Tag Archive for: Rep. Bennie Thompson



Congress probes Mississippi’s handling of Jackson water crisis. Kroger-Albertsons merger may increase grocery prices. Zelenskyy: 1/3 of Ukraine’s power stations destroyed. Nigeria: Floods kill 600 since summer.




Congress probes Mississippi’s handling of Jackson water crisis

House Oversight and Reform Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and House Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) have sent a letter to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves asking him to explain how millions in federal funds are being distributed for water infrastructure projects in the state. Since Jackson’s days-long water outage this summer, questions have swirled about whether Mississippi’s Republican-led government has been overly stingy and restrictive of funds to the Democratic-led predominately black city. Recently, the NAACP filed a civil rights complaint with the EPA. The complaint alleges that the state government has discriminated against Jackson on the basis of race.

Maloney and Thompson’s letter requests details about which municipalities will be receiving federal funds from the American Rescue Plan and the bipartisan infrastructure plan. They also want information on the population sizes and racial demographics of those communities. The chairs also want to know why Jackson is subject to an “additional layer of review” that was applied to no other municipality in the state to receive funds.

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Kroger-Albertsons merger may increase grocery prices

Supermarket giants Kroger and Albertsons have agreed a $25 billion merger deal. If it goes through, it will be one of the biggest retail mergers in US history. The deal would bring more than 5,000 stores across the country under the same corporate umbrella. Kroger operates more than 2,800 stores in 35 states (including subsidiary brands like Ralphs, Smith’s and Harris Teeter) while Alberstons operates 2,220 stores in 34 states (with subsidiary brands Safeway, Jewel Osco and Shaw’s). 

The merger has already drawn antitrust scrutiny from members of Congress. Progressive Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MT) are already calling for regulators to block the deal.  Sarah Miller of the American Economic Liberties Project warns that the merger “would squeeze consumers already struggling to afford food”.

The companies’ executives say that the merger will save them $500 million, which can then be passed on to consumers. The merger will also allow them to expand their store brand offerings and save customers money. This may be true in the short-term, but in areas where there is little competition, supermarket mergers tend to drive consumer prices higher over time. Large mergers also tend to squeeze out smaller competitors, giving remaining stores more power to set prices.

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Zelenskyy: Russian attacks destroyed 1/3 of Ukraine’s power stations

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that recent barrages of Russian missiles have destroyed nearly one-third of Ukraine’s power stations. The downed power stations have led to blackouts in parts of the country. Despite comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin last week indicating missile attacks would be scaled back for now, air attacks against civilian targets and infrastructure in Ukraine have persisted. However, Putin is relying less on conventional missiles in favor of Iranian-made “kamikaze drones”. US intelligence says Putin has been purchasing these drones for months, but this is the first time they’ve been deployed on a mass scale.

Compared to missiles, the drones are slower, noisier, and easier for Ukraine’s air defense to eliminate in flight. But because there are so many of them, Ukraine simply can’t stop them all. Ukraine’s allies have promised more air defense systems and equipment, but they haven’t yet arrived.

Meanwhile, Iran has promised to deliver surface-to-surface missiles to Russia in addition to more drones.

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Nigeria: 600 killed in floods since summer

Nigeria has long been accustomed to seasonal flooding, but this year’s flooding has lasted longer and done more damage than any in the last decade. Like Pakistan and areas of southern and central Asia that saw overwhelming flooding this year, overbuilding and poor water management in Nigeria have also contributed to the impact.

Since early summer, more than 600 people have perished in Nigeria’s floods. The flooding has destroyed over 200,000 homes and displaced about 1.3 million people. Experts expect the flooding to continue into November.

As in Pakistan, floods have also devastated much of Nigeria’s agricultural land. Nigeria is among six countries the UN says is at high risk of hunger. The country’s economy has already been battered over the last year due to high levels of inflation. 

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Source: Trump considering testifying to Jan. 6 Committee. Putin: No more mass bombardment of Ukraine, for now.



Source: Trump considering testifying to Jan. 6 Committee

Sources close to Donald Trump have told The Guardian that the former President is at least entertaining the idea of testifying before the Jan. 6 Select Committee investigating his role in the violent insurrection at the Capitol. Yesterday, the committee voted unanimously to issue a subpoena for testimony and documents from Trump.

Following the hearing and vote, members of the committee wouldn’t say whether or not they thought it was likely that Trump would answer the subpoena. However, there’s always a chance that Trump will be unable to resist the chance to appear before the committee. What’s clear is that despite Trump’s characterizations of the committee as a partisan “witch hunt”, its proceedings have certainly gotten a rise out of him. Immediately after the hearing, Trump took to social media to call the committee “a total BUST”.

Trump followed up that post by publishing a 14-page open letter to committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS). In the letter, Trump repeats thoroughly debunked claims about mass voter fraud in the 2020 election. He also claimed to have put thousands of National Guard soldiers on stand-by to protect the Capitol on Jan. 6, a claim that his then-acting Secretary of Defense has said is false.

The committee’s case against Trump

Yesterday’s hearing served largely as a summation of evidence the committee had previously presented, along with some new evidence the committee had obtained since its last hearing. The committee made the case that Trump had planned to declare victory and call the election “rigged” even before the election. They played recorded testimony in which various members of Trump’s staff stated that Trump knew that there was no evidence for his claims of election fraud. 

The committee also outlined how Trump and his surrogates riled up supporters and urged them to converge on D.C. on Jan. 6. once it was clear that dozens of court challenges had failed to yield any wins for Trump. They also explained that Trump knew many of the supporters that showed up at his Jan. 6 rally were armed when he told them to march to the Capitol. New information from the Secret Service also showed that Trump’s security detail was on stand-by, ready to take him to the Capitol even after he’d returned to the White House. This was despite safety concerns and objections from Trump’s legal team.

The missing link

What the committee has so far failed to do is draw a direct link between Trump and the militant groups who led the assault on the Capitol. However, they have heavily implied that Trump’s political advisor Roger Stone may be that missing link. Stone was photographed with the militia leaders the day before the riot.

When testifying before the committee, Stone pleaded the 5th in answer to questions of his involvement in organizing the mob and his communications with Trump. The committee has so far been unsuccessful in obtaining any communications between Trump and Stone that would demonstrate Trump playing an active role in orchestrating the violence.

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You can watch the full hearing here (opens in new tab).

You can read Trump’s 14-page letter to Rep. Thompson here (opens in new tab).



Putin: No more mass bombardment of Ukraine, for now

Speaking to reporters at a regional leaders conference in Astana, Kazakhstan, Vladimir Putin said that he was winding down a recent campaign of mass missile strikes in Ukraine, at least for the moment. After a bridge linking Crimea with Russia was partially destroyed last weekend, the Russian military launched at least 85 missiles on Monday. For the first time in months, missiles targeted Kyiv, the major western city Lviv and several other cities all over Ukraine. Strikes continued for the rest of the week, but to a much lesser degree.

Monday’s onslaught was significant not only for the loss of life but also because it was the first major widespread missile campaign Ukraine had seen in months. Analysts have said that although Russia still has superior firepower compared to Ukraine, their stockpiles are dwindling as foreign supply lines for key components have dried up. Putin’s comments in Astana may signal that he’s mindful of having to conserve his resources. However, he also said his plan to mobilize 300,000 new troops would be complete in a couple of weeks. For Putin, recruits, willing or not, are easier to come by than weapons parts and much more expendable.

Putin floats Turkish oil hub

While at the Astana conference, Putin met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the possibility of delivering Russian oil to Europe through Turkey. This followed statements from Putin earlier this week in which he implied he was ready to resume deliveries of gas to Europe. Despite sanctions and price caps, oil remains Russia’s biggest source of funding to continue its war effort. The recent decision by OPEC+ to cut daily oil production means that Russia will soon be able to demand higher prices for its fossil fuel exports.

Until Russia invaded, Ukraine was one of the main conduits for Russian oil to flow to the European market. For this service, Ukraine demanded billions in transit fees from Russian oil companies. Over the past decade, Russia opened direct pipelines to Germany to avoid paying Ukraine’s transit fees. Only one of these pipelines, Nord Stream 1, was ever operational. A second pipeline, Nord Stream 2 was built but never opened. Both of these pipelines were recently sabotaged by undersea explosives.

Putin has repeatedly threatened to cut off fuel supplies to Europe in hopes of denting the unified Western opposition to his Ukraine invasion. Despite cutting off supplies to Germany and the subsequent sabotage, Europe has not taken the bait. Instead, they instituted price caps on Russian oil and recently approved new sanctions following Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories through sham referendums. As a result, Putin seems to be backing away from his energy blackmail strategy in hopes of cashing in on potential rising oil revenues.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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