Dems: ban unvaxxed from domestic flights. Trump ally Bannon arrested. National Guard called in ahead of Rittenhouse verdict. Pentagon covered-up 2019 Syria airstrike that killed 50 civilians.
Biden under pressure to ban unvaxxed from domestic flights
A group of 36 Democratic lawmakers are advocating that President Biden ban unvaccinated travelers from domestic flights ahead of the holiday season. A letter from the group argues that with COVID-19 cases surging anew in parts of the country, a ban on unvaccinated travelers would minimize a holiday-related spike in cases. The letter also says the move would support the travel and hospitality industries whose profits remain down compared to 2019.
From the airline industry’s perspective, requiring proof of vaccination from passengers could potentially remove the need for on-board masking rules. Mask rules have led to a record number of violent incidents on flights this year. The FAA has reported 5,114 unruly passenger incidents this year, 73% of which began with mask disputes. Over 100 of these incidents have led to physical assaults.
A Southwest Airlines employee was recently hospitalized after being punched in the head by an angry passenger. Flight crew had already ejected the passenger from a Dallas-to-New York flight for as yet undisclosed reasons. The passenger was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.
Trump ally Steve Bannon arrested on contempt charges
Last Friday, the Department of Justice indicted Trump ally Steve Bannon on contempt of Congress charges. Members of Congress had previously recommended contempt charges after Bannon defied a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee and refused to submit relevant documents. Today, Bannon turned himself in to the FBI and will likely appear in court this afternoon.
Other Trump allies, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, may soon face similar charges. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who chairs the Jan. committee, has previously given his opinion that there was “no question” that the violence of the Capitol riot was premeditated and that Trump’s allies, possibly to include Bannon and Meadows, were behind it in some way. In an interview on Jan. 5, Bannon memorably predicted that “all hell” would break loose as Congress convened to ratify the election results the next day.
Over the weekend, former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, stated in an interview that Trump frequently held “off-the-books” meetings to avoid them being logged in official documents. Grisham said that Trump held these impromptu meetings in his White House residence, in part because he was “paranoid” about leaks. Grisham also said that Meadows helped plan these meetings and said the Jan. 6 committee had good reason to want to speak to him.
National Guard called in ahead of Rittenhouse verdict
The city of Kenosha, WI, has called in 500 National Guard troops to maintain order in the city ahead of the verdict in Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial. Last year, Rittenhouse fatally shot two protesters and wounded a third during police brutality protests. Closing arguments are currently underway. Once the defense and prosecution have concluded their remarks, it will pass to the jury to reach a verdict. If convicted of the most serious charge of first degree murder, Rittenhouse, 18, faces a mandatory life sentence.
Earlier today, the presiding judge dismissed a lesser count against Rittenhouse of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. This misdemeanor charge was the surest to get a conviction, carrying a 9-month sentence, as Rittenhouse was 17 at the time of the shootings.
Pentagon: 2019 strike that killed 50 Syrian civilians “legitimate”
The Pentagon has defended a 2019 air strike that potentially killed dozens of innocent civilians in Syria as “legitimate”. The statement comes after news outlets, including The New York Times, ran stories over the weekend alleging an official cover-up over the deaths resulting from the attack. The strike targeting ISIS fighters killed about 80 people. An investigation concluded that only about 16 of those killed were actually militants.
The Pentagon has also recently declared a drone strike that killed 10 civilians, including 7 children in Afghanistan in August this year to be an “honest mistake” that did not break any laws.