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The disturbing tweets from GOPers (in Congress) who wouldn't accept Biden's win
By Frida Ghitis
Updated 10:46 AM ET, Sat March 6, 2021

What should happen if the public words and actions of members of Congress helped contribute to the attack on the US Capitol on January 6?

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif), has compiled pieces of the publicly available social media postings made by those representatives who voted to deny Americans their choice of president; they did this even after a riotous mob overran the Capitol just hours earlier. Her nearly 2,000-page report, which has been online for a week, is both a trove of documentation and a steaming electronic landfill of fetid lies and incitement.   <<< Click for details

Federal prosecutors have already charged more than 300 people in connection with the violent assault that sought to keep Congress from certifying Joe Biden's electoral victory. But it was Republican politicians who also helped fuel the fire promoting the Big Lie, the false claim that former President Donald Trump was the real winner; a lie so pernicious that it still infects the country, especially since Trump and his friends are still spreading it.

It represents an ongoing threat to the health of US democracy. The crisis of January 6 has not ended.

Too many officials who voted against certifying a valid democratic election had spent months playing Trump's dangerous game -- some preemptively, ominously casting doubt on the outcome well ahead of November 3, and goading Trump supporters to act even after the votes were in and the winner declared. Many are still at it. Now, Lofgren has cataloged much of what they wrote, and it resembles nothing so much as spent shells after a battle ... mixed with unexploded ordnance.

Click link at top for the rest of the story

Nicolas Sarkozy, former president of France, found guilty of corruption, gets prison time
Associated Press Published 9:04 a.m. ET March 1, 2021

The court found that Sarkozy and his co-defendants sealed a “pact of corruption,” based on “consistent and serious evidence”.

The court said the facts were “particularly serious” given that they were committed by a former president who used his status to help a magistrate who had served his personal interest. In addition, as a lawyer by training, he was “perfectly informed” about committing an illegal action, the court said.

Sarkozy had firmly denied all the allegations against him during the 10-day trial that took place at the end of last year.

The corruption trial focused on phone conversations that took place in February 2014.

At the time, investigative judges had launched an inquiry into the financing of the 2007 presidential campaign. During the investigation they incidentally discovered that Sarkozy and Herzog were communicating via secret mobile phones registered to the alias “Paul Bismuth.”

Conversations wiretapped on these phones led prosecutors to suspect Sarkozy and Herzog of promising Azibert a job in Monaco in exchange for leaking information about another legal case, known by the name of France’s richest woman, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

In one of these phone calls with Herzog, Sarkozy said of Azibert : “I’ll make him move up ... I’ll help him.”

Click link at top for the rest of the story...

D John Trumpf is fortunate he lives in America - A nation whose judicial outcomes are influenced by party affiliations, the old-boy-network, political cronyism and/or nepotism and good old greenbacks...

The Georgia counties turning the state blue are growing. And quickly.
Feb. 28, 2021, 8:32 AM EST
By Dante Chinni

WASHINGTON — Last week, David Perdue announced he would not run to recapture his Senate seat in Georgia for the Republicans. Many in the political class wondered why a strong candidate with deep family ties and a history as an incumbent would take a pass at a chance to run again.

The answer might lie in broader political changes in Georgia itself.

While Joe Biden's presidential win in the state and the Senate victories of Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff were heralded as surprises in the last election cycle, a closer look at recent election data in the state shows they might be breakthroughs to a new norm, rather than simple 2020 shockers.

Let's start by looking at the overall shift in the state's presidential vote over the past 12 years.

In 2008, Barrack Obama captured 52.8 percent of the national popular vote. This past November President Joe Biden won a smaller percentage of the national popular vote, 51.2 percent, about 1.6 points less.

But compare those two elections in Georgia and the story is different. Biden did about 2.5 points better than Obama in the state, getting nearly 50 percent of the vote, while Obama didn't quite get to 47 percent in 2008.

At the time, that Obama number seemed to be something of an outlier — perhaps a high-water mark for a Democrat propelled by an increase in the African-American vote. But even in 2016, when Hillary Clinton was the Democratic nominee, she received more than 45 percent of the vote in the state. That number was higher than the 43 percent and 41 percent that Democratic nominees Al Gore and John Kerry won in the state respectively in 2000 and 2004.

The reality is that the vote in Georgia has moved considerably in the last dozen years, and behind that move is a massive set of swings to the Democrats around Atlanta. In fact, comparing 2008 to 2020, seven of the 10 counties that swung most heavily to the Democrats in the entire country were in metro Atlanta.

In each of those counties — Cobb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale — Biden did at least 11 points better in 2020 than Obama did in 2008.

To be clear, Biden didn’t win all of those counties in 2020. He won five of them by large amounts, but Forsyth and Fayette still solidly voted for Donald Trump in November. The problem for Trump, and possibly for Republicans going forward, were the margins. Some of those counties “flipped” Democratic — but, just as important, where Trump lost, he lost by more than McCain did in 2008. Where he won, he won by less.

Those seven counties around Atlanta hold challenges for the GOP. They are very diverse, most have high percentages of college graduates and, perhaps most important, all of them are growing, and quickly.

Not only are all these seven counties growing faster than the nation as a whole since 2010, but five of them are growing faster than Georgia in that time, and the state is adding people at a very high rate. In other words, the counties fueling the state’s political changes are also driving much of its population growth.

Add it all up and Georgia presents a troubling picture for the GOP right now. Political winds can quickly change, of course, but there are reasons to believe the story of the state has legs beyond this year and beyond its borders.

The path the Republican Party has taken in recent years, pushed in part by Donald Trump, seems to have increased the Republicans odds in places in the Industrial Midwest, such as Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. But in states with growing suburban populations, the story may be reversed.

Right now, Georgia looks a bit like Virginia did 12 years ago, a southern state being changed by a big, diversifying, educated metropolitan center. When Obama won Virginia in 2008, it was the sign of a deeper, long-term change afoot there. A similar path in Georgia would have enormous impacts on the electoral map and the Senate.

Roughly 40% of the USA’s coronavirus deaths could have been prevented, new study says
Ken Alltucker USA TODAY

About 40% of the nation’s coronavirus deaths could have been prevented if the United States’ average death rate matched other industrialized nations, a new Lancet Commission report has found.

While the Lancet Commission on Public Policy and Health in the Trump Era faulted former President Donald Trump’s “inept and insufficient” response to COVID-19, its report said roots of the nation’s poor health outcomes are much deeper.

Commission co-chairs Dr. Steffie Woolhandler and Dr. David Himmelstein, professors at the City University of New York's Hunter College and longtime advocates for a single-payer health system such as "Medicare for All," said the report, published Thursday, underscores decades of health, economic and social policies that have accelerated the nation’s disparities.

The report found U.S. life expectancy began trailing other industrialized nations four decades ago. In 2018, two years before the pandemic, the report said 461,000 fewer Americans would have died if U.S. mortality rates matched other Group of Seven nations: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom. 

“The overriding thing that we need to do in our country is to decrease the huge and widening inequalities that have emerged in our nation,” Himmelstein said.

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected people of color, with the death rates among Blacks increasing 50% compared with whites. Coronavirus deaths for people of color are 1.2 to 3.6 times higher than for whites; the disparities were especially high among middle-aged adults, possibly a sign of crowded living conditions and jobs that did not allow people to safely distance, the report said.

U.S. President Donald Trump removes his mask upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump spent three days hospitalized for coronavirus.
Public health measures such as mask wearing and physical distancing could have saved lives, Woolhandler said, but Trump failed to create a national response, instead leaving crucial decisions to states.

His actions "caused a lot of citizens to fail to take it seriously and interfered with the kind of coordinated response they have been able to use in a lot of countries that are more successful than the U.S. in controlling the epidemic,"  Woolhandler said.

In addition to response to the pandemic, the report said Trump weakened the Affordable Care Act, and 2.3 million more Americans became uninsured, a figure that does not include those who lost employer-provided coverage during the pandemic.

'The worst possible time':HHS gives cold shoulder to victims of common vaccine injury

The commission took aim at Republicans and Democrats alike. The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 marked the end of the New Deal and civil rights era in favor of "neoliberal policies" that eroded social programs, the report said. The report assailed Democrat Bill Clinton's support for tightening welfare eligibility and signing a federal crime bill that led to "mass incarceration," disproportionately harming Latinos and Black men.

Private insurers’ charged “exorbitant overhead and profits” when extending government-subsidized coverage to lower- and middle-income Americans under former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, the report said.

The commission suggested a long list of executive orders and legislative actions to reverse trends negatively affecting the health of Americans. Among the fixes: Adopt a single-payer health system such as Medicare for All, championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders during his run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

“We’re still in a very deep hole. We have 30 million uninsured people. We have tens of millions of more who are underinsured,” Woolhandler said. “The thing that would be best for the health of the population would be Medicare for All.”

The commission’s wish list goes beyond medical care to include progressives ideals such as the Green New Deal, criminal justice reform, repealing Trump’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing spending on social programs to the levels of six other industrialized nations.

Woolhandler and Himmelstein are co-founders of Physicians for a National Health Program, which advocates for a single-payer health system.

Biden has rejected Medicare for All and instead wants to bolster the Affordable Care Act with more lucrative subsidies for low- and middle-income earners. House Democrats unveiled a bill this week that would boost tax-credit subsidies for Americans who purchase marketplace plans. Biden already signed an executive order to reopen enrollment on from Feb. 15 through May 15.

In 2019, the Urban Institute estimated that adopting a single-payer system such as Medicare for All would increase federal spending by $34 trillion over 10 years. The think tank has not updated the study, but Urban Institute Health Policy Center fellow and economist Linda Blumberg said health care spending increases each year.

Such an ambitious overhaul also would likely need to be gradual to minimize disruption to hospitals, doctors and patients. "If you were going to do it responsibly and you were going to phase it in over a period of time, that actually makes it cost more money," Blumberg said.

The commission said a single-payer system would save $626 billion each year on medical billing and administrative costs. While the report did not say how much Medicare for All would cost, it cited a study that found 20 of 22 models predicted total health spending would be less under a single-payer system.

In December, the Congressional Budget Office reported that a single-payer plan would increase federal spending from $1.5 to $3 trillion in 2030 over projected levels. However, total public and private health-care spending could range from savings of $700 billion to an increase cost of $300 billion. The more optimistic scenario counts on administrative savings and health providers agreeing to lower payments.

"A Medicare for All program would substantially increase economic equality," Himmelstein said. "Poor people spend a much larger share of their incomes for their health care even though they get much less for their health care."

Oath Keepers Plotting Before Capitol Riot Awaited ‘Direction’ From Trump, Prosecutors Say

By Alan Feuer
Feb. 11, 2021

Chilling new details emerged on Thursday about the plot by the Oath Keepers militia group to attack the Capitol as prosecutors said that members discussed a brazen plan to ferryheavy weaponsin a boat across the Potomac River into Washington and began training sessionsfor urban warfare, riot control and rescue operationswell before Election Day.

The new accounts about the Oath Keepers’ role in the Capitol assault came on the third day of former President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial and included allegations that a member of the militia group was “awaiting direction” from Mr. Trump about how to handle the results of the vote in the days that followed the election. “POTUS has the right to activate units too,” the Oath Keepers member, Jessica M. Watkins, wrote in a text message to an associate on Nov. 9, according to court papers. “If Trump asks me to come, I will.”

The Justice Department has brought charges against more than 200 people in the attack on the Capitol last month, but the case against Ms. Watkins and her two co-defendants, Thomas E. Caldwell and Donovan Crowl, is among the most serious to have emerged from the vast investigation. Prosecutors say that the three Oath Keepers, who are facing conspiracy charges, appear to have worked with other far-right extremist groups and “began plotting to undo” the results of the election only days after it occurred.

Shortly after the three militia members were arrested last month, prosecutors said that they were some of the first rioters to have planned their part in the attack on the Capitol instead of merely storming the building spontaneously. Federal agents said that Mr. Caldwell, a 66-year-old former Navy officer, had advised his fellow militia members to stay at a particular Comfort Inn in the Washington suburbs, noting that it offered a good base to “hunt at night” — an apparent reference to chasing left-wing activists. Ms. Watkins, a 38-year-old bar owner from Ohio, apparently rented a room at the hotel under an assumed name, the agents said.

In a pair of court papers filed on Thursday, prosecutors offered further evidence that the three Oath Keepers planned the attack, citing text messages reaching back to November. In one message from Nov. 16, prosecutors say, Mr. Crowl told Mr. Caldwell, “War is on the horizon.” One week later, court papers say, Mr. Caldwell wrote Ms. Watkins saying he was “worried about the future of our country,” adding, “I believe we will have to get violent to stop this.”

Similar themes were also being struck around the same time by the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, who told the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on Nov. 10 that he had men stationed outside Washington prepared to act at Mr. Trump’s command. At a rally in the city on Dec. 12, Mr. Rhodes called on Mr. Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, suggesting that a failure to do so would result in a “much more bloody war.”

Both court papers filed on Thursday referred to Mr. Rhodes’s role in stoking the rampage, suggesting that he too may be a focus of the federal investigation.

The Oath Keepers, who largely draw their membership from former law enforcement and military personnel, appear to have coordinated before the Capitol attack with other extremist groups, prosecutors say. According to the court papers, Mr. Caldwell sent a text to an associate just before Christmas saying he was “expecting a big turn out of the Proud Boys,” the far-right nationalist organization,  in Washington on Jan. 6. More than a dozen members of the Proud Boys have been charged in connection with the riot at the Capitol, including a group from Kansas City charged on Thursday with breaching the building.

Five separate major cases have been filed against members of the Proud Boys in the past few weeks, but investigators are working toward putting together an overarching case that shows how several members of the group worked together in the days and weeks before the riot to plan to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College vote, according to an official familiar with the investigation. That case will also lay out how the Proud Boys arranged travel and funding for the trip to Washington, the official said.

Click the link at the top for the rest of the story

Politics / Trump Was Sicker Than Acknowledged With Covid-19
« on: February 12, 2021, 05:19:34 PM »
Trump Was Sicker Than Acknowledged With Covid-19
By Noah Weiland, Maggie Haberman, Mark Ma--etti and Annie Karni
Published Feb. 11, 2021
Updated Feb. 12, 2021, 5:44 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON — President Donald J. Trump was sicker with Covid-19 in October than publicly acknowledged at the time, with extremely depressed blood oxygen levels at one point and a lung problem associated with pneumonia caused by the coronavirus, according to four people familiar with his condition.

His prognosis became so worrisome before he was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that officials believed he would need to be put on a ventilator, two of the people familiar with his condition said.

The people familiar with Mr. Trump’s health said he was found to have lung infiltrates, which occur when the lungs are inflamed and contain substances such as fluid or bacteria. Their presence, especially when a patient is exhibiting other symptoms, can be a sign of an acute case of the disease. They can be easily spotted on an X-ray or scan, when parts of the lungs appear opaque, or white.

Mr. Trump’s blood oxygen level alone was cause for extreme concern, dipping into the 80s, according to the people familiar with his evaluation. The disease is considered severe when the blood oxygen level falls to the low 90s.

It has been previously reported that Mr. Trump had trouble breathing and a fever on Oct. 2, the day he was taken to the hospital, and the types of treatment he received indicated that his condition was serious. But the new details about his condition and about the effort inside the White House to get him special access to an unapproved drug to fight the virus help to flesh out one of the most dire episodes of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

The new revelations about Mr. Trump’s struggle with the virus also underscore the limited and sometimes misleading nature of the information disclosed at the time about his condition.

The former president resisted being taken from the White House to Walter Reed, relenting when aides told him that he could walk out on his own, or risk waiting until the U.S. Secret Service was forced to carry him out if he got sicker, two people familiar with the events said.

While Mr. Trump was hospitalized at Walter Reed, his medical team sought to downplay the severity of the situation, saying that he was on an upswing. At 74 and overweight, he was at risk for severe disease, and was prescribed an aggressive course of treatments. He left the hospital after three days in which he at one point staged a brief ride in his armored sport-utility vehicle to wave at the crowd of supporters outside the building.

A person close to the former president denied that he had been seriously ill, echoing comments Mr. Trump himself made after he was sick.

Click link at the top for the rest of the truth

Disproportionate number of current and former military personnel arrested in Capitol attack, CNN analysis shows
By Sara Sidner, Anna-Maja Rappard and Marshall Cohen, CNN

Updated 8:58 AM ET, Mon February 1, 2021

Ormond Beach, Florida (CNN)Active military personnel and veterans are over-represented among the first 150 people to be arrested and have records released for federal offenses in the violence and insurrection at the US Capitol.

Analysis by CNN of Pentagon records and court proceedings show 21 of the 150, or 14%, are current or former members of the US military. That is more than double the proportion of servicemen and women and veterans in the adult US population, calculated from Census Bureau and Department of Defense statistics. In 2018, there were 1.3 million active-duty members of the services and 18 million veterans. Together, they comprised just 5.9% of the overall 327 million US population at the end of 2018.

Two of those arrested are in the Army, and two are National Guardsmen. Of the 17 veterans, six are former Army, eight are former Marines, two served in the Navy, and one was in the Air Force. Their service records show at least one served in Vietnam; others were deployed in the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq. At least one earned a Purple Heart. They were discharged with a variety of ranks and included officers -- a captain and a lieutenant colonel.

And on January 6, the active and former military personnel are accused of declaring a war at home -- attacking the Constitution they once swore to defend, some even equipped with military gear and weapons.

The world watched as hundreds of rioters stormed the US Capitol in what became a deadly insurrection. Five people died due to the events at the Capitol that day, including a police officer hit in the head with a fire extinguisher and a woman trampled to death.
Analysis of the charges faced by some of the veterans show prosecutors say they led the violence and lawlessness that disrupted the certification of President Joe Biden's election win.

[color=red,left]There are also alleged links between some of the veterans and extremist groups.[/color]

Veterans and Proud Boys

CNN tracked down 9 of the accused veterans.

The most well-known of those arrested so far is Joseph Randall Biggs. The 37-year-old is an Army combat veteran. He is also one of the leaders of the far-right Proud Boys group that is known for violent clashes with anti-fascists or Antifa during protests from Portland, Oregon, to Washington, DC.  

Biggs became an online personality of the far-right, spouting bombastic and sometimes violent rhetoric toward women and Antifa. 
As far back as 2012, there were a plethora of tweets mentioning sexual violence on his @RamboBiggs account, which has been archived by the Media Matters For America group.

One said: "Every Kiss begins with ... Roofies." -- a reference to Rohypnol, the "date rape drug."

Biggs tweeted a rallying cry of "DEATH TO ANTIFA" and called on others to get guns and ammunition to take to a rally in Portland. His account was suspended by Twitter in 2019 for repeatedly violating the terms of service.

One of his self-titled online shows was still being featured on a right-wing subscription website a week after his arrest. It began with computer-generated explosions, and a tank firing out the letters B-I-G-G-S.  

On January 6, Biggs is accused of going far beyond rhetoric.  

In video CNN has reviewed from January 6, Biggs is seen commanding his Proud Boy troops and guiding them to the Capitol steps.
Federal prosecutors say he "did aid, abet, counsel, command, induce, or procure others to unlawfully enter the U.S. Capitol by means of destruction of federal property."

He is charged with unlawful entry, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and obstructing an official proceeding of Congress.
In the criminal complaint, federal agents say Biggs was among the first to enter the Capitol during the mob attack.

One of Biggs' Proud Boys, Dominic Pezzola, who has been charged with several crimes including conspiracy, is shown on video smashing a window of the Capitol with a plastic shield, which several people climb through before a door was opened.

Pezzola's lawyer said he was "denied contact" with his jailed client, which, he said, undercut his ability to mount a "meaningful legal defense."

"Hey Biggs, what do you gotta say," a voice off camera says in a video reviewed by the FBI. "This is awesome." Biggs replies on camera before walking into the Capitol building within 20 seconds of the door opening, the FBI agent alleged in court documents.

CNN visited Biggs' home in Ormond Beach, Florida, just north of the Daytona International Speedway, to hear what he had to say now that he is out on bail and on house arrest.

He peeked through a curtain on his door when we identified ourselves, but stayed mostly hidden.  

When asked if he was an insurrectionist, Biggs replied, "Oh God no."

But as we pressed for why he was inside the Capitol building, he threatened to call police.

"If you don't get the f**k out of here, I'm calling the police right now," he said, pushing his phone around the curtain to take video.

Click link at the top for the rest of the story...

Politics / FBI: Pipe bombs at RNC, DNC were planted night before riot
« on: January 29, 2021, 01:35:47 PM »
FBI: Pipe bombs at RNC, DNC were planted night before riot

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two pipe bombs left at the offices of the Republican and Democratic national committees, discovered just before thousands of pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, were actually placed the night before, federal officials said Friday.

The FBI said the investigation had revealed new information, including that the explosive devices were placed outside the two buildings between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 5, the night before the riot. The devices were not located by law enforcement until the next day.

It is not clear whether that means the pipe bombs were unrelated to the next day’s riot or were part of the riot planning. Both buildings are within a few blocks of the Capitol.

The incident has been particularly concerning for law enforcement as officials step up security preparations ahead of the Senate’s impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. For weeks, investigators have been worried about the potential for attacks on soft targets in the nation’s capital.

U.S. Capitol Police and agents from the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were called to the Republican National Committee’s office around 12:45 p.m. on Jan. 6. About 30 minutes later, as the agents and bomb technicians were still investigating at the RNC, another call came in for a second, similar explosive device found at the Democratic National Committee headquarters nearby.

The two explosive devices were very similar, and both were about a foot long with end caps and wiring that appeared to be attached to a timer, two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter have told The Associated Press. Investigators are still examining the devices and their components to determine the specific compounds inside the pipe bombs, but they both appeared to contain an unknown powder and some metal, the officials said.

The officials could not discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The FBI released additional photos of the explosive devices on Friday, including a photograph that showed one of the devices placed underneath a bush. Officials have also increased the reward in the case to $100,000.

Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s office in Washington, said earlier this week that locating the person who planted the pipe bombs was a top priority for federal agents, though officials have only released grainy surveillance camera images of a potential suspect.

On Friday, the FBI said the person wore a gray hooded sweatshirt, a face mask and Nike Air Max Speed Turf sneakers in yellow, black and gray, and had been carrying a backpack.

Hope And Skepticism As Biden Promises To Address Environmental Racism

Devon Hall has lived most of his nearly seven decades in Duplin County, N.C. The land is flat and green there in the southeastern part of the state, about an hour's drive from the coast. It's lovely unless you live downwind of one of the county's many industrial hog farms.

"It can get really bad," says Hall, the co-founder of the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help in Duplin County.

There are about two million hogs in the county, outnumbering residents by 29 to 1, and they produce a lot of waste. Because farmers spray the pig waste on fields as fertilizer, microscopic pieces of feces pollute the air and water. For decades, residents have complained that just breathing can make your eyes water and your throat itch, cause nausea and dizziness.

Hall worked with researchers in the early 2000s to study the health effects of farm pollution. Studies found that families living near hog farms have higher rates of infant mortality, kidney disease and respiratory illness. And in Duplin County, it is people of color who are disproportionately harmed.

"If you look at the maps," Hall says, "and you begin to look at where these facilities are located, it's pretty much in communities of color."

Across the country, disproportionate exposure to pollution threatens the health of people of color, from Gulf Coast towns in the shadow of petrochemical plants to Indigenous communities in the West that are surrounded by oil and gas operations. Generations of systemic racism routinely put factories, refineries, landfills and factory farms in Black, brown and poor communities, exposing their residents to far greater health risks from pollution than those in whiter, more affluent places.

The federal government has known of environmental injustice for decades. Presidents have promised to address it. But a legacy of weak laws and spotty enforcement has left Black, brown and poor communities mired in pollution and health hazards.

The federal government, for instance, has repeatedly acknowledged that hog farm pollution is dangerous, and that people of color get hit the hardest. But after studies and community meetings, lawsuits and federal programs meant to address environmental racism, Hall is as frustrated with the government as he is with the polluting companies.

"The community has been crying out for years, you know, petitioning EPA," he says, and yet the Environmental Protection Agency has not finalized a method to estimate air pollution from hog farms, let alone cracked down on that pollution. "Nothing changes," Hall says. "It's frustrating."

The Biden administration has pledged an aggressive, broad-based approach to achieving environmental justice. Among a raft of executive actions on the climate Biden signed on Wednesday, he created a new White House council on environmental justice, and pledged that 40% of the benefits from federal investments in clean energy and clean water would go to communities that bear disproportionate pollution.

There are other indications of the administration's willingness to address the environmental effects of systemic racism. Biden's nominee to run the EPA, Michael Regan, would be the first Black man to lead the agency, and top positions in other agencies and within the White House are being filled by people who have spent their careers working on equitable climate and environment policies.

But academics, former federal officials and activists warn that the administration will need to rebuild the government's relationship with people living in communities where little has changed over the decades, and where the Trump administration's regulatory rollbacks, the pandemic and escalating climate-driven disasters have led to rising death tolls.

"Trust has been broken," says Mustafa Santiago Ali, who ran the Office of Environmental Justice at the Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama. "For communities, especially vulnerable communities, there have been so many broken promises over the years."

Click Link at the Top for the Rest of the Story...

Federal Judges Are Retiring Now That Joe Biden Will Pick Their Replacements

For at least one federal judge, it appeared that President Joe Biden couldn’t be sworn in fast enough.

“It has been my honor to serve,” U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts wrote to Biden on Inauguration Day, roughly 90 minutes after he took office, announcing her plans to step down. “With respect, I congratulate you on your election as the 46th President of the United States, and Kamala Harris on her election as Vice President.”

Roberts, who has been a judge on the Eastern District Court of Michigan since 1998, announced she would be taking senior status — or begin semi-retirement — on Feb. 24. That opens up a new court vacancy for Biden to fill.

Here’s a copy of Roberts’ letter

Roberts is one of five federal judges with lifetime appointments who have announced plans to retire or semi-retire since last Wednesday, the day Donald Trump left the White House, according to data provided by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. That’s after eight judges had already announced their plans to step down since Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election.

The retirements keep coming. On Tuesday, two more U.S. district judges announced their plans to take senior status, though their names aren’t yet listed on the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts’ website. And there are likely others in the queue with similar plans.

While judges may, of course, have personal reasons for retiring or semi-retiring at the beginning of Biden’s presidency, it’s safe to say, for the most part, that the timing of these judges’ departures isn’t coincidental: They wanted Biden to pick their replacements, not Trump.

“Congratulations on becoming our new president,” U.S. District Judge William Alsup wrote to Biden a day after he was inaugurated. “I feel it is time now for me to ‘go senior.’”

Copy of Alsups Letter

In total, eight of these retiring judges were appointed by President Bill Clinton, and two were appointed by President Barack Obama; it would make sense that they’d want a Democratic president to fill their vacancies. But five of these judges were appointed by President George W. Bush.

That’s not to say that a federal judge will only retire when the current president is of the same party as the president who nominated them. But it can be a motivating factor, particularly for judges who served while Trump was in office.

“I think this is less of a custom than for a Supreme Court nominee, where justices really do try to time their departures so the opposite party doesn’t get to replace them,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor and expert on judicial nominations.

“Still, I think Trump skews perspective here,” he continued. “I think that Trump was so nasty to federal judges and so counter to the rule of law that he repelled many federal judges. I think for strong Democrats in particular, I could see judges saying, ‘No, I’m not going to let him replace me.’”

Biden hasn’t nominated any judges yet, but his team wrote to Democratic senators last month asking them to provide judicial nominee recommendations for existing district court vacancies “as soon as possible,” and no later than Jan. 19.

As of Wednesday, Biden has 46 district court vacancies and three appeals court vacancies to fill ― numbers that will only continue to grow.

The president has some work to do if he wants to counter the effect that Trump had on the nation’s courts. Thanks in large part to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s laser focus on confirming judges, Trump put more than 230 people into lifetime judgeships. That’s far more than Obama (175), Bush (206) and Clinton (204) confirmed in their first terms.

Many of Trump’s judges fit a particular mold, too: They are white, male, right-wing ideologues. Biden has vowed to infuse far more diversity into the courts, including putting a Black woman on the Supreme Court.

What Parler Saw During the Attack on the Capitol
by Lena V. Groeger, Jeff Kao, Al Shaw, Moiz Syed and Maya Eliahou, January 17, 2021

As supporters of President Donald Trump took part in a violent riot at the Capitol, users of the social media service Parler posted videos of themselves and others joining the fray.

ProPublica reviewed thousands of videos uploaded publicly to the service that were archived by a programmer before Parler was taken offline by its web host.

A collection of more than 500 videos that ProPublica determined were taken during the events of Jan. 6 and were relevant and newsworthy.

Taken together, they provide one of the most comprehensive records of a dark event in American history through the eyes of those who took part...

Click link at top to see the more than 500 videos on a chronological time line as the "clown coup" attempt played out...

'The President threw us under the bus': Trump's intelligence chief blames him for failing to call up the National Guard

- Christopher Miller, Trump's Secretary of Defense, has spoken to Vanity Fair
- In a remarkably candid interview he told how he 'cannot wait' to quit his job
- He said that Trump on January 5 said, they needed 10,000 troops in DC
- Trump then failed to order the forces, despite Miller telling him it was necessary
- Miller said: 'You know, someone's going to have to ask for it'
- Miller pushed back against accusations that the Pentagon was slow to respond
- Head of the Defense Intelligence Agency Ezra Cohen attacked Trump for the riot
- Cohen said that the president 'threw us under the bus' with his stirring the mob

Click Link At Top For The Entire Story

Biden administration fires the heads of three US-funded international broadcasters for 'turning stations into pro-Trump propaganda machines'

- The heads of three federally-funded international broadcasters have been abruptly fired
- The Biden administration completed a house-cleaning of Trump-appointed officials at the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM)
- The directors of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks were dismissed after a month in their roles
- Trump's pick of Michael Pack as USAGM chief saw Democrats accusing him of trying to turn VOA and sister networks into pro-Trump propaganda machines
- Pack resigned minutes after President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday

Click link at top for the rest of the story

Breonna Taylor grand jurors file petition to impeach Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron
Joe Sonka Louisville Courier Journal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Three grand jurors in the Breonna Taylor case filed a petition with the state House of Representatives Friday, objecting to the conduct of Attorney General Daniel Cameron and calling for his impeachment.

A press release indicated the attorney for three of the grand jurors in the Taylor case signed onto the petition on their behalf in order to protect their identities.

The petition alleges Cameron breached public trust and failed to comply with his duties by misrepresenting the findings of the grand jury in the Taylor case.

“The Grand Jurors did not choose this battle,” stated Kevin Glogower, the attorney for the three grand jurors. “This battle chose them.

These are randomly selected citizens who were compelled to sit on a grand jury and were terribly misused by the most powerful law enforcement official in Kentucky. It is truly a testament to the Kentucky Constitution that they are able to be here today and to expose injustice and demand public accountability. I am honored and humbled to serve them.”

Spokespersons for Cameron did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the petition.

Glogower told The Courier Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, he wasn’t sure a supermajority of Republican legislators in Frankfort would give the case the deference it deserves, but to continue to talk about the case, review how it was handled and hold people accountable is important.

Cameron was special prosecutor in the Taylor case, investigating her fatal shooting by Louisville police officers entering her house on a search warrant in March. The grand jury indicted one of the three officers involved, for firing bullets into the apartment of Taylor's neighbor.

In the petition and verified affidavit submitted to the House, the petitioners state that at his Sept. 23 press conference announcing the grand jury decision,
Cameron "said his office presented 'all of the information' and walked the Grand Jury through 'every homicide offense' before the Grand Jury came to its conclusion."

Click Link At Top For The Rest Of The Story...

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