House to vote on formalizing Biden impeachment inquiry – National & International News – WED 13Dec2023

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House to vote on formalizing Biden impeachment inquiry.

Alabama’s plan to gas inmate may endanger witnesses, his spiritual advisor.

Biden says Israel losing int’l support for bombing Gaza; White House walks it back.



House to vote on formalizing Biden impeachment inquiry

The House of Representatives is debating ahead of a vote to formalize its impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy first ordered the inquiry to be convened in September. Since then, there have been several hearings, none of which has yet produced any hard evidence of wrongdoing by Biden himself. The committees leading the investigation claim that the White House is “stonewalling” by not handing over records it is seeking and say that a vote to formalize an inquiry would compel Biden to be more forthcoming.

So far, proceedings have focused on the business dealings of Biden’s son, Hunter. House investigators allege that Hunter Biden traded on his father’s position (then as Vice President) to secure lucrative contracts and positions in foreign companies. The House has called Hunter Biden to testify behind closed doors but Hunter says he will only testify publicly.

House Speaker Mike Johnson can only afford to lose three votes in his Republican majority, and its unclear whether his entire caucus is on board. Some Republicans representing purple districts may not be enthusiastic to support the inquiry.

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Alabama’s plan to gas inmate may endanger witnesses, his spiritual advisor

On January 24, 2024, the Alabama Department of Corrections plans to execute Kenneth Smith using a method never-before-used in any execution in the US. The state plans to put Smith to death using nitrogen hypoxia. Theoretically, the department says, forcing a condemned person to breathe nothing but nitrogen should cause them to suffocate and die. Although this method has never been tried, the nitrogen method is authorized for use in executions in Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi. 

Smith’s spiritual advisor Rev. Jeff Hood has come forward with documentation showing that the DOC asked him to sign a waiver acknowledging that he may be endangered while ministering to Smith. The risks are that the gas could leak from the mask Smith will be wearing. Nitrogen makes up 70% of the air we breathe and at those levels it is harmless. However, higher concentrations pose more risks, not only to Rev. Hood but to other witnesses at Smith’s execution. Dr. Joel Zivot, an anesthesiologist, says “They could start to hyperventilate because their body would detect that they’re in a low oxygen environment. And that severe hyperventilation can lead to a stroke.”

Rev. Hood is also concerned that the use of this method will interfere with his work at the execution since he has been advised he must stay at least 3 ft. away from Smith during the execution. This may infringe on Smith’s religious liberty. Last year, the Supreme Court that Texas would be in violation of the religious rights of convicted murderer John Ramirez if Ramirez’s pastor were not allowed to lay hands on him. In ministering last rites, Rev. Hood normally lays hands on the condemned and anoints their foreheads with oil.

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Biden says Israel losing int’l support for bombing Gaza; White House walks it back

Since Oct. 7, the Biden administration has staunchly supported the state of Israel in its bombing campaign and invasion of Gaza. To date, Israel has killed over 24,000 people in Gaza, over 22,000 of whom were civilians (over 9000 children, nearly 5000 women), according to Euro Med Monitor. As the death toll has grown, more and more have come to condemn what they see as Israel’s genocide and ethnic cleansing of Gaza.

Biden’s support for Israel has cost him dearly as he heads into a tough re-election battle. His approval numbers among young people, a key Democratic demographic, and US Muslims have plummeted. Muslims are not a huge voting block overall but there happen to be large concentrations of them in swing states where polls currently project Biden would lose to Trump were the election held today.

Support for Israel is also costing US political capital abroad. Last week, the UN Security Council met to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The US was the sole vote against a ceasefire. Yesterday, the UN Generally Assembly voted overwhelmingly call for a ceasefire. Of 193 member nations, the vote was 153 in favor, 10 against and 23 abstentions. 

In remarks at a fundraiser yesterday, Biden acknowledged for the first time that the world is turning on Israel. Israel “has the European Union, it has Europe, it has most of the world supporting them. But they’re starting to lose that support by indiscriminate bombing that takes place”, Biden said.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen responded saying that Israel would continue its military operations in Gaza “with or without international support”. This afternoon, John Kirby, the White House’s National Security Council spokesman, has now walked back Biden’s remarks, particularly the description of Israel’s bombing as “indiscriminate.

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