Tag Archive for: journalist murders

Memphis: “Appalling” video of police beating Tyre Nichols to be released today.

Citizen raised concerns about abuse by MPD officers in SCORPION unit days before Nichols stop.

New Israeli air strikes on Gaza.



Memphis: “Absolutely appalling” video of police beating Tyre Nichols to be released today 

Yesterday afternoon, the five former Memphis PD officers involved in Tyre Nichols’ traffic stop were formally charged in connection with his death. Each of them has been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, official misconduct and official oppression. Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith all surrendered themselves to authorities shortly before the charges were announced.

Memphis officials are planning to release the video of the deadly encounter today. Local officials, members of Nichols’ family and their attorneys have already seen it. By all accounts, it depicts an especially egregious example of police brutality. In the video, officers are seen restraining, beating, Tasing and pepper spraying Nichols while he asks what he did and calls for his mother. Nichols died in hospital three days after the Jan. 7 stop.

During yesterday’s press conference, David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, told reporters, “Simply put, this should not have happened”. Despite his 30 years in law enforcement, Rausch was “shocked” and “sickened” by the video and what TBI’s investigation revealed. He called the video “absolutely appalling” and said the encounter “does not at all reflect proper policing. This was wrong; this was criminal”.

MPD Chief CJ Davis had equally strong words about the video, saying it was “perhaps worse” than the video of Los Angeles police beating Rodney King more than 30 years ago. The Rodney King video sparked weeks of riots in LA.

Officials are worried that the release of the video today could spark similar unrest in Memphis. Nichols’ parents Rowvaughn and Rodney Wells are calling on the community to protest peacefully.


Citizen raised concerns about SCORPION unit days before Nichols traffic stop

All five of the MPD officers involved in Nichols’ death were members of a special enforcement unit created in 2021. The 50-person SCORPION (Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace In Our Neighborhoods) unit was created to increase police presence and visibility in high-crime areas. The day Nichols was stopped by police, a police radio transmission called other SCORPION units to respond to the scene.

McKinney snapped this picture showing unmarked SCORPION unit police vehicles in front of the Marathon gas station.

Four days before Nichols was pulled over, Cornell McKinney was accosted by SCORPION unit officers at a Marathon gas station on Ridgeway and Knight Arnold Rd. The officers approached McKinney and a friend he was riding with. McKinney says the officers yelled at them, “Freeze, get out the car! Put your m—f—ing hands up before I blow your heads off!”

McKinney then says one of he officers physically pulled him out of the car. The officers then asked McKinney “who the drugs belonged to”. Perplexed, McKinney told the officers he was just trying to get a pizza. Eventually, the officers told him they were “just playing” and drove off. McKinney then called MPD Internal Affairs twice to report the officers but never heard back.

When photos of the five officers involved in Tyre Nichols’ case were released after they were fired, McKinney said he recognized them as the officers who had harassed him. McKinney lamented that Nichols’ death might have been prevented if MPD had acted on his complaint.

Click here for Cornell McKinney’s story (3-minute video ~ opens in new tab).

Click here to read the story from WREG.com (opens in new tab).



New Israeli air strikes in Gaza

For over a year, the Israeli military has been conducting deadly raids in majority-Arab cities in the occupied West Bank. This followed a series of attacks on Jewish Israeli citizens by Islamic militants with connections to ISIS. It was in one of these raids that Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed last year by an Israeli sniper. Abu Akleh was covering the raids for Al-Jazeera and wearing a helmet and vest that identified her as PRESS when an “apparently well-aimed” Israel bullet killed her.

In recent weeks, the military raids in the West Bank have intensified. Last week, Israeli forces gunned down a 57-year-old Palestinian teacher who was giving first aid to a wounded militant. Earlier this week, another raid in the West Bank town of Jenin killed nine Palestinians, among them a 61-year-old woman. These deaths sparked outrage and protests, during which another man was shot and killed. 

Yesterday, militants in Gaza fired six rockets into Israel, which were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system and caused no injuries. Today, Israel retaliated by firing rockets of its own into Gaza, a densely populated area.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!


Garland names special counsel to oversee Trump probes. Twitter imploding under Musk; engineers warn platform could fail as soon as Monday. Biden administration gives Saudi Crown Prince immunity in journalist’s killing.




AG Garland names Jack Smith special counsel to oversee Trump investigations

Three days after Donald Trump announced his 2024 candidacy for President, Attorney General Merrick Garland has announced the appointment of a special counsel to oversee two separate federal criminal probes into Trump. Garland has named Jack Smith, a veteran Justice Department prosecutor, to decide whether to issue indictments in the two cases.

The Justice Department appoints special counsels in politically sensitive cases, often to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Garland himself is a political appointee of the Biden administration himself. By investigating an announced Presidential candidate who could potentially face Biden in 2024, Garland would open himself up to accusations of prosecuting Trump for political reasons. Trump likely will level that accusation anyway and will try to use it as a talking point in his defense against any potential prosecution. Appointing Smith will at least distance Garland’s office from the case.

Jack Smith is a former chief of the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section, which investigates public corruption. He has extensive experience in handling cases linked to national security and bribery and corruption of public officials. Smith will decide whether to prosecute Trump for his mishandling of the classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago. The other probe is related to efforts by Trump and his advisors to overturn his loss in the 2020 Presidential election. 

Notably, a federal courthouse in Washington impaneled three new grand juries today, possibly in connection with Smith’s probe.

A separate criminal probe of Trump’s election interference led by Fulton County DA Fani Willis in Georgia is also expected to issue indictments in December.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).


Twitter imploding under Musk; engineers warn platform could fail as soon as Monday

So far, Elon Musk’s reign over social media platform Twitter has been one catastrophe after another. Musk immediately fired many of the top executives, followed by several department heads. Then he laid off half of Twitter’s workforce. A few days later, he asked some of them to come back a few days later when he realized he needed their expertise to keep the platform running.

Now, thousands more have quit after Musk issued an ultimatum, demanding they either be “extremely hardcore” and commit to working 80-hour weeks or quit. There’s no publicly available information to confirm how many have left, but statements from several former employees suggest there’s hardly anyone left. When Musk took over, there were about 7,500 employees- now anecdotal reports suggest there may be fewer than 2,000.

According former Twitter VP Bruce Daisley, former company engineers are saying that the platform could “fail as soon as Monday”. Most of the staff who were crucial to keeping the platform working have reportedly left the building. Twitter has crashed before, but the people who knew how to get it back up quickly are out the door. Any outage could now take days or weeks to rectify. A lot of Twitter users are now posting messages telling their followers where else to find them online in case the platform goes down for good.

To make matters worse, Twitter’s advertisers are spooked at the prospect of no one being at the wheel to control hate speech and other undesirable content on the platform. Advertisers are currently Twitter’s main revenue source and they are backing out in droves. 

Amid the tumult, Musk has locked employees out of their offices until Monday, November 21, which is never a good sign.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



Biden administration gives Saudi Crown Prince immunity in journalist’s killing

In 2018, Saudi dissident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khasshoggi was brutally murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. US intelligence concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (sometimes called MBS) had ordered the killing. While there have been some prosecutions in Turkey of low-level henchmen, MBS himself has so far eluded justice.

Hatice Cengiz, Khasshoggi’s fiancé at the time of his death, and a civil rights group founded by Khasshoggi filed a civil case in a US District Court in a last ditch attempt to hold MBS responsible for Khasshoggi’s assassination. But now, the US State Department has filed a recommendation with the court to shield the Crown Prince from prosecution on the grounds that he is now effectively Saudi Arabia’s head of government. MBS was recently appointed Prime Minister.

Cengiz responded to the ruling on Twitter saying that “Jamal died again today”. Cengiz was waiting outside the consulate as Khasshoggi was being strangled and then dismembered inside. She had accompanied Khasshoggi to the consulate, where he was to file some papers that would allow them to marry.

As a general rule, heads of government enjoy broad immunity from prosecution in US courts. This is part of an agreement to protect US diplomats abroad. But the State Department also has the option to stay silent in such cases and advocates for justice in Khasshoggi’s death had hoped they would. During his 2020 campaign, Biden had promised to hold MBS accountable for Khasshoggi’s death, in contrast to then-President Trump who at the time dismissed the findings of his own intelligence service. 

However, after gas prices rose this year, Biden traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet with MBS in hopes the oil-rich country would increase production. Despite this, OPEC+ voted in October to decrease production by about 1 million barrels a day. 

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!

Jan. 6: Secret Service reportedly deleted texts from Jan. 5 and 6 after subpoena. Report finds “systemic failures” in police response to Uvalde shooting. Tensions remain after Biden meeting with Saudi Prince.



Jan. 6: Secret Service reportedly deleted texts from Jan. 5 and 6 after subpoena

In a letter to the Congressional homeland security committees, the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security claims that members of the Secret Service deleted their texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, after the Jan. 6 select committee had subpoenaed them. The Secret Service denies that their members deleted these texts to evade the subpoena. Instead, they maintain that some texts were deleted long ago and that others were lost in a “device-replacement program”.

Whatever the case, this oversight failure is only the latest in a string of worrisome revelations about the Secret Service and its parent agency DHS. 

Back in March reports surfaced that, as early as Dec. 21, 2020, the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) had been monitoring threats of violence to occur on Jan. 6. These included specific threats to kill protesters and government officials, as well as tactical maps of D.C. and the Capitol grounds. I&A made no attempt to share its concerns with law enforcement or other relevant officials until Jan. 5. That report was not even approved and released until two days after the riot.

However, I&A officials were trading communications amongst themselves, joking about the prospect of Democratic politicians being hanged.

DHS targeted journalists, protected far-right militants

Intelligence and Analysis found itself in the spotlight previously in 2020. First, in the summer of 2020, leaked documents revealed that  I&A officials had been compiling files on journalists who were covering the George Floyd protests. Later, an I&A whistleblower came forward claiming that the acting heads of DHS had pressured analysts to downplay intelligence concerning threats of violence from far-right groups and to instead focus on bolstering Trump’s claims of dangerous left-wing organizations. At the time, Trump loyalists Chad Wolff and Ken Cuccinelli were the acting Secretary and Deputy Secretary of DHS, respectively. Cuccinelli also famously promised to ban sodomy during his unsuccessful campaign to become governor of Virginia.

Jan. 6 involvement

The key to understanding the role members of the Secret Service played in the planning of the attempted coup on Jan. 6 lies with Tony Ornato. Ornato was himself a member of the Secret Service and head of Trump’s security detail until Dec. 2019. At that point, Trump appointed him Deputy Chief of Staff, an unprecedented step up for a Secret Service agent. In his new position, Ornato oversaw security matters at the White House.

During the riot on the 6th, Vice President Pence and others were removed to secure locations near or within the Capitol grounds. Ornato reportedly wanted to remove Pence from the Capitol altogether. Pence, however, insisted on staying put. Ornato allegedly told Pence’s national security adviser Keith Kellogg that he wanted to remove Pence to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. Kellogg reportedly said to Ornato, “You can’t do that, Tony. Leave him where he’s at. He’s got a job to do. I know you guys too well. You’ll fly him to Alaska if you have a chance. Don’t do it”.

Had Ornato gotten his way and removed Pence to Maryland, or even further afield, Trump’s goal of blocking the certification of the 2020 election results would have been accomplished. Kellogg’s words to Ornato seem to indicate that Kellogg’s suspicions that Ornato and perhaps other members of the White House security detail had just such an outcome in mind.

A spokesperson for the Secret Service has denied that Ornato had any involvement in Pence’s movements on the 6th. Ornato has denied having several crucial conversations reported by multiple high-ranking members of the Trump White House, with some outright calling Ornato a liar. Ornato remains a high-ranking member of the Secret Service, currently serving as assistant director of the Secret Service’s Office of Training.

Thursday’s hearing

The 8th and possibly final public hearing of the Jan. 6 committee is set to take place this Thursday, July 21, during prime time, though these schedules are always subject to change. Committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) told ABC that following the reporting about the deletions from the DHS Inspector General, the Secret Service reached out to the committee denying the allegations and saying that they will comply with the subpoena. Lofgren says the committee expects to have the relevant texts by Tuesday, July 19. It’s not clear what texts the Secret Service has or how they were preserved or recovered. Lofgren says the texts are necessary to get “the full picture” of what happened on Jan. 6. 

This week’s hearing will focus on Trump’s actions and other goings on in the White House on the day of the 6th.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).


Report finds “systemic failures” in police response to Uvalde shooting

A committee of state legislators in Texas has released the report of their investigation into the Uvalde school shooting. The report found “systemic failures” in the police response to the shooting. In particular, the report blames a lack of leadership and a “lackadaisical approach” to the shooting for allowing a gunman to rampage inside two classrooms for 77 minutes. Ultimately, the 18-year-old shooter killed 19 children and two teachers as about two dozen police officers stood in the hallway. 

The report found that nearly 400 police officers responded to the shooting, many from surrounding areas. Videos circulated after the shooting of the hundreds of police officers with military grade weapons and heavy protective gear standing outside the school. Rather than attempting to enter the school to stop the shooter, these officers stood outside preventing unarmed parents and community members from entering the school. In at least one instance, police pepper sprayed a distraught onlooker and tackled him to the sidewalk.

Despite pointing to a lack of leadership, the report did not single out any particular official as being responsible for the failures that day. Following a public outcry from citizens, the Chief of the Uvalde School District police Pete Arredondo finally resigned weeks after the incident. Arredondo has claimed that he didn’t know he was in charge of the scene when he turned up.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



Tensions remain after Biden meeting with Saudi Crown Prince

Over the weekend, President Biden traveled to Saudi Arabia in his first official visit since taking office. Previously, Biden had pledged to make Saudi Arabia, and in particular its Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) a “pariah” over an abysmal human rights record. But following chaos in the oil markets due to the war in Ukraine, Biden relented his former rejection of talks with MBS in hopes that Saudi Arabia might increase its oil production.

One of the key points of tension between the two leaders is the finding by US intelligence that MBS approved the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khasshoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. Accounts differ over whether Biden addressed Khasshoggi’s murder during his meeting with MBS. A Saudi minister who was present at the meeting said he did not hear Biden say that he blamed MBS for the assassination. Biden flatly denied the Saudi minister’s version of events.

Another account alleges that during the meeting, MBS taunted Biden for caring more about Khasshoggi’s death than the death of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Witnesses to Akleh’s death claim that she was targeted by Israeli forces. Akleh’s family has asked the US to investigate her death. US officials have so far rejected this plea, despite concluding publicly that Akleh most likely died at the hands of the Israeli military.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).


Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!



Senate passes historic healthcare expansion for veterans. FDA OKs COVID shot for youngest kids. UK official approves Assange extradition. Bodies found in search for missing Amazon pair.




Senate passes historic expansion of healthcare for veterans

Yesterday, the Senate has overwhelmingly (84-14) approved the Honoring our PACT Act. If the bill becomes law, it will significantly expand health coverage for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals during their service.

Many have referred to the bill as the “burn pits” bill because of the many Iraq and Afghanistan war vets who’ve suffered rare cancers from exposure to burn pits near US military bases. Rather than trucking waste away from base and burying it, contractors just opened huge pits next to bases and burned the waste. This included every kind of waste, such as medical waste, human waste, food waste, plastic, broken furniture and other defunct equipment. For years, these fires burned day and night next to areas where soldiers ate, drank, worked and slept. President Biden has said he believes burn pits were responsible for the rare brain cancer that claimed the life of his son Beau, who served in Iraq.

Presumption of connection to service

However, the PACT Act goes further than merely addressing cancers related to burn pits. The bill demands that the VA presume that any cancer or other ill-effect a veteran may suffer is connected to their service. This means that veterans who suffered chemical exposures during Vietnam, Desert Storm or any foreign military action will be covered for treatment.

Lawmakers project that the bill will cost an extra $280 billion over the next decade. Some Republican lawmakers had raised objections to the bill due to its high price tag. But ultimately, the bill won broad bipartisan support in the Senate. Veterans’ groups brought a lot of public pressure on Congress to pass the bill. In recent years, former Daily Show host John Stewart has also lent his voice to the cause. Stewart was instrumental in pressuring Congress to pass a bill to cover the medical bills for 9/11 first responders. 

Stewart joined veterans and other campaigners for the bill outside the Capitol yesterday. After the vote, Stewart paid tribute to the family members of already deceased veterans for their tireless campaigning on behalf of others. “Advocating for a cause is – it’s a lovely thing to do, but to do that in your grief, when you know that it’s not going to help your loved one. But that’s not what matters to you – it’s that no one goes through what you went through”.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).


FDA authorizes first COVID-19 shot for kids as young as 6 months

The FDA has granted emergency authorization for the first COVID-19 vaccination for children between 6 months and 6 years old. The authorization was for a Moderna vaccine, but Pfizer and others are still working on their own formulas. For months, Pfizer, Moderna and others have been conducting studies of young children to determine what dosage is appropriate and therapeutic for the youngest patients. Earlier this year, there was a false start when the FDA encouraged the companies to apply for authorization, only for the biomedical firms to tell them the application would be premature.

The FDA approval means that the government can start shipping doses out to states that have pre-ordered them. All that remains is for CDC Director Rochelle Walensky to grant approval. After that, doctor’s offices and hospitals can start administering the shots. That will likely happen early next week.

All but one of the states will have shots available by then. Florida has refused to pre-order, leaving up to individual doctors and hospitals to order the shots themselves.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



UK Home Secretary approves Assange extradition to US

Britain’s Home Secretary (roughly equivalent to Attorney General) Priti Patel has authorized an extradition order for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to face trial in the US. In 2010, Wikileaks released a trove of documents exposing war crimes perpetrated by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most infamously, this included the “Collateral Murder” video, in which the crew of a US military helicopter fires and kills two Reuters cameramen, then fires on and kills civilians who came to their aid. The act of firing on first responders is known as a “double-tap” and is a war crime.

Because of these and other leaks of secret documents, Assange faces multiple charges of espionage and hacking in the US. Assange has fought extradition for years, first taking asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Since Ecuador revoked his asylum, Assange has spent two years in London’s notorious Belmarsh prison.

Human rights considerations

Owing to Assange’s failing health, his legal team has argued that his extradition to the US would violate his human rights. In early 2021, a judge agreed with them, saying that Assange would be at risk of suicide if subjected to harsh US federal prison conditions. Attorneys from the US Justice Dept. appealed, offering assurances that Assange’s detention would be safe and humane. Judges on the High Court (equivalent to our federal appeals court) thus overturned the lower court judge’s ruling. The UK’s Supreme Court then upheld the High Court’s ruling.

Patel’s approval of Assange’s extradition is not yet the end of the story. Assange’s team has 14 days to appeal this decision and as vowed that they will. If no other British court will hear their case, Assange’s team could appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).


Brazil: Bodies found in search for pair missing in Amazon

A suspect has confessed to involvement in the murders of UK journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous expert Bruno Pereira. The suspect has led police to two bodies he buried, purportedly those of Phillips and Pereira. 

Phillips and Pereira were cooperating on a book Phillips was writing about conservation concerns in the Amazon. Phillips had written for the UK Guardian and the Washington Post as an environmental correspondent. Pereira was an expert on the indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest and had campaigned against illegal fishing in the area. Illegal fishing may sound fairly innocuous, but many of the groups involved in illegal fishing are also connected with smuggling of narcotics and other contraband. 

The Amazon rainforest is a hotbed of illegal and destructive exploitation of natural resources, including illegal mining and logging. Phillips’ hoped to shine a light on these activities and their impact in his book and to offer workable solutions.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).


Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!



Treasure hunters sue FBI over dig for Civil War gold. Jan. 6 Hearing Day 2: A Lie is Born. Brazil: Police deny bodies found in search for missing pair.



Treasure hunters sue FBI over dig for Civil War gold

A lawsuit by a father-son treasure hunting team says the FBI secretly dug up a huge cache of Civil War-era gold in Pennsylvania. In 2018, Dennis and Kem Parada’s treasure hunting company Finders Keepers conducted a geophysical survey of a site in a wooded area. Their results suggested there was a buried object with a mass of up to 9 tons and a density consistent with gold. According to local lore, a shipment of Union gold was lost or stolen in the area on its way to the US Mint in Philadelphia in 1863.

If the gold existed and was connected with this story, it would have been US government property. The Paradas therefore informed the FBI of their findings. The lawsuit claims that the FBI dug up the gold in the middle of the night, and then covered up the discovery, robbing the Paradas of a hefty finder’s fee. The FBI claims they found nothing at the site.

A trail cam the Paradas installed at the site captured an FBI agent with a video camera and other agents milling about. The Paradas say this proves that the FBI filmed the excavation, which the FBI also denies. The Paradas made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain the FBI’s video. The FBI initially claimed it had 17 videos responsive to the FOIA request. Then, without explanation, they reduced it to four. Those four videos were ones the Paradas themselves had provided to the FBI.

Anne Weismann, the Paradas’ attorney, says the trail cam photo suggests that the FBI is either lying about having video of the excavation, or that they illegally destroyed the video to dodge the FOIA request.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).

More on this story (opens in new tab).


Jan. 6 Hearing Day 2: A Lie is Born

“Just claim victory”. That’s what an apparently inebriated Rudy Giuliani told former President Trump on the night of the 2020 election.

Ignoring the advice of his own campaign staff, Trump had chosen to sell his voters on the idea that mail-in ballots were a scam. He’d urged them instead to vote only in person. Now, those in-person tallies were coming in, and it was not looking good for Trump. There were lots of mail-in votes still to be counted in the coming days, and most of them were Biden’s.

Giuliani therefore advised Trump to lean further into the fiction about mail-in ballots being fraudulent, and to demand they not be counted. So began a marathon of ill-conceived court filings, a profusion of ill-fated probes, and a flood of ill-gotten gains ($250 million worth), fleeced from Trump’s own supporters.

Litigation and conspiracy chasing

Yesterday, the Congressional select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot held its second public hearing. This installment focused on the origins of the election fraud allegations that fomented the riot. The panel played recorded testimony from several former Trump staffers, including senior campaign managers, and legal counsel. There were also more clips from former Attorney General Bill Barr, and other senior DOJ staff members. All of the witnesses (with the notable exception of Giuliani) testified that they repeatedly told Trump that Biden had won the election and that there was no evidence of significant voter fraud.

During testimony, the witnesses often seemed bewildered, as if they were only processing the insanity of what happened as they attempted to verbalize it. One of the most telling was a snippet of testimony from Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue (at 1:31:23-1:34:35 in the video link below). Donoghue described how, at the behest of President Trump, the DOJ embarked on a wild goose chase, investigating and debunking one unfounded accusation and conspiracy theory after another. Trump hoped to find one credible instance of significant election fraud. No sooner would the DOJ debunk one theory than Trump would present them with another. Donoghue said that he told the President that he was getting “bad information”, though he did not specify from where. Barr suggested that after the election, Trump had “detached from reality”.

Raging all the way to the bank

Unsatisfied with this, President Trump vehemently expressed his frustration behind closed doors. But in the public eye, he promoted as fact these baseless theories and pursued one unfounded theory after another in the courts. One by one, the courts rejected these filings from Trump’s team as being without merit. Many of the judges who rejected the claims were Republican appointees, and 10 were Trump’s own appointees.

Despite the lack of facts or evidence on his side, Trump’s campaign used these baseless accusations of widespread fraud to squeeze one last payday from his largely working-class and middle-class supporters. Supporters received as many as 25 emails in a day asking for donations to the Official Election Defense Fund. According to testimony from two of Trump’s own staffers, this fund did not exist. It was, at best, a marketing ploy. Instead, most of the money raised for the Official Election Defense Fund went to a newly-created political action committee (PAC) called the Save America PAC. The Save America PAC in turn funneled the money to various organizations. These included, among others, a 501(c)(3) belonging to Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; organizations where many former Trump administration officials worked; Trump’s own hotels; and the event planners who organized Trump’s Jan. 6 rally in DC.

Click here to view video of the Jun. 13 hearing (2 hs 24 mins; opens in new tab).



Brazil: Police deny bodies found in search for missing pair

A British journalist and Brazilian indigenous expert have been missing for over a week in the Amazon rainforest. Family members of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira fear they have met with foul play. Phillips and Pereira had embarked on a fact-finding trip for a book Phillips was writing. Local indigenous communities said Pereira had received death threats for his campaigning against illegal fishing in the area.

Yesterday, Brazilian police said they had found “organic material” in their search for the two men, which they were analyzing. However, Phillips’ brother-in-law Paul Sherwood claims to have received a call on Monday morning from the Brazilian embassy. Sherwood says a liaison officer told him police had found two bodies tied to a tree, and that the embassy was informing the men’s family members before the press got wind of it. Police have denied making any such find and claim that the call to Sherwood was a miscommunication.

Phillips and Pereira’s families had previously criticized the response from Brazilian authorities when the pair were reported missing. Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly come under fire for turning a blind eye to destructive and illegal mining, logging and fishing in the rainforest. 

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).


Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!



Women now facing tampon shortage. Senate group reaches bipartisan gun control deal. Possible remains found in search for journo and expert missing in Amazon.




Women now facing tampon shortage

The hashtag #tamponshortage is now trending on Twitter as women across the country report that it’s increasingly difficult to find tampons in stores. One user wrote, “I thought I was going crazy noticing empty shelves where tampons should be”. Another woman on a DC forum for parents reported visiting three CVS stores and finding them “99% bare of all tampons”. However, this isn’t a new problem. Women have been complaining about it for months, but the shortage has only recently gained media attention.

I Support the Girls, a non-profit that provides feminine care products to poor and homeless women, has seen their tampon donations drop nearly by half since last year. Dana Marlowe, the charity’s founder, says, “We’ve been getting requests for tampons, and our warehouse shelves are empty. We are literally down to boxes versus pallets”. Marlowe blames the persistent societal taboo against discussing menstruation for the lack of media and government attention. “Also,” Marlowe adds, “a majority of lawmakers don’t have periods”.

There are, of course, alternatives to tampons, including maxi pads, menstrual cups and menstrual underwear. For now, those are relatively easy to find. But for various reasons, about 40% of women prefer tampons to other products. Women may find some of these products more difficult or uncomfortable to use, while others are more expensive and difficult to access. Now that summer is here, tampons are more in demand since, unlike maxi pads, you can swim while wearing them.

Procter & Gamble, makers of Tampax, has acknowledged the shortage and the frustration it’s caused. The company called it “a temporary situation” and say its working “24/7 to meet the increased demand for our products”.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).

For more about what’s causing the shortage, click here (opens in new tab). 

Senate group reaches bipartisan gun control deal

A bipartisan group of Senators has announced a framework for a raft of gun control legislation. The proposed reforms are more modest than many Americans would like, and far less than what President Biden has asked for. While acknowledging these shortcomings, Biden called for Congress to approve the reforms without delay so he can sign them into law. The reforms have the backing of at least 10 Senate Republicans, enough to clear the 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster.

What the deal includes:

  • Financial incentives for states to pass “red flag” laws, allowing weapons to be confiscated from individuals who may be considered dangerous or mentally unsound. 
  • Money to bolster school safety and mental health programs.
  • Makes the juvenile records of gun purchasers under 21 available for background checks.

What the deal does not include:

  • A ban on assault weapons (supported by 37% of Republicans, 83% of Democrats and 63% of Americans overall).
  • Raising the age to purchase assault weapons from 18-24 (59% of Republicans 91% of Democrats and 74% of Americans overall support raising the legal age to buy any gun to 21).
  • Limitations on concealed carry without a permit (supported by 64% of Republicans, 91% of Democrats and 79% of Americans overall).
  • Bans on high-capacity magazines (supported by 41% of Republicans, 83% of Democrats and 64% of Americans overall).
  • Universal background checks (supported by 70% of Republicans, 92% of Democrats and 81% of Americans overall).

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).

You can view polls on Americans’ attitudes to different gun control measures by clicking here and here.



Possible remains found in hunt for UK journalist and Brazilian expert feared murdered in Amazon

Brazilian authorities have located what they’re calling “organic material” in their search for a British journalist and a Brazilian indigenous expert who have been missing in the Amazon rainforest for over a week. Dom Phillips, 57, is a journalist who has written for the Guardian and Washington Post. Bruno Pereira, 41, is an indigenous expert working for the Brazilian government.

The pair were last heard from on Sunday while on a fact finding trip during which they were traveling through the rainforest by boat. According to local indigenous groups, both Phillips and Pereira had received threats for their work in the area, which is rife with illegal logging, mining and drug trafficking.

Police will be testing the “organic material” to determine whether it is human remains. They are also testing blood traces from a boat belonging to a fisherman, who has been arrested.

Brazil’s government received much criticism for its slow and initially lackluster response to reports of the two men’s disappearance. Last year, 14 journalists were killed in Latin America. In recent years, murders of environmental activists, especially members of indigenous groups, have been in the hundreds. In 2020, there were 227 deadly attacks on activists in the region, up from 212 in 2019.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).


Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!