his death.I don’t pretend to know that the drugs did him in, and that’s my exact point.  How does anyone know, again beyond reasonable doubt, that they did not?  We would have to re-rack time, make George Floyd drug-free for the exact same nine and a half minutes, and see if he survived.  Since that is impossible, all we have is speculation, even when it comes from people with medical degrees.  That speculation can be well-informed and devoutly sincere, but does it extend beyond reasonable doubt?For me, it does not.  For twelve jurors, it did.So do I know this was a travesty of justice, along the lines of the O.J. Simpson acquittal?  I do not.  Jurors are asked to weigh in on matters both objective and subjective.  The Chauvin case asked them to pass judgment on a number of factors where reasonable people might differ.  As it happens, they found harmony on a decision to find him guilty of all charges. And they did it briskly.Does that inspire confidence in their deliberative depth?  The world knows America’s streets would have exploded with rage had they found differently.  I have no specific reason to believe they were prodded to a hasty conviction by the slant of media coverage or the intimidation of Rep. Maxine Waters, called out by name in a deserved scolding from Judge Peter Cahill.But the judge did indicate that her incitements could well bolster an appeal, and that will not be the only factor.  The jury’s speed and unfettered certainty, so embraced by those yearning for a conviction, may inform an appellate assertion that the jury was moved by more than evidence.Noting the recent discussions about the corruptive effect of events outside the courthouse, prosecutor and Fox analyst Andy McCarthy said after the verdict:  “The best way to show that the jury was not bamboozled into convicting would have been if deliberations had gone on for a few days, if they maybe acquitted on a count, if they made a record where you could say they made a discriminating appraisal of the evidence.”
Conversely, he added, “The best way for [Derek Chauvin] to show that he might not have gotten due process is a quick verdict with no notes where they just convicted on everything.  And that’s what happened.”McCarthy does not expect a successful appeal, and neither do I.  No matter the verdict, this was a reminder that jurors are human, bringing their differing perspectives into a deliberation.  Throughout all of our lives, we will absorb verdicts   we agree with and those we do not.  Had they acquitted Chauvin, it is not only the rioters who would have wondered what they were thinking.  Millions of Americans would have earnestly harbored such thoughts, without taking to the streets.  So this time, it is my turn to defer to a jury I disagree with, and it will not be the last time.  No one ever guaranteed me a lifetime of verdicts I approve of.  As an American, I am guaranteed a justice system that works.  I am willing to believe that it does work, even if my preferred side does not always prevail.

The Supreme Court's Failures to Act Are Putting America on a Path Toward Tyranny

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Rarely does the generation experiencing the actual events and decisions that lead to their nation’s demise fully appreciate the calamitous enormity of their oversight until sometime after their culture’s destruction has been rendered incurable. Largely it is not due so much to their negligence as it is to most of them being too preoccupied with simply living and making a living for them to fully appreciate the significance of the events that are leading them into a slow descent toward eventual totalitarianism. Perhaps that would explain why, in just the first four months of 2021, the Supreme Court issued four decisions—or, perhaps better viewed as non-decisions—that should have caused all legitimately patriotic Americans to be alarmed and called to action … but did not seem to.Only a few weeks ago, without offering any substantive explanation, the Court summarily refused to even look at—much less, seriously consider—any of the evidence of the 2020 election irregularities offered by attorney Sidney Powell and others. Evidently, the Supreme Court of the United States of America was not interested in doing what it could—and should—to let America know decisively whether or not its presidential election had been shamelessly stolen by those now in power. Why would they not do this? Perhaps the answer is best revealed by the fact that, at the same time, the Court was also apparently too busy to halt a New York prosecutor from obtaining former President Trump’s tax returns. The practical effect of which was for SCOTUS to give that prosecutor an assist with his unconstitutional effort to search for any crime that might make President Trump’s ouster from office permanent. Clearly, these two SCOTUS decisions alone evidence the fact that the agenda of the Justices have become politically driven. But it doesn’t end there.Two weeks later, the Supreme Court—again without explanation—summarily refused to reverse the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ denial of Judicial Watch’s request that it be allowed to take the deposition of a member of this country’s ruling political elite—Hillary Rodham Clinton. At the end of the day, Judicial Watch was only asking the Supreme Court to uphold the Rule of Law by finding that all Americans—including elites like Hillary Clinton—are to be treated equally under the law. Instead, however, the Supreme Court, unfortunately—and inexplicably—declined the opportunity to do even this. Then this week, SCOTUS put the final nail in the coffin containing the GOP’s 2020 election disputes with its denial of a petition for a writ of certiorari in Bognet v. Dagraffenreid. Again, it refused to rule on whether a state’s courts are qualified or not under Article 2, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution to modify that state’s presidential election laws. In short, whether Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court violated the U.S. Constitution by usurping the state legislature’s authority to extend the time allowed for counting mail-in ballots is apparently not an issue worthy of this SCOTUS’s time. From such glaring displays of indefensible Supreme Court inaction, the following incontrovertible truths have been set out in plain view before the nation’s very eyes: 1. The Supreme Court today is thoroughly politicized … and thus, corrupt; 2. In America, the Rule of Law … is now dead; and3. Worse yet, by these decisions, America’s Supreme Court has put on open display its utter disregard—and absolute contempt—for whatever the American people may think about the future unavailability of equal justice in a nation that once promised that such justice would be available to all.  Such truths should be cause for greater alarm for the American people than even the now almost Orwellian silence of John Durham. Consider the following recent words of attorney Sidney Powell: “The Supreme Court’s failure to date to address the massive election fraud and multiple constitutional violations that wrought a coup of the presidency of the greatest country in world history completes the implosion of each of our three branches of government into the rubble of a sinkhole of corruption. It is an absolute tragedy for the Rule of Law, the future of the Republic, and all freedom-loving people around the world.”She is not overstating the matter in the least. An American government unleashed from the constraints set in place by the Rule of Law can only be headed in one direction: toward some form of centralized dictatorship that is limited only by the whims of those in power—i.e. a tyranny. That place where corrupted institutions of government exist to serve only the purposes of those in power, who, in turn, are free to use their power unfettered by the Rule of Law to command the masses they rule to submit completely to the diktats of the state. For instance, a state that would order its people to accommodate its importation of a new class of indentured slaves is encouraging to enter across the borders of this country that it has opened at the same time that state is endeavoring to seize the weapons of anybody already here—i.e. patriotic citizens—who might object. And all while the state uses an imagined pretense—e.g., a fraudulently hyped pandemic—to terminate the rights of those patriotic Americans to engage in commerce, speak freely, and even freely assemble to either peacefully protest or even worship. A place where unquestioned obedience is expected and dissent from any of the state’s propaganda narratives can expect to be silenced, censored, shadow-banned and de-platformed. 
Sound familiar? It should.It is where America is today.A place where all of us—both conservatives and liberals— would do well to take off their government-mandated masks long enough to read out loud and seriously reflect upon the following words of a woman—Ayn Rand—who knew more than just a little about how to identify a tyranny: “When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing—When you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors—When you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them but protect them against you—When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice—You may know that your society is doomed.”Leaving America to ask: does America still have the option of reversing course, or in its march toward some form of tyranny, has it already put the Rubicon in its rear-view mirror? After all, how is a nation supposed to lawfully remedy the corrupt silence of a politicized Supreme Court from which there are NO readily apparent peaceful means for appeal?Clifford C. Nichols is an attorney and author of A Barrister’s Tales. He may be contacted regarding this editorial athttp://www.cliffordnichols.com/contact.

Gunfight for Election Integrity

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A gunfight for election integrity is raging in a few state legislatures, with our political future hanging in the balance. Whoever controls election procedures will control the outcome, and then be able to pass any laws they like.According to the AP VoteCast survey of more than 110,000 voters across the nation, 67 percent of ballots submitted by mail were marked for Joe Biden, while 65 percent of citizens who voted in person on Election Day voted for Donald Trump.Earlier this year, the liberal media breathlessly warned that hundreds of bills to improve election security had been introduced in 47 state legislatures. But as sessions are winding down in many states, not enough has been achieved yet.The Texas legislature adjourns in six weeks and does not meet next year, but so far has accomplished nothing on this issue. In contrast with Georgia, which at least requires a weak form of voter ID for mail-in voting, the pending Texas legislation falls short of even that.The Lone Star State has mottos like “Remember the Alamo!” and “Come and Take It” (aside from an image of a cannon), but its lack of safeguards against fraud enabled Democrats to improve their presidential results by 3.4% in 2020 compared with 2016. This ballot-harvesting trend, if not reversed, puts the state on track for a Democrat takeover in presidential elections later this decade.Without winning Texas, no Republican can win the White House. Yet the margin of victory by Trump in Texas in 2020 was among his narrowest anywhere, less than 6 points, amid increasing ballot stuffing there that even included drive-through voting by Democrats who never left their car while casting ballots.Only Georgia and Iowa have passed election integrity laws since the fiasco of the last election, and their laws merely nibble at the margins of the vast fraud of ballot harvesting to stuff ballot boxes by mail and drop boxes. The Iowa law shortens the early voting period from 29 to 20 days, requires most (not all) mailed-in ballots to be received by Election Day, and prohibits mailing unrequested absentee ballot forms.That is a far cry from the essential reforms outlined by Trump in his speech on February 28th. But some Texas Republican leaders mistakenly think that insignificant changes like those enacted in Iowa will be enough to mollify Trump supporters who are outraged by voting shenanigans.In the last election, nearly 70% of voters cast their ballots prior to Election Day, many prior to the final debate when Joe Biden vowed to shut down the traditional energy industry on which millions of jobs rely. When Biden terminated the Keystone pipeline shortly after he took office, some early voters were surprised but of course, there is no practical way for millions of early voters to change their votes.Last week a large group of conservatives sent a coalition letter to Governor Greg Abbott, complaining that both Texas election bills (HB6 and SB7) fail to stop the obvious means by which elections are stolen: mail-in voting. The Texas bills do not require meaningful identification for mail-in ballots, despite how Georgia recently plugged that gap in part.Georgia required the inclusion of a voter’s driver’s license number on mail-in ballots. It is unclear how much this will reduce ballot harvesting because well-funded liberal groups may be able to obtain lists of driver’s license numbers to pre-fill ballots and then vote improperly for others anyway.Strict signature verification was once required in states that allow mail-in voting, but Georgia, Pennsylvania, and other states dropped those requirements through judicial activism or collusive settlements with liberal election officials. Democrats argue that some elderly people have irregular signatures, but banks require signatures on checks and voting is just as important.
Anyone who dislikes extra requirements for mail-in voting has the option to vote in person, as was customary. The notion that verification of mail-in ballots is unfair should be flatly rejected.Nearly 10% of the ballots cast in Texas were by mail in the last election, an increase of five times over the last decade. That far exceeds the diminishing margin in Texas separating Republican and Democrat presidential candidates.Without verifying the authenticity of mail-in ballots, more elections will be stolen. The best approach, as Trump stated, is to prohibit nearly all mail-in voting, and if allowed then there must be strict verification of identification and signatures.Texas Governor Abbott can expect a challenge from both his right and his left next year, including a possible campaign by the popular Oscar-winning Matthew McConaughey, who led Abbott in a recent poll. Supporting ineffective election integrity legislation which does nothing to halt election fraud could doom Abbott’s political future.John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work.

Conservatives Should Support the College Transparency Act

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With ominous rumblings about vaccine passports, perpetual contact tracing, and other means of government and corporate surveillance, totalitarian spying on U.S. citizens seems closer than we could have imagined. Now the Senate has stepped in – again – to ramp up surveillance in the realm of higher education.For several years, even so-called conservative Republican senators have pushed bills to allow the feds to track and compile data on any student from any institution of higher education (IHE) for the rest of his or her working life. The excuse for this startlingly intrusive initiative is twofold. First, lifetime tracking will allow prospective students to see what jobs people get and how much money they make after studying at particular institutions. Second, tracking will enable the federal government to evaluate its massive student-loan programs. The short answer for excuse number-one is that no one has the right to demand surveillance of his fellow free-born citizens, regardless of whether the resulting data might theoretically help in his decision-making. To excuse number-two, any government program that requires dragooning citizens into a lifetime of governmental surveillance, without consent, is a program that should be abolished. This is one of a multitude of reasons the federal government should relinquish control over student loans.But “conservatives” in Congress don’t see that. This year’s iteration of the surveillance bill is the College Transparency Act (CTA), recently reintroduced by Republican senators Bill Cassidy (LA) and Tim Scott (SC) and Democrat senators Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI). Strange bedfellows indeed – and two of them are either being shamefully hoodwinked or are shamefully hoodwinking the voters who sent them to the Senate.Here’s how CTA will work. First it will require any IHE that enrolls students with federal student loans – that is, almost every IHE in the country – to compile an enormous amount of student data and send it to the federal Commissioner for Education Statistics. The data must cover “enrollment patterns, progression, completion, and post-collegiate outcomes, and higher education costs and financial aid.” All the required data elements are specified in the bill (age, race, “gender,” full-time or part-time status, veteran status, program of study, etc.), but they’re just a beginning – the Commissioner may add others later when the mood strikes. And don’t think the voracious federal government will stop with the data requirements currently included.Second, the Commissioner must share all this personal data with multiple other federal agencies. After all, the point of the new Chinese-style system is to track every student’s life choices, “including earnings, employment, and further education,” forever. So student data will be matched to data in the IRS, the Treasury Department, the Defense Department, the VA, the Census Bureau, and the Social Security Administration, among others. CTA would apply even to students who don’t receive federal aid. So merely by the act of enrolling in higher education, every student will now have an official government dossier that will be updated as he progresses through life and career. There’s no requirement that the student consent, and there’s no opt out. And this is individual, personally identifiable information that can be matched to particular students. In fact, Cassidy and Scott’s CTA would repeal current federal law that prohibits collecting “personally identifiable information on individuals receiving” federal student-loan assistance. It should be unthinkable that constitutional conservative senators would mandate government surveillance of individual, identifiable Americans, but the universe of the unthinkable is shrinking by the day.Our political overlords do allow IHE’s to “provide notice to students outlining the data included in the system and how the data are used.” Students will star in their own Truman Show, but at least they’ll be told about it. And they’ll even be allowed to peek at their data and “request corrections to inaccuracies.” The bureaucrats won’t be required to actually make those corrections, but the peasants shouldn’t be too demanding.Another assurance is that these dossiers won’t be kept in a “single-standing, linked Federal database at the Department.” Apparently students are to be comforted that bureaucrats will have to click several times, not just once, to access their highly personal information.Even if “transparency” justified obliterating the right to privacy, what about the more pedestrian problem of hacking? Cassidy and Scott are on it. Under CTA, data matches among the various federal data troves will have to be “secure” and to comply with the same protocols that have created scandalously insecure data systems at multiple federal agencies (see here, here, and here). Feel better?
Not only bureaucrats but also “researchers” will have access to this highly sensitive data trove, but only “vetted” research will be allowed. Who will do this vetting and according to what criteria remains unspecified. And though the data given to researchers will be de-identified, with “direct [not indirect] identifiers removed,” anonymity won’t be guaranteed. Tech-savvy researchers who are told a citizen’s education history and job titles and earnings and whatever else any government agency may have collected on him over the years will find the absence of a name on the records merely an inconvenience, not an obstacle, to re-identification. Americans who actually believe in freedom, privacy, and limited government are growing weary of “conservative” politicians who ignore the ramifications of what they propose.  Just in the last few weeks, we’ve seen Republicans in Congress spearhead the imposition of radical “action civics” that will teach future generations to hate their country. Now Cassidy and Scott are pushing a government surveillance system that, if they bothered to think about it, should make them recoil in disgust. These are not difficult issues. From a constitutional perspective, there are right and wrong answers. Why are politicians on the right so often choosing the wrong ones?

When Can Government Kick Open the Door of Your House?

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A 69-year-old woman was walking her poodle in a public park in Northern California in late November. She was not wearing a mask.She walked by groups of people who were.A police officer, meanwhile, monitored her movements from the security of his squad car.As she moved past the park into a middle-class neighborhood, he clandestinely trailed her. She walked past other people who were also out for strolls — sometimes coming within three or four feet of them.Being friendly neighbors, they nodded and smiled.Then this dog walker turned into a driveway. The police officer turned on his overhead lights and pulled up as fast as he could to the front of her house.By the time he got out of his car, she was already moving through her front door. Before she could completely shut it, however, he slammed his boot into it and knocked it open.He then entered her foyer and asked her if she had even been carrying a mask on her walk. She said no.He said, “You are under arrest.”This is not a true story. It is hypothetical. But is it so fantastical it could never happen?Consider a true story now being pondered by the Supreme Court in the case of Lange v. California.”One evening in October 2016, petitioner Arthur Lange was driving home in Sonoma, California,” said the petition Lange’s lawyers submitted to the Supreme Court asking it to take up his case.”He was listening to loud music and at one point honked his horn a few times,” said the petition.”A California highway patrol officer, Aaron Weikert, began following Mr. Lange, ‘intending to conduct a traffic stop,'” it said. “Officer Weikert later testified that he believed the music and honking violated Sections 27001 and 27007 of the California Vehicle Code.”Those noise infractions carried base fines of $25 and $35,” it said.In other words, the officer was following a driver he suspected may be committing $60 worth of traffic violations.”Officer Weikert initially followed at some distance and did not activate his siren or overhead lights,” said the petition. “He neared Mr. Lange’s station wagon only after Mr. Lange turned onto his residential street. Approaching his house, Mr. Lange slowed and activated his garage door opener. As Mr. Lange continued toward his driveway, Officer Weikert turned on his overhead lights, but not his siren or megaphone.”At that point, Mr. Lange was about as far from his driveway as first base is from second,” said the petition.Lange pulled into his garage. But he did not make it safely home.”As the garage door began to descend,” said the petition, “Officer Weikert left his squad car, stuck his foot under the door to stop it from closing, and entered the garage.”The officer then discovered Lange might be responsible for more than just playing loud music and honking his horn.”Upon entering the garage and questioning Lange, the officer observed signs of excessive intoxication, such as slurred speech,” said the brief that then-California Attorney General Xavier Becerra submitted to the Supreme Court asking it not to take up this case.Lange was given a blood test.”Here, the Sonoma County District Attorney charged Lange with two misdemeanor violations of driving under the influence of alcohol … and with an infraction for operating his car’s sound system at an excessive level,” said Becerra’s brief. “Lange moved to suppress the evidence obtained after the officer entered Lange’s garage, arguing that the officer had no justification to enter without a warrant.”Now, think of the hypothetical 69-year-old woman who walked her poodle without a mask. Was she a criminal?On June 18, 2020, the California Department of Public Health issued a mask mandate under the authority of Gov. Gavin Newsom that said, in part: “People in California must wear face coverings when they are in the high-risk situations listed below: … While outdoors in public spaces when maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible.”The Los Angeles Times reported then: “Under state law, residents who violate the new requirement could be charged with a misdemeanor and potentially face a financial penalty, according to a representative for the Newsom administration.”On Nov. 16, 2020, the Newsom administration published an updated — and somewhat stricter — mandate.
“People in California must wear face coverings when they are outside of the home unless one of the exemptions below applies,” said the November update.”Individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings,” it said, “in the following specific settings: … Persons who are outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of social distancing from others, not in their household. Such persons must have a face covering with them at all times and must put it on if they are within 6 feet of others who are not in their household.”The hypothetical dog walker violated this mandate.But did the government law enforcement agency that entered her hypothetical home — or Lange’s actual garage — violate the Fourth Amendment? It says: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”In a brief in Lange v. California that was joined by the American Conservative Union Foundation and the Cato Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union says: “By categorically permitting police officers to enter a home without a warrant whenever they pursue a suspect they have probable cause to arrest for a misdemeanor, the California Court of Appeal violated petitioner’s Fourth Amendment rights.”This is the right position.If a law enforcement officer suspects someone is driving under the influence — as opposed to playing loud music and honking his horn — he should pull him over immediately to protect both that person and the public.But when a law enforcement agency wants to enter someone’s home — other than to protect people there from a life-threatening emergency — it should get a judge to give it a warrant.

Sin of Planned Parenthood Is Abortion, Not Margaret Sanger

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The president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Alexis McGill Johnson, has used The New York Times as a confessional to fess up to the racist history of Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger.”We must reckon with Margaret Sanger’s association with white supremacist groups and eugenics,” she writes.Sanger’s involvement with the notoriously racist eugenics movement in the 1920s, and her population-control motivations to limit the procreation of “undesirables,” is something pro-lifers, particularly black pro-lifers, have been writing about for years.But Planned Parenthood has always been in denial about these very ugly truths.Now, apparently, the power and pressure of “wokeness” is even getting the leadership of the nation’s largest abortion provider to step forward and unburden themselves from their sins.But coming to terms with sin means knowing what sin is. And here, unfortunately, Planned Parenthood’s president totally misses the point.The problem today is not what was but what is. The “sin” of Planned Parenthood is its horrible work in leading the nation in the destruction of human life.Per its annual report, in fiscal year 2019-2020, Planned Parenthood performed 354,871 abortions. This is roughly one-third of all abortions performed in the country.The recognition we need from Planned Parenthood is the recognition of the sanctity of life, not public confession of the racist history of its founder.Regarding racism, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 34% of abortions performed in the U.S. in 2018 were on black women. Given that black women constitute 13% of the female population, the incidence of abortion among black women is out of proportion by almost a factor of three.It is reasonable to assume that this is representative of the disproportionate number of black women on whom Planned Parenthood performs abortions.As part of Planned Parenthood’s great cleansing, Johnson notes that “Planned Parenthood of Greater New York renamed its Manhattan health center in 2020,” which apparently bore Sanger’s name.The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley wrote in 2018, “In New York City, thousands more black babies are aborted than born alive each year, and the abortion rate among black mothers is more than three times higher than it is for white mothers. “The problem is the wholesale termination of black unborn babies, not the name of the center in Manhattan where Planned Parenthood performs these abortions. New York City is one of the abortion capitals of the nation, and Planned Parenthood wants to take the edge off by renaming its abortion center.Does Planned Parenthood target black women for abortions? Why is the incidence of abortion so high among black women?A 2012 study by Protecting Black Life found that 79% of Planned Parenthood abortion facilities were within walking distance of minority neighborhoods.Abortion rates tend to be higher among unmarried women because of a higher likelihood of unwanted pregnancy. The culture of abortion, aggressively promoted by Planned Parenthood, has disproportionately affected black marriage rates.
In 1970, three years before the Roe v. Wade decision, 76% of white adults age 25 and older were married, compared with 60% of blacks. By 2014, the rate dropped to 60% for whites, but it dropped to 35% for blacks.Johnson takes one step further into the moral abyss, noting that Planned Parenthood is remiss for having “excluded trans and nonbinary people” from its programs.She writes that Planned Parenthood pledges “to fight the many types of dehumanization we are seeing right now.”Dehumanization has one cause, of which Planned Parenthood is among the guiltiest in the nation: lack of respect for the sanctity of life.Confessing what we all know — that Margaret Sanger was a racist — does not solve this problem.Reverence for the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of life in the womb solves it.This is what we are looking for from Planned Parenthood. Nothing less.Star Parker is president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and host of the weekly television show “Cure America with Star Parker.” 

Manchin Betrays Freelancers By Supporting the PRO Act

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Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) was one of five Senate Democrats withholding support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act—until yesterday.While participating in this virtual event, Senator Manchin announced he’s now signing on as a co-sponsor, saying, “I look forward to working with my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to move this bill through a legislative process.”What an act of betrayal. Unsurprisingly, another holdout— Senator Angus King (I-ME)—also threw freelancers under the bus last week.Business groups immediately rebuked him. “It is very disappointing that Senator Manchin has chosen to side with union bosses over West Virginia’s workers and small businesses, especially during a time of economic turmoil,” said Kristen Swearingen, chair of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace. Oddly, Manchin’s embrace of the bill doesn’t compute. He and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) recently received donations from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a PRO Act foe, for standing up to some of President Joe Biden’s policies.The West Virginia Senator got some explaining to do.Nonsensical for Manchin to Hitch Himself to Losing Cause  Senator Manchin seems like a smart guy. Why is he supporting this atrocious bill? Did the Biden administration get to him? The PRO Act contains a California AB5-like ABC test that will intentionally misclassify flexible workers—including independent contractors—as employees. Worse, this federal compassion bill would take it further and abolish right-to-work legislation. “Fifty percent of unions fail in their first year of organizing. This legislation will level the playing field,” Manchin said. Level the playing field for whom? Already powerful union interests? Unfortunately for Big Labor activists, there’s no natural appetite for unionized work existing today. (Amazon workers overwhelmingly rejected unionization recently.) 59 million Americans now freelance because it’s a viable option. That’s 36 percent of the workforce, whose economic output is valued at a whopping $1.2 trillion. Contrast that with the union workforce, which comprises 10.8 percent of the U.S.workforce today. Ouch.Get with the times, Senator Manchin! Your state is. PRO Act Will Economically Displace West VirginiansIs Manchin out of touch with his state? It appears so. And could his support of the bill affect 2024 re-election prospects there—a state increasingly trending Republican? Absolutely.   West Virginia is radically transforming into a pro-business state, with its right-to-work law and similar measures to attract business to the Mountain State. The PRO Act would undo the progress being made there. “Remote-work freelancers are programmers, writers, graphic designers, salespeople, project managers, and engineers, who steer their own career ships. They earn more than most full-time employees, and West Virginia is the perfect place for them to bring their dollars,” Thomas Gerencer wrote in The Register-Herald. “The Mountain State is poised to lead the way for once, and state revenue is set to take off. But the ABC test in the PRO Act can stop us on the launch pad.”I suspect Governor Jim Justice (R-WV) won’t be happy to see the PRO Act become law. Why? He announced a new program, Ascend WV, on April 12th to lure remote and self-employed workers to the state with an incentive package including “$12,000 and a year’s worth of free outdoor recreation.” “Today, we are rolling out the red carpet and inviting remote workers from across the country to make Almost Heaven, West Virginia their new home,” Governor Justice said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the dream team that we’ve assembled to get this program off the ground. From the generous support of our private partners, Brad and Alys Smith, to my landmark legislation (HB 2026) passed by the Legislature, and the educational foundation laid by WVU, this collaboration has developed a program that will leave a lasting impact on our great state forevermore.”Talk to Governor Justice, Senator Manchin. He’ll help you see this light on freelancing!Where the PRO Act Stands TodayBig Labor is out for freelancer blood, and it’s going to require everyone’s help—Democrats and Republicans, freelancers and non-freelancers alike—to defeat the bill.As of this writing, three Senate Democrat co-sponsors remain for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to bring the PRO Act up for a vote.
If it fails to pass, the PRO Act won’t die there. The Biden administration announced its inclusion into the American Jobs Plan, or so-called “infrastructure bill”: Empower Workers. President Biden is calling on Congress to update the social contract that provides workers with a fair shot to get ahead, overcome racial and other inequalities that have been barriers for too many Americans, expand the middle class, and strengthen communities. He is calling on Congress to ensure all workers have a free and fair choice to join a union by passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, and guarantee union and bargaining rights for public service workers. His plan also ensures domestic workers receive the legal benefits and protections they deserve and tackles pay inequities based on gender.I’m surprised my Senator, Mark Warner, opposes the bill’s ABC test. He seems to grasp this will adversely affect constituents like me who freelance full-time. Bravo! Don’t kowtow to Big Labor, Senator. And neither should Arizona Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, who also represent a right-to-work state like Warner.ConclusionHow can readers help stop the PRO Act?  Urge these three holdouts and all 50 Republican Senators to hold the line and oppose the bill—whether in standalone form or as part of the American Jobs Plan. Join the Fight for Freelancers Facebook group to educate yourself about the issue and take action here. 

Go Green, Go Nuclear

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This Thursday, Earth Day, politicians and activists will shout more about “the climate crisis.”I don’t think it’s a crisis. COVID-19, malaria, exploding debt, millions of poor children dying from diarrhea — those are genuine crises.But global warming may become a real problem, so it’s particularly absurd that Earth Day’s activists rarely mention the form of energy that could most quickly reduce greenhouse gases: nuclear power.When France converted to nuclear, it created the world’s fastest reduction in carbon emissions.But in America, nuclear growth came to a near halt 40 years ago, after an accident at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania.The partial meltdown killed no one. It would probably have been forgotten had Hollywood not released a nuclear scare movie, “The China Syndrome,” days before.”People saw that and freaked out,” complains Joshua Goldstein, author of “A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change (with nuclear power).”One of the people still freaking out is solar activist Harvey Wasserman. “I live in terror of the next accident,” he says in my latest video.His anti-nuclear argument has basically won in most of the world. Nuclear plants are being shut down.Why? I ask Wasserman. No one was hurt at Three Mile Island.Wasserman replies that after the accident, he went to nearby homes and people showed him “their tumors, their hair loss, their lesions.””It’s bunk,” I tell him. “It’s been studied. People lose hair and get cancer and they attribute it to Three Mile Island, but it’s not true.””Having been there,” Wasserman responds, “It’s my clear assertion that people were killed.”Actual scientists don’t agree. In fact, they find less cancer near Three Mile Island than in other parts of Pennsylvania.But what about Fukushima? That was more serious. Today, clueless media quote Greenpeace claiming, Fukushima’s radiation could “change our DNA!”Also bunk. “There was heightened radiation, but it was all at this low level below what we consider to be safe,” explains Goldstein.The low level of radiation released at Fukushima was hardly a threat. What killed people was the panicked response.”Everyone freaked out and ordered a massive sudden evacuation. That caused suicide, depression… Fear of radioactivity really did kill people.”One nuclear accident, Chernobyl, did kill, and its radiation may still kill thousands more.But Chernobyl was built by socialists cutting corners to please dictators. No Chernobyl-like plant will ever be built again. And even with Chernobyl’s deaths, nuclear power’s safety record is better than that of coal, oil, and natural gas.”But what about the nuclear waste!” shout the activists.”It’s a small problem,” says Goldstein. “All the nuclear waste from all America’s reactors for 60 years would fit into a Walmart.”While the anti-nuclear movement has stopped nuclear construction in most of the West, “other places are building them like crazy,” says Goldstein. “China puts a nuclear reactor on the grid every two to three months.”
America may soon finish… one. It took Georgia Power Company six years just to get permission to build a plant. Regulation is so heavy that, 15 years later, it still isn’t operating.Wasserman is proud he played a role in that. “If you want to accuse us of having raised the cost of building new nuclear plants by demanding more regulation, I plead guilty.”He claims countries can power themselves with rooftop solar panels and wind. Technology improvements did lower their prices, but what happens when the wind doesn’t blow? Or the sun doesn’t shine?Store energy in batteries! replies Wasserman. “We are having a major technological and industrial revolution in battery capacity.”Goldstein scoffs in response, “The idea that a miracle battery is going to come along and save us is completely untested.”By contrast, nuclear energy has been tested. It could reduce greenhouse gasses, and provide reliable energy, if only we didn’t fear it so much.”The whole regulatory system is crazy,” Goldstein concludes. “We’re regulating this energy source as though it were the most dangerous thing out there, and it’s actually the safest thing!”John Stossel is author of “Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media.” 

Time Was Never On Derek Chauvin’s Side

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(Screenshot via Twitter)

Every jury trial operates on two levels: There is the serious question of what the verdict should be on the granular details of the evidence — not just who wins, but how much they get of what they are asking — and the broader risk of the jury doing something bizarre or unpredictable. In the Derek Chauvin trial, the serious question was whether Chauvin was properly guilty of manslaughter, or of second-degree murder. Not having followed the evidence at trial in minute detail, I was never going to second-guess the jury on that question. The good news is that the jury did not deadlock, and did not go off and do something wild.

Here’s the important point: Juries are often hesitant, and rightly so, to second-guess cops when they make split-second life-and-death decisions. Those decisions may prove wrong, and on occasion they are justly punished as unreasonable, but cops tend to get the benefit of the doubt because most people understand that they need to assess threats to themselves and others in an instant, and it is all too easy to sit in judgment of that at leisure with plenty of time to review the situation, without adrenaline pumping and fear vivid. That can even work in the favor of cops in a case such as the Rodney King beating, an obvious overreaction but one that followed a lengthy high-speed chase that put the cops in genuine fear of death for themselves and others.
None of that was on the table for Chauvin’s defense. George Floyd died slowly, as Chauvin kneeled on him for eight minutes. No jury on earth was especially likely to see this as a reflex reaction in the heat of a moment. The cops had the right and responsibility to use some force to restrain and subdue Floyd, and maybe his death was due in part to other factors besides force. But the extended time involved in this case always made it likely that any reasonable jury would convict Chauvin of some crime bearing responsibility for the death of a man who did not deserve to die.

Biden: George Floyd’s Death Was ‘Murder in the Full Light of Day’

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Hours after indicating that he felt that the evidence for conviction was “overwhelming” in the murder trial of a former Minneapolis police officer, President Joe Biden called the death of George Floyd “murder in the full light of day” in an address to the nation, calling for swift passage of the police reform legislation that bears Floyd’s name.“George Floyd was murdered almost a year ago. There is meaningful police reform legislation in his name,” Biden said, speaking from the White House on Tuesday evening. “It shouldn’t take a whole year to get this done.”The president’s address came after a Minnesota jury voted to convict Derek Chauvin on all counts for the murder of Floyd, a Black man who died after Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes last May. Floyd’s death, captured on video by a bystander who later testified against Chauvin, ignited nationwide unrest last summer and sparked the largest racial justice protest movement in decades.“‘I can’t breathe.’ Those were George Floyd’s last words,” Biden said. “We can’t let those words die with him—we have to keep hearing those words. We must not turn away. We can’t turn away.”Vice President Kamala Harris, speaking before Biden, acknowledged that Chauvin’s conviction was a step in the right direction for police accountability, but far from enough.“Today we feel a sigh of relief. Still, it cannot take away the pain. A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice,” Harris said. “We still have work to do.”Harris called for passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which she introduced as a senator last year, which she said “would hold law enforcement accountable and help build trust between law enforcement and our communities.”The act, Harris said, would be “part of George Floyd’s legacy… not as a panacea for every problem, but as a start.”The bill has strong Democratic support in both chambers of Congress, but faces a tough road ahead in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans have vowed to filibuster the legislation.Earlier on Tuesday, Biden indicated his support for Chauvin’s conviction, telling reporters after an Oval Office meeting with Latino lawmakers that he was “praying the verdict is the right verdict.”“It’s overwhelming, in my view,” Biden said of the evidence against Chauvin, in response to a question about what he would say to the Floyd family ahead of the jury’s decision.White House press secretary Jen Psaki later told reporters that Biden was not weighing in on the verdict, as it would appear, but instead “conveying what many people are feeling across the country, which is compassion for the family, what a difficult time this is, what a difficult time this is for many Americans across the country who have been watching this trial very closely.”In a phone call with members of the Floyd family, Biden, joined by first lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, promised that he would push for passage of the criminal justice reform bill that bears Floyd’s name—calling it one of the best chances the nation has to combat racial injustice in law enforcement.“We’ve got a shot to change the world, for real,” Biden said.On Capitol Hill, Black lawmakers watched the trial closely, and many feared that an acquittal on some or all of the charges would reignite racial tensions that have already been exacerbated by the recent shooting deaths by police of Daunte Wright, 20, and Adam Toledo, 13, in separate incidents.After the verdict announcement, members of the Congressional Black Caucus and their staff gathered in a room off the House floor, huddled around laptops and phones as they awaited the judge. As he declared Chauvin guilty on each count, lawmakers sighed with relief. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the third-ranking House Democrat and a close Biden ally, watched with an aide on his phone. When Chauvin was taken away in handcuffs in Minneapolis, the CBC members walked out of the room, hugging and locking arms as they walked outside to a press conference.One CBC member, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), said the mood among his colleagues was one of emotional relief, but mostly recognition at how much deeply-rooted injustice and systemic racism remains. “The mood is pretty somber, man,” said Bowman. “I mean, maybe a slight sense of relief, but more like, there’s still so much work to do, and still thinking about how many people did not get justice.”The freshman lawmaker, a former school principal in the Bronx who has spoken of his own beating at the hands of police, said it was “surreal” to take in the verdict from within the halls of Congress. “To stand there with the entire CBC, Speaker Pelosi, to collectively give remarks on the verdict is surreal,” he said. “Even I was moved by my colleagues—like, tears.”

'Completely wrong and unjustified': Tony Blair calls for vaccine hesitancy to be confronted

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Tony Blair is calling on Boris Johnson to launch a major publicity blitz to boost COVID vaccine take-up rates and allay fears about side-effects.The former prime minister claims the government should do more to sell the benefits of vaccines and publish data on how effective and safe they are.
Mr Blair’s call comes in a new report – Restoring Confidence in the Workhorse Covid-19 Vaccines, published by his Institute for Global Change – which examines reasons for rising vaccine hesitancy, particularly relating to AstraZeneca.Side effects reported by patients receiving the AstraZeneca jab have included blood clots, pain around the injection, fatigue, headache, nausea, joint pain and muscle ache.
But Mr Blair’s report concludes that concerns must addressed by clearer data on the benefits of the vaccine and the UK is in a unique position to provide it, as the only country rolling out different vaccines in big numbers.

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“In this paper, we set out why the reluctance – particularly around the AstraZeneca vaccine – is completely wrong and unjustified,” Mr Blair writes in the foreword to the report.
“Why regulators in different countries are taking decisions based on a narrow and unbalanced view of risk, and why the policymakers in government need to grip this situation urgently and bring some coherence and logic to the issue of vaccine assessment.

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“And do it globally. We combine this with a call for much better publication of the data on vaccine efficacy and safety.”The UK government has a particular interest in this because AstraZeneca is a UK-developed vaccine and because it is the vaccine most used in the UK.”The publicity blitz proposal is the latest in a string of eye-catching policies on COVID advocated by Mr Blair, who is widely considered to have had a good pandemic.Earlier this year he called for Britain to use its presidency of the G7 to agree to launch an “international COVID pass” or vaccine passport, an idea now being considered by the government.
Spelling out Mr Blair’s latest COVID proposal, a close ally of the former Prime Minister told Sky News: “Data, and the way we present it, is the most important tool we have.”Without it, we are fighting blind and when we choose not to publish it, we are creating vacuums where misinformation, fear and confusion thrive.”We need better, clearer data that sets out the health outcomes for those who have the vaccine versus those who don’t.”This could be in the form of raw numbers, updated regularly, where we see the number of Covid cases, hospitalisations and deaths, broken down by age, vaccine status and vaccine type.”Mr Blair proposes publishing – as Israel has done with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – the following information:• The number of people vaccinated, then broken down by first dose and second dose and by age group;• After vaccination, how many people contracted COVID-19;• How many of those people were hospitalised;• How many of those people died.In his foreword, Mr Blair also writes: “The global community has an interest in the world getting vaccinated, and fast. Otherwise, we risk mutations of a serious nature that require new vaccines.”Therefore we are chasing after each new strain, trying to eliminate it before the next one arises.”The former prime minister discloses that in the next few weeks his institute will publish a plan for how the world could be vaccinated by the end of this year.He adds: “But there is no possibility of such a global vaccination programme succeeding if vaccines such as the one developed by Oxford University/AstraZeneca are discredited based on unjustified anxieties about safety or efficacy.”Because if this is true of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, it could equally apply to other adenovirus vaccines, such as Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.”And the consequence will be that the world is deprived wholly unnecessarily of the workhorse vaccines vital for global vaccination.”Mr Blair continues: “I accept completely that the presentation of data has to be carefully curated so that it does not mislead but accurately informs.”However, we are in a situation where, in my judgement, only the release of the total data set for the UK vaccination programme will carry the global credibility AstraZeneca needs.”We can then also compare AstraZeneca and Pfizer to see the results. The UK is in a unique position to do this because it is the only country that, at scale, has deployed both vaccines in similar amounts.”But this needs to be done now.”

Biden praises Derek Chauvin murder conviction, blames US for ‘systemic racism’

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President Biden on Tuesday praised the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd, but also accused the United States of deep-seated “systemic racism” as he said the guilty verdict was “too rare.”

“It was a murder in the full light of day. And it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism the vice president just referred to,” Biden said in an evening speech at the White House.

“The systemic racism that’s a stain on our nation’s soul — the knee on the neck of justice for black Americans — profound fear and trauma, the pain, the exhaustion that black and brown Americans experience every single day.”

Biden called on Congress to pass a Democratic police reform bill named after Floyd, who died in May 2020 after Chauvin knelt on his neck for 9 minutes. The bill would ban chokeholds and do away with “qualified immunity” for law enforcement, among other reforms.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks as Vice President Kamala Harris looks on, after former Minneapolis Police Department Police Officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts in the death of George Floyd.Doug Mills/EPA

Biden said “this can be a moment of significant change” and “we also need Congress to act. George Floyd was murdered almost a year ago. There’s meaningful police reform legislation in his name.”

“Nothing can ever bring their brother, their father back. But this can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America,” Biden said.

“Let’s also be clear that such a verdict is also much too rare. For so many people, it seems like it took a unique and extraordinary convergence of factors. A brave young woman with a smartphone camera, a crowd that was traumatized… a murder that last almost 10 minutes in broad daylight for ultimately the whole world to see.”

The comments came a day after his Attorney General Merrick Garland said racism is an “American problem,” adding that he does not believe America has equal justice under the law.

The comments came a day after his Attorney General Merrick Garland said racism is an “American problem” and that he does not believe America has equal justice under the law.

“Look, racism is an American problem,” Garland told ABC News. “It’s plain to me that there has been and remains discrimination against African Americans and other communities of color, and other ethnic minorities. I think it’s reflected in discrimination in housing and employment and the justice system. We do not yet have equal justice under law.”

Biden’s said the Chauvin conviction is “too rare,” in the United States.Doug Mills/EPA

“This is an important part of the role of the Justice Department, to help bring it about,” Garland added.

The Chauvin verdict won bipartisan praise in Washington, and relief across the country due to the presumed reduced risk of violent civil unrest if Chauvin was acquitted. Last year, rioting after Floyd’s death caused up to $2 billion in damage, according to insurance estimates.

Biden also used his speech to call for peace as crowds gathered to celebrate the verdict in major cities — and said “most” police officers aren’t responsible for abuses.

“Most men and women who wear the badge serve their communities honorably. But those few who fail to meet that standard must be held accountable, and they were today. One was,” Biden said.

Biden said “there are those who will seek to exploit the raw emotions of the moment — agitators and extremists who have no interest in social justice, who seek to carry out violence, destroy property, fan the flames of hate and division who will do everything in their power to stop this country’s march toward racial justice. We can’t let them succeed.”

Biden also said the country is guilty of systemic racism. Doug Mills/EPA

But Biden’s invocation of “systemic racism” drew conservative criticism. The president has faced accusations himself of facilitating racial inequality with harsh drug laws he wrote in the 1980s and ’90s.

“The always divisive Joe Biden attacks the United States for ‘systemic racism’ – the confused foggy President having no idea that the vast majority of police shooting victims are white and that he was the one who ran this system for 47 years,” tweeted 710 WOR radio host Mark Simone.

Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson noted that dozens of supporters of former President Donald Trump are in jail for “trespassing” during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. “Nobody you know is for prison reform when it’s their political enemies. That’s not equal justice,” he said.

Carlson called “systemic racism” a term “that neither Joe Biden nor anyone else who uses it has ever defined with any precision whatsoever.”

Retired Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is black, said in an appearance on Fox News, “I do believe that it’s not fair to say that all policing is bad or that all America is bad.”

But elected Republicans initially withheld criticism of Biden. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was asked in a Fox News appearance of his thoughts on the verdict and Biden’s response, and focused praise on the legal process.

Vice President Kamala Harris also used the word “systemic” in remarks introducing Biden, saying that “America has a long history of systemic racism. Black Americans and black men in particular have been treated throughout the course of our history as less than human.”

Harris said: “Black men are fathers and brothers and sons. And uncles and grandfathers and friends and neighbors. Their lives must be valued in our education system, in our healthcare system, in our housing system, in our economic system, in our criminal justice system, in our nation. Full stop.”

“Here’s the truth about racial injustice: It is not just a black America problem or a people of color problem,” Harris added.

“It is a problem for every American. It is keeping us from fulfilling the promise of liberty and justice for all. And it is holding our nation back from realizing our full potential.”

Biden said earlier Tuesday that he was “praying” for conviction as the jury deliberated.

The verdict won bipartisan praise in Washington, and relief across the country due to the presumed reduced risk of violent civil unrest if Chauvin was acquitted. Last year, rioting after Floyd’s death caused up to $2 billion in damage, according to insurance estimates.

Biden and Harris spoke with Floyd’s family by phone shortly after the verdict. Attorney Ben Crump tweeted a video with audio of the conversation. 

“Nothing is going to make it better, but at least now there’s some justice,” Biden told a group of Floyd family members and supporters.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with George Floyd’s family earlier on April 20, 2021. Leigh Vogel/CNP/startraksphoto.com

“I’m standing here with Cedric [Richmond]. We’ve been talking, we’ve been watching every second of this, and the vice president, all of us. And I’m just, we’re all so relieved. Not just one guilty, but all three — guilty on all three counts. And it’s really important.”

Biden added, “This can be a first shot at dealing with genuine systemic racism.” As a senator, Biden authored harsh drug laws that critics say fueled systemic racism.

Harris told the family on the call from the Oval Office, “This is a day of justice in America and your family has been real leaders at this moment when we needed you.”

Harris added, “In George’s name and memory, we are going to make sure his legacy is intact, and the history will look back at this moment and know that it was an inflection moment.”

Biden said in apparent response to a male speaker urging passage of the Democratic police reform bill, “You better all get ready, because when we do it, we’re going to put you on Air Force One to get you here… I guarantee it.”

Three Brooklyn Men Used Spy Cams for $30M Safety Deposit Box Heists: DOJ

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Three New York City men allegedly stole more than $30 million in cash and other valuables as part of an elaborate money-laundering scheme that involved using spy cameras to break into safe deposit boxes around the world.The Department of Justice on Tuesday charged Val Cooper, 56, Alex Levin, 52, and Gari Smith, 49, with money laundering and conspiracy, as well as conspiracy to violate the Travel Act after they allegedly stole the massive sum from banks’ safe deposit boxes between March 2015 and October 2019. Some of the banks were in Ukraine, Russia, North Macedonia, Moldova, Latvia, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan—businesses that “appeared to lack security features, including video surveillance cameras in certain areas,” prosecutors said.The feds allege Cooper was the ringleader of the criminal enterprise, while Levin used his bank accounts in the United States to buy the sophisticated camera equipment used during the heists—and later launder the proceeds. All three Brooklyn men were arrested on Tuesday morning.“The crimes we allege in this indictment read like something straight out of Hollywood fiction,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney said in a statement. “The thieves used sophisticated tools to thwart security systems at foreign banks and tried to cover their tracks by laundering money through U.S. banks. However, thanks to the outstanding work of our FBI Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force and our international partners, these criminals now face real federal charges and the possibility of real-time in federal prison.”According to court documents, the group sought out banks with weak security systems, and then would pose as a customer, renting a safe deposit box in order to gain entry into the room they would eventually hit. Once inside, the group would use a series of “sophisticated camera equipment (often a borescope typically used in medical procedures)” to “take photographs of the inside of safe deposit box locks,” prosecutors said in court documents.“Another co-conspirator used these photographs to create duplicate keys, and then other co-conspirators used the duplicate keys to open the victim safe deposit boxes in order to steal the contents, including currency, gold bars, jewelry, and other property,” a DOJ press release said. After the heist was complete, the trio would leave the country.Prosecutors say the scheme went on for years—with Cooper and another co-conspirator even bribing local law enforcement officials in the various countries they hit for information to ensure they could evade prosecution. Finally, New York authorities caught up to them, and on Tuesday, agents executed a search warrant at Cooper’s house. There, they found safe deposit box keys without any identification numbers, cash, jewelry, and several high-end bags. In Cooper’s storage unit in Brooklyn, investigators also found a borescope and safe deposit box lock.Authorities noted that Cooper and Levin have criminal histories. Levin was convicted in April 2000 after pleading guilty to securities fraud for his role in a $100 million stock scheme operated by members and associates of La Cosa Nostra and a Russian organized crime group. Cooper was convicted in the former Soviet Union of theft in 1986 and was cited in another criminal office against the USSR in 2001—but did not face criminal charges before he evaded prosecution.

Greg Gutfeld Implodes When Asked if He’s ‘Off His Meds’ Over Chauvin Take

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Fox News host Greg Gutfeld absolutely melted down on Tuesday after drawing the ire of several of his colleagues for his reaction to the news that Derek Chauvin was found guilty for the murder of George Floyd. One colleague wondered aloud whether Gutfeld was “off his meds,” setting off an on-air implosion.Immediately after a Minneapolis jury handed down its guilty verdict, which included a second-degree murder charge for the former police officer, Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro—appearing on panel show The Five—declared that she wholeheartedly supported the jury’s decision. (Yes, really.)“Clearly the verdict is supported by the facts,” the conservative host declared, adding: “Make no mistake, the facts are solid on this verdict, this verdict will be held on appeal but right now what people need to understand is that the American justice system works. It works, people believe in lady justice and you can give it a chance, it can work.”While Pirro’s opinion may seem surprising to many, considering her extremely pro-police stance, she has said from the time of Floyd’s death that the “facts are clear” that Chauvin “does not deserve to be free.”Gutfeld, of course, did not see things nearly the same way.“I’m glad that he was found guilty on all charges, even if he might not be guilty of all charges, I am glad that he is guilty of all charges because I want a verdict that keeps this country from going up in flames,” he said, eliciting groans from the other Five co-hosts.“I’m at least being honest,” a defensive Gutfeld shot back. “My neighborhood was looted. I don’t ever want to go through that again!”After Pirro chastised Gutfeld, insisting that we “do not sacrifice individuals for the sake of how people feel,” the broadcast turned to Fox News analyst Ted Williams, a former homicide detective, who laid out the merits of the case.“I heard Greg a few minutes ago, and I gotta tell you, I don’t know—Greg is off his meds if he believes that there was not evidence,” Williams exclaimed, causing Gutfeld to absolutely lose it, shouting: “Excuse me?! What did you say?! What did you say?! Excuse me?!”“If you do not believe that there was evidence to support these charges, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you,” Williams retorted, prompting Gutfeld to deny he ever suggested as much.“That’s not what I said,” the Fox host repeatedly insisted, only for Williams to fire back: “Let me finish!”

Convicting One Killer Cop Is Not Nearly Enough

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He did not deserve to die.It should never have mattered that he was a drug addict who suffered from a myriad of health issues, or that he had allegedly attempted to pass a counterfeit bill at a corner market. George Floyd should still be alive today. Tuesday, a jury agreed.Less than a day after closing arguments concluded, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He was remanded into custody and will face sentencing in a few weeks. He deserves every hour he will spend in prison. They are hours Floyd will never have at all.

Lakers Podcaster Accused of Catfishing Her Co-host in Wild Scheme: ‘I Was a Pawn’

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On Monday night, as the Los Angeles Lakers were being hammered by the Utah Jazz, a bizarre claim broke out among fans. Overshadowing discussion of the disappointing loss, it posited that a popular Lakers Twitter fan account and podcast host, who was battling cancer and had gone missing over the weekend, was actually a catfish and had possibly been deceiving people about their identity for more than a decade.Confused? Hang in there.It all kicked off on Sunday when Lakers fan Josh Toussaint claimed Vivian Flores, his The Laker Point podcast co-host, had gone missing. “May or may not be wearing a wig bc she’s going through leukemia treatment,” he wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “DM me if you have a lead or may see her – Love you all and stay safe.”Due to Flores’ sizable Twitter following, around 16,000 before she deleted her account on Tuesday morning and then reactivated it hours later, the word quickly spread. Actor O’Shea Jackson Jr reshared the post and Toussaint posted a screenshot allegedly from the official Lakers’ Twitter account that said its head of security would be in touch to help in the search.The next morning, Toussaint announced that Flores had been found. He tweeted, “”VIVIAN HAS BEEN FOUND ALIVE AND SAFE!!! THANK YOU, EVERYONE!!!”From there, things took a turn over on Clubhouse. Brooklyn Nets player Kevin Durant was involved in a discussion about “Elite Catfishes” when user Big Kings piped up to claim he had been talking to Flores for a few months after first becoming acquainted over Twitter. But whenever he tried to FaceTime her, he said, she always had an excuse, once claiming she didn’t want to get on camera because she had “scars.”Big Kings did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.The Clubhouse conversation made its way back to Twitter and people began looking at Flores’ account with fresh eyes, some pointing out that her pictures looked heavily photoshopped. Most of the photos appeared to be edited in Snapchat, with stickers and her Bitmoji placed over the image, which were often weirdly cropped and angled.It’s not uncommon for catfish to alter images through apps such as Snapchat to conceal the photo’s data and make it harder to trace the image back to the original poster.According to Flores’ Twitter bio, she also tweeted for LakersFanatics. When The Daily Beast reached out to the account for further comment, an administrator said they were handling the situation privately. However, they admitted they were also confused and “hurt by it all.”“I’m sorry, I know people want to know,” they said over an Instagram message. “I’m just as shocked and hurt. LakerFanatics was created to give a platform for women to show their passion for sports and basketball. I would go in[to] detail but that [sic] just for me and the rest of my team.”The administrator said they had deleted all photos of Flores from its page and clarified Flores wasn’t paid to tweet for the account. But they stopped responding when The Daily Beast pressed for more answers. “I can’t go into any more detail,” they wrote.People quickly began to suspect Toussaint could be involved. Listening to their podcast, Flores appears to sound older than she looks and has a slight accent. Some also pointed out that the audio of their conversation was choppily edited.Toussaint then came forward with his own wild tale about Flores and how he learned she went missing. He went live with a friend on Twitter, explaining that he was also “duped.”“I’m just in the same boat as you guys, maybe even worse because I thought we were close,” he said. “I thought we were really cool, and we’ve been for over a year. I thought I was helping her while she was dealing with cancer. She opened up to me about her past.”“I just feel completely betrayed right now,” he later added. “She’s always struggled to tell the truth or talk about herself.”Toussaint then delivered the receipts, screen recording a private Twitter message sent from Flores’ account. “Vivian has been missing for the last few hours, we finally were able to get into her Twitter,” the message read. “Do you know anything could be of help?”When Toussaint asked who was sending the message, he was told it was Flores’ sister Aly. “We are going to file a missing person’s report for her,” she wrote back. “I may need your help to spread the word on social media to ask for will [sic] if necessary.”She then discouraged Toussaint from reaching out to one of Flores’ brothers, saying he had a lot to deal with and didn’t want to cause him any stress.Aly then proceeded to tell Toussaint that Flores was last seen near Laurel Park in West Hollywood and police were looking for her. She also claimed Flores drove a 2020 Bentley Continental, which normally costs $200,000.The Daily Beast confirmed with the LAPD and the Sheriff’s Department of West Hollywood there was not a search conducted nor a missing person’s report filed for anyone by the name of Vivian Flores.Suddenly Aly brings up Big Kings, telling Toussaint, “There have been people saying that a guy by the name of Kinglsey maybe [sic] involved” and shared a photo of their Twitter DMs.But by the next morning, Aly informs Toussaint that Flores had been found safe, thanking him for helping out.Toussaint later clarified that he never FaceTimed with Flores because she blamed it on her low self-esteem, despite posting several selfies on social media. But he said he had talked on the phone with her several times and recorded their podcasts using the Anchor app.“I thought I trusted someone and learned my lesson,” he tweeted. “Tried to help a friend I thought was in peril. I was duped like y’all and feel bad I was a pawn. Such garbage. Logging off for awhile. Stay safe out there. You never know.”The Daily Beast spoke with Toussaint, who said he was up until 4 a.m. Tuesday morning battling the rumors. A recent college grad who ran the podcast as a hobby, he said he’s devastated by the accusations and learning that Flores might not be real.He claims he hasn’t heard from Flores since Monday night, saying she effectively ghosted him and left him to take the heat, forcing him to speak out to clear his name.“If she just reached out to me and explained everything… but the fact that she’s leaving me out to dry, I’m not going to take this. I just can’t,” he said. “I was so hurt and so fractured. At this point, there’s only so much I can do. I just hope the truth comes to light.”Toussaint said he followed Flores on Twitter in fall of 2019. “We had a bunch of mutuals, so I was like, why not? A few months passed and Kobe Bryant passed away and that was a big part of the Lakers community.”Toussaint said Flores was posting a lot on Twitter about Bryant’s death, claiming she went to the memorial service at the Staples Center. “Everything she posted on the timeline was very emotional, so I gave her a DM that basically said, ‘How are you? Hope you’re okay.’ We just started talking, we hit it off. We ended up getting really, really close.”Toussaint said they weren’t really together but felt they both liked each other. However, he describes their relationship as constantly in flux, up and down like the stock market.Nothing really raised alarm bells for Toussaint because Flores had an explanation for almost everything. For her South African accent, she claimed she spent a lot of her childhood there because her father was in the military. Plus, she said English was her third language, despite that she was born in the United States, because she grew up speaking Portuguese and Spanish due to her immigrant grandparents.“Toussaint said he and Flores actually had a date scheduled for next week. ‘I don’t think that’s going to happen now,’ he said flatly.”When she wouldn’t hop on video calls, Flores told Toussaint that she felt insecure about her appearance because she was battling cancer and stressed she had trust issues due to a past abusive relationship.As for her connection to user Big Kings, she claimed that she kept being targeted by trolls and that one of her dogs had gone missing, so to get to the bottom of who was harassing her, she needed to fake a relationship with him.The only time that Toussaint clearly knew Flores was using fake pictures was when she sent him nudes which were actually a porn star’s photos.“I completely called her out on it,” he said. “I was obviously, justifiably mad. I’m like, ‘I thought we trust each other.’ She said that because of her past, she was told she was never good enough. And she’s like, ‘I didn’t know if I could trust you.’”“It just seems like she always has an excuse for everything,” he added.Toussaint is adamant he doesn’t want to be known for this saga. “I really don’t want clout from this,” he said. “I don’t want to be famous for this. I just want to brush this aside. But at the same time, people are making crazy accusations against me. So, I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t.”Toussaint said he and Flores actually had a date scheduled for next week. “I don’t think that’s going to happen now,” he said flatly.Twitter user Chum Zilla was roped into the saga when he was informed that he had interacted with Flores’ account back in 2009. When reached by The Daily Beast on Tuesday, he said he distinctly remembered uncovering the account as a catfish way back then.At the time, the account was going by the name of Joanne Peters, claiming to be from Los Angeles. What first raised Chum Zilla’s suspicions was that the profile image was of South African model Roberta Little; he coincidentally had a copy of a Sports Illustrated issue with the same exact photo as the profile.“I was like, let me see how long this can go on for,” he said. “I called [them] out on bullshit pretty often.” Eventually, he received two emails from the account, which he claims he traced back to a man in India, confirming his theory that it was a catfish account.“I stopped contacting that profile,” he added. “After that, every once in a while, I would get a message and I’d ignore it or delete it. I blocked the profile at some point, but when I blocked it, it was a different profile picture of someone completely different. But I do remember them being a big fan of the Lakers.”The Daily Beast obtained records that show Flores’ Twitter account was registered under “male.”Flores finally addressed the speculation on Twitter on Monday night, coming out guns blazing, claiming that she isn’t a catfish and that she had gone missing after she “passed out from my treatment.”“Y’all be on here, hearing the side of the story of one guy and then automatically assume he is right about everything,” she wrote. “I have people on here that can verify who I am. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone.”She then directly called out Big Kings, saying “let’s talk about it all…since u aired all your side of it??”https://twitter.com/Butterfly_424/status/1384559449399046145Yet, as many prompted her to offer proof that she wasn’t a catfish, Flores’ account went silent. That is, until she posted a two-second video clip of a woman flashing a piece of paper that said “Vivien,” spelling her own name wrong. She wrote, “For those that still believe in me. Thank u.”Although it’s hard to tell from the quick clip, the woman in the video doesn’t appear to have the same accent that Flores had while on Toussaint’s podcast.When people pointed out that she spelled her own name wrong, Flores then changed her Twitter name to just ‘V’ instead of Vivian. Minutes later, deactivated her account.

Columbus Police Fatally Shoot a Person as Chauvin Guilty Verdict Comes Down

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Police in Columbus, Ohio, shot and killed a person on Tuesday afternoon just as a guilty verdict was being handed down in a police brutality case that had held the attention of an entire nation. According to local station NBC 4, the victim, who has not yet been identified, was transported to a nearby hospital, Mount Carmel East, where they succumbed to the injuries sustained in the shooting. The department has reportedly contacted the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to review the use of deadly force. The police department’s public information office did not respond to a request for comment.Video from the scene showed a person lying on the ground in jeans and bright sneakers as bystanders yelled at police. Those nearby said the victim was a Black teenager.The shooting occurred just as the verdict was being announced in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts in the killing of George Floyd. Chauvin, a former member of the Minneapolis police force, was found guilty on two counts murder and one of manslaughter for killing George Floyd, a Black man, in May 2020.

‘Dumber Than a Bag of Rocks’: How One Prank Caller Turned Mike Lindell’s Telethon Into Comedy Gold

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Mike Lindell likely envisioned Monday as a groundbreaking news day for him. Not only was he set to launch his new “free speech” social-media website, but he was also going to announce his $1.6-billion countersuit against voting-software company Dominion.Instead, most of the attention the MyPillow CEO received focused on how he was duped on-air by a prank caller into thinking his hero Donald Trump was calling him, resulting not only in some unintentional comedy but in Lindell lashing out at various Daily Beast writers on-air and Jimmy Kimmel dedicating part of his late-night monologue to mocking him.The prankster behind that stunt—which was part of a daylong crank-caller siege on Lindell’s online telethon launch of his site Frank Speech—told The Daily Beast on Tuesday how easy it was to trick the pillow magnate and his co-hosts into not only believing he was Trump but also a number of other people, including Lindell’s son and a Wall Street Journal reporter.Ron Blackman has been prank-calling businesses and celebrities for years, broadcasting them online via his podcast titled The Macron Show. As he told The Daily Beast, after he’s able to find a phone number and other relevant information online, he uses techniques such as social engineering and caller-ID spoofing to gain a target’s trust and make them more susceptible to the prank.While his calls in the past have largely been one-on-one, Lindell’s telethon offered Blackman a prime opportunity to prank a public figure while they were broadcasting live to a large audience. Blackman prepared for pranking the MyPillow boss for weeks, he said, and the initial plan was to register a bunch of new user names on Frank Speech and use them to mock the pro-Trump pillow salesman during his 48-hour kickoff event, titled “Frank-a-thon.” Despite the hotly anticipated launch, the site struggled right off the bat on Monday, with many users unable to log on and set up their profiles.Not only was Lindell easy to dupe, Blackman said, but the prank calls were made especially easier thanks to the MyPillow CEO’s co-host Brannon Howse, a fellow election conspiracist and right-wing talker.“That dude is dumber than a bag of rocks,” Blackman said of Howse. “He’s the reason I got to Lindell so easily yesterday.”“At the start of the stream, I noticed Lindell and Howse were sitting at the desk, both of them with their own iPhones in front of them,” he explained. “I was trying to screengrab anything that came up when they lit up and I was observing everything. Figured I needed to get at least one of those numbers and I could interrupt the show by just making them ring.”According to Blackman, it ultimately didn’t require much effort to find Howse’s personal cell number. Why? Because the Lindell sidekick’s digits were listed for all to see on his public Facebook page.And so, for his first prank, Blackman called Howse’s phone, disguising his caller ID to show the Wall Street Journal’s main number, and watched as Howse handed his phone to an assistant upon Blackman’s request.“I just told her [the assistant] to give me Mike’s number, and she did it without thinking,” the podcaster revealed. “And it proves 100 percent that he didn’t even have a plan for his big live stream. He was totally winging it. Sitting there with his iPhone on his desk praying that someone good would call in to support him.”Blackman said that he got through about a dozen times over the course of the live stream, impersonating the Journal reporter at one point and then having another person call and act as Lindell’s son, as they had figured a way to spoof his number as well.“At one point we called him from his kid’s cell phone and told him an angry crowd has gathered outside his house, that’s why he left the studio for an hour… and came back sweating,” Blackman noted. (Lindell, upon returning, would then spend much of the rest of the broadcast raging at The Daily Beast for reporting on one of the prank calls.)As for the vaunted Trump call, Blackman said that he spoofed a number from Mar-a-Lago in order to appear to be the ex-president. Lindell was already on-edge from the previous pranks at that point—Lindell would claim he was “hacked”—and so, Blackman recalled, he would only have a brief window of time to execute the crank call.“I knew for certain that I’d have about one second to say what I wanted before Lindell panicked and hung up,” the prankster explained. “I used a soundboard of Donald Trump saying ‘Hello everyone’ to reel him in and then I yelled out my website name, so that at least everyone hearing it would know where to find me, so that we got to hijack all his effort and time and use it to promote a prank call show instead of his website.”Blackman added: “I knew this would annoy him. I could have continued to use the Donald Trump soundboard and made it get silly, but each sound clip sounds slightly different and he would have hung up before getting to any kind of punchline. I wanted to reel him in good and then give him a huge shock, which I think worked.”

‘Cat in a Lion’s Den’: Billionaire Leon Cooperman Is Bearish on Sen. Warren’s Hearing Invitation

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On Monday, billionaire hedge-fund manager Leon Cooperman—who has spent months parading his criticisms of progressive tax reforms in the media—got an invite to complain before Congress from one of his least favorite politicians, Sen. Elizabeth Warren.Warren (D-MA) gave Cooperman until Thursday to say whether he will appear as a witness at a Senate Finance subcommittee hearing dedicated to the topic on which they clash: income inequality. But the investor, who heard about the invitation while he was on vacation in the Florida Keys, told the Daily Beast that he will likely decline the offer.“I am probably not going to accept the invitation and I’ll tell you why: because she’s a bad person,” Cooperman said Tuesday afternoon, reached on his phone after a fishing expedition. “I’ll be in her den. I’ll be a cat in a lion’s den.”The invitation was the latest in a series of gestures from Congressional progressives to shame billionaires into public interrogation over the structural forces that enabled their wealth. Just last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D) invited Jeff Bezos to a Senate Budget Committee meeting on income inequality, on the eve of the vote that could have created Amazon’s first union. Ultimately, Bezos declined Sanders’ invitation through a company spokesman.Warren’s invitation suggested Cooperman could outline his objections to her proposed Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act, which would establish a 2 percent tax on households valued over $50 million, and an additional 1 percent surtax on those worth more than $1 billion. All told, it would impact only the top 100,000 Americans, or 0.05 percent of the country—a group that counts Cooperman, who is worth an estimated $2.5 billion, as a member.“This hearing is an opportunity to share your views on how to strengthen the nation’s tax system,” Warren wrote, “to address economic inequality, raise revenues to fund critical pro-growth investments in families and communities, and bolster our long-term fiscal and economic outlooks.”When Warren introduced the proposal in March, alongside Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Rep. Brendan Boyle, Cooperman scoffed at the plan. He told CNBC it “has no merit. It’s foolish. It probably is not legal.” Tax avoidance was so widespread, he argued, that if a wealth tax were imposed, rich people would simply hide their cash.Warren hat-tipped to those comments, but she framed the hearing as an opportunity to air his complaints. “While this policy is backed by scores of experts and economists and is overwhelmingly popular with Democrats, Republicans, and independents,” she wrote, “I am aware that it is not particularly popular with you.”But Cooperman told the Daily Beast he still resents Warren for a feud they had back in 2019. When Warren was running for the Democratic presidential nomination, the campaign fired off a tweet at Cooperman, calling for him to “pitch in a bit more.”In response, the banker wrote a five-page single-spaced letter outlining his biography, his charitable donations, some business success stories of many billionaire friends, and a few of his own arguments about economics. In his call with The Daily Beast, Cooperman described his own letter, which likened Warren to “a parent chiding an ungrateful child,” as “outstanding.”“Larry Summers—who was president of Harvard University and a very distinguished economist in his own right, and very liberal in his views, said if I submitted that paper in his class he’d give me an A-plus,” Cooperman said on the call. “Not an A, an A-plus.”Back in 2019, Warren tweeted about the letter, but Cooperman griped that he never got a private response. “That was a fabulous letter. I spent six hours writing that letter,” Cooperman said. “She didn’t respond to it. Why should I assume she would respond any different [now?]?…if she wanted to have a serious dialogue, she would have responded to that letter.”

‘Believe Your Eyes’: George Floyd Killer Derek Chauvin Is a Convicted Murderer

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MINNEAPOLIS—Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on George Floyd for more than nine minutes in an arrest that spurred a worldwide reckoning on race, has been convicted of murder.After about 10 hours of deliberations, jurors in Hennepin County court found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for the unarmed Black man’s death after the May 25, 2020, arrest, in which the former officer was filmed pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck as he cried out for help. The 12 jurors, who were sequestered and deliberated at a nearby hotel, did not have any questions for the court.As Judge Peter Cahill read the verdict, Chauvin remained unemotional, staring at the judge from the defense table with a blue mask covering most of his face. The ex-officer, who was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, now faces up to 40 years in prison. His sentencing will take place in two months.The guilty verdict was greeted with an eruption of gleeful cheers outside the Hennepin County Government Center and George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, where dozens had gathered ahead of the monumental announcement. “As a Black woman, I heard the verdict, but for so long we have not been seen or heard,” Rachel Washington, a Minneapolis resident, told The Daily Beast after admitting the guilty verdict still feels “unreal.” “I’m watching the celebration, but it hasn’t sunk in yet…but I feel like Black lives today matter. Justice was served today.”Floyd’s final pleas of “I can’t breathe” became a rallying cry, bringing energy to the Black Lives Matter movement and renewed scrutiny of Black deaths at the hands of police. The verdict comes just days after a white police officer in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black man, apparently firing her service weapon by accident instead of a Taser during the traffic stop. Wright’s death sparked sometimes violent protests in a city already on edge, with hundreds of residents taking to the streets.Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Floyd’s family, celebrated the verdict, saying it sends a “clear message” to law enforcement across the country.“Painfully earned justice has arrived for George Floyd’s family and the community here in Minneapolis, but today’s verdict goes far beyond this city and has significant implications for the country and even the world. Justice for Black America is justice for all of America,” Crump said in a statement. “This case is a turning point in American history for accountability of law enforcement.”Anticipating potential unrest ahead of the verdict, Minnesota Gov. Tim Waltz had declared a peacetime emergency in seven counties in the state. Minnesota National Guard soldiers joined local law enforcement in guarding the courthouse, which was surrounded by a chain-link fence and concrete barriers. As the city braced for the verdict, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) over the weekend called for protesters to “get more confrontational” if Chauvin is cleared—which Cahill warned could put a guilty verdict in danger of being tossed on appeal.Even President Joe Biden chimed in on Tuesday, suggesting the evidence against Chauvin was “overwhelming.” “I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict,” he said.Over the four-week watershed trial, prosecutors argued Chauvin, 45, “betrayed” his badge on May 25 when he ignored Floyd’s dozens of pleas for help as he knelt on his neck for a total of “9 minutes and 29 seconds.” Chauvin’s defense insisted the former cop was just doing what any other “reasonable officer” would do during a “dynamic” arrest.“George Floyd didn’t have to die that day; shouldn’t have died that day. But for the fact that the defendant decided not to get up and not to let up, George Floyd died,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher told jurors in Hennepin County court during closing arguments on Monday.Schleicher insisted the Chauvin heard Floyd’s pleas for help “but he just didn’t listen” and “chose pride over policing.” Schleicher added that while Floyd repeated he couldn’t breathe 27 times in the first four minutes and 45 seconds of his arrest, all Chauvin did “was mock him,” telling him, “It takes a lot of oxygen to complain.”“He knew better. He just didn’t do better. What [Chauvin] did is not policing. What [Chauvin] did is assault,” the prosecutor added. “That day, his badge wasn’t in the right place. He’s not on trial for who he was. He’s on trial for what he did.”To make that point, prosecutors called several of Chauvin’s former peers, including Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo who claimed the ex-cop “absolutely” violated department protocol. Three medical experts also testified that Floyd died of low oxygen from the cop’s actions during the arrest. In the gut-wrenching video, Floyd can be heard repeatedly asking for help, calling out for his mother, and saying he could not breathe.Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, offered his own narrative to the jury. With seven of his own witnesses, Nelson argued that Floyd’s death could have been caused by several other factors, including carbon-monoxide poisoning or his history of drug use, and not necessarily his client’s forceful knee restraint. At least two law-enforcement officers who also assisted the Minneapolis police department during Floyd’s arrest testified that the crowd that surrounded the officer was “very aggressive”—which may have spooked him.“There is absolutely no evidence that Officer Chauvin intentionally, purposefully applied unlawful force,” Nelson insisted during his closing argument on Monday. “These are officers doing their jobs in a highly stressful situation. It’s tragic. It’s tragic.”Nelson urged jurors to look at the “totality” of Floyd’s arrest—and not just the nine minutes Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck. He also argued that several factors could have contributed to Floyd’s death and that Chauvin was distracted while dealing with the growing anger from bystanders and failed to notice that Floyd had stopped breathing.“Human behavior is unpredictable and nobody knows that better than a police officer. Someone can be compliant one second and fighting the next,” Nelson said. “Officers are human beings capable of making mistakes in highly stressful situations.”Three other officers involved in the arrest—Tou Thao, Thomas K. Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng—will now face trial in August on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder while committing a felony, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter with culpable negligence.

Fourteen Things That Caught My Eye Today: Continued Nursing Home Isolation, Margaret Sanger, and Rootedness

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1. Such cruelty: Vaccinated and Still Isolated: The Ethics of Overprotecting Nursing Home Residents
Consider an 85-year-old nursing home resident with dementia who is fully vaccinated and asymptomatic, but is required to isolate in her room after an asymptomatic staff member tests positive. With current restrictions in place, even having been vaccinated against Covid, she is not allowed to visit a neighbor or participate in a music program with other nursing homes residents. The social isolation and the disruption of her routine is traumatic, causing increased anxiety, despair, and worsening confusion. She stops eating and drinking, facing a risk of dehydration and serious illness. These are preventable harms caused not by Covid-19, but by the regulatory response to it.
If this same woman were able to live at home, she would have few limitations after vaccination. She would be able to visit with a neighbor, perhaps go to the lobby of her building and enjoy music or conversation, and indeed see, touch, and hug her vaccinated family members. For fully-vaccinated people living in the community, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers guidance for safe visitation and socialization with others. This is in stark contrast to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidance for fully-vaccinated people living in nursing homes The significant disparity in guidance for these two populations is problematic and unjust.
2. Young Woman Dies After Getting Legal Abortion in Argentina
María del Valle González López was a 23-year-old student in the town of La Paz in Mendoza Province, Argentina. According to the Argentine newspaper Clarín, the young woman went on April 7, to the Arturo Illia hospital in La Paz for an abortion.
“There she was prescribed a medication — presumably misoprostol — and on Friday she began to feel ill. She was referred to the main healthcare facility in the eastern area of Mendoza, Perrupato Hospital, where they diagnosed a general infection that may have caused her death,”  Clarín reported.
3. I don’t always agree with him, but thanks be to God for Nicholas Kristof. He does some real good others cannot. People who oppose porn should pray for him and thank him. 
Nicholas Kristof: Why Do Corporations Profit From Rape Videos?
Heather Legarde, a young woman in Alberta, felt the world crashing down on her last August. She had discovered that her ex-husband had posted intimate videos of her online, she told me, and people around the world were gazing at her naked body.
“I’m all over the internet,” she told me sadly. “Not what I wanted to be famous for.”
. . .
Some 200,000 people had watched her being assaulted while she was drugged and unconscious. So on that day in August, mortified and dizzied by her discovery of the betrayal, Legarde prepared to tie a noose.
4. Newsweek: Gynecologist Exiled From China Says 80 Sterilizations Per Day Forced on Uyghurs
“A lot of women were put on the back of a truck and sent to the hospital,” Gülgine said. “The [sterilization] procedure took about five minutes each, but the women were crying because they did not know what was happening to them.”
5. The Wall Street Journal: Islamic State Seeks Revival in Christian Countries
After its dreams of imposing draconian Islamist law in a self-declared state in Syria were crushed, Islamic State successfully injected itself into localized conflicts in Nigeria, Libya and across the Sahel, the semiarid belt running east-west along the southern edge of the Sahara. Those initial forays, as in Syria and Iraq, were launched in largely Muslim territories.
Now it is starting to target Christian-dominated countries, grafting onto Islamist terrorist groups that have emerged among disenfranchised Muslim minorities. No longer vowing to seize and hold territory, Islamic State instead has embraced guerrilla tactics, co-opting local leadership and dramatically improving training, tactics and propaganda—and giving the impression it can strike at Western interests in unexpected places.
6. Crux: Majority of world’s population live in countries that violate religious freedom, report says
The 2021 Religious Freedom Report by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) found that around 5.2 billion people live in countries where there are grave violations to religious freedom, including three of the world’s most populous countries: China, India and Pakistan. In most of these countries, religious minorities are the most targeted, and in recent years, the faith-based persecution by authoritarian governments has intensified.
The report also highlights and denounces the increase of sexual violence used as a weapon against religious minorities – crimes against women and girls who are abducted, raped and forced to convert to another religion.
7. Clyde Prestowitz: Is Your iPhone worth China’s tyranny?
Cook and his Apple loudly tout liberal values and minority rights in the West. But when it comes to China’s imprisonment of a million Uighurs in concentration camps, the repression of Tibet, the killing of Hong Kong’s free society and the stifling of international probes into the origins of the novel coronavirus, Cook’s Apple keeps curiously mum.
The silence is damning. And it mirrors the corrupt bargain the West has struck with the Chinese Communist Party, which is open about its hostility to our values. 
8. As Jimmy Lai Is Sentenced to 14 Months in Prison, Hong Kong Catholics’ Concern Grows
He was sentenced to 15 months in prison for the first demonstration, reduced by three months in mitigation, and an eight-month sentence for the second, of which he will be required to serve two months. 
But he also faces two additional charges which could prolong his time in jail. Prosecutors said Friday these involve conspiracy to collude with foreign forces and conspiracy to obstruct the course of justice, according to Reuters. 
. . .
Simon told the Register April 16 that the suspended sentences “essentially take these major public figures out of circulation, so what you’ve got are political charges, a political trial and political sentences.” 
The Catholic human rights advocate Lord David Alton, who knows Lai, Lee and Ng personally, called them “remarkable and courageous people – lifelong advocates for human rights, democracy, an independent judiciary and the rule of law.
9. Pro-life advocates: Planned Parenthood can’t just wish away Margaret Sanger’s racism, eugenics
Angela Franks, author of “Margaret Sanger’s Eugenic Legacy: The Control of Female Fertility,” told CNA in an interview that Planned Parenthood “is trying to have it both ways,” by appeasing to progressive activists without “getting to the heart of the problem with Sanger.”
“In some ways it’s a cheap attempt to repurpose the organization within the progressive lobby,” Franks said.
Black pro-life activist and former NFL player Benjamin Watson also said that Planned Parenthood’s action “rings hollow” unless the organization takes the “next step.”
“Whether they personally identify with Sanger’s ideology or not, they continue to carry out her mission, by serving as the leading executioner of our children,” Watson said in a written statement on Sunday. 
10. 

A spot-on response to ⁦@PPFA⁩ admission that founder #MargaretSanger was a racist and eugenicist. ⁦@BenjaminSWatson⁩ pic.twitter.com/ZH8mxqF6aw
— John Stonestreet (@JBStonestreet) April 19, 2021

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11. 

“So, Planned Parenthood is through with defending eugenicist Margaret Sanger. But they have no problem being #1 when it comes to terminating babies of color, babies of the poor, babies who would have special needs if allowed to live,” said FFL Pres. Serrin M. Foster. 1/ https://t.co/JwMnW9wmuy
— Feminists for Life (@Feminists4Life) April 20, 2021

12. Cornel West and Jeremy Tate: Howard University’s removal of classics is a spiritual catastrophe
Sadly, in our culture’s conception, the crimes of the West have become so central that it’s hard to keep track of the best of the West. We must be vigilant and draw the distinction between Western civilization and philosophy on the one hand, and Western crimes on the other. The crimes spring from certain philosophies and certain aspects of the civilization, not all of them.
The Western canon is, more than anything, a conversation among great thinkers over generations that grows richer the more we add our own voices and the excellence of voices from Africa, Asia, Latin America and everywhere else in the world. We should never cancel voices in this conversation, whether that voice is Homer or students at Howard University. For this is no ordinary discussion.
13. Charles C. Camosy, Gracy Olmstead: Is ‘rootedness’ an answer to the throwaway society?
14. Mom creates ‘The Down Syndrome Diary’ to help struggling parents
Freeman says the moment Benny was born, she fell in love, and six months later, while looking at her baby, an idea came to her. 
“What if me now, as Benny’s mom at six months could’ve sat in a room and held Jamie’s hand at 16 weeks pregnant and told her all the wonderful things that were going to come because of this diagnosis,” said Freeman. 

Richard Nixon, Charles Manson, and Why Presidents Shouldn’t Comment on Ongoing Trials

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Charles Manson talks during an interview, August 25, 1989. (Calvin Hom CP/Reuters)

“Innocent until proven guilty” is the central tenet of the American criminal justice system. Public opinion is a different matter. While judges and juries must grant the accused the presumption of innocence until proven in a court of law, ordinary citizens are free to conclude, and declare,  “that guy’s guilty as sin.” A lot of people believe O.J. Simpson committed two murders, even though a court found him not guilty. (Other figures who were acquitted in court but who remained infamous include Lizzie Borden, Fatty Arbuckle, and Casey Anthony.)
If Joe Biden was just a retired vice president, his declaration that …

The New and Improved Green New Deal Is Still Insane

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Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Senator Ed Markey (D., Mass.) hold a news conference for their proposed Green New Deal in Washington, D.C., February 7, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “formally” reintroduced the Green New Deal today. The first iteration of the plan, lest anyone forget, proposed the elimination of all fossil-fuel energy production; the end of all nuclear power; the phase-out of all “combustion-engine vehicles” — so trucks, airplanes, boats, and 99 percent of cars; the “retrofitting” of every home, factory, and apartment building in the country; the construction of “high speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary;” the guarantee of a government a job; a “family-sustaining” wage with free college, state-provided “healthy food,” and “safe, affordable, adequate housing” for everyone; the banning of meat; and “economic security” for all who are “unable or unwilling” to work, among other socialist grab-bag items.

All in the next decade.
The plan was met with so much derision that Ocasio-Cortez claimed her office had accidentally released a working draft to the public – and most of the media went along with the charade. Of course, even if one concedes this fiction, it is worth noting that these are the kinds of insane policies being batted around by progressives.
When the second iteration was released — and embraced by every Democratic Party presidential candidate (including Joe Biden) — then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put the Democrats’ resolution for a vote. Or, as the Associated Press framed it: “McConnell wields Green New Deal as bludgeon against Dems.” Here was a chance for Democrats to vote for nothing but affirmation of intent regarding their plan to save the world. Yet, Markey would not support his own resolution.

Now, we’re on the third iteration, which seems to be piecemeal  version of the old plan. What is the Green New Deal now? Everything, still. Infrastructure. Transit. Food. “The trampling of indigenous rights is a cause of climate change,” Ocasio-Cortez explained. “The trampling of racial justice is a cause of climate change.” The congresswoman says her plan will create “20 million union jobs in the United States of America.” You don’t want to be in a union? Too bad, I guess.
Americans use around 20 million barrels of petroleum every day. How many bazillions will the Green New Deal cost to replace that energy? We don’t know. But thanks to Politico, we do know that “Republicans pounced on the resolution’s reemergence.” (At this point, reporters who use the “pounce” formulation have to be doing it on purpose.) Progressives are merely “leaning into the framework to swiftly transition off fossil fuels” while the legislation has “become a prominent foil for conservatives.”
Well, yeah. The legislation to eliminate affordable fossil-fuel energy using authoritarian means has 103 House cosponsors. Foil away.

Marlins’ Starling Marte out with fractured rib

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FILE PHOTO: Apr 16, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Marlins center fielder Starling Marte connects for a three-run homerun in the 8th inning San Francisco Giants at loanDepot park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports April 20, 2021
Miami Marlins outfielder Starling Marte will miss at least one week after being diagnosed with a fractured left rib.
The Marlins said Monday that an MRI exam detected a non-displaced fracture in Marte’s 12th rib. He will be re-evaluated in five to seven days.
Marte suffered the injury while batting in the ninth inning of Sunday’s 1-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants. He tried to persuade manager Don Mattingly to let him continue the at-bat but was declined.
The Marlins will miss Marte, who is batting .316 with two homers, eight RBIs and three steals in 15 games this season.
“I mean, he’s a big part of what we do,” Mattingly said. “He’s that guy, that cog in the offense, defense, on the bases. Obviously, you see what happened last year when he gets hurt. You don’t really replace that. We don’t have a replacement for that.”
The 32-year-old Marte is in his first full season with the Marlins. He was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks at last season’s trading deadline.
Marte spent his first seven-plus seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has a .287 career average with 116 homers, 455 RBIs and 252 steals in 1,029 major league games.
Marte is a two-time Gold Glove winner and was a member of the 2016 National League All-Star team.
(Field Level Media)

Pacers’ Myles Turner out indefinitely with toe injury

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FILE PHOTO: Apr 18, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela (15) and Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) battle for the opening tip off during the first quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports April 20, 2021
Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner is out indefinitely with a toe injury, the team announced Monday.
The Pacers said an MRI exam performed Monday revealed that Turner has a partial tear of the plantar plate in the big toe of his right foot.
Turner missed six games with an ankle injury before returning in Sunday’s 129-117 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. He had nine points and 11 rebounds but was just 2-of-9 shooting in 34 minutes of action.
The 25-year-old is averaging 12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and an NBA-leading 3.4 blocked shots in 47 games this season. He is considered a leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year honors.
The sixth-year pro has career averages of 12.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots in 389 games (356 starts).
(Field Level Media)

Nets’ Kevin Durant (thigh) ruled out vs. Pelican

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FILE PHOTO: Apr 18, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) gets examined off the court during the first half of a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports April 20, 2021
Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant will miss Tuesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans due to the left thigh contusion he suffered during Sunday’s loss to the Miami Heat.
The Nets haven’t yet revealed a timetable for how long Durant may be sidelined. Coach Steve Nash said after Sunday’s game that Durant would be re-evaluated on Monday.
Durant has played in just 24 of Brooklyn’s 57 games this season. He recently returned from a 23-game absence due to a hamstring injury.
Durant is averaging 27.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists.
Brooklyn also continues to be without star guard James Harden (hamstring), who will sit out for the seventh straight game.
Also, big men Nic Claxton and Reggie Perry will miss the contest due to health and safety protocols.
The Pelicans listed forward James Johnson (adductor) as doubtful.
(Field Level Media)

Stewart Cink climbs 13 spots in Ryder Cup rankings

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FILE PHOTO: Apr 18, 2021; Hilton Head, South Carolina, USA; Stewart Cink putts on the green of the eighteenth hole during the final round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports April 20, 2021
Stewart Cink’s multiple-victory season has the 47-year-old in the conversation for the 2021 United States Ryder Cup team.
Cink vaulted 13 spots to No. 24 in the U.S. team standings following his four-shot victory at the RBC Heritage. The top six players following the Tour Championship will earn automatic spots, with captain Steve Stricker then selecting the final six team members.
Cink and Bryson DeChambeau are the only two-time winners on the PGA Tour this season.
Following a string of three consecutive missed cuts, Cink has finished tied for 19th and tied for 12th along with Sunday’s win in his last three starts.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson remains atop the U.S. Ryder Cup standings, followed by Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka in the top six.
Patrick Reed, Tony Finau, Webb Simpson and Daniel Berger round out the top 10.
The U.S. will take on Team Europe at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin in September’s Ryder Cup, which was postponed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Field Level Media)

WTA roundup: Belinda Bencic wins first-round match at Stuttgart

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Tennis – WTA 500 – Stuttgart Open – Porsche-Arena, Stuttgart, Germany – April 19, 2021 Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic and Germany’s Nastasja Schunk after their first round match Pool via REUTERS/Thomas Kienzle April 20, 2021
Eighth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland cruised to a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Germany’s Nastasja Schunk on Monday in the first round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix at Stuttgart, Germany.
Bencic completed the victory over the 17-year-old Schunk in one hour and 28 minutes. Schunk made it into the main draw with two qualifying victories.
The day’s only other first-round match featured Maria Sakkari and the Greek recorded six aces while posting a 6-2, 6-2 victory over German wildcard Andrea Petkovic. Sakkari won 80.8 percent of her first-serve points.
TEB BNP Paribas Tennis Championship Istanbul
Eighth-seeded Qiang Wang of China knocked off Russia’s Anastasia Gasanova 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the first round at Istanbul, Turkey.
Croatia’s Ana Konjuh also advanced as she registered a 7-5, 6-2 win over Italy’s Sara Errani. Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic notched a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 win over Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz.
Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic outlasted Spain’s Cristina Bucsa 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3. Also, a match between Russians Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Anastasia Potapotva was suspended due to rain prior to the third set and will be resumed Tuesday.
(Field Level Media)

Wrist healed, Hornets’ LaMelo Ball cleared for activity

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FILE PHOTO: Apr 14, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) on the court during pre game shoot a round before the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports April 20, 2021
Charlotte Hornets rookie guard LaMelo Ball was cleared to resume individual basketball activity after a CT scan confirmed his broken right wrist has healed, the team announced Monday.
Ball sustained the injury on March 20 in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers. He was examined by Dr. Michelle Carlson of The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York before receiving the green light on Monday.
The team said updates about his status and return to play would be “provided as appropriate.” ESPN reported that Ball could return to action in seven to 10 days.
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Ball has appeared in 41 games and is averaging 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.6 steals. Since moving into the starting lineup on Feb. 1, he averaged 19.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.7 steals in 21 games.
Ball, 19, was named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in January, February and March. He is the only player over the past 60 years to lead all rookies in total points, rebounds, assists and steals heading into the All-Star break.
(Field Level Media)

Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes ahead of schedule after toe surgery

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FILE PHOTO: NFL Football – Super Bowl LV – Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Kansas City Chiefs – Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida, U.S. – February 7, 2021 Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes REUTERS/Brian Snyder April 20, 2021
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said Monday he is ahead of schedule in his rehab after undergoing offseason surgery to repair a turf toe injury.
Mahomes had the procedure days after guiding the Chiefs to a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance, in which they fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Obviously, we’re trying to be cautious and not push me out there too soon, but I’m doing what I can,” Mahomes said. “I’ve gotten out of the boot finally. It took forever. Now I’m trying to get back on the field and get that stuff working.
“I’m sure they’ll keep me along that same pathway and that hopefully I can do some stuff by the end of the offseason.”
Mahomes played through the injury, sustained in the playoffs during Kansas City’s victory over the Cleveland Browns in the divisional round in January.
Mahomes, 25, was the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2018 before his consecutive Super Bowl seasons, including a win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. Even so, he believes he can get better as he gets healthier.
“There are so many different things I can improve in my game,” Mahomes said. “Being able to kind of restart and start from injury with the feet, I can really improve my footwork and try to make myself better.
“I’ve dealt with ankle injuries in my career and being able to teach myself how to hit the right spots in my feet, by teaching myself just how to get back from this injury I think will help me out in the long run and something that I can really focus on.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid added, “He’s got great flexibility in that toe. He worked his tail off, not a real fun thing for him to do with that. It seems like a small thing, but that toe is rather large and stiff before the surgery and after the surgery. He’s really worked hard to get that right.”
Mahomes has a 38-8 career regular-season record as a starter in four NFL seasons, all with the Chiefs. Last year, he completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 4,740 yards with 38 touchdowns and six interceptions. For his career, he has a 66 percent completion rate with 14,152 passing yards, 114 TD passes and 24 interceptions.
(Field Level Media)

Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic ruled out Tuesday vs. Clippers

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FILE PHOTO: Apr 13, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) prepares to shoot a free throw against the Boston Celtics during the first half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports April 20, 2021
Two of the Portland Trail Blazers’ best players will be out for their marquee matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.
Damian Lillard (right hamstring) and Jusuf Nurkic (right knee) won’t play against Los Angeles, the team Portland would face in the playoffs if the season ended today.
It will be the third straight missed game for Lillard but the first for Nurkic since he missed a game April 10 against Detroit. He also missed the last meeting at the Clippers on April 6.
Head coach Terry Stotts isn’t too concerned, however, with the long-term prognosis for his big man, Nurkic.
“It wasn’t a specific injury,” Stotts said prior to the last Clippers game April 6. “He (Nurkic) played in the back-to-back. It started to bother him on Sunday, he had a little inflammation, a little swelling.
“It wasn’t a specific thing that happened. He just ended up having a little swelling.”
The Blazers have fared well without Lillard in the lineup, going 3-1 this season.
CJ McCollum will likely see an increase in minutes against Los Angeles, while Enes Kanter will step in at the center position.
Lillard is averaging 28.7 points per game this season in an MVP-caliber season. Nurkic is adding 9.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
(Field Level Media)

Patrick Marleau breaks Gordie Howe’s record for most NHL games

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Apr 19, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau (12) stands during a ceremony to mark his passing Gordie Howe for most NHL games played in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: John Locher/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports April 20, 2021
San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau broke the NHL record for most career games on Monday, passing the legendary Gordie Howe.
When Marleau was on the ice for the opening faceoff against the Vegas Golden Knights in Las Vegas, he appeared in his 1,768th game.
Howe played in 1,767 NHL games from 1946-71 and in the 1979-80 season. In between, he played in 419 games in the World Hockey Association. “Mr. Hockey” played his final game for the NHL’s Hartford Whalers in April 1980 at age 52.
Marleau, 41, had four goals and four assists in 44 games this season entering play Monday. He broke into the NHL with the Sharks in October 1997 and remained in San Jose through the 2016-17 season. He then played two seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs before rejoining the Sharks at the start of last season.
Marleau joined the Pittsburgh Penguins late last season, appearing in eight regular-season games and four play-in games, before returning to San Jose as a free agent in October.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a video message to Marleau, posted on the league’s Twitter feed, “Congratulations on an amazing achievement. To be merely mentioned in the same sentence as Gordie Howe is an achievement most hockey players can only dream about. To break one of his records is historic.”
–Field Level Media

Gabba to be centrepiece of 2032 Games if Brisbane bid successful

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FILE PHOTO: GABBA Ground, Brisbane, Australia, November 25, 2017. Australia’s captain Steve Smith reacts as he walks off the ground at the end of Australia’s first innings during the third day of the first Ashes cricket test match. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo April 20, 2021
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – The Gabba stadium is slated for a A$1 billion ($777 million) rebuild before hosting the opening and closing ceremonies as part of Brisbane’s bid for the 2032 Olympics, officials said on Tuesday.
Queensland state capital Brisbane was named preferred bidder for the 2032 Games in February and could be confirmed as host as early as July.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Gabba, formally named the Brisbane Cricket Ground, would likely have its capacity boosted from 42,000 to 50,000 as part of a renovation to cost “around the A$1 billion mark”.
“Every games needs a home,” she said in a statement.
“The Gabba has been home to our sport since 1895.
“A home for the 2032 Olympic Games could be its crowning glory.”
Located in Brisbane’s inner-city suburb of Woolloongabba, the refurbished stadium would be linked to a new railway station under construction via a pedestrian plaza.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison endorsed Brisbane’s bid last month and told the International Olympic Committee all levels of government in the country were firmly behind it.
Palaszczuk said on Monday the bid was still “contingent on guarantees” from the federal government.
Though Brisbane is the frontrunner for 2032, South Korea’s Seoul said this month it had sent the IOC a proposal for co-hosting the 2032 Games with North Korea’s capital Pyongyang.
The postponed Tokyo Olympics start on July 23. Paris will host the 2024 Games, with Los Angeles hosting the 2028 event.
($1 = 1.2873 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Government abandons White House-style TV briefings – after £2.6m spend on new studio

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The government has abandoned plans to hold White House-style televised briefings – despite spending £2.6m on a new studio.Boris Johnson’s press secretary, Allegra Stratton, who had been expected to front the new media briefings, will now become spokeswoman for the COP26 climate change summit.Ms Stratton said: “I am delighted to be starting this new role.”The COP26 climate conference is a unique opportunity to deliver a cleaner, greener world and I’m looking forward to working with the prime minister and Alok Sharma to ensure it is a success.”

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Israel logs Indian COVID-19 variant, sees some vaccine efficacy against it

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FILE PHOTO: A teenager receives a vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 24, 2021. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun April 20, 2021
By Reuters Staff
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel has registered eight cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in India and believes that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is at least partially effective against it, an Israeli health official said on Tuesday.
An initial seven cases of the Indian variant were detected in Israel last week among people arriving from abroad and who have since undergone preliminary testing, the Health Ministry said.
“The impression is that the Pfizer vaccine has efficacy against it, albeit a reduced efficacy,” the ministry’s director-general, Hezi Levy, told Kan public radio, saying the number of cases of the variant in Israel now stood at eight.
The ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for more details on the research into the Indian variant.
The novel variant, designated B.1.617, was reported by India’s health ministry in late march (https://bit.ly/3tzfy0p). It contains an E484K mutation, which has been associated with immune escape by other variants, and another mutation known as L425R, which may increase its transmissibility.
Britain and Ireland have also said they are investigating the variant after detecting it within their borders.
Israel, whose population is 9.3 million, has fully vaccinated around 81% of citizens or residents over the age of 16. COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations are down sharply.

Exclusive-UNICEF says AstraZeneca supply problems outside India resolved

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FILE PHOTO: Vials labelled “Astra Zeneca COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine” and a syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo, in this illustration photo taken March 14, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration April 20, 2021
By Krishna N. Das
NEW DELHI (Reuters) -Problems that have delayed AstraZeneca supplies to the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility have been resolved, UNICEF told Reuters on Tuesday, saying it should receive 65 million doses by end-May from manufacturers outside India.
The rollout of COVID vaccines has been disrupted by supply shortfalls in many countries, aggravated by a temporary hold on exports of the inoculation made by the Serum Institute of India (SII) as the country battles to contain a surge in infections.
“The initial challenges related to release of vaccines due to ramping up a new supply chain and production across different continents have now been resolved,” the U.N. agency responsible for distributing vaccines through the programme told Reuters in an email. “At this point, UNICEF expects around 65 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from suppliers outside of India will be available for supply through the end of May to 80 countries.”
COVAX is also holding talks with New Delhi for SII to resume supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine, UNICEF said.
In addition to the 65 million doses expected from outside India, mostly made in South Korea, it also anticipates receiving 50 million doses next month from the SII compared with almost none this month.
COVAX had expected a total of more than 100 million doses from SII between February and May, excluding supplies for India, but has so far received only about 18.2 million.
As India battles its biggest jump in coronavirus infections and opens up vaccinations to all its adults from next month, SII is unlikely to be able to restart major exports soon.
“While discussions on the resumption of SII deliveries continue, COVAX will continue to transmit vaccines from other delivery partners,” such as Pfizer/BioNTech or AstraZeneca outside India, UNICEF said.
“A number of shipments are currently being planned to ensure that all available supplies are put to use without delays following release from the manufacturers. Plans are also being laid to make up lost ground as soon as supply allows.”
India this week approved an advance payment of about $400 million for SII, the world’s biggest maker of vaccines, for it to expand its monthly capacity to more than 100 million doses by end-May from up to 70 million now.
India has so far administered more than 127 million vaccine doses, 91% of those the SII-made AstraZeneca drug. The other vaccine in use is domestically developed Covaxin.
(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; editing by Barbara Lewis)

As climate change thaws mountain tops, risks of rockfalls surge

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Andrin Caviezel (L), researcher at the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) places a measuring sensor into a 3.200kg ferroconcret block before rockfall experiments in Schiers, Switzerland April 15, 2021. Picture taken April 15, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann April 20, 2021
By Emma Farge
SCHIERS, Switzerland (Reuters) – As a scientist counts down “3-2-1”, five neon-colored orbs are lowered from a helicopter hovering overhead and released. The orbs barrel down the Swiss mountain, toppling beech and spruce trees as they pick up speed.
These “test rocks” – the heaviest weighing 3,200 kilograms (7,000 lbs)– are part of research aimed at understanding the growing risk of rockfalls around the world.
As climate change warms high-altitude mountain regions, boulders and rocks long frozen into place are being loosed and tumbling downslope.
“All of this is going in one direction: more unstable,” said Christian Huggel, a glaciologist at the University of Zurich who was not involved in the mountain experiments.
“It’s getting more dangerous, and especially more dangerous if you have massive investments in hazard-prone areas.”
The world was horrified in February, when a hunk of rock and ice broke from a Himalayan peak and swept down the mountain, killing more than 200 people and wiping out a hydroelectric dam in its path.
“Where a rock will land, how it will bounce, how high it will jump … we can answer all that,” said physicist Andrin Caviezel, one of the scientists tracing the cartoon-colored orbs down Schraubachtobel Mountain, near Switzerland’s eastern border with Liechtenstein.
Though the team’s test rocks started from the same spot, they each took a different path. The orange orb got trapped behind a tree stump. The pink one broke through a stone barrier to land, chipped and battered, in a stream bed.
“We took bets on whether they would get stuck or not,” Caviezel said, laughing. “I lost.”
Over three years, the team from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research has hurled their faux boulders down different mountains hundreds of times, gathering data for a computer simulation aimed at estimating a boulder’s landing spot to within a meter.
“But we will never answer the ‘when’,” Caviezel said. “That was never in our model.”
‘YOU CAN HEAR THE STONES FALLING’
One night in July 2018 made Valais canton resident Robert Sarbach feel helpless – and terrified. Under a heavy downpour, a chunk of Ritigraben rock glacier broke away, sending waves of debris down to the valley below.
“It was intense and emotional,” Sarbach recalled. “In the night you can see nothing. But you can hear the stones falling, and the water. And you smell the earth.”
Scientists do not have much data on rockfalls, partly because they often happen in remote regions where few people live. New technologies are helping to detect more of the bigger rockfalls, though.
Seismic sensors clued scientists into an otherwise unreported rockslide in Tibet last month, with an estimated 40 million cubic meters of debris – enough to fill about 16,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools – crashing down in remote Yarlung Tsangpo.
That kind of technology could help detect disasters in the Himalayas, where many of the countries have fewer resources for search and rescue, said David Petley, an Earth scientist at the University of Sheffield who maintains a blog https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog on landslides.
“In Switzerland, authorities would probably mobilise all resources to help you,” Petley said. “In Nepal, you are probably on your own.”
Still, for years evidence has suggested that landslides are already becoming more frequent. One 2012 study https://bit.ly/3x7jt6H by Huggel and colleagues published in Geology Today found a “strong increase” in the number of significant Alpine rock slope failures coinciding with warmer temperatures from the 1980s onward.
But permafrost covers only about 4% of Switzerland’s area, which limits the country’s rockfall exposure. In Alaska, where nearly 85% of the land contains some amount of permafrost, the danger may be higher.
One area of Alaska’s Saint Elias Mountains that typically sees six rock avalanches per year on average experienced a total of 41 during the unseasonably warm years of 2013-2016, according to a 2020 study https://bit.ly/3mYOLbc published in the journal Frontiers in Earth Science.
Of particular worry are the U.S. state’s coastal mountains, where a mass of rocks falling into the water can trigger big waves. The collapse of a mountain face at Taan Fjord in 2015 dumped a mass of rock into the water, unleashing a 193-meter (633-foot) tsunami in the Gulf of Alaska’s Icy Bay, according to the U.S. National Park Service.
No one was injured, but the event raised alarms about such events occurring in the more heavily trafficked areas of Prince William Sound, visited by cruise ships and other vessels.
“That is the worst-case scenario that haunts me a little bit,” said Ronald Daanen, a geohydrologist with the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.
The fact that climate change is also altering precipitation patterns can raise danger levels. Where frequent snowfall once replenished the ice caps, heavy rain might fall instead. That water can further eat into icy areas and trigger landslides.
On the lower slopes of Switzerland’s Meretschihorn mountain, one couple had to be evacuated five times last year. Fearing a large rainfall-induced debris surge, officials are negotiating to permanently remove them from the risky area.
“We are not prepared” around the world for this risk, said Marta Chiarle, a geologist at Italy’s National Research Council. “My impression is still that we are not taking this seriously.”
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Additional reporting by Yereth Rosen in Anchorage, Alaska, Agustin Geist in Buenos Aires; Editing by Katy Daigle and Lisa Shumaker)

Iran welcomes Iraqi mediation with Gulf states – ambassador

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FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters, before the beginning of a board of governors meeting, in Vienna, Austria, March 1, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo/File Photo April 20, 2021
DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran said on Tuesday it welcomes Iraqi mediation to help mend its ties with Gulf Arab states, following reports that Saudi and Iranian officials had held discussions in Iraq.
The remarks by the Iranian ambassador to Baghdad came a day after Iran’s foreign ministry said that Tehran always welcomed dialogue with its arch-rival Saudi Arabia, without confirming that talks had been held.
Iran and Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties in 2016 and have been engaged in several proxy wars in the region as they vie for influence.
“The Islamic Republic (of Iran) supports Baghdad’s mediation to bring Tehran closer to countries with which we have faced challenges or with which ties have cooled, and Iraqi officials have been notified of this,” Iraj Masjedi, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq​, was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.
Asked about any progress in talks, Masjedi said: “We have not yet reached clear results and significant progress. Let us wait for the work to go forward and we can see practical results.”
A senior Iranian official and two regional sources had told Reuters that Saudi and Iranian officials held discussions in Iraq in a bid to ease tensions as Washington works to revive a 2015 nuclear pact with Tehran and end the Yemen war.
Saudi authorities have not responded to a Reuters request for comment on the talks.
Iraqi national security adviser Qasim al-Araji met the Saudi envoy to Baghdad, Abdulaziz al-Shammari, on Tuesday and reviewed the political and security situation in the region and “ways to end the differences in a way that serves the interests of the region’s countries and peoples,” Iraq’s INA state news agency said.
Sunni power Saudi Arabia had opposed the international nuclear accord with Shi’ite Iran for not tackling Tehran’s missiles programme and regional behaviour.
It has called for a stronger deal this time around at talks in Vienna aimed at bringing the United States and Iran back into compliance with the pact, which then U.S. President Donald Trump quit in 2018. Tehran has breached several nuclear restrictions set by the deal after Trump reimposed sanctions.
President Joe Biden’s administration is also pressing for a ceasefire in Yemen, which is grappling with what the United Nations describes as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by William Maclean and Peter Graff)

Idriss Deby, Chad’s president and West’s ally against Islamists

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FILE PHOTO: Chad President Idriss Deby watches a rally in N’Djamena April 15, 2006. REUTERS/Claire Soares April 20, 2021
By Aaron Ross
(Reuters) – In 30 years as Chad’s president, Idriss Deby emerged as one of Africa’s wiliest political survivors, holding on to power through rebellions that reached as far as his palace gates and establishing himself as a key military ally of Western powers.
But it was in an apparent moment of triumph, just hours after he was declared the winner of an April 11 election, that the 68-year-old former army officer met his end, killed in battle fighting rebels in the desert north.
Deby had ruled for three decades by centralising power around his family and Zaghawa ethnic group.
Key to his hold on power was Chad’s formidable military, which he used to assure control at home and win friends abroad.
In 2013, he deployed 2,000 troops to northern Mali to participate in a French-led mission to push back al Qaeda-linked fighters, making Chad the only African country to quickly deploy an effective fighting force.
Earlier this year, Deby dispatched 1,200 troops to the tri-border region of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali where Islamist militants are expanding their influence, while farther south Chadian forces fought against Nigeria’s Boko Haram militants.
That won him the gratitude of former colonial master France, which has more than 5,000 troops across West Africa’s arid Sahel region to battle militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State and is looking for an eventual exit strategy.
“France lost a brave friend,” President Emmanuel Macron’s office said in statement. “It expresses its strong attachment to Chad’s stability and territorial integrity.”
French forces have intervened on several occasions to bail Deby out of danger, most recently in 2019 when French warplanes took out a column of rebels that was crossing the desert from Libya.
RISING CHALLENGES
Idriss Deby Itno was born on June 18, 1952, in northeastern Chad. He joined the army in the 1970s when the country was going through a long-running civil war and received military training in France, where he earned a pilot’s licence.
He returned to Chad in 1978 and threw his support behind the president, Hissène Habré, rising to become chief of the armed forces.
In 1990, he seized power, leading a rebel army swathed in desert headgear in a three-week offensive launched from neighbouring Sudan’s Darfur region.
Since then, Deby has fended off more than a half-dozen rebellions and attempted coups. His closest call came in 2008, when rebels from Darfur reached the capital N’Djamena and besieged the presidential palace before France intervened to help push them back.
WARTIME LEADER
Deby frequently cast himself as a wartime leader. He would often don military fatigues and pay visits to soldiers on the battlefront.
Diplomats and analysts said Deby had been grooming his adopted son, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno – named on Tuesday as interim leader – to eventually take over, but had given little indication he intended to step down anytime soon.
He pushed through a new constitution in 2018 that would have allowed him to stay in power until 2033 – even as it re-instated term limits. Last year, he took the title of “Field Marshal”.
But he faced mounting discontent at home over his management of Chad’s oil wealth, crackdowns on opponents and alleged corruption.
Low crude prices in recent years ate into government revenues, forcing cutbacks to services that led to public sector strikes.
Most of Deby’s main opponents boycotted the latest election, whose lead-up was marred by deadly clashes between opposition supporters and security forces.
(Reporting by Aaron Ross; Additional reporting by David Lewis; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Alex Richardson)

Ramadan helps Egyptian women bakers make ends meet

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Nour El-Sabah, 35, prepares traditional food with her family to sell during the holy month of Ramadan in Beni Suef, Egypt, April 10, 2021. REUTERS/Hayam Adel April 20, 2021
(Corrects age of Nour al-Sabah Mohammed to 58 (not 35) in first paragraph)
BENI SUEF, Egypt (Reuters) -For 58-year-old Nour al-Sabah Mohammed and her crew of bakers, business is brisk during the holy month of Ramadan.
The women travel by train to Cairo to sell their home-baked bread, piled high on metal trays, as well as eggs, vegetables, and cheese, produced by neighbours in a farming village near the city of Beni Suef, about 150 kilometres (90 miles) to the south.
During Ramadan, when fasting Muslims indulge in large family meals after sunset and stock up on supplies well in advance, the women double their usual output.
Mohammed’s daughter and daughter-in-law make the two-and-a-half hour train trip to Cairo twice a week to sell from spots on the pavement that they’ve occupied for the last five years.
They set off at 10 p.m., leaving their children in the village and returning the following evening once they’ve sold out.
Back in Beni Suef, they distribute the earnings to other producers, each of whom made about 30 Egyptian pounds ($1.91) from the recent sale of 15 kilograms (33 lbs) of bread, along with the other products.
“This way we work hard for our living and we make each other stronger,” said Noura Hassan, Mohammed’s daughter-in-law. “It’s also a good thing that these women are helping out their husbands and their children.” ($1 = 15.6975 Egyptian pounds)
(Reporting by Hayam Adel; Writing by Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Russia detains Navalny allies on eve of planned mass protests

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FILE PHOTO: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attends a court hearing in Moscow, Russia February 20, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo April 20, 2021
By Tom Balmforth and Anton Zverev
MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russian police detained allies of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on Tuesday and raided two of his regional offices, his supporters said, a day before they planned to stage mass protests over his ailing health.
Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s staunchest critic, declared a hunger strike on March 31 to demand access to better medical care. He was moved to a prison with a hospital on Sunday. His supporters say they fear for his life.
The 44-year-old opposition politician is now being held in a one-person cell in the hospital of a maximum security prison and has been given no treatment beyond a glucose drip, his lawyer, Vadim Kobzev, said after visiting him.
Nurses tried repeatedly to give him another drip on Monday but were unable to find a vein, he said.
“The ‘treatment procedures’ have ended at that. There’s been nothing else, don’t believe a word from any of them,” Kobzev tweeted.
The state prison service has said his condition is satisfactory and that he has agreed to receive “vitamin therapy”. Russian state media has accused Navalny of faking his medical problems to draw attention to his cause.
Navalny, in an Instagram post published by his lawyers, said he looked like a skeleton staggering around in his cell and that he was using a paper court document to swat mosquitoes.
“These wretched squeaking and snapping creatures will end a man faster than any hunger strike,” he joked.
A team of doctors that visited the prison where he is being held on Tuesday was again denied access after being kept waiting for hours, in “a clear threat to the life and health of Alexei”, they said in a Twitter post.
Navalny’s allies plan to take to the streets on Wednesday evening in Moscow and other cities across the country.
Authorities have said the demonstrations are illegal, setting the stage for a confrontation and the possibility of mass arrests. Police detained thousands of people at rallies earlier this year over Navalny’s jailing.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former oil tycoon who spent 10 years in custody after falling out with the Kremlin, publicly called on Russians to join the protests in a Twitter post.
MOUNTING PRESSURE
In Moscow, where Navalny’s allies want to protest on a square by the Kremlin where Putin is set to address the two chambers of parliament earlier on Wednesday, the mayor’s office said the protest would not be authorised because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
City authorities in Yekaterinburg in the Urals said the centre would be closed to traffic from early evening to rehearse for a military parade.
In Volgograd, an activist at Navalny’s headquarters was handed a 25-day jail term for calling on people to take to the streets on Wednesday, his supporters said.
Police conducted raids at Navalny’s regional offices in the cities of Krasnodar and Kurgan, according to OVD-Info, which monitors protests and activist detentions. Six Navalny activists in different regions were detained on various charges, it said.
Navalny’s activist network faces mounting pressure. On Friday, state prosecutors in Moscow said they wanted to label his regional groups and anti-corruption foundation “extremist”, a move that would essentially outlaw their activity.
In a statement on Tuesday, prosecutors said they wanted the groups banned and accused them of actively coordinating with unnamed foreign powers, allegations rejected as baseless by Navalny’s supporters.
The West has demanded Navalny’s release and U.S. President Joe Biden’s White House said on Monday that the Russian government would be held to account for his fate and that he must be treated humanely.
The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment on Navalny, saying it was a matter for the state prison service or the prosecutor’s office.
Navalny went on a hunger strike over what he said was the refusal of the prison holding him to provide him with proper treatment for leg and back pain. Russia says he has received normal medical care, as would any other convict.
(Reporting by Anton Zverev and Polina Nikolskaya; Writing by Tom Balmforth, editing by Mark Trevelyan, Peter Graff and Paul Simao)

Ukraine says Russia will soon have over 120,000 troops on its borders

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Detailed view of field hospital and troop tents during Russian military deployments at Opuk training area, near the Black Sea coast of Crimea April 15, 2021. Satellite image 2021 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS April 20, 2021
By Matthias Williams and Robin Emmott
KYIV/BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Russia will soon have more than 120,000 troops on Ukraine’s border, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Tuesday, calling for new Western economic sanctions to deter Moscow from “further escalation”.
Washington and NATO have been alarmed by the large build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine and in Crimea, the peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Western officials say the concentration of forces is now larger than during that annexation. The figure given by Kuleba is higher than Ukraine’s previous estimate of 80,000 Russian troops, of which 50,000 were new deployments.
“Russian troops continue to arrive in close proximity to our borders in the northeast, in the east and in the south. In about a week, they are expected to reach a combined force of over 120,000 troops,” Kuleba told an online news conference.
“This does not mean they will stop building up their forces at that number,” Kuleba said, warning of what he said was Moscow’s unpredictability although he said Ukraine did not want conflict with Russia.
“The cost of preventing Russia’s further escalation will always be lower than the cost of stopping it and mitigating its consequences … It is way more effective to clearly make Moscow understand that a new stage of aggression will have dire consequences for Russia, international isolation and painful economic sanctions.”
Kuleba also called for Moscow to re-commit to a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed forces have fought Ukrainian troops in a conflict that Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people since 2014.
Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame for a rise in casualties in the conflict in recent weeks. Kuleba said Russian snipers were killing Ukrainian soldiers to provoke Ukraine to counterattack.
Russia has said its troop build-up is a three-week snap military drill to test combat readiness in response to what it calls threatening behaviour from NATO. Moscow on Tuesday also accused the U.S. and NATO of “provocative activity” in the waters and airspace of the Black Sea.
Kuleba attended a video conference with EU foreign ministers and said he openly “called on colleagues to start considering a new round of sectoral sanctions against Russia”.
He said he did not feel EU ministers were ready for such a move but he told them that individual sanctions on Russian officials were insufficient.
(Editing by Alison Williams and Timothy Heritage)

Zimbabwe parliament votes to scrap presidential running mate rule

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FILE PHOTO: Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has his temperature taken as he arrives for the presentation of the 2021 National Budget at the parliament in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 26, 2020. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo April 20, 2021
HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s parliament approved legislation on Tuesday removing a clause in the constitution on electing vice presidents, a move which the opposition says is intended by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to concentrate power in the presidency.
The parliament also extended the tenure of senior judges, who will now be appointed by the president in consultation with the judicial service commission, instead of being subjected to public interviews as is the case now.
In 2013, Zimbabweans voted for a new constitution including a clause stipulating that the vice president should be elected together with the president, but the clause was suspended for 10 years in a compromise between the ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition.
ZANU-PF used its two-thirds majority in parliament on Tuesday to remove the provision, saying that electing vice presidents as well as the president would create multiple centres of power that could destabilise the government.
The removal of the clause means a president will continue to appoint his or her deputy and that in the event of the president dying in office or being incapacitated, the ruling party will convene to choose a successor.
Mnangagwa’s opponents say that having elected vice presidents would ensure a smooth succession and avoid political instability.
The lack of a clear succession plan in ZANU-PF led to a coup in 2017 by the military, which supported Mnangagwa and was opposed to a faction that had coalesced around the wife of the late former leader Robert Mugabe.
Under the changes affecting the judiciary, judges of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court will now retire at 75, instead of at 70, and only judges seeking to be appointed to the bench for the first time will undergo public interviews.
(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe, Editing by Timothy Hertage)

Mexico president touts ‘no risks’ as he receives AstraZeneca vaccine

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Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador receives a dose of the AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine during a vaccination at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico April 20, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Romero April 20, 2021
By Daina Beth Solomon
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador received the AstraZeneca shot against COVID-19 on Tuesday, urging trust in vaccines after several countries limited the use of AstraZeneca due to suspected links to rare blood clots.
Lopez Obrador, 67, has said the benefits of getting inoculated outweighed the risks of the low-cost shot, which is a core pillar of Mexico’s vaccination strategy.
Ahead of rolling up his sleeve for the shot at the end of his regular daily news conference, Lopez Obrador said he wanted to encourage all older adults to also get their shots to be protected from the coronavirus.
“We’re sure there is no risk, no danger, that there are no serious side effects,” he said, without specifically naming AstraZeneca.
He added that his government is tracking vaccine studies being carried out worldwide.
Lopez Obrador said he would sit for 20 minutes after receiving the jab, as recommended by a healthcare worker who administered the shot to the president on live television and social media.
“It didn’t hurt,” Lopez Obrador said. “Right now I’m feeling very good.”
Mexico’s health regulator said earlier this month that it did not plan to limit the use of the two-shot vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, but was looking into information from Britain’s vaccine advisory committee.
The committee has said an alternative to AstraZeneca should be given to people under 30 where possible.
Mexico began vaccinations late last year and has so far fully inoculated nearly 4 million people, most of whom are adults over 60, out of a total population of 126 million.
Officials plan to soon roll out vaccinations for adults over 50 and teachers, just as infection rates in 10 states start to trend higher following Easter week celebrations.
Mexico as of February had agreed to buy 77.4 million AstraZeneca doses, making the drugmaker its top vaccine provider. It will also receive AstraZeneca shots through the COVAX vaccine-sharing program, which will supply a total of 51.5 million doses from various manufacturers.
Additionally, Mexico has agreed to bottle AstraZeneca shots using vaccine material produced in Argentina, with an initial supply of 150 million doses to be distributed in Latin America.
A Mexican official said in March that the first doses were expected to be shipped the first week of May.
(Reporting by Daina Beth SolomonEditing by Alistair Bell)