Tag Archive for: Vladimir Putin


Teacher shot by 6-year-old “will never forget the look on his face”.

Banks connected with Epstein face sex trafficking suits.

China’s Xi visits Putin in Moscow



Teacher shot by 6-year-old “will never forget the look on his face”

On Jan. 6 this year, a 6-year-old boy shot his 1st grade teacher, 25-year-old Abigail Zwerner, in the hand and chest with his mother’s 9mm pistol. On that day, three staff members brought concerns to administrators about the boy’s behavior and fears that he had a gun. An administrator told one of those staff members they should just “ride it out” because the school day was nearly over. The shooting took place about an hour later, around 1pm.

Zwerner, who has since been in recovery, sat down for an interview with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. During the interview, Zwerner and her attorney, Diane Toscano, said school administrators should have done more to prevent the shooting. She described how her fear had grown throughout the day  

Zwerner still has a long road to physical recovery, but in some ways, she believes she’ll never be the same. “I just will never forget the look on his face that he gave me while he pointed the gun directly at me,” Zwerner said. “It’s changed me. It’s changed my life.”

When Guthrie asked how she could make sense of something like that, Zwerner answered “You can’t.”

Toscano intends to sue the school district and administrators for failing to take action to prevent the shooting. The child is too young to be charged, but local prosecutors haven’t ruled out criminal charges against others. This may include charges against the boy’s parents if it’s found they failed to secure the gun properly.  The parents say the boy has an “acute disability” for which he was receiving treatment. The boy remains in treatment at a hospital.

Click here for the full story and the 12-minute video of the interview (opens in new tab).

Banks connected with Epstein face suits for sex trafficking

Victims of sex trafficking by financier Jeffrey Epstein have the go-ahead to sue banks connected with his activities. Two women from the US Virgin Islands have brought against JP Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank. The suit alleges that the banks “knowingly benefited from participating in a sex trafficking venture”. 

Epstein was a client of JPMorgan from 2000 to 2013, and of Deutsche Bank from 2013 to 2018. Both banks had asked for the women’s suits to be dismissed. JP Morgan has sued one of its own former senior executives, Jess Staley, who oversaw Epstein’s business at the bank. The bank accuses Staley of withholding potentially damaging information about his client.

Epstein is believed to have trafficked hundreds of young women and girls for sex over two decades. During that time, he hobnobbed with prominent figures including Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. His partner-in-crime Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted last year on sex trafficking charges. 

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



China’s Xi visits Putin in Moscow

Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Moscow for two days of meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Xi’s ties with Putin have only deepened. They share a distrust of the West and many of their economic and geo-political interests overlap. Both are strongmen who exercise near-total control over industry in their countries, and each have extensive records of human rights violations that long predate the war. 

Xi has attempted to position himself as a possible peacemaker in the Ukraine conflict by finding possible points of common ground. However, both Ukraine’s leadership and its allies are skeptical and have rejected Xi’s 12-point peace plan, which rejects Western sanctions and does not require Putin to withdraw his troops from Ukraine. 

Putin and Xi appeared especially chummy during this visit. Xi even invited Putin to Beijing for a return visit. This is just days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin over a scheme to illegally deport Ukrainian children to Russia. The warrant severely restricts Putin’s travel as any nation that is a signatory to the ICC would be obliged to arrest him. Neither Russia nor China is a signatory of the ICC (nor is the US).

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Supreme Court weighs lifting liability protections for social media platforms in terrorism case.

Judge rules 9/11 families cannot claim Afghan funds as compensation.

Putin suspends Russia’s participation in last remaining nuclear treaty.


Supreme Court weighs lifting liability protections for social media platforms in terrorism case

Since the 1990s, Internet-based forums have enjoyed protection from civil liability for content posted to their platforms by users. This liability protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 came into being long before the proliferation of social media sites like Facebook and YouTube. Some experts and policymakers believe that Section 230 needs a rethink to account for the business models of some social media companies.

In 2015, American college student Nohemi Gonzalez was among the 129 people killed in Paris in coordinated attacks by ISIS-linked terrorists. Gonzalez family is suing Google, the parent company of video-sharing platform YouTube. The family alleges that YouTube helped ISIS recruit followers by directing users to content posted by ISIS sympathizers.

YouTube, like many social media companies, uses an algorithm to direct users to content they think they will like based on users’ other activity, including searches. These algorithms are designed to boost user engagement, which in turn boosts YouTube’s ad-based revenue.

Attorneys for Google say that the company has taken steps to try to limit content that promotes terrorism and other inflammatory subjects. Google also says that if 230 needs to be revisited, that decision should come from Congress rather than the courts. 

Justices seem skeptical

During arguments, the Justices seemed more sympathetic to Google’s arguments. Justice Elena Kagan acknowledged that 230 might be ripe for revision given the emergence of algorithms designed to maximize engagement and revenue.

“[Section 230] was a pre-algorithm statute,” Justice Kagan said. “And, you know, everybody is trying their best to figure out how this statute applies, [how] the statute which was a pre-algorithm statute applies in a post-algorithm world”.

However, Kagan didn’t seem to think the Court was the best venue to argue those revisions. “These are not the nine greatest experts on the Internet,” Kagan said, spurring laughter.

Justices Samuel Alito and Ketanji Brown Jackson expressed confusion at the arguments presented by the Gonzalez family attorney, Eric Schnapper. Schnapper argued Google had aided and abetted ISIS in violation of a federal anti-terrorism statute by recommending the ISIS videos to users.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh also referred to warnings from Google’s supporters that a decision by the Court limiting Section 230 could have serious consequences not only for platforms but also for creators who earn money from posting content 

“Those are serious concerns, and concerns that Congress, if it were to take a look at this and try to fashion something along the lines of what you’re saying, could account for,” Justice Kavanaugh said. “We are not equipped to account for that”.

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


NY Judge says 9/11 families cannot claim Afghan funds as compensation

Judge George B. Daniels of the Southern District of New York has ruled against a group representing families who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks who sought to claim $3.5 billion in frozen assets from the Afghan central bank.

When the US withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021, the New York Federal Reserve bank was holding about $7 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank. Following the US withdrawal, President Biden decided to put half of it towards easing the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and to set the other half aside for victims of Islamic terrorism.

Years ago, a coalition of 9/11 families won default judgments against the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and other organizations believed to have supported the attacks. Attorneys for the families argued that this $3.5 billion should go to service that judgement. However, in August of 2022, Federal Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn recommended against awarding the funds to the families.

Netburn’s reasoning was that the funds belong to the people of Afghanistan, not the Taliban. To award the funds to the plaintiffs, the court would essentially be recognizing the Taliban as the legitimate leadership of Afghanistan. That is something only the US State Department can do as it’s a matter of US foreign policy. 

Today’s ruling from Judge Daniels upholds Judge Netburn’s recommendation on those grounds. Judge Daniels also ruled that federal courts lacked jurisdiction over the funds for similar reasons. Nevertheless, the families intend to appeal the decision. The case could eventually find its way to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals and potentially the Supreme Court, assuming those courts agree to hear it.

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



Putin suspends Russia’s participation in last remaining nuclear treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech today ahead of the one-year anniversary of his invasion of Ukraine. Putin said Russian troops would stay in Ukraine until their “objectives” had been accomplished, without clarifying what those objectives were. He also ridiculed “disloyal” oligarchs who had resisted the war or fled the country, fearing sanctions. 

Putin also said he was suspending Russia’s participation in the New START anti-nuclear proliferation treaty. This is the last nuclear monitoring treaty between the US and Russia that remains in force. The treaty allows each country to inspect each other’s nuclear sites. US sources say that Russia hasn’t been complying with the terms of the treaty for some time.

On several occasions since the war began, Putin and other Russian officials have raised the possibility of using nuclear weapons in the conflict. US intelligence says Russian military officials discussed in November how and under what circumstances they might deploy nukes. However, the US has seen no sign yet that Russia is mobilizing its nuclear arsenal.

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Defense contractors biggest winners of new Pentagon budget. Putin suggests possibility of settlement to end war in Ukraine.



House overwhelmingly passes record $858 billion defense budget

In a 350-80 vote, the House of Representatives far exceeded the necessary two-thirds majority to pass the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, which sets out defense spending for the next year. The 2023 NDAA foresees $858 billion in defense spending. This is the largest ever yearly Pentagon budget and exceeds the amount President Biden requested by $45 billion. It’s not unusual for Congress to exceed the White House’s request when it comes to military budgets.

This amount also far exceeds the 2022 NDAA’s eye-popping $777.7 billion budget. Even accounting for inflation, it exceeds the $533 billion budget in 2005 by nearly $100 billion ($533 billion in 2005 is about $765 billion in 2022 terms). In 2005, we were fully engaged in Afghanistan and also fighting the so-called “insurgency” in Iraq. 

The current 2023 NDAA legislation gives a 4.6% pay increase for the troops. It also includes about $800 million more aid for Ukraine on top of the more than $60 billion already approved. The bill also pledges $10 billion to Taiwan from 2023-2027 as the island faces increasing aggression from China. 

Defense contractor “bonanza”

By far the biggest winners are defense contractors Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman. All of them will be receiving no-bid multi-year multi-billion dollar contracts in weapons purchases and funding to develop new ones.

To highlight just one of these programs, Northrup Grumman has rolled out its new B-21 Raider. The sleek craft is capable of manned and unmanned flight and carrying both nuclear and conventional weapon payloads. The Air Force says it “will form the backbone of the future Air Force bomber force.” The planes are about $700 million each (though some sources price it at nearly $1 billion. The Pentagon hopes to build about 100 of these planes at an estimated cost of $32 billion, including research and development, through 2027.

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Putin suggests possibility of settlement to end Ukraine war

Speaking in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek, Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the possibility of a “settlement” that could end hostilities in Ukraine. However, his other comments suggest that he’s not yet ready to negotiate on certain demands of his considered out-of-bounds by Ukraine and most of its Western allies.

“The settlement process as a whole, yes, it will probably be difficult and will take some time,” Putin said. “But one way or another, all participants in this process will have to agree with the realities that are taking shape on the ground”.  It’s not very hopeful but still one of the few times Putin has admitted that an unqualified victory might not be on the cards for him in Ukraine. At the moment, the realities taking shape on the ground are decidedly not in Putin’s favor. 

During his remarks in Bishkek, Putin repeated his belief that the war was going to plan. “Everything is stable,” Putin said “There are no questions or problems there”. This is despite the fact that Russian forces are in retreat, poorly-equipped and under-supplied all across the Ukrainian field. Yesterday, Putin voiced a rare acknowledgment of these unforeseen “setbacks”. He warned that the war was likely to be “a long-term process”.

Putin has recently reiterated that he considers Russian possession of Ukrainian territories non-negotiable. This includes Crimea as well as four other Ukrainian regions where Russia recently conducted referendums, universally rejected as “shams” by the West. The Kremlin recently stated that Russian possession of these provinces must be unconditionally agreed to by the West before they even sit down at the negotiation table.

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Survivors and family members of victims of the May school shooting in Uvalde, TX, are suing state and local authorities for $27 billion.



Uvalde families sue state, local officials for $27 billion. Major blow to Trump as court dismisses arbiter in Mar-a-Lago docs case. Putin demands West recognize Ukraine annexations before talks.





Uvalde shooting survivors, families file $27 billion suit against state, local officials

A group of parents of victims and school staff members who were present during the school shooting in Uvalde, TX, have filed a $27 billion lawsuit against state and local agencies and officials. The defendants named in the suit include the city, the municipal police department, the school district, the school district’s police department, the Texas Department of Public Safety and individuals currently or formerly affiliated with those bodies and agencies.

The suit is seeking damages from all these agencies to be paid to parents who lost children or whose children were wounded or are experiencing PTSD from the massacre, as well as to the families of the two teachers killed and other school staff endangered that day.

Failures and cover-ups

Since the shooting in May this year, further details have continually emerged to illuminate the magnitude of the failures that likely caused  greater loss of life. That’s despite attempts by agencies at every level to block the flow of information about what happened that day. Here are just a few of the things we’ve learned.

We know now that at least 376 law enforcement officers responded to the scene that day. That includes 91 state troopers, 25 officers from Uvalde city police, 5 from Uvalde school district police and 16 local sheriff’s deputies. The rest were police and sheriff’s deputies from other surrounding cities and counties. Some came from as far away as San Antonio, 80 miles away. Despite all that muscle and firepower, it took 77 minutes before the shooter was confronted. And it wasn’t even one of these hundreds of state, city, or county officers that confronted and killed the shooter. Instead it was a US Border Patrol tactical team.

In a separate suit, the city of Uvalde is suing District Attorney Christina Mitchell for withholding investigative materials related to the shooting. The city wants the judge to compel Mitchell’s office to hand over relevant records from all law enforcement agencies.


Video, audio reveal desperate 911 calls from inside the classroom and confusion among law enforcement (opens in new tab).

Medical examiner investigating whether more victims could have been saved if they’d received help sooner (opens in new tab).


Major blow to Trump as court dismisses arbiter in Mar-a-Lago documents case 

Since the Aug. 8 FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home yielded over 100 classified documents and over 11,000 other government documents, Trump’s legal strategy has been to delay, delay, delay. When District Judge Aileen Cannon (whom Trump appointed) granted his request for a special master in the case, it looked like Trump might succeed in stalling the DOJ investigation for months or years.

The special master was initially tasked with reviewing both the 100 classified documents and over 11,000 other government documents. During this review, the DOJ would not be able to use either set of documents in their investigation into Trump’s theft of the documents or his efforts to obstruct the government’s efforts to reclaim them. The 11th Circuit then eliminated the classified documents from the review, leaving only the 11,000 classified documents. Still, this would have required special master Raymond Dearie to spend months reviewing the documents before the DOJ could file charges.

Now, the 11th Circuit Appeals Court in Atlanta has undone Cannon’s ruling appointing a special master altogether. This means there no further impediment to the DOJ’s investigation. Trump may appeal this decision to the Supreme Court as well. However, the Supreme Court has previously upheld other decisions by the 11th Circuit siding with the DOJ in this case.

Last month, after Trump announced he was officially running for President again in 2024, Attorney General Merrick Garland assigned Jack Smith as a special counsel to oversee the DOJ’s criminal cases that involve Trump. 

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


In other news…

Biden signs bill blocking railroad strike; bill giving workers 7 paid sick days failed in Senate. (Opens in new tab).

Supreme Court to hear Biden administration’s bid to resume student loan relief program in February. Applications, approvals remain on hold. (Opens in new tab).



Putin demands West recognize Ukraine annexations before talks

While Russian forces are largely in retreat across Ukraine, there has been little sign that either the Ukraine or the Kremlin is open to negotiating peace terms. Demands from both sides remain little changed since March. Ukraine still insists that it must retake Crimea. After 8 years in Russian hands and with a population that has a greater allegiance to Russia, this hope by Ukraine still feels more like a pipe dream. If Ukraine is unwilling to negotiate on this point, there may be no end in sight.

The Russian side is proving to be equally inflexible regarding its demands for a negotiated peace. President Biden recently made remarks indicating he would welcome a negotiation with Russia to end hostilities if they showed any interesting. The Kremlin responded today that they were open to negotiations but only if the West unconditionally gave into certain demands beforehand.

In addition to their previous demands that NATO withdraw from Eastern Europe and cede control of Crimea, Russia is now demanding that the West recognize their annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Russia conducted referendum votes in each of the territories, which the West largely dismissed as a sham. It’s unlikely either Ukraine or the West would ever agree to this condition, especially since Russia’s military is currently in retreat from Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Donetsk and Luhansk are largely Russian aligned and have been for years.

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Control of Senate, House still not clear after midterms. Tropical Storm Nicole may hit FL as hurricane tonight. Russian troops withdraw from Kherson.


Control of Senate, House still not clear after midterms

As of mid-afternoon Wednesday, the Associated Press still considers 46 of 435 races for the House of Representatives too close to call. AP has called 206 races for Republicans and 183 for Democrats, with 218 needed to control the House. These tallies differ depending on what news source you consult.

Results in four Senate races also remain up in the air.  Vote counts remain incomplete in Alaska, Nevada, and Arizona and may for several days because of the high volume of mail-in ballots. The Georgia Senate Race between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will go to a run-off in December. Control of the Senate may once again come down to the run-off in Georgia, just as happened in 2020.

Poor showing for Trump-backed national candidates

With only a few exceptions, high profile Trump-backed candidates in battleground states did not fare well in last night’s election. By contrast, mainline Republican candidates that do not closely associate themselves with Trump or his rejection of the 2020 election results made considerable gains. That fact has not gone unnoticed by various political commentators and even GOP operatives. When Trump teased an announcement for a 2024 presidential run (which he was planning to do Monday night), Republicans and people close to Trump asked him to wait until after the midterms. Apparently they were right to do so.  

According to sources in Trump’s orbit, the former President was “fuming” last night as results came in. Trump was particularly unhappy about the defeat of two of his chosen candidates in Pennsylvania races. Mehmet Oz lost his Senate race to Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, while Doug Mastriano (who was present at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot) lost the governor’s race to Democrat Josh Shapiro.

The success of Trump’s main Republican rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last night was also significant. One person close to Trump said, “This is a sinking ship. We’re not going to beat that,” referring to DeSantis’ rise. A GOP operative with ties to Trump circles put it more bluntly, saying “This was the end of the Trump era and the dawn of the DeSantis era. Like every other Trump catastrophe, he did this to himself with stupid and reckless decisions”.  


Tropical Storm Nicole may make landfall in FL as hurricane tonight

After dropping heavy rain in the Bahamas, meteorologists predict Tropical Storm Nicole will make landfall tonight in Florida. By then, Nicole is expected to gather enough strength to become a Category 1 hurricane. The storm will bring heavy rains and likely cause flooding in the state. The most dangerous effects will come in the form of a storm surge. Flooding has already been reported in areas of West Palm Beach. Beach erosion from the storm surge has also caused some damage in Daytona Beach Shores.

While Nicole has neither the size or strength of Hurricane Ian, local officials have urged citizens in flood- and surge-prone areas to evacuate. Heavy rains have also affected areas of Southwest Florida which were badly impacted by Ian.

Over the following days, Nicole is projected to lose strength and move up the Eastern Seaboard, bringing heavy rains to the Northeast.

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



Russian troops withdraw from Kherson

Russia has ordered its troops to withdraw from the key Ukrainian city of Kherson ahead of a Ukrainian advance. Symbolically, this withdrawal is a major loss for Putin, as Kherson was the only regional capital Russia had captured since its invasion in February. The region is also important for Putin’s ambitions in Ukraine as it includes the land bridge to Crimea, which has been in Russian control since 2014.

While Ukraine’s allies are encouraged by the development, this is unlikely to signal the end of hostilities in Kherson. Kherson is one of four Ukrainian regions that Russia annexed during sham referendums back in September. At the time, Putin bragged that Kherson would be Russian territory “forever”. It was around the same time that Putin warned that Russia would defend “its territory” by any means necessary.

Ahead of its retreat, Russia has evacuated civilians from areas of Kherson, often forcibly. A reservoir that provides water and hydroelectric power to much of the region has also been damaged, disrupting water and electricity service. Russia claims that Ukraine struck the reservoir with missiles, while Ukraine says the Russian had mined the reservoir to create chaos during their retreat.  

It’s likely that having evacuated its military forces, Russia will resort to shelling the area heavily, in keeping with their previous pattern.

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


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Amid fears of losing Congress, Dems look for lame-duck wins on child tax credits, same-sex marriage. US quietly pushes for Ukraine-Russia talks.



Fearing losing Congress, Dems look for lame-duck wins on child tax credits, same-sex marriage

Most projections for tomorrow’s elections aren’t very sunny from the Democrats’ point of view. Republicans are widely expected to win the House, and control of the Senate is a toss-up. In some of the tighter races, final results may not be available for days. However, even if the Democrats have to hand over the reins in January, they still have a few weeks of legislating to do before year’s end. Here are some things to watch for.

Must-pass funding bill

Back in September, Congress passed a continuing resolution to keep the government fully-funded until mid-December. When Congress comes back into session, they’ll only have a few weeks to hammer out an agreement to head off a federal government shutdown just before Christmas. The last time around, there was a considerable amount of drama over a proposal from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to streamline energy production permits, including oil drilling and coal mining. Manchin himself is a coal baron and would have profited handsomely. However, Republicans blocked his proposal in retaliation for Manchin’s support of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. It’s possible this provision will come up again, either as part of new budget negotiations, or as a standalone bill.

Possible train strike

In mid-September, marathon talks with the White House, the Secretary of Labor and the Department of Transportation narrowly averted a major railroad strike. Numerous unions had been in contract negotiations for years with the major rail companies. The companies were offering workers a hefty raise, but refused to budge on workers’ concerns about working conditions and paid time off. The White House finally brokered a deal to head off a major supply chain disruption (which would cost the US economy about $2 billion a day).

However, all this did was keep a lid on things until after the midterms. The individual unions still needed ratify the terms of the deal. Two unions have already rejected the deal and others are likely to do the same. This is setting the scene for another showdown, this time right before the holidays. If the unions call another strike, Congress has the power to put an end to the strike by forcing workers to accept the terms of the deal. Sharp political divisions arose among Democrats and Republicans on the issue back in September before a deal was announced. It’ll be worth watching what happens if the issue re-emerges after elections are over. 

Child tax credits

For just a few months in 2021, an expanded child tax credit lifted millions of American children out of poverty. The program expanded eligibility to families who normally didn’t earn enough income to qualify, and also doled out half the yearly tax credit in monthly payments rather than a single lump sum. When the program ended in January 2022, millions of children slipped right back under the poverty line, just as inflation was heating up and grocery and gas prices skyrocketed.

Now, Democrats are looking to revive a permanent expanded child tax credit in the lame-duck session. If they can get the votes, it’s possible this could be part of that must-pass government spending bill.

Same-sex marriage

Although LGBT rights have been a cultural flashpoint between Democrats and Republicans this year, same-sex marriage surprisingly has at least some bipartisan support, even in the contentious Senate. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer, the court’s opinions seemed to leave the door open for walking back other rights whose basis is the 14th Amendment. One of these is the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision which required all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. 

Over the summer, the Democrats crafted legislation to codify a right to same-sex marriage to allay fears the Supreme Court could repeal it in a future decision. They chose not to move ahead before the August recess because they didn’t want the legislation to be front and center before the midterms. After the election, they’ll be looking to bring it up again



US quietly pushes for Ukraine-Russia talks

Confidential sources have told the Washington Post that the Biden White House has been pushing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to soften his public stance on refusing peace negotiations with Putin. However, the sources say it isn’t Biden intention to actually push Zelensky and Putin to resolve the conflict. It’s more of a public relations move to combat Ukraine fatigue among Ukraine’s Western allies in Europe, Africa and South America which have suffered the worst economic damage due to sanctions on Russia and blockades of food commodities.

In response to these reports, one of Zelensky’s aides stated that Ukraine had never refused to talk with Moscow, but that they would not speak with Putin. Instead, the aide said “We will talk with the next leader of Russia“.

Biden may also be hoping to temper opposition within the US to continual aide and weapons packages to Ukraine. Last month, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said that he would not “write a blank check to Ukraine” if becomes Speaker of the House in January, as seems likely.



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EPA probes Mississippi state government for discrimination in Jackson water crisis. Doctors warn parents to be on the look out for severe respiratory illness in children. Zelenskyy: Russia plans to blast major dam in Ukraine.



EPA probes Mississippi state government for discrimination in Jackson water crisis

Following a complaint from the the NAACP, the Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it will be investigating whether Mississippi’s state government discriminated against the majority-black city of Jackson when allocating federal funds for water infrastructure projects. Specifically, the EPA will probe the actions of the Mississippi’s Department of Health and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. A statement from the EPA says it will investigate whether MDOH and MDEQ “discriminated against the majority black population of the City of Jackson on the basis of race in the funding of water infrastructure and treatment programs and activities in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964”.

The NAACP complaint alleges civil rights violations were committed. The complaint cited a “decades-long pattern and practice of discriminating against the city of Jackson when it comes to providing federal funds to improve local water systems”.

Earlier this week, House committee chairs Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) wrote to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves seeking a breakdown of what communities were allocated federal funds for water infrastructure by the state government. The letter sought specifics on racial demographics and the population sizes of each recipient city. The chairs also wanted an explanation for why Jackson faced an “additional layer of scrutiny” to no other municipality was subject to.

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Doctors warn parents to be on the look out for severe respiratory illness in children

Pediatricians are warning parents of young children to be on the look out for symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV cases have overwhelmed hospitals in 33 states, with cases having doubled in 25 states in the last month. For the moment, Mississippi is not among the states reporting an increase in cases, but neighboring states are.

RSV symptoms are similar to the common cold but come with advanced respiratory distress. Doctors say to watch out for heavily flaring nostrils and skin tightening to the ribs as children breathe.

Hospitals typically see RSV cases rise in December to February, but the wave has started earlier this year. Right now, RSV cases are outpacing all other respiratory complaints in children, including COVID and the flu. Doctors are urging parents to get their children’s flu vaccines as soon as possible to head off trips to crowded emergency rooms.

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Zelenskyy fears Russia plans to blow up a major hydroelectric dam in Ukraine

Ukrainian forces are preparing an offensive in the Russian-occupied region of Kherson. Russian authorities have already ordered an evacuation of its personnel along with 50,000-60,000 civilians. Ukraine has condemned the civilian evacuation as a mass forced deportation of its citizens.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned of another looming danger in the province. Zelenskyy said the Russians had mined a major hydrolectric dam and wired it to explode. The Kakhovka hydroelectric dam on the Dnieper River supplies power and water to much of Ukraine’s south. If the dam is destroyed, it would immediately flood about 80 settlements, including Kherson. It could also leave the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant without the water necessary to cool its reactors.

Both Russian and Ukrainian media have reported that the dam’s destruction would also stop water supply to a canal that provides Russian-occupied Crimea with 85% of its water. Russian media have claimed that it is in fact Ukraine that is planning to blow the dam. A Russian official in Kherson claims Ukraine has already fired missiles at it.

Commentators have pointed out that Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine would suffer most if the dam is destroyed, although many Ukrainian-controlled territories would be catastrophically affected as well.

If the Russians are targeting the dam, it is an act of desperation. Zelenskyy said that if the Russians blow the dam, it is an admission by Putin that he will lose control not only of Kherson but all of southern Ukraine, including Crimea.

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Historically low water in Mississippi River exposes century-old shipwreck. Trump deposed in defamation case brought by rape accuser. ‘Mysterious’ deaths of Russian elites raise eyebrows as Putin imposes martial law.



Historically low water in Mississippi River exposes century-old shipwreck 

A lack of rainfall in the Ohio River Valley has caused the Mississippi River to reach near record-low water levels. This has created an immense problem for the country’s already strained supply chain. Many businesses, and especially agriculture businesses, rely on the Mississippi River to ship their goods to ports for export. The US Army Corps of Engineers is also in the process of building a 1500-foot-wide underwater levy to prevent saltwater from the Gulf from creeping further upriver to endanger drinking water sources in Louisiana.

Amidst all this havoc, residents in Baton Rouge, LA, discovered the remains of an old shipwreck had emerged from the receding waters. Louisiana state archaeologist Chip McGimsey has spent the last two weeks surveying the 95-foot-long wreck. McGimsey believes it to be the remains of the Brookhill Ferry, which transported people, horses and goods across the river before a bridge was built. Reports show the ferry sank in a storm in 1915.

“Eventually the river will come back up and (the ship) will go back underwater,” McGimsey said. “That’s part of the reason for making the big effort to document it this time — cause she may not be there the next time”.

Meteorologists believe the river’s water levels will continue to fall for the next few weeks. This is likely to create more work for McGimsey, who says he has already received reports of two other possible shipwrecks having appeared in the area.

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Trump deposed in defamation case brought by rape accuser

Three years ago, columnist E. Jean Carroll accused Donald Trump, who was then President, of having raped her in a fitting room of a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s. Trump publicly denied the accusations, saying Carroll was “not my type”. This prompted Carroll to bring a defamation case against him.

In 2020, then-US Attorney General Bill Barr moved to substitute the US Government as the defendant in the case. Barr argued that Trump was acting in his capacity as a federal employee when he denied Carroll’s accusations. This would have killed Carroll’s lawsuit, as the US Government can’t be sued for defamation. Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is presiding over the case in a federal district court in New York, quickly rejected Barr’s move. 

Then a few months ago, a US Appeals Court declined to rule whether Trump was acting in his capacity as a federal employee when he denied the accusation. Instead, they referred the case to another appeals court in D.C., where Trump was when he issued the denial.

Trump attorney Alina Habba recently attempted to block a deposition of Trump in the case, pending the D.C. review. Judge Kaplan rejected this motion and set Oct. 19 as the date for Trump’s deposition. Kaplan ruled Trump had litigated the case “with the effect and probably the purpose of delaying it”. This ruling prompted another tirade from Trump on social media in which he repeated the defamatory statements that prompted the suit in the first place. 

Both Carroll’s and Trump’s depositions in the case will remain confidential until the trial opens on Feb. 6, 2023.

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‘Mysterious’ deaths of Russian elites raise eyebrows as Putin imposes martial law

The death of Russian gas magnate Nikolay Petrunin is the latest to raise questions about whether Vladimir Putin is targeting Russian elites critical of his prosecution of the war in Ukraine. Petrunin died after over a month in a coma, officially attributed to COVID-19 complications.

A high-ranking “incorruptible” judge Sergey Maslov was killed in the blast on the Crimean bridge. A few weeks before that on Sept. 21, Russian aviation expert Anatoly Gerashchenko died after falling down stairs. On Sept. 1, Ravil Maganov, CEO of Russian oil giant Lukoil and outspoken critic of the Ukraine war, fell to his death from the window of his hospital room.

Putin decrees martial law in annexed Ukraine territories.

Today, Putin declared martial law in the four recently annexed Ukrainian territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. The decree comes ahead of an expected Ukrainian offensive. Russian officials in Kherson have already ordered Russians in the area to evacuate.

But Putin is also imposing extra security in Russia, with three ascending security alert levels across different regions in Russia. The highest level apples in regions bordering Ukraine, with orders calling for increased public enforcement and restrictions of traffic into and out of these regions. In central and southern regions of Russia, which includes Moscow, the public can expect “vehicle searches and traffic restrictions” and “tighter public order security”. The lowest level of security applies to the rest of Russia, including Siberia and the Russian Far East.

Regional governors throughout Russia have orders to set up command centers and increase their cooperation with military authorities. The order will increase the authority and autonomy of regional military leaders throughout Russia, essentially martial law by another name.


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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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Savannah police, FBI search for toddler, missing 5 days. Pentagon struggles to address rising suicide rates. Russia strikes Kyiv in retaliation for Crimea bridge explosion.



Savannah police, FBI searching for toddler, missing 5 days

Quinton Simon, 20-months-old, was last seen in his playpen by his mother’s boyfriend, Daniel Youngkin, around 6am on Wednesday morning. Quinton’s mother, Leilani Simon, 20, reported him missing a little after 9:40am that day, shortly after she awoke. A call from the dispatcher to local police said Leilani believed her son could not have opened the door on his own and that someone must have come in and taken him. Police have since exhaustively searched the home and the surrounding area, including a swimming pool and nearby pond and woods.

Because police could not rule out the possibility of an abduction, the FBI has joined the investigation. Police have said they don’t suspect foul play at this time and have not named any suspects or persons of interest in the case. Quinton’s biological father was not in the area at the time of his disappearance, and police do not suspect a custody dispute. The boy’s parents, the mother’s boyfriend, and the child’s grandmother are all cooperating with detectives.

Disturbing details

There are several oddities in the case that have garnered media attention and rampant speculation on social media. Quinton, his 3-year-old brother Zayne, his mother and his mother’s boyfriend all apparently live with Leilani’s mother, Billie Jo Howell. Howell and her husband now have custody of both Quinton and Zayne. Court records show that in September, Howell had attempted to have her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend evicted from the home. Last week, Howell said of her daughter, “I don’t know if I can trust her or I don’t. I just know I’m hurting and I want this baby home. He’s my baby”.

Quinton and Zayne’s babysitter Diana McCarta normally watches the boys at her home during the day and told reporters she was supposed to watch the boys that day. However, McCarta told reporters she’d received a text at 5:29 am Wednesday morning stating that she wouldn’t be babysitting that day. This was “kind of odd,” McCarta said, “because I have them even when [Leilani] doesn’t work”.

Although, Howell usually keeps the boys, Leiliani had been caring for them while Howell was away on a business trip. While Leilani was taking care of the boys, McCarta said, “I started seeing things that weren’t quite right”. McCarta claims, for example, that she’d seen the boys outside unsupervised while in their mother’s care.

Despite these ominous circumstances, police say they don’t yet have any reason to believe Quinton is dead and remain hopeful of finding him alive.

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Pentagon struggles to address rising suicide rates

Since 9/11, four times as many veterans and active-duty military personnel have died by suicide as have died in combat, according to a 2021 study by the Cost of War Project. Between 2015 and 2020, suicides among active-duty service members have increased by 40%. In some postings, the number nearly doubled. 

The Cost of War study attributed the high suicide rates to service members’ “high exposure to trauma — mental, physical, moral, and sexual — stress and burnout, the influence of the military’s hegemonic masculine culture, continued access to guns, and the difficulty of reintegrating into civilian life”. In recent years, active service members are also increasingly contending with added stressors such as food insecurity and housing insecurity.

Although Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has acknowledged the problem and issued directives for mental health resources and quality of life improvements, service members still face many barriers when trying to get the help they need. The culture of self-sufficiency in the military means that service members fear stigma and consequences for their career if they seek help for their mental health. Even when they do request help, resources are stretched thin, and service members may have to wait weeks for their first appointment.

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If you’re experiencing depression or thoughts suicide, help is available by calling or texting 988. You can also access an online chat at 988lifeline.org.



Russia retaliates for Crimea bridge explosion with missile launches missiles at Kyiv, other Ukrainian cities

On Saturday, an explosion destroyed part of the Kerch bridge which connects the Crimean Peninsula with Russia. Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014, and the Kerch bridge served as both a physical and symbolic reunification of Crimea with the Russian motherland. President Vladimir Putin personally attended its dedication. Since the invasion begin, the bridge has also been a major military supply artery for the Russian military.

It’s not clear as yet what caused the explosion. Russian authorities have blamed a truck bomb, but independent analysts have disputed the evidence for this. Some have speculated the Ukrainians may have used a special “drone boat” to attack the bridge. Whatever the case, Putin has branded the attack on the bridge an “act of terror” by Ukraine, and ordered today’s wide-ranging missile campaign across the country in retaliation.

Part of this relation included several missile strikes against the capital in Kyiv, the first in several months. In the early days of the invasion, Russia tried and failed to occupy Kyiv. For four hours, air raid sirens rang out in every region of Ukraine, apart from Crimea. Dozens of missile strikes targeted civilian and energy infrastructure in various cities, possibly signaling a major escalation in hostilities.

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Biden pardons all prior federal marijuana possession convictions, also to review scheduling. 4 kidnapped family members found dead in CA; suspect in custody. Dems propose bill to withdraw all US military aid from Saudi Arabia after OPEC cuts.




Biden issues pardon for prior federal marijuana possession convictions, also to review scheduling

President Biden has announced a pardon for all previous federal convictions for simple possession of marijuana. Currently, there are no prisoners in any federal prison solely for marijuana possession. But, as Biden says in his statement, “There are thousands of people who have prior Federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions”. 

Biden also acknowledged the racial disparities in marijuana prosecutions and urged state leaders to pardon those convicted on state marijuana possession charges. “As I often said during my campaign for president, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit. Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. And while white and black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates”.

HHS and AG to review marijuana scheduling

Biden directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to review the scheduling of marijuana under federal law.

Marijuana is currently a Schedule 1 narcotic under federal law. A Schedule 1 designation means that a drug cannot be prescribed for any medical use and also restricts medical experimentation. Schedule 1 is normally reserved for the most dangerous substances. “This is the same schedule as for heroin and LSD,” Biden says, “and even higher than the classification of fentanyl and methamphetamine – the drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic”. While Biden seems to now be advocating a more open and less punitive approach to marijuana he emphasized that “even as federal and state regulation of marijuana changes, important limitations on trafficking, marketing, and under-age sales should stay in place”.

While Biden stopped short of fully legalizing marijuana, this will be a welcome move for advocates of legalization and criminal justice reform. Biden’s order should also appeal to many Americans both on the left and right who have long been calling for a more common sense approach to marijuana. A recent poll shows that 60% of voters support legalization of marijuana at the federal level. Polls from last year showed it closer to 70%.

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Four kidnapped family members found dead in California; suspect in custody

On Monday, four family members were kidnapped from their family business, a trucking company, at gunpoint in Merced County, CA. Yesterday evening, police announced that their bodies had been found on a remote farm property. The victims, members of the Sikh community, were 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27, her father, Jasdeep Singh, 36, and her uncle, Amandeep Singh, 39. Police have not yet announced a cause of death, but said the four family members were found “relatively close together”.

The first anyone knew that something was amiss was later on Monday when authorities found Amandeep’s truck abandoned and on fire. This led them back to the trucking company and the Singh family. When relatives failed to make contact, they reported them missing. Surveillance video from the trucking company was found showing a masked man leading Jasdeep and Amandeep Singh to Amandeep’s truck, with their hands apparently ziptied. The suspect then returns to the building and brings out Jasleen, carrying baby Aroohi, who join the others in the truck.

Suspect attempts suicide

Police have identified one suspect in the case, Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48. Salgado has a conviction for robbery from 2005 and received parole in 2015. Since then, police say Salgado has not had any major contact with law enforcement.

Salgado first entered the frame in this case when his family members contacted authorities and said Salgado had admitted involvement in the kidnappings. Investigators at first said Salgado matched the description of a person caught on camera using one of the victim’s bank cards. However, there is now some dispute about whether it was Salgado in the ATM footage or a different person. Before police could take him into custody, Salgado attempted suicide. He’s now in critical condition, but has apparently been talking to police. 

Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said that investigators were asking Salgado whether he acted alone. Whatever information he has given, Warnke said, “We are going to keep that close to our chest at this point”. Police have previously said they believe a second person was involved.

Many aspects of the case remain unclear. Salgado is at present the only person police have who can shed any light on the sequence of events between the initial kidnapping and the murders.

As yet, no clear motive in the kidnappings and murders has emerged. “We have a whole family wiped out and for what? We don’t know yet,” Warnke said. 

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Dems propose bill to withdraw all US military aid from Saudi Arabia after OPEC cuts

Three House Democrats, Tom Malinowski (NJ), Sean Casten (IL), and Susan Wild (PA) have proposed a bill that would withdraw all US soldiers and weapons, including sophisticated missile defense systems, from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The proposal came after OPEC+ decided yesterday to decrease oil production by between 1 and 2 million barrels per day.

The huge cut stunned global markets. Some analysts believe that the move is designed to boost oil revenue for Russia to continue funding its military actions in Ukraine. The three House members call this out specifically in a statement. “Both [Saudi Arabia and the UAE] have long relied on an American military presence in the Gulf to protect their security and oil fields. We see no reason why American troops and contractors should continue to provide this service to countries that are actively working against us. If Saudi Arabia and the UAE want to help Putin, they should look to him for their defense”.

Biden reportedly considering oil export limits, normalizing relations with Venezuela

Citing anonymous sources, Bloomberg reports that the White House has asked the Department of Energy for an impact analysis of a potential ban or limits on exports of US gasoline and diesel. The US is the world’s largest oil producer, but most of it is exported to countries where oil companies can demand higher prices for it. Over the past several months, Biden has repeatedly criticized the US oil sector for failing to use production licenses they hold and for taking advantage of Russia’s war in Ukraine by price gouging American customers. Despite protestations from Big Oil firms, the Department of Energy directive indicates the idea of imposing restrictions on fossil fuel exports may be gaining traction in the White House.

It was also reported yesterday that Biden may be reexamining efforts to normalize relations with Venezuela. Venezuela was once one of the world’s top oil producers, but years of crushing US sanctions on its elected leftist leader Nicolas Maduro has reduced Venezuela’s production capacity and its access to oil markets abroad. US and Venezuelan negotiators took some baby steps towards reversing years of animosity earlier this year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Just days ago, a prisoner swap between the US and Venezuela sparked discussions of closer ties. However, the White House has denied any change in US policy towards Venezuela.


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