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    Oath Keepers founder accused of ‘armed rebellion’ on January 6 at trial

    Oath Keepers founder accused of ‘armed rebellion’ on January 6 at trialStewart Rhodes and four associates face the rare civil war-era charge of seditious conspiracy for attacking the US Capitol The founder of the Oath Keepers extremist group and four associates planned an “armed rebellion” to keep Donald Trump in power after he lost the election, a federal prosecutor contended on Monday as the most serious case yet went to trial involving the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021.Stewart Rhodes and his band of far-right militants were prepared to go to war to stop Joe Biden from becoming president, assistant US attorney Jeffrey Nestler told jurors.The group celebrated the Capitol attack as a battle they had won and continued their plot even after Biden’s November 2020 electoral victory was certified by Congress in the early hours of 7 January, Nestler alleged.Capitol attack officer Fanone hits out at ‘weasel’ McCarthy in startling interviewRead more“Their goal was to stop, by whatever means necessary, the lawful transfer of presidential power, including by taking up arms against the United States government,” the prosecutor said during his opening statement. “They concocted a plan for armed rebellion to shatter a bedrock of American democracy.”Rhodes and the four others are the first January 6 defendants to stand trial on the charge of seditious conspiracy, a rare civil war-era charge that calls for up to 20 years behind bars, which they deny. The stakes are high for the US Department of Justice (DoJ), which last secured a seditious conspiracy conviction at trial nearly 30 years ago.Rhodes’ attorney painted a far different picture, describing the Oath Keepers as a “peacekeeping” force. He accused prosecutors of building their case on cherry-picked evidence from messages and videos and told jurors that the “true picture” would show that the Oath Keepers had merely been preparing for presidential orders they expected from Trump but never came.“Stewart Rhodes meant no harm to the Capitol that day. Stewart Rhodes did not have any violent intent that day,” Rhodes’ attorney, Phillip Linder, said. “The story the government is trying to tell you today is completely wrong.”On trial with Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, are Kelly Meggs, leader of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers, Kenneth Harrelson, another Florida member of the group, Thomas Caldwell, a retired US navy intelligence officer from Virginia, and Jessica Watkins, who led an Ohio militia group. They face several other charges as well.About 900 people have been charged and hundreds convicted in the Capitol attack. Rioters stormed police barriers, fought with officers, smashed windows and temporarily halted the certification of Biden’s electoral victory.Prosecutors told jurors the insurrection was no spontaneous outpouring of election-fueled rage but part of a detailed, drawn-out plot to stop Biden from entering the White House.Rhodes began plotting to overturn Biden’s victory right after the election, Nestler said.He told his followers during the planning stage that “it will be torches and pitchforks time if they (Congress) don’t do the right thing”, according to an encrypted Signal message he sent to his followers that was shown to the jury by prosecutors.During a December media interview, Rhodes called senators “traitors” and warned that the Oath Keepers would have to “overthrow, abort or abolish Congress”.Before coming to Washington, they set up “quick reaction force” teams with “weapons of war” stashed at a Virginia hotel, the prosecutor said.As Oath Keepers stormed the Capitol, Rhodes stayed outside, like “a general surveying his troops on a battlefield”, Nestler said. After the attack, the Oath Keepers were “elated”, Nestler said.“These defendants were fighting a war and they won a battle on January 6 … but they planned to continue waging that war to stop the transfer of power prior to Inauguration Day. Thankfully their plans were foiled,” Nestler said.Defense attorneys say the Oath Keepers came to Washington only to provide security at events for figures such as Trump ally Roger Stone before the president’s big outdoor rally behind the White House. Rhodes has said there was no plan to attack the Capitol and that the members who did acted on their own.Rhodes’ lawyer told jurors that his client will take the stand to argue that he believed Trump was going to invoke the Insurrection Act and call up a militia. TopicsUS Capitol attackDonald TrumpJoe BidenUS politicsLaw (US)newsReuse this content More

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    Biden pledges support to hurricane-hit Puerto Rico: ‘All of America is with you’ – as it happened

    That’s it for the US politics blog today! Here’s a rundown of everything that happened:
    Biden spoke in Ponce, Puerto Rico this afternoon, pledging future support for the island as it still deals with the impact of Hurricane Fiona. Biden also announced $60mn in federal funding that will come from the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed last year.
    The White House did not confirm if Biden will be meeting with Florida governor Ron DeSantis, given the frayed relationship between the two politicians. Biden is scheduled to visit Florida on Wednesday to assess damage the state sustained from Hurricane Ian, but partisan tensions have been mounting as Republicans face backlash for previously downvoting federal assistance for states dealing with natural disasters.
    A jury heard arguments in seditious conspiracy charges against the founder of the far-right group Oath Keepers and four of its associates. The trial is the most serious case so far stemming from the 6 January capitol attack.
    The Supreme court started its new term today, hearing arguments about a case dealing with social media companies being held financially responsible for terrorism and enforcement of the Clean Water Act. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson sat on the bench for the first time, the first Black woman to serve on the highest court.
    That’s it for today; thank you for reading! Biden just wrapped up remarks in Puerto Rico, where he discussed past failures to support the island during previous natural disasters and future initiatives to ensure proper storm preparation.Biden acknowledged previous shortcomings in aiding Puerto Rico during intense storms, including Hurricane Maria: “You haven’t gotten the help in a timely way,” said Biden.”You haven’t gotten the help in a timely way,” @POTUS, in Ponce, says of #PuertoRico and disasters in recent years. pic.twitter.com/T4NCjjD9TG— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) October 3, 2022
    Biden added: “We came here in person to show that we’re with you. All of America is with you.”“I’m committed to this island,” said Biden, adding that he is “confident” the US can meet asks from governor Pedro Pierluisi for the US to extend the disaster declaration in Puerto Rico, cover 100% of the cost to move debris, and provide other federal assistance.Biden noted that more has to be done to help prepare Puerto Rico for future storms, announcing the $60mn that the island will receive in federal funding from the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed last year.“We have to ensure when the next hurricane hits Puerto Rico, we are ready,” said Biden.Biden added: “We are not leaving here as long as I am president until everything – I mean this sincerely – until every single thing we can do is done.””We are not leaving here as long as I am president until everything – I mean this sincerely – until every single thing we can do is done,” Biden says in Puerto Rico.— Joey Garrison (@joeygarrison) October 3, 2022
    Biden’s remarks are just beginning. Stay tuned for updates! Here’s video of the Bidens greeting Puerto Rico officials after landing in Ponce, where Biden is set to speak shortly.Wheels down in Ponce, Puerto Rico pic.twitter.com/lP2bDSgkEg— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) October 3, 2022
    Puerto Rico governor Pedro Pierluisi was on the ground to greet Biden and shared a message of welcome via Twitter.It’s my honor to welcome @POTUS and @FLOTUS to our island. The people of Puerto Rico are grateful for your steadfast support and appreciate your visit and continuous commitment to rebuild for a brighter future. pic.twitter.com/kHWY9RrDi1— Gobernador Pierluisi (@GovPierluisi) October 3, 2022
    Joe Biden’s remarks in Puerto Rico were set to begin shortly, but Biden and first lady Jill Biden have just touched down.While we wait, here’s information on how Hurricane Fiona initially impacted the island, from the Guardian’s Nina Lakhani:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}Most of Puerto Rico was still without power or safe drinking water on Monday, with remnants of a category 1 hurricane that struck there a day earlier forecast to bring more heavy rain and life-threatening flooding.
    Hundreds of people are trapped in emergency shelters across the Caribbean island, with major roads underwater and reports of numerous collapsed bridges. Crops have been washed away while flash floods, landslides and fallen trees have blocked roads, swept away vehicles and caused widespread damage to infrastructure.
    Two-thirds of the island’s almost 800,000 homes and businesses have no water after Hurricane Fiona caused a total blackout on Sunday and swollen rivers contaminated the filtration system. The storm was causing havoc in the Dominican Republic by early Monday.
    Lights went out across Puerto Rico just after 1pm on Sunday, leaving only those households and businesses with rooftop solar or functioning generators with power. Critically ill patients had to be moved from the island’s main cancer hospital in the capital, San Juan, after the backup generator failed due to voltage fluctuations – an issue that has led to regular blackouts over the past year.Read the full article here.Puerto Rico battles blackout and lack of safe water in wake of Hurricane FionaRead moreHere’s a recap of what’s happened so far today in the world of US politics:
    Biden and first lady Jill Biden are en-route to Puerto Rico, where he will survey damage sustained by Hurricane Fiona and announce $60mn in federal funding for the island’s storm preparations. He is scheduled to give remarks there at 2:30pm eastern time.
    Partisan tensions are boiling, with Hurricane Ian recovery efforts underway. Republicans are accused of withholding relief money that could help states dealing with similar natural disasters in the future following the current crisis in Florida.
    The White House did not confirm if Biden will be meeting with Florida governor Ron DeSantis, given the frayed relationship between the two politicians. Biden is scheduled to visit Florida on Wednesday to assess damage the state sustained from Hurricane Ian.
    A jury heard opening arguments in seditious conspiracy charges against the founder of the far-right group Oath Keepers, the most serious case so far stemming from the 6 January capitol attack.
    The Supreme court started its new term today, with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson sitting on the bench for the first time, the first Black woman to serve on the court.
    While speaking on Air Force One, Jean-Pierre spoke on Biden’s upcoming trip to Florida to survey damage sustained from Hurricane Ian.Jean-Pierre declined to say if Biden will be joined by Florida governor Ron DeSantis, adding that she does not have a readout of what the trip will entail.WH press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declines to say if Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will join Biden during his visit to the state Wednesday to survey hurricane damage.— Jennifer Shutt (@JenniferShutt) October 3, 2022
    Jean-Pierre also added that the focus of the coming visit will be on “the people of Florida”, with Jean-Pierre not mentioning if Biden will speak to DeSantis about using government funds to fly migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, a move Biden has criticized.Last week, Biden said that he and the governor have spoken multiple times, not ruling out if he will meet with DeSantis or not.“I’ll meet with anybody who’s around. The answer is: Yes, if he wants to meet”, said Biden, reported NPR.White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is now speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One as Biden and first lady Jill Biden make their way to Ponce, Puerto Rico.Listen along here. Updates from the briefing coming soon!As Puerto Rico prepares for Joe Biden’s visit this afternoon, a grassroots collective known as Queremos Sol (we want sun) has published an open letter (in Spanish) in the La Perla online daily urging the president to not waste federal taxpayer dollars on rebuilding the storm vulnerable fossil fuel dependent grid. “As you know, the absence of electricity after Hurricane Maria caused thousands of deaths. Now, two weeks after Hurricane Fiona, several deaths related to the lack of electricity have been documented. To a large extent, these deaths could have been prevented.“There is an urgent need to transform the electrical system to one that provides service resilient, renewable and affordable electricity.The Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) is poised to spend historic amounts of taxpayer funds [$14bn] to rebuild the same vulnerable, imported fossil fuel-dependent, centralized electrical system that has so many times failed the Puerto Rican population and, now more, under the operation of LUMA Energy….. [Instead Fema] must prioritize distributed renewable energy projects, such as battery-powered rooftop solar systems on homes, businesses and institutions in Puerto Rico, starting with the poorest and most marginalized communities.”After category 1 Fiona caused a total blackout over the island, around 40,000 homes and businesses with rooftop solar panels – folks with high incomes or access to credit – kept the lights on. Today, more than two weeks later, around 300,000 people, around 10% of the population, are without power, and some have been warned it could take weeks to resort. Water supplies, which rely on power, remain unstable in some neighbourhoods. The letter from Queremos Sol, which includes health experts, scientists, activists, ordinary residents and attorneys like Ruth Santiago, who will meet Biden this afternoon, continues: “It is foreseeable that rebuilding the same network, as proposed by LUMA, will perpetuate the vicious cycle of destruction and reconstruction, as well as the loss of life. The plan to rebuild the network of the last century is not in line with his administration’s policies on environmental and climate justice. …Using disaster recovery funds already allocated to provide universal access to resilient renewable energy would save lives and put Puerto Rico on a path to viability.”Read more here As recovery from Hurricane Ian is underway in Florida, Republicans are catching flack for rejecting natural disaster relief given the devastation from the storm in their home state. More recently, Republican senator Marco Rubio has vowed to reject any federal relief bill for Hurricane Ian if it has “pork”, reported Politico. “Sure. I will fight against it having pork in it. That’s the key. We shouldn’t have that in there, because it undermines the ability to come back and do this in the future”, said Rubi on Sunday while speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union”. Rubio, like all Florida Republicans, rejected a stop-gap spending bill that would give federal funding to states dealing with natural disasters. Democrats have accused Republicans of holding out on critical assistance, though the funding would not have gone towards recovery from Hurricane Ian. “Not one Florida Republican in Congress who was present, voted to put the interests of those suffering from tragedy above their own political fortunes,” said Democratic representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, reported Politico.Florida Democratic Party chair Manny Diaz said “this is a level of callous indifference and political indifference that boggles the mind.”Here is more information on the Oath Keepers, including their history and their membership base: .css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}The Oath Keepers, founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, is a loosely organized conspiracy theory-fueled group that recruits current and former military, police and first responders. It asks its members to vow to defend the constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic”, promotes the belief that the federal government is out to strip citizens of their civil liberties and paints its followers as defenders against tyranny.
    More than two dozen people associated with the Oath Keepers – including Rhodes – have been charged in connection with the January 6 attack. Rhodes and four other Oath Keeper members or associates are heading to trial this month on seditious conspiracy charges for what prosecutors have described as a weeks-long plot to keep the then president, Donald Trump, in power. Rhodes and the other Oath Keepers say that they are innocent and that there was no plan to attack the Capitol.
    The Oath Keepers has grown quickly along with the wider anti-government movement and used the tools of the internet to spread their message during Barack Obama’s presidency, said Rachel Carroll Rivas, interim deputy director of research with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project. But since January 6 and Rhodes’s arrest, the group has struggled to keep members, she said.
    Read the full article here. Oath Keepers membership rolls feature police, military and elected officialsRead moreA jury has begun hearing opening arguments on seditious conspiracy charges against the founder of the far-right group Oath Keepers and of its four associates .The case is highest-profile prosecution to stem from the 6 January capitol attack and is the most serious case to reach trial so far, reported the Associated Press.Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four members are accused of assembling an “armed rebellion” to stop the transfer of power between former president Donald Trump and Joe Biden after the results of the 2020 presidential election, said prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler, who delivered opening remarks in a Washington DC federal court today.“Their goal was to stop by whatever means necessary the lawful transfer of presidential power, including by taking up arms against the United States government,” said Nestler. “They concocted a plan for armed rebellion to shatter a bedrock of American democracy.”Defense attorneys for Rhodes will also have a chance to speak to jury members, a group that was decided last week after days of questioning on their feelings regarding Trump, the insurrection, and other matters.Oath Keepers to stand trial on charges of seditious conspiracyRead moreA bit behind schedule, Biden and first lady Jill Biden are departing for Ponce, Puerto Rico on Air Force One. While leaving, Biden spoke to reporters about the purpose of the trip: “I’m heading to Puerto Rico because they haven’t been taken very good care of. And they’re trying like hell to catch up from the last hurricane, I want to see the state of affairs today and make sure we push everything we can.”BIDEN: “I’m heading to Puerto Rico because they haven’t been taken very good care of. And they’re trying like hell to catch up from the last hurricane, I want to see the state of affairs today and make sure we push everything we can.” pic.twitter.com/7reEBiqDoY— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) October 3, 2022
    Biden is scheduled to give his remarks in Puerto Rico at 2:30pm eastern time. More updates coming from the Supreme court, including Jackson’s first questions while serving on the bench.Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s first question in Sackett v. EPA is about whether Congress really intended for wetlands to be “touching,” not just “adjacent,” in order to be protected under the Clean Water Act.— Maxine Joselow (@maxinejoselow) October 3, 2022
    Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s first questions from the bench, grilling a lawyer trying to gut the Clean Water Act. When he says a provision of the law is “unenlightening,” KBJ responds dryly: “Let me try to bring some enlightenment to it.” pic.twitter.com/1Tyllv0lJr— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) October 3, 2022
    Listen to the oral arguments here.Here’s more context on cases the Supreme court will hear and their impact on democracy, from the Guardian’s Ed Pilkington: .css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}On Monday, the nine justices of the US supreme court will take their seats at the start of a new judicial year, even as the shock waves of the panel’s previous seismic term continue to reverberate across America.
    In their first full term that ended in June, the court’s new six-to-three hard-right supermajority astounded the nation by tearing up decades of settled law. They eviscerated the right to an abortion, loosened America’s already lax gun laws, erected roadblocks to combating the climate crisis, and awarded religious groups greater say in public life.
    The fallout of the spate of extreme rightwing rulings has shaken public confidence in the political neutrality of the court. A Gallup poll this week found that fewer than half of US adults trust it – a drop of 20 points in just two years and the lowest rating since Gallup began recording the trend in 1972.
    Justices have begun to respond to the pressure by sparring openly in public. The Wall Street Journal reported that in recent speeches the liberal justice Elena Kagan has accused her conservative peers of damaging the credibility of the court by embracing Republican causes.Read the full article here. US supreme court to decide cases with ‘monumental’ impact on democracyRead moreThe Supreme Court’s new term begins today, with oral arguments set to begin at 10am.During today’s session, the court will hear arguments on holding social media companies financially responsible for terrorist attacks, reports the Associated Press. Relatives of people killed in terrorist attacks in France and Turkey had sued several social media companies including Twitter, and Facebook, accusing the companies of spreading terrorist messaging and radicalizing new recruits.Tomorrow, the court will hear arguments concerning a challenge to the Voting Rights Act, the historic legislation that prohibits racial discrimination in voting rules.Across the next, several months, the court will hear other cases centered on affirmative action, enforcement of the Clear Water Act, and other issues.Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court, will be sitting on the bench for today’s oral arguments.Jackson was celebrated during a ceremony at the court on Friday, attended by Biden, Kamala Harris, and other state officials.Biden and first lady Jill Biden will be leaving the White House at 10:10am this morning for Puerto Rico, where Biden will examine damage the island sustained during Hurricane Fiona and announce $60mn in federal funding for future storm preparation.Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will also be on the trip.A White House official said more about the trip’s agenda to CNN: “They will meet with families and community leaders impacted by Hurricane Fiona, participate in a community service project to help pack bags with food and other essential items, and thank the Federal and local officials working around the clock to help the people of Puerto Rico recover and rebuild…The President will also receive a briefing on ongoing recovery efforts.”At least 25 people were killed when Hurricane Fiona made landfall on the island last month, reported Puerto Rico’s health department.The natural disaster caused an island-wide blackout, with hundreds of thousands still without power.Biden will then visit Florida on Wednesday.Biden mentioned Fiona and Hurricane Ian, which touched down on Florida last week, during a speech he gave at the Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner on Saturday, reported NBC News.“Our hearts … are heavy, the devastating hurricanes, storms in Puerto Rico, Florida, and South Carolina. And we owe Puerto Rico a hell of a lot more than they’ve already gotten,” said Biden, referring to Hurricane Ian’s impact on South Carolina.Good morning US politics blog readers!Following several tropical storms that happened last month, the extent of damage from those natural disasters is still being accounted.Today, Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will visit Puerto Rico to survey damage the island sustained during Hurricane Fiona. Two weeks ago, flooding and landslides caused by the storm knocked out power across the island and affected water supplies, leaving millions in the dark and without clean water. Hundreds of thousands remain without power.Once there, Biden will announce $60m in infrastructure funding for Puerto Rico from the bipartisan infrastructure law that was passed last year.Meanwhile, millions of Floridians are struggling to recover after Hurricane Ian made landfall last week, as Ian’s death toll surpasses 80.Partisan tensions are boiling over handling of the storm, with Republican officials facing criticism for voting down disaster relief aid in a short-term spending bill, reports Politico.Florida governor DeSantis is facing mounting criticism for millions he spent in the weeks leading up to Ian on “political stunts”, privately charted planes that flew migrants from Texas to the affluent Martha’s Vineyard community. More

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    Senate passes short-term deal to avoid government shutdown – as it happened

    The Senate has approved a measure to keep the government funded through December 16, averting a shutdown that would have begun Saturday:Passed, 72-25: Passage of Cal. #389, H.R.6833, the legislative vehicle for the Continuing Resolution, as amended. (60-vote affirmative threshold)— Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) September 29, 2022
    The bill now goes to the House for approval. Top Republicans have encouraged their lawmakers to vote against it, but Democrats control the chamber, making its passage likely. Beyond just funding the government, the bill contains about $12 billion in new aid for Ukraine, as well as relief money for disasters in Kentucky, New Mexico, Puerto Rico and other states.The Senate passed a short-term spending bill to keep the government open till mid-December and avert a shutdown, potentially giving lawmakers space to spend the next few weeks campaigning ahead of the 8 November midterms. Meanwhile, Ginni Thomas, wife of conservative supreme court justice Clarence Thomas and a promoter of conspiracy theories around the 2020 election, testified before the January 6 committee.Here’s what else happened today:
    Six Republican-governed states are suing the Biden administration over its student debt relief plan.
    Some Republicans fear a potentially damaging standoff over the US debt limit if Kevin McCarthy becomes speaker of the House in a GOP-led chamber next year.
    President Joe Biden spoke with Florida’s governor and potential 2024 opponent Ron DeSantis as the state reels from Hurricane Ian.
    Washington’s rivalry with Iran is long running and well known, but independent security researchers and Reuters today found concerning trends in how the CIA handles informants in the country, Stephanie Kirchgaessner reports:The CIA used hundreds of websites for covert communications that were severely flawed and could have been identified by even an “amateur sleuth”, according to security researchers.The flaws reportedly led to the death of more than two dozen US sources in China in 2011 and 2012 and also reportedly led Iran to execute or imprison other CIA assets.The new research was conducted by security experts at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, which started investigating the matter after it received a tip from reporter Joel Schectmann at Reuters.The group said it was not publishing a full detailed technical report of its findings to avoid putting CIA assets or employees at risk. But its limited findings raise serious doubts about the intelligence agency’s handling of safety measures.Covert CIA websites could have been found by an ‘amateur’, research findsRead moreAn attorney for Ginni Thomas has released a statement detailing her testimony to the January 6 committee today.The statement, obtained by the New York Times, acknowledges that she continues to have questions about the 2020 election but downplays her involvement in attempts to overturn the result:Ginni Thomas has finished being interviewed by the J6 committee, per her lawyer Mark Paoletta: pic.twitter.com/1lKGfVKoYa— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) September 29, 2022
    It appears Ginni Thomas’s testimony today to the January 6 committee is already bearing fruit.Politico reports that the congressional panel’s chair Bennie Thompson said the promoter of 2020 election conspiracy theories and wife of conservative supreme court justice Clarence Thomas was of some help to the investigation:1/6 committee chair Bennie Thompson tells reporters Ginni Thomas is answering “some questions” and reiterated her belief to the committee the 2020 election was stolen— Nicholas Wu (@nicholaswu12) September 29, 2022
    They might be able to use some of her testimony in the hearing (when it’s rescheduled) “if theres something of merit”— Nicholas Wu (@nicholaswu12) September 29, 2022
    The January 6 committee was supposed to hold its first public hearing in more than two months on Wednesday, but postponed it due to Hurricane Ian’s arrival in Florida. They have not yet rescheduled the session.The Senate has approved a measure to keep the government funded through December 16, averting a shutdown that would have begun Saturday:Passed, 72-25: Passage of Cal. #389, H.R.6833, the legislative vehicle for the Continuing Resolution, as amended. (60-vote affirmative threshold)— Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) September 29, 2022
    The bill now goes to the House for approval. Top Republicans have encouraged their lawmakers to vote against it, but Democrats control the chamber, making its passage likely. Beyond just funding the government, the bill contains about $12 billion in new aid for Ukraine, as well as relief money for disasters in Kentucky, New Mexico, Puerto Rico and other states.The Senate appears poised to pass a short-term spending bill to keep the government open and avert a shutdown, potentially giving lawmakers space to spend the next few weeks campaigning ahead of the 8 November midterms. Meanwhile, Ginni Thomas, wife of conservative supreme court justice Clarence Thomas and a promoter of conspiracy theories around the 2020 election, testified before the January 6 committee.Here’s what else happened today:
    Six Republican-governed states are suing the Biden administration over its student debt relief plan.
    Some Republicans fear a potentially damaging standoff over the US debt limit if Kevin McCarthy becomes speaker of the House in a GOP-led chamber next year.
    President Joe Biden spoke with Florida’s governor and potential 2024 opponent Ron DeSantis as the state reels from Hurricane Ian.
    An American citizen was killed in Iraqi Kurdistan, which Iran has targeted with drone and missile attacks as its government struggles with nationwide protests, Reuters reports.Iran’s Kurdish minority has been particularly involved in the protests, which were sparked by the death of a woman from the ethnic group in the custody of its morality police. Yesterday, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan condemned Iran’s attacks on its neighbor, saying: “Iran cannot deflect blame from its internal problems and the legitimate grievances of its population with attacks across its borders.”Iran launches airstrike against Kurdish group in northern Iraq Read moreAn unusual pairing of senators has introduced legislation to further raise Taiwan’s standing within global organizations, as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to counter China’s attempts to isolate the island it views as a breakaway province.Axios reports that the Senate proposal from conservative Republican Ted Cruz of Texas and liberal Democrat Jeff Merkley of Oregon would push for Taiwan to be included in the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao). It would also tell the White House to seek a vote admitting Taiwan to the body at its next meeting.China has kept Taiwan out of Icao assemblies since 2013, but earlier this week, transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg called for its return. Taiwan is home to Asia’s fifth-largest airport, and Axios reports concerns about its exclusion from the Icao were raised in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic as travel was snarled globally by border closures and flight restrictions.The fallout from the water crisis in Mississippi’s capital continues, with a complaint accusing the state of divesting from the city in favor of its suburbs, Edwin Rios reports:The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has filed a federal complaint accusing Mississippi officials of violating civil rights law by repeatedly diverting federal funds meant for ensuring safe drinking water away from the state’s predominantly Black capital, Jackson, to smaller, white communities.The suit says such actions amounted to racial discrimination and a devastating loss of access to drinking water for more than a month for residents in Jackson, where more than 80% of residents are Black and a quarter are in poverty.“The result is persistently unsafe and unreliable drinking water and massive gaps in the access to safe drinking water that are intolerable in any modern society,” Jackson residents allege.“Nearly all of the residents of Jackson have watched brackish, dirty, impure, and undrinkable water trickle from their taps. At times, some have had no water at all.”The complaint, filed to the Environmental Protection Agency, amplifies pressure on officials in Mississippi and Jackson to address longstanding water infrastructure woes that recently forced Jackson to shut down its water supply in late August and maintain a boil water notice for weeks.NAACP files racial discrimination complaint over Jackson water crisisRead moreSix Republican states are suing the Biden administration over its plan to forgive student loan debt for millions of Americans.The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Missouri by that state, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, South Carolina and Arkansas. Iowa has a Democratic attorney general – the Republican governor, Kim Reynolds, signed on the state’s behalfLeslie Rutledge, the Arkansas attorney general leading the case, told the Associated Press: “It’s patently unfair to saddle hard-working Americans with the loan debt of those who chose to go to college. The Department of Education is required, under the law, to collect the balance due on loans. And President Biden does not have the authority to override that.”In the suit, the states say Biden has declared the Covid-19 pandemic over – but is still using the ongoing health emergency to justify the wide-scale debt relief.The forgiveness plan is not universally popular among those with student debt but the Biden administration and Democrats have touted it, in the quickening run-in to the midterm elections. Further reading, part I:The lesson from Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness? Go big or go home | Hamilton NolanRead moreElsewhere this week, the Congressional Budget Office said the program will cost about $400bn over three decades. The White House pointed out that the CBO estimate of how much the plan will cost in its first year, $21bn, is lower than initially forecast.The education department is due to unveil the application for forgiveness in October.Further reading, part II:Rightwingers threaten legal action on Biden’s student loan debt reliefRead moreFor Senate scheduling fans out there, and we know there are many, the government funding vote seems imminent …Sounds like a potential 145 pm Senate vote on government funding ✈️— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) September 29, 2022
    While Congress may be the site of financial brinksmanship in 2023, there appears to be no appetite for it now. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader of the Senate, has indicated in a floor speech that the votes are there to pass a short-term funding bill to keep the government open through December 16.The legislation heads off a shutdown that would have started on Saturday, but must still be approved by the House, where the Democrats also have a majority.“With a little more good faith negotiation between Democrats and Republicans, I am hopeful that today is the day we’ll finish passing a continuing resolution to fund the government until mid-December. Government funding is set to run out Friday at midnight, roughly 40 hours from now, and there is no reason at all for us to get anywhere near that deadline,” Schumer said. “In short, there is every reason in the world for both sides to get to ‘yes’ on finalizing a CR before the end of today. Democrats will continue working with our Republican colleagues in good faith to find a path to the finish line.”The latest agreement was reached when Democratic senator Joe Manchin agreed to withdraw a controversial proposal to change the permitting process for energy projects, which did not look like it had the support to pass as part of the wider spending measure. But it’s not always this easy. The government has shut down repeatedly in recent decades when Congress was so consumed with squabbles and demands that it couldn’t agree on a way to keep it open before funding ran out. And this latest agreement means lawmakers can spend more time back in their districts, stumping for re-election ahead of the 8 November midterms.Senate advances funding bill to avert shutdown after Manchin measure scrappedRead moreIf Kevin McCarthy does become the next House speaker, Axios reports that Americans could expect a congressional standoff in the latter part of next year with uniquely high stakes for the country.At issue would be the debt limit, which governs how much borrowing the United States can do to fund its budget and is on track to need to be raised by the fall of 2023. Failure to do so could result in Washington defaulting on its debt – an unheard of economic calamity that could have repercussions for financial systems worldwide.The two parties have haggled over the debt limit in the past and came close to default in 2011, when a newly ascendant Republican majority in the House used it as a cudgel against Democrat Barack Obama’s administration. According to Axios, the concern is that McCarthy would be willing to entertain such brinksmanship if he takes over the House, a tactic top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell is far less interested in. The subtext to this is that some Republicans don’t trust McCarthy to negotiate responsibly when it comes to the debt limit, Axios reports, with one source contrasting him with John Boehner, the Republican House speaker in 2011. “‘Speaker [John] Boehner and a hypothetical Speaker McCarthy are different animals,’ a former House Republican who served during the 2011 crisis told Axios. ‘Boehner was convinced of the necessity [of raising the debt limit] and was willing to twist arms. I just don’t know about a Speaker McCarthy.’” More

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    US supreme court’s approval rating falls to historical low ahead of new term – live

    When its most recent term concluded in June, the supreme court’s conservative majority had flexed its muscles in a big way.They overturned a nearly half-century old precedent to allow states to ban abortion nationwide, expanded the ability to carry a concealed weapon, limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate power plants and expanded prayer in public schools. Thus, much of the drop in the court’s public trust Gallup found in a poll released today comes from Democrats, for which confidence halved in the past year. Overall, only 47% of respondents have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the court, which isn’t bad compared to, say, Congress, but nonetheless represents a 20-percentage-point drop from two years ago and a sharp decline from its usual two-thirds level in Gallup’s surveys.But it’s not just the public itself that has issues with how the court is behaving. The justices, or at least one justice, appear to think it’s gone too far. The White House-appointed jurors usually go to great lengths to appear impartial and stay out of Washington’s daily fray, but something appears to be going on behind the scenes. “If, over time, the court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that is a dangerous thing for democracy,” warned Elena Kagan in a July speech, one of the justices comprising the court’s three-member liberal minority. More unusual was the fact that Samuel Alito, the conservative who wrote the opinion overturning abortion rights established by Roe v Wade, appeared to respond to her comments with a remark delivered not in a speech – the typical venue when justices feel like opening up on a topic – but directly to the Wall Street Journal, as many other players in Washington often do.“It goes without saying that everyone is free to express disagreement with our decisions and to criticize our reasoning as they see fit. But saying or implying that the court is becoming an illegitimate institution or questioning our integrity crosses an important line,” Alito said.“While it is not a crime to lie to Fox News viewers or on social media, there are consequences to lying to a court.” That’s a line from a New York Times piece published today analyzing the decision by Donald Trump’s lawyers to seek the appointment of a special master in the Mar-a-Lago case – and concluding the strategy hasn’t quite paid off the way the ex-president may have hoped.First of all, a reminder of what a special master is: it’s a neutral party that a federal judge assigned to the lawsuit that followed the FBI’s seizure of documents from Trump’s Florida resort. Senior federal judge Raymond J. Dearie was appointed to sift through the documents for those covered by attorney-client and executive privilege. While the ruling temporarily halted the justice department’s investigation into whether Trump unlawfully retained government secrets, an appeals court reversed part of the lower court’s decision earlier this month, allowing the government to continue reviewing the seized documents.Nonetheless, the special master will continue his work, but the article notes that it will be expensive for Trump, who will have to foot the cost for a firm to scan all the documents, the judge to hire an assistant that bills at $500 an hour, plus all the legal fees the former president will incur.Then there’s Dearie’s demands for how the review will be conducted, which the Times reports don’t seem to favor Trump:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}And far from indulging Mr. Trump, as his lawyers likely hoped in suggesting his appointment, Judge Dearie appears to be organizing the document review in ways that threaten to swiftly puncture the former president’s defenses.
    For example, the judge has ordered Mr. Trump to submit by Friday a declaration or affidavit verifying the inventory or listing any items on it “that plaintiff asserts were not seized” in the search.
    But if Mr. Trump acknowledges that the F.B.I. took any documents marked as classified from his personal office and a storage room at Mar-a-Lago, as the inventory says, that would become evidence that could be used against him if he were later charged with defying a subpoena.
    Requiring Mr. Trump’s lawyers to verify or object to the inventory also effectively means making them either affirm in court or disavow a claim Mr. Trump has made in public: his accusation that the F.B.I. planted fake evidence. While it is not a crime to lie to Fox News viewers or on social media, there are consequences to lying to a court.There’s even a Britain angle to the Trump book, Martin Pengelly reports. Meanwhile, the country’s mini-economic crisis continues:In his first White House meeting with a major foreign leader, Donald Trump asked Theresa May: “Why isn’t Boris Johnson the prime minister? Didn’t he want the job?”At the time, the notoriously ambitious Johnson was foreign secretary. He became prime minister two years later, in 2019, after May was forced to resign.May’s response to the undiplomatic question is not recorded in Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America, a new book by the New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman which will be published next week. The Guardian obtained a copy.Trump asked May at debut meeting why Boris Johnson was not PM, book saysRead moreThe Guardian’s Martin Pengelly obtained a copy of “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America” ahead of its release next week. As you might expect, it contained no shortage of troubling anecdotes about what was going on in the White House during his presidency:In a meeting supposedly about campaign strategy in the 2020 election, Donald Trump implied his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, might be brutally attacked, even raped, should he ever go camping.“Ivanka wants to rent one of those big RVs,” Trump told bemused aides, according to a new book by Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, before gesturing to his daughter’s husband.“This skinny guy wants to do it. Can you imagine Jared and his skinny ass camping? It’d be like something out of Deliverance.”According to Haberman, Trump then “made noises mimicking the banjo theme song from the 1972 movie about four men vacationing in rural Georgia who are attacked, pursued and in one case brutally raped by a local resident”.The bizarre scene is just one of many in Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America, which will be published next week. The Guardian obtained a copy.Kushner camping tale one of many bizarre scenes in latest Trump bookRead morePresident Joe Biden has spoken with Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican who has been critical of the White House and is thought to be mulling a bid for president in 2024, but whose state is now being battered by Hurricane Ian.The pair committed to working together to help the state recover from the storm, according to a readout of the call provided by the White House:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}The President spoke this morning with Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida to discuss the steps the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to support Florida in response to Hurricane Ian, including the issuance of a Disaster Declaration this morning. The President told the Governor he is sending his FEMA Administrator to Florida tomorrow to check in on response efforts and see where additional support is needed. The President and Governor committed to continued close coordination.The Guardian has a separate live blog following the latest news on Hurricane Ian:Hurricane Ian: DeSantis says ‘we’ve never seen a flood like this’ as Biden declares disaster – liveRead moreThe Washington Post has a preview of the upcoming supreme court term that indicates new ways the conservative majority could change American law.Here are a few of the issues raised in cases the court will consider, and potentially render consequential decisions on:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}Justices have agreed to revisit whether universities can use race in a limited way when making admission decisions, a practice the court has endorsed since 1978. Two major cases involve voting rights. The court again will consider whether laws forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation must give way to business owners who do not want to provide wedding services to same-sex couples. And after limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority in air pollution cases last term, the court will hear a challenge regarding the Clean Water Act.The court’s liberal minority, in particular justice Sonia Sotomayor, last term wrote lengthy dissents to some of the court’s most controversial decisions, which were viewed as ways of signaling just how split the panel was internally. In the Post’s piece, executive director of the Supreme Court Institute at the Georgetown Law Center Irv Gornstein warned that a continued trend of divisive decisions that broke along the court’s ideological lines could further widen the ideological divisions between justices. “I do think there is a potential for ill will carrying over into this term and into future terms,” he said. What the liberal justices’ scorching dissent reveals about the US supreme courtRead moreA CNN reporter managed to find Ginni Thomas somewhere in Washington, presumably near where the January 6 committee does its business, and reports that she spoke to the lawmakers in person:NEW: Ginni Thomas met with Jan 6 committee IN PERSON. She did not answer my questions pic.twitter.com/5z6pypr0S9— Annie Grayer (@AnnieGrayerCNN) September 29, 2022
    The January 6 committee will today take testimony from Ginni Thomas, wife of conservative supreme court justice Clarence Thomas and herself a promoter of baseless claims that fraud decided the outcome of the 2020 election, Politico reports.NEWS: Ginni Thomas is testifying virtually to Jan. 6 committee *today,* two sources tell me and @nicholaswu12— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) September 29, 2022
    Reports in recent months have found Ginni Thomas lobbied Republican legislators around the country to take steps that could have delayed or prevented Joe Biden from entering the White House, as well as communicated with Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff during Donald Trump’s last days in office. While she has said she doesn’t discuss her work with her husband, Clarence Thomas was the lone dissent earlier this year in a supreme court decision that turned down a petition from Trump and allowed access to records concerning the January 6 attack from his time in the White House.Ginni Thomas lobbied Wisconsin lawmakers to overturn 2020 election Read moreWhen its most recent term concluded in June, the supreme court’s conservative majority had flexed its muscles in a big way.They overturned a nearly half-century old precedent to allow states to ban abortion nationwide, expanded the ability to carry a concealed weapon, limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate power plants and expanded prayer in public schools. Thus, much of the drop in the court’s public trust Gallup found in a poll released today comes from Democrats, for which confidence halved in the past year. Overall, only 47% of respondents have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the court, which isn’t bad compared to, say, Congress, but nonetheless represents a 20-percentage-point drop from two years ago and a sharp decline from its usual two-thirds level in Gallup’s surveys.But it’s not just the public itself that has issues with how the court is behaving. The justices, or at least one justice, appear to think it’s gone too far. The White House-appointed jurors usually go to great lengths to appear impartial and stay out of Washington’s daily fray, but something appears to be going on behind the scenes. “If, over time, the court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that is a dangerous thing for democracy,” warned Elena Kagan in a July speech, one of the justices comprising the court’s three-member liberal minority. More unusual was the fact that Samuel Alito, the conservative who wrote the opinion overturning abortion rights established by Roe v Wade, appeared to respond to her comments with a remark delivered not in a speech – the typical venue when justices feel like opening up on a topic – but directly to the Wall Street Journal, as many other players in Washington often do.“It goes without saying that everyone is free to express disagreement with our decisions and to criticize our reasoning as they see fit. But saying or implying that the court is becoming an illegitimate institution or questioning our integrity crosses an important line,” Alito said.Good morning, US politics readers. The supreme court’s descent into being just another politicized government branch – at least to the public – continued apace, with a new poll showing its approval falling in the wake of a term that saw a series of sharply conservative decisions, including the end to nationwide abortion rights. As if those decisions weren’t enough, liberal justice Elena Kagan twice recently warned of the perils of the court losing its impartiality – prompting an unusual public response from Samuel Alito, the conservative justice who wrote the decision ending Roe v Wade. The court’s new term begins on Monday.Here’s what else is happening today:
    President Joe Biden has declared an official disaster in Florida after Hurricane Ian trapped residents in their homes and knocked out power to millions. He will visit the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency at noon eastern time to assess the response.
    Top House Republicans have a 10am eastern time press conference scheduled to “discuss firing Nancy Pelosi” as the party looks set to reclaim the majority in the chamber.
    The chair of the January 6 committee said it will this week hear testimony from Ginni Thomas, a 2020 election denier and wife of supreme court justice Clarence Thomas. More

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    Biden takes aim at food insecurity with first hunger conference in 50 years – as it happened

    Why is the White House convening a summit on food insecurity for the first time in half a century? As The Guardian’s Nina Lakhani reports, a combination of high inflation and the end of pandemic support programs has squeezed vulnerable households, prompting the Biden administration to step in with a pledge to end hunger by 2030. Here’s more from her report:When was the last food conference?The last food conference, hosted by Richard Nixon in 1969, was a pivotal moment in American food policy that led to the expansion of food stamps and gave rise to the Women, Infants and Children program that today provides parenting advice, breastfeeding support and food assistance to the mothers of half the babies born each year.How bad is hunger in the US now?One in 10 households struggled to feed their families in 2021 due to poverty – an extraordinary level of food insecurity in the richest country in the world. The rate has barely budged in the past two decades amid deepening economic inequalities and welfare cuts.Food insecurity remains stubbornly high in the US, with only a slight downward trend from 2021 – but significantly lower than 2020 when the Covid shutdown and widespread layoffs led to record numbers of Americans relying on food banks and food stamps to get by.The conference comes as the cost of food is soaring due to double-digit inflation, and amid fears of recession. The cost of groceries in July was up 13.1% compared with last year, with the price of cereal, bread and dairy products rising even higher, according to the Consumer Price Index.Households are under more pressure as states roll back pandemic-linked financial support such as free school meals for every child and child tax credits. Many states are stopping expanded food stamp benefits.Real-time data from the US Census survey “suggest that food hardship has been steadily rising in families with children this year”, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University, recently told the Guardian.Why is the White House having its first hunger conference in 50 years?Read moreJoe Biden rolled out his plan to fight hunger in the United States, with an eye towards ending it by 2030. Meanwhile, Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida amid fears it could do grievous damage to its west coast.Here’s what else happened today:
    The supreme court is getting ready for its next term, and is expected to receive an update regarding the investigation into the leak of its draft decision overturning abortion rights.
    Donald Trump called for negotiating with Russia to end the war in Ukraine and mulled himself, of course, as leading the delegation. Meanwhile, a new book revealed further disquieting details of his presidency.
    Jury selection continued in the trial of five Oath Keepers accused of seditious conspiracy for their actions related to the January 6 insurrection.
    The White House denied a report that Treasury secretary Janet Yellen could depart the administration next year as it looks to reframe its fight against inflation.
    As she sometimes does, singer-songwriter and trained flautist Lizzo played a flute during her performance in Washington on Tuesday. But it wasn’t just any instrument. Lizzo played notes through a more than 200-year-old crystal flute made for President James Madison and on loan from the Library of Congress.The largest library in the world also has the largest collection of flutes in the world, and when its librarian Carla Hayden heard that Lizzo was coming to town, she asked if she was interested in playing Madison’s instrument at her show. The library has written an amusing blog about what happened next:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}When Library curator Carol Lynn Ward-Bamford walked the instrument onstage and handed it to Lizzo to a roar of applause, it was just the last, most visible step of our security package. This work by a team of backstage professionals enabled an enraptured audience to learn about the Library’s treasures in an exciting way.
    “As some of y’all may know I got invited to the Library of Congress,” Lizzo said, after placing her own flute (named Sasha Flute) down on its sparkling pedestal, which had emerged minutes earlier from the center of the stage. Following the aforementioned, highly popular Twitter exchange between Lizzo the Librarian of Congress, the crowd knew what was coming.
    “I want everybody to make some noise for James Madison’s crystal flute, y’all!” They made more noise than the instrument, having been at the Library for 81 years, has been exposed to in quite some time. Maybe ever.
    She took it gingerly from Ward-Bamford’s hands, walked over to the mic and admitted: “I’m scared.” She also urged the crowd to be patient. “It’s crystal, it’s like playing out of a wine glass!”NBC4 Washington has footage of the moment she played it at the show:Last April, at least nine people were bitten by a rabid red fox that stalked Capitol Hill, sparing neither lawmaker nor reporter alike.The animal was caught and euthanized by the DC health department, while those bitten were given many shots to stop rabies or any other infections. But the story, surprisingly, does not end there.The Wall Street Journal reports that one of those bit, Democratic representative Ami Bera of California, introduced legislation to cover the cost of rabies vaccines for the uninsured:The rabid fox that terrorized the Capitol grounds has led to legislation. Rep. Ami Bera (D., Calif.), one of the victims, introduced legislation to reduce the cost of the rabies vaccine for uninsured Americans— Natalie Andrews (@nataliewsj) September 28, 2022
    From Bera’s office: The Affordable Rabies Treatment for Uninsured Act would establish a program to reimburse health care providers for furnishing post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to uninsured individuals.— Natalie Andrews (@nataliewsj) September 28, 2022
    The CDC estimates that 60,000 Americans receive PEP each year after possible exposure to rabies. Although rabies is a vaccine-preventable disease, costs for patients can be high, with treatment ranging from $1,200 to $6,500.— Natalie Andrews (@nataliewsj) September 28, 2022
    Rabid red fox that bit nine on Capitol Hill caught and euthanizedRead moreA man whose actions likely changed the course of American history is petitioning for his freedom after decades behind bars, the Associated Press reports:Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy in 1968, is asking a judge to free him from prison by reversing a decision by the California governor to deny him parole.Sirhan shot Kennedy in 1968 at the Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles, moments after the US senator from New York claimed victory in California’s pivotal Democratic presidential primary. He wounded five others during the shooting.Gavin Newsom, the California governor, in January overruled two parole commissioners who had found that Sirhan no longer was a risk. The governor argued Sirhan remains a threat to the public and has not taken responsibility for a crime that changed American history.Sirhan Sirhan, man who assassinated Robert Kennedy, asks judge to free himRead moreOne of the biggest problems the Biden administration is facing is the state of the economy.It was supposed to be one of the bright spots. Unemployment has ticked down steadily since Joe Biden took office in January 2021 with Americans still reeling from the mass layoffs that occurred as Covid-19 broke out less than a year prior. But the rise in inflation that sent prices for gasoline, food and housing spiking throughout 2021 and into the next year did a number on his approval ratings, and there are signs in the administration that heads may roll, at least figuratively.Axios reported yesterday that the White House is preparing for the exit of Treasury secretary Janet Yellen, as well as Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council. Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Cecilia Rouse is also expected to return to teaching next year. There’s myriad reasons why inflation has climbed during the Biden era at rates not seen since the 1980s, including the actions of the Federal Reserve, the independent central bank where the Democratic president has appointed many of the top officials. However, a shake-up of the White House economic staff could give Biden the opportunity to reframe his approach to controlling price growth in the world’s largest economy. As the report notes, much of what happens will depend on the outcome of the midterms, particularly if Republicans take the Senate, which would confirm any new Treasury secretary or other cabinet-level position. It’s also worth noting that White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre today denied that Yellen or Deese were going anywhere, the Associated Press reports:.@PressSec says neither Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen or NEC director Brian Deese are part of plans for turnover post midterm elections.— Fatima Hussein (@fatimathefatima) September 28, 2022
    Oregon is the site of a close race to replace Democratic governor Kate Brown, who has reached her term limits. As she prepares to exit the governor’s mansion, Amanda Waldroupe spoke to Brown about her surprising tactic for reforming the criminal justice system:Last October, Kate Brown, the governor of Oregon, signed an executive order granting clemency to 73 people who had committed crimes as juveniles, clearing a path for them to apply for parole.The move marked the high point in a remarkable arc: as Brown approaches the end of her second term in January, she has granted commutations or pardons to 1,147 people – more than all of Oregon’s governors from the last 50 years combined.The story of clemency in Oregon is one of major societal developments colliding: the pressure the Covid-19 pandemic put on the prison system and growing momentum for criminal justice reform.It’s also a story of a governor’s personal convictions and how she came to embrace clemency as a tool for criminal justice reform and as an act of grace, exercising the belief that compassionate mercy and ensuring public safety are not mutually exclusive.“If you are confident that you can keep people safe, you’ve given victims the opportunity to have their voices heard and made sure their concerns are addressed, and individuals have gone through an extensive amount of rehabilitation and shown accountability, what is the point of continuing to incarcerate someone, other than retribution?” Brown said in a June interview.The story of one US governor’s historic use of clemency: ‘We are a nation of second chances’Read moreWhite House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to questions on why Joe Biden referred to Indiana representative Jackie Walorski during his speech on hunger today, when the congresswoman died last month in a car accident.During today’s press briefing, Jean-Pierre said that Biden’s remarks were “not all that unusual” and that he was acknowledging Walorski’s previous work as co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus.Jean-Pierre added that the congresswoman was “top of mind”, as Biden meets with her family this week.Biden was “acknowledging her incredible work,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said when asked about the incident later, adding that Biden had already planned to welcome her family to the White House for a bill signing on Friday. “She was on top of mind,” she said.— Jarrett Renshaw (@JarrettRenshaw) September 28, 2022
    In other news, a California man who pleaded guilty to plotting to bomb the state’s Democratic party headquarters following the defeat of Donald Trump will be sentenced today, reported the Associated Press.Ian Benjamin Rogers, a Napa, California resident, pleaded guilty in May to conspiring to destroy the headquarters building and other properties in Sacramento by fire or explosives.Rogers also pleaded guilty to possessing an explosive device and possessing a machine gun as part of a plea agreement that could get him seven to nine years in federal prison.Rogers and Jarrod Copeland had been charged by prosecutors in San Francisco for planning to attack buildings they associated with Democrats following Trump’s defeat in the 2020 US presidential election.Rogers’ attorney, Colin Cooper, spoke about his client before today’s sentencing, emphasizing how remorseful Rogers is: “Mr Rogers feels awful for letting anybody down. He’s been in custody for a year and a half. He’s never been in trouble before. Every single day he expresses regret and remorse for any involvement he’s had in anything and all he’s asking for now is for people to give him a chance to prove that he has redemptive qualities.”Biden also warned oil and gas companies not to raise prices on the hundreds of thousands of Florida residents preparing for Hurricane Ian, reports the Associated Press.“Do not, let me repeat, do not use this as an excuse to raise gasoline prices or gouge the American people,” said Biden today while speaking about his plan to fight hunger in the US.Biden added that the natural disaster “provides no excuse for price increases at the pump” and that he will ask federal officials to determine if price gouging is going on.Hurricane Ian nears landfall in south-western Florida as officials warn of ‘catastrophic impact’ – live Read moreJoe Biden rolled out his plan to fight hunger in the United States, with an eye towards ending it by 2030. Meanwhile, Hurricane Ian is churning towards Florida and threatening to do the state grievous damage.Here’s what else has happened today so far:
    The supreme court is getting ready for its next term, and is expected to receive an update regarding the investigation into the leak of its draft decision overturning abortion rights.
    Donald Trump called for negotiating with Russia to end the war in Ukraine and mulled himself, of course, as leading the delegation. Meanwhile, a new book revealed further disquieting details of his presidency.
    Jury selection continued in the trial of five Oath Keepers accused of seditious conspiracy for their actions related to the January 6 insurrection.
    The White House has decried recent Iranian drone and missile strikes in Iraqi Kurdistan, as Tehran faces protests over the death of a Kurdish woman in the custody of its morality police.Here’s the statement from national security adviser Jake Sullivan:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}The United States strongly condemns the drone and missile attack launched against Iraq’s Kurdistan region earlier today. We stand with Iraq’s leaders in the Kurdistan region and Baghdad in condemning these attacks as an assault on the sovereignty of Iraq and its people. Iranian leaders continue to demonstrate flagrant disregard not only for the lives of their own people, but also for their neighbors and the core principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity enshrined in the UN Charter. Iran cannot deflect blame from its internal problems and the legitimate grievances of its population with attacks across its borders. Its flagrant use of missiles and drones against its neighbors, as well as its providing of drones to Russia for its war of aggression in Ukraine and to proxies throughout the Middle East region, should be universally condemned. The United States will continue to pursue sanctions and other means to disrupt Iran’s destabilizing activities across the Middle East region. How the death of a Kurdish woman galvanised women all over IranRead moreEarlier today, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, written by politics gurus at the University of Virginia, moved their prediction for the Pennsylvania governor’s race from “leans Democratic” to “likely Democratic”. The news below was cited as one of the reasons why, because it shows that the Republican nominee in the race holds beliefs about abortion that appear to be beyond what the state’s voters will support. Here’s the latest from The Guardian’s Martin Pengelly:Asked in 2019 if he was saying women should be charged with murder for violating an abortion ban he proposed, Doug Mastriano, now the Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania, said: “Yes, I am.”Mastriano was talking to WITF, a radio station, about a bill he sponsored as a state senator.The bill would have barred most abortions when a fetal heartbeat could be detected, which is usually about six weeks into pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.Mastriano was asked: “You can give me a yes or no on this. Would that woman who decided to have an abortion which would be considered an illegal abortion be charged with murder?”Mastriano said: “OK, let’s go back to the basic question there. Is [a fetus] a human being? Is that a little boy or girl? If it is, it deserves equal protection under the law.”He was asked: “So you’re saying yes?”Mastriano said: “Yes, I am. If it’s a human being, if it’s an American citizen there, a little baby, I don’t care what nationality it is, it deserves equal rights before the law.”NBC News reported the remark on Tuesday. Mastriano did not immediately comment.Top Republican urged murder charges for women who defied abortion banRead moreElsewhere in Washington, jury selection is ongoing in the trial of five Oath Keepers members on seditious conspiracy charges related to their role in the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, including founder Stewart Rhodes.It’s far from determinative of how the trial will go, but Politico has some details of the jurors that have been selected to serve thus far:UPDATE from the Oath Keepers trial:-Four of five prospective jurors questioned today have made the initial cut, bringing two day total to 14 potential jurors.-The four: A defense lobbyist, Northrop Grumman defense contractor, DOD civilian employee and patent office employee.— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) September 28, 2022
    The one juror stricken was a lawyer at a big firm who handles international dispute resolution. He had RTed or liked tweets calling Rs nihilists and comparing Trump supporters to fascists. He said he could be a fair juror and would set aside views but admitted it’d be a struggle.— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) September 28, 2022
    The defense objected to two of the jurors that Mehta ultimately qualified. One of them, the DOD employee, said he viewed Oath Keepers as anti-democracy and willing to overturn election by force but would be willing to have his views contradicted by evidence. Among the reasons…— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) September 28, 2022
    He said he’d served on a jury before and found a murder suspect not guilty, and he repeatedly said he would fairly assess evidence in the case, even if it contradicted views informed by media he consumes.— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) September 28, 2022
    Biden closes up with some remarks on the Covid pandemic, describing the grassroots efforts to get food to struggling families as “people doing God’s work”.Then he makes a claim that’s worth fact checking. Biden said that the high level of food insecurity caused by the pandemic has come down thanks to the American Rescue Plan and the economy rebounding. One in 10 families struggled to feed their families in 2021 – which is back around pre-pandemic levels, but the numbers are rising quickly this year since key economic policies like the child tax credit, expanded food stamps eligibility and universal free school meals were not renewed by Congress.Biden knows, and the new strategy suggests, that tackling economic and racial inequalities through things like a living wage, closing the Medicaid coverage gap, and affordable childcare and housing are the only ways to really eradicate food poverty.That’s why the $8bn pledged by private corporations, universities, foundations and nonprofits may help a bit, but will not tackle the structural and systemic issues that cause poverty and racial inequalities, which is what’s needed in order to end hunger and cut the burden of diet-related diseases in the richest country in the world.Still, Biden ended with a rallying call: “In America, no child should go to bed hungry. No parent should die of a preventable disease… this is the United States of America, nothing is beyond our capacity.”More than $8bn pledged to Joe Biden’s goal of ending hungerRead moreWith universal free lunches a long long way off, one of the new food strategy’s more interesting commitments is about supporting schools in making meals from scratch and buying produce from local farmers.“This will lead to healthier meals and strengthen rural economies,” said Biden. This is a welcome nod to the urgent need to redesign our globalised food system, which is dominated by a handful of transnational monopolies like Tyson Foods. Today, Tyson pledged to give more free chicken to schools – rather ironic, some might argue, given the company’s track record on worker conditions, unhealthy processed foods and animal welfare.Biden also rightly emphasises the “we are what we eat” mantra, given that diets high in processed fatty, sugary, salty foods have led to at least 35% of adults being obese in 19 states, and one in 10 Americans having diabetes.“Science changes things. People are realising that certain diseases are affected by what they eat. The more we can spread the word and educate people, the more we’ll see changes,” Biden said.Not quite so sure about him suggesting that the link between our diets and disease is new information – the evidence has been overwhelming for decades now, but powerful business interests like the sugar, fast food and meat packing industries have often stymied government regulations to improve food labelling and reduce the toxicity of processed foods. Still, a commitment to piloting food prescriptions for people on Medicaid and Medicare is a definite thumbs up.Biden made an unfortunate gaffe in his remarks, referencing someone named Jackie and asking if she was in attendance. He may have been referring to Jackie Walorski, a Republican representative from Indiana who died in an August car accident.Walorski was co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus dedicated to fighting food insecurity in the United States. The chair of the caucus, Democrat Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, was in attendance at the event. Here’s video of Biden’s comment: President Biden seems to forget that Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) died in a car crash in August, seeking her out in the audience:”Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie? She must not be here.” pic.twitter.com/inzKDHrPK7— The Recount (@therecount) September 28, 2022
    Indiana congresswoman Jackie Walorski dies in car crashRead more More

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    Why is the White House having its first hunger conference in 50 years?

    ExplainerWhy is the White House having its first hunger conference in 50 years?The Biden administration is hosting a conference to coincide with a new hunger and nutrition plan – what can it achieve? What’s happening?The Biden administration is hosting a one-day conference on Wednesday on hunger, nutrition and health, bringing together advocates, researchers and activists and leaders in business and philanthropy, faith groups and communities around the US.Just before the conference, the administration launched its strategy aimed at ending hunger in the US by 2030 with plans to expand benefits and access to healthy food. The conference will be streamed live from 9am ET on the White House Youtube channel, with Joe Biden expected to make remarks in the early afternoon. The strategy and conference are aimed at making “America truly a stronger, healthier nation”, he says.But it all comes at a difficult time for many households as pandemic support measures fall away, record inflation and rising food prices (linked to climate breakdown, Russia’s war in Ukraine and Covid supply issues) squeeze budgets, and just before November’s midterm elections.When was the last food conference?The last food conference, hosted by Richard Nixon in 1969, was a pivotal moment in American food policy that led to the expansion of food stamps and gave rise to the Women, Infants and Children program that today provides parenting advice, breastfeeding support and food assistance to the mothers of half the babies born each year.How bad is hunger in the US now?One in 10 households struggled to feed their families in 2021 due to poverty – an extraordinary level of food insecurity in the richest country in the world. The rate has barely budged in the past two decades amid deepening economic inequalities and welfare cuts.Food insecurity remains stubbornly high in the US, with only a slight downward trend from 2021 – but significantly lower than 2020 when the Covid shutdown and widespread layoffs led to record numbers of Americans relying on food banks and food stamps to get by.The conference comes as the cost of food is soaring due to double-digit inflation, and amid fears of recession. The cost of groceries in July was up 13.1% compared with last year, with the price of cereal, bread and dairy products rising even higher, according to the Consumer Price Index.Households are under more pressure as states roll back pandemic-linked financial support such as free school meals for every child and child tax credits. Many states are stopping expanded food stamp benefits.Real-time data from the US Census survey “suggest that food hardship has been steadily rising in families with children this year”, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University, recently told the Guardian.What are the main parts of the administration’s strategy?It includes multiple ambitious goals but few concrete measures, as the plans depend on securing support from a polarised Congress, which so far this year has refused to extend the child tax credit and universal free school meals – both of which led to historic improvements in food security in the wake of the pandemic.‘The kids are just happier’: could California’s universal school meal program start a trend?Read moreThe plan states that the administration is committed to “pushing for Congress to permanently extend the expanded, fully refunded child tax credit and expanded Earned Income Tax Credit … to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour; close the Medicaid coverage gap; invest in affordable, high-quality child care; and expand the Housing Choice Voucher”.The strategy also aims to cut diet-related diseases by increasing access to healthy food and exercise as new data shows that more than 35% of people in 19 states and two territories are obese – more the double the number of states in 2018 – while one in 10 Americans have diabetes.It includes proposals to reform food packaging, voluntary salt and sugar reduction targets for the food industry, and working to expand Medicaid and Medicare access to obesity counselling and nutrition.According to Andy Fisher, researcher and author of Big Hunger, the strategy includes lots of great ideas but lets the food industry off the hook and fails to adequately address the impact of racism, misogyny or the climate crisis on food inequality.“What they don’t realize or say is that hunger and health disparities are baked into our political and economic system, and require much more than these technocratic policy reforms.”TopicsBiden administrationHungerInequalityUS politicsJoe BidenexplainersReuse this content More

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    January 6 committee postpones Wednesday hearing over hurricane – as it happened

    Five members of the Oath Keepers including founder Stewart Rhodes are facing charges of seditious conspiracy, a dire allegation that the justice department hasn’t pursued since 2010.Federal investigators have alleged that the group spent months planning the attack on the Capitol, with Rhodes spending $20,000 on weapons and equipment in the weeks leading up to the attack. The group also planned to have armed “quick reaction forces” positioned to storm the Capitol, with Rhodes texting an encrypted group chat on January 6, “We will have several well equipped QRF’s outside DC.”A conviction on seditious conspiracy charges could attract a prison sentence of up to 20 years, but keep in mind, the last time the justice department brought the charges in 2010, a judge ultimately threw them out. Elsewhere today, Kyle Young will be sentenced after pleading guilty to one charge of assaulting a police officer. Prosecutors say the Iowa resident restrained Washington, DC police officer Michael Fanone as another rioter shocked him with a taser Young provided. Fanone, who has since left the force but testified before the January 6 committee, wrote for CNN of his hopes for Young’s sentencing:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}On Tuesday, Young’s attorney will ask a judge to sentence him to two years – a laughably short sentence. Prosecutors have asked for a seven-year term – not quite a joke but also not nearly long enough. By comparison, a former New York police officer with no criminal record received 10 years for attacking officers during the riot.
    What do I think Young deserves? Not less than 10 years in prison. And an assigned cell in maximum security with his co-conspirator: Donald Trump.The January 6 insurrection continued to reverberate through Washington, as the trial of five Oath Keepers, including founder of the militant group Stewart Rhodes, began, while another rioter was sentenced to more than seven years in prison after pleading guilty to assaulting a police officer. Meanwhile, the congressional committee investigating the attack postponed its hearing planned for Wednesday, citing Hurricane Ian’s approach towards Florida.Here’s what else happened today:
    The top Senate Republican said he would support a bill tweaking America’s election laws to prevent the types of legal plots that were attempted on January 6, greatly raising its chances of passage.
    The Biden administration condemned Idaho’s anti-abortion laws after a university said its staff should only offer condoms for preventing STIs, not as birth control.
    Texas’s attorney general fled a process server delivering him a subpoena related to a lawsuit filed by abortion advocates against the state’s efforts to stop them from helping women seek care in other states.
    The White House has unveiled a major anti-hunger plan to address the United States’ troublingly high rates of food insecurity.
    Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, has endorsed a measure to change the procedures for counting electoral votes to prevent the types of legal strategies allies of Donald Trump attempted on January 6.“I look forward to supporting the legislation, as introduced in committee,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon.While it was already thought to have the votes to pass, McConnell’s endorsement greatly increases the bill’s chances of passing the Democratic-controlled chamber, where most legislation requires the support of at least 10 Republicans in addition to all Democrats. The bill, called the Electoral Count Reform Act of 2022, clarifies the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which Trump’s allies cited loopholes in to try to convince vice-president Mike Pence to delay or overturn Joe Biden’s election win when Congress convened on January 6, 2021.Bipartisan Senate group reaches deal to reform Electoral Count ActRead moreThe leaders of the January 6 committee have issued a statement explaining their decision to postpone tomorrow’s hearing, citing the threat of Hurricane Ian.“In light of Hurricane Ian bearing down on parts of Florida, we have decided to postpone tomorrow’s proceedings. We’re praying for the safety of all those in the storm’s path,” the committee’s Democratic chair Bennie Thompson and Republican vice-chair Liz Cheney said in a joint statement. “The Select Committee’s investigation goes forward and we will soon announce a date for the postponed proceedings.”Tomorrow’s hearing of the January 6 committee has indeed been postponed, The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell confirms:New: Confirming Wash Post that the Jan. 6 committee hearing scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed, per source familiar— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) September 27, 2022
    The January 6 committee may reschedule its hearing set for tomorrow due to Hurricane Ian, which is expected to hit Florida’s west coast and could cause severe damage, The Washington Post reports:News: Tmrw’s @January6thCmte hearing is likely to be postponed due to Hurricane Ian, me & @jdawsey1 are told.— Jacqueline Alemany (@JaxAlemany) September 27, 2022
    The Wednesday hearing is the first since late July, and potentially the committee’s last public session before the 8 November midterms. The bipartisan committee investigating the insurrection at the Capitol was expected to air a variety of new evidence, potentially touching on the actions of Trump ally Roger Stone as well as the Secret Service.The White House has condemned Idaho’s anti-abortion law after a university cited it when warning staff that condoms could be provided to prevent sexually transmitted infections, but not as birth control.Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the university’s warning is an indication that the legislation is intended to undercut rights:For years, GOP officials have gone after contraception and family planning services. After the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, GOP officials appear more empowered to strip Americans of their basic rights. https://t.co/3VNpW0dUgd— Karine Jean-Pierre (@PressSec) September 27, 2022
    To be clear, nothing under Idaho law justifies the university’s decision to deny students access to contraception. But the situation in Idaho speaks to the unacceptable consequences of extreme abortion bans.— Karine Jean-Pierre (@PressSec) September 27, 2022
    The overwhelming majority of Americans believe in the right to birth control, as well as the right to abortion, without government interference. These policies are extreme and backwards.— Karine Jean-Pierre (@PressSec) September 27, 2022
    University of Idaho says staff can offer condoms for STDs – not birth controlRead moreThe sentencing of Kyle Young, a January 6 rioter who pled guilty to a charge of assaulting the police, is underway in Washington.Two of the Washington police officers he assaulted have spoken at the Iowa man’s sentencing, including Michael Fanone, who was shocked by another rioter with a taser as Young restrained him. He’s asked for Young to be sentenced to at least 10 years in prison, much more than federal prosecutors are seeking. Here’s more from Politico:HAPPENING NOW: MPD Officers Moore and Fanone are addressing Judge Amy Berman Jackson as she prepares to sentence Jan. 6 defendant Kyle Young, who participated in some of the most brutal violence that day at the Capitols’ Lower West Terrace Tunnel.— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) September 27, 2022
    DOJ is recommenting 86 months for Young, who brought his minor son into the melee and handed a taser to another rioter, who used it against Fanone. Fanone is speaking now, describing the events of the day. https://t.co/6jEktwy8WU pic.twitter.com/NaCK4tGTXU— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) September 27, 2022
    YOUNG, addressing the court, turns to Officer Fanone, apologizes and breaks down crying.”I am so so sorry. And if I could take it back I would.”Turning to the judge, he says, “Whatever you give me as a punishment, I accept.”— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) September 27, 2022
    The Secret Service took cellphones from 24 agents involved in its response to January 6 and turned them over to the homeland security department’s inspector general as he investigates the deletion of text messages and other data from around the time of the insurrection, NBC News reports.While it’s not clear what Joseph Cuffari has been able to obtain from the phones, NBC says the seizure of the government-supplied devices occurred in July, after the inspector general informed the Secret Service that he would launch a criminal probe into the deletion of the records. The missing data has become a major issue for the January 6 committee, which has taken evidence from a variety of people at the Capitol and in the Trump White House around the time of the attack. Interest in what the Secret Service knew about the insurrection was raised after Trump administration aide Cassidy Hutchinson said that agents had witnessed alarming behavior by the then-president shortly before the attack, including a physical altercation for the steering wheel of his limousine. However, the agency said data from 5 and 6 January were lost in a pre-planned upgrade of its cellphones.Cuffari himself has also come in for criticism. Last week, staff of the homeland security watchdog called on president Joe Biden to fire him, accusing him in an anonymous letter of “poor decision-making”, the Project on Government Oversight reported. Appointed by Trump, Cuffari is a former aide to Republican Arizona governors Doug Ducey and Jan Brewer.Secret Service watchdog suppressed memo on January 6 texts erasureRead moreThomas Zimmer writes…As the January 6 hearings are about to resume, it is unlikely that our basic understanding of what happened between the 2020 presidential election and the attack on the Capitol will significantly change. That is a testament to the crucial work the committee has already done and to which we owe much of our detailed knowledge of the weeks long, multi-level coup attempt and the evolving strategies of those involved in this deliberate campaign to nullify the election results, prevent the transfer of power and end constitutional government in America.And yet, the committee’ job is far from done. It still has an important role to play in determining the meaning and role of January 6 in US history. Was the attack on the US Capitol a failed, desperate, last-ditch effort by delusional extremists? Or will it be remembered as a milestone in America’s accelerating descent into authoritarianism – an assault on the system that didn’t succeed initially but played a key role in democracy’s demise? The answer to these questions is not decided by facts and past events. In a very real sense, January 6 isn’t over yet, and the success or failure of the Trumpian coup attempt will be decided by what happens next.If that sounds counter-intuitive, it is helpful to examine how the meaning of another infamous historical event to which January 6 has often been compared – the Beer Hall Putsch, Adolf Hitler’s failed coup attempt in November 1923 – changed significantly over time.More:January 6 changed America. Here are two directions the country could go now | Thomas ZimmerRead moreGloria Oladipo writes…The Department of Justice has pushed back on the unsubstantiated claims from Donald Trump that the agency planted evidence during its search of Mar-a-Lago in August, submitting a slightly amended list of seized materials and an affidavit that the list reflects what was taken.The FBI submitted a first version of the inventory list several weeks ago. It only had one business day to compile that list but had more time to submit the most recent version, CNN reported. The agency also said that in the updated version it filtered out potentially privileged items.Judge Raymond Dearie, the special master appointed to review the case, requested that the FBI provide a “full and accurate” picture of what was obtained in the search.Dearie’s request came after Trump and several allies claimed, without evidence, that the FBI planted items during its search of the Florida mansion.Dearie has given Trump’s lawyers until Friday to provide evidence to back up the accusation that the agency is “incorrectly describing” any materials.DoJ pushes back on Trump’s claims it planted evidence at Mar-a-Lago Read moreDonald Trump has a legal – if incremental – win to celebrate.Earlier today, the 2nd circuit court of appeals ruled that a lower-court judge was wrong when he said Trump, as president, was not covered by a federal law that can shield federal employees from liability in incidents related to their work.The case involved is the defamation suit brought by the writer E Jean Carroll, who alleges that Trump raped her in a New York department store changing room in the 1990s, which Trump vehemently denies.As Politico reports today, “Under Trump, the justice department belatedly invoked that law – known as the Westfall Act – in a bid to shut down the defamation case Carroll filed in 2019 stemming from statements Trump issued denying that he raped Carroll, including a declaration that ‘She’s not my type.’ .css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}Last year, under President Joe Biden, the justice department stirred controversy by reaffirming the department’s earlier stance that Trump was essentially immune from suit because he was acting within the scope of his duties when fielding media questions about the alleged rape at the Bergdorf Goodman in 1995 or 1996.”On Tuesday, two of three judges on the appeals court said there was “manifest uncertainty” about whether Trump was covered by the Westfall Act. The third judge said the law did not apply.As Politico reports, any resolution is likely “many more months, if not years” away.Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said: “We are extremely pleased … This decision will protect the ability of all future presidents to effectively govern without hindrance. We are confident that the DC Court of Appeals” – the next stop for the case – “will find that our client was acting within the scope of his employment when properly repudiating Ms Carroll’s allegations.”Carroll and the justice department did not immediately comment.Carroll has said she plans to directly accuse Trump of rape under a new New York law that allows civil claims over alleged sex crimes otherwise subject to a 20-year statute of limitations.More:Writer E Jean Carroll to file new lawsuit after accusing Trump of rapeRead moreAs Hurricane Ian churns towards Florida’s west coast, Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has joined the White House press briefing.She’s talking about the preparations for the latest storm, as well as Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Fiona last week. .@FEMA_Deanne live in the press briefing room: “I can tell you our biggest concern as we wait for the storm to make landfall is storm surge. It is a leading cause of hurricane-related fatalities. If people are told to evacuate by their local officials, listen to them.” pic.twitter.com/HTqa0RUxp3— Jaclyn Rothenberg (she/her) (@FEMAspox) September 27, 2022
    You can watch the briefing below:The January 6 insurrection continues to reverberate through Washington today, as the trial of five Oath Keepers, including founder of the militant group Stewart Rhodes, begins, while another rioter is sentenced after pleading guilty to assaulting a police officer. Meanwhile, the congressional committee investigating the attack is preparing to hold its first public hearing in more than two months tomorrow, with Trump ally Roger Stone said to feature prominently, among other evidence.Here’s what else happened so far today:
    The Senate appears ready to pass a bill tweaking America’s election laws to prevent the types of legal plots that were attempted on January 6, a Democratic lawmaker sponsoring the bill said.
    Texas’s attorney general fled a process server delivering him a subpoena related to a lawsuit filed by abortion advocates against the state’s efforts to stop them from helping women seeking care in other states.
    The White House has unveiled a major anti-hunger plan to address the United States’ troublingly high rates of food insecurity.
    Opponents of Joe Biden’s student debt relief plan have cast it as expensive and potentially illegal, and the Associated Press reports that a California law firm has taken the plan to court to see whether it will hold up.The libertarian Pacific Legal Foundation sued over the plan in Indiana, where an employee of the firm lives and where the state government said it intends to levy taxes on any canceled debt, according to the AP. The lawsuit challenges the plan on the grounds that the employee is set to get his debt erased through a federal program for civil servants, and thus he will face a tax burden under the White House program.Here’s more from the report:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}“Congress did not authorize the executive branch to unilaterally cancel student debt,” said Caleb Kruckenberg, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. He said it’s illegal for the executive branch to create the policy “by press release, and without statutory authority.”
    The suit’s plaintiff is Frank Garrison, described as a public interest attorney who lives in Indiana and is employed by the libertarian group.
    Garrison is on track to get his student debt erased through a separate federal program for public servants. Although most borrowers will need to apply for Biden’s plan, Garrison and many others in that program will automatically get the relief because the Education Department has their income information on file.
    Biden’s plan would automatically cancel $20,000 of Garrison’s debt, which in turn would trigger an “immediate tax liability” from the state of Indiana, according to the suit. Under the debt forgiveness program he’s enrolled in now, canceled debt cannot be taxed.
    “Mr. Garrison and millions of others similarly situated in the six relevant states will receive no additional benefit from the cancellation — just a one-time additional penalty,” the suit argues.
    Any student debt forgiven under Biden’s plan would also be subject to state taxes in Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina and Wisconsin, unless lawmakers in those states change their current laws.
    Biden’s plan promises to cancel $10,000 in federal student debt for borrowers with incomes of less than $125,000 per year or households making less than $250,000. Those who received federal Pell Grants to attend college would get an additional $10,000 erased.
    An application to receive the benefit is expected by early October.Biden unveils plan to cancel $10,000 in student loan debt for millionsRead moreThe United States is one of the world’s richest countries, but many people struggle to put enough food on the table. Nina Lakhani reports on a new White House plan to change that:The Biden government has launched a new strategy to end hunger in the US by 2030 through the expansion of benefits such as free school meals and food stamps.One in 10 households struggled to feed their families in 2021 due to poverty – an extraordinary level of food insecurity in the richest country in the world which has barely budged in the past two decades amid deepening economic inequalities and welfare cuts.The plan, published on Tuesday, also aims to cut diet-related diseases by increasing access to healthy food and exercise as new data shows that more than 35% of people in 19 states and two territories are obese – more the double the number of states in 2018 – while one in 10 Americans have diabetes. It includes proposals to reform food packaging and voluntary salt and sugar reduction targets for the food industry, as well as working to expand Medicaid and Medicare access to obesity counselling and nutrition.US launches effort to end hunger by 2030 by expanding benefits and access to healthy foodsRead more More

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    The Guardian view on moving the British embassy to Jerusalem: don’t do it | Editorial

    The Guardian view on moving the British embassy to Jerusalem: don’t do itEditorialLiz Truss has promised a review, but relocating it would be shameful and stupid. That might not put off the prime minister – but it should Donald Trump’s relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018 was incendiary. Widely criticised, including by the British government, it sparked protests and clashes in which Israeli security forces killed dozens of Palestinians. Though a superpower’s example offers cover to others, only four countries followed suit: Honduras, Guatemala, Kosovo – and Paraguay, which swiftly reversed course.Yet Liz Truss last week said that she was considering relocating the British embassy. The case against a move is logical, legal and practical as well as moral. East Jerusalem has been considered occupied territory under international law since the six-day war in 1967, and the future capital of a Palestinian state. Mr Trump’s proposals for an unworkable “peace plan” committed to Jerusalem as an “undivided” capital – Israel’s position. But British policy remains unchanged. Moving the embassy would tear up the commitment to any meaningful two-state solution. It would tacitly condone the march of illegal settlements. Palestinian doors would slam in the faces of diplomats, the British Council and others: longstanding suspicion of the UK has accelerated in recent years. Relations with other Middle East nations would suffer. All this for minimal, if any, benefit.The prime minister’s remarks came on the sidelines of the UN general assembly meeting where Yair Lapid voiced support for a two-state solution – the first Israeli prime minister to do so since 2017. This is a return to the rhetorical status quo ante, without either intention or ability to act upon his words, while the reality on the ground makes a peace deal ever more distant. There is no prospect of serious talks with Palestinians and minimal external pressure. While it may have been intended to sweeten his message on Iran, most have seen it in the context of November’s general election – Israel’s fifth in less than four years, and once again shaping up as a contest for and against former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (currently favoured by polls). The thinking is that Mr Lapid hopes to encourage voters on the left to turn out or, more likely, switch to him, keeping him at the head of the anti-Bibi bloc.It may also smooth relations with Joe Biden, who hailed his remarks, but has shown little real interest in the future of Palestinians. His administration vowed to reopen the consulate in Jerusalem, which served Palestinians, and the PLO mission in Washington; neither has happened. The president’s cursory trip to East Jerusalem and Bethlehem this summer looked like cover for his meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman.Badly failed by their own leadership too, Palestinians feel not only frustrated and angry, but betrayed. Ms Truss’s review is further confirmation that they are right. Her brief tenure has already demonstrated that a policy’s badness, stupidity and unpopularity are not obstacles to embracing it: the opportunity to “challenge conformity” – ignoring officials’ warnings – may even be a spur. This is still more likely when Palestinians, rather than her own electorate, will pay. But Britain’s historical responsibilities, as well as international law, demand that it does better. It should keep the embassy in Tel Aviv, and not add to the damage already done.TopicsIsraelOpinionMiddle East and north AfricaBenjamin NetanyahuYair LapidLiz TrussUS politicsJoe BideneditorialsReuse this content More