Saturday, January 23, 2021
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday, Jan. 22 that he celebrated a decision by U.S. President Joe Biden to reverse several hardline immigration policies put in place by former President Donald Trump, including halting construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The two leaders discussed migration, the COVID-19 pandemic and bilateral cooperation on Friday during their first phone call since Biden assumed presidency this week. Shortly after being sworn in, Biden revoked Trump’s emergency declaration that helped fund the construction of a border wall among a raft of orders addressing immigration. In Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua the border wall appeared deserted on Friday, with machinery and material lying about...MORE
The United States plans to reverse the Trump administration’s “draconian” immigration approach while working on policies addressing the causes of migration, President Joe Biden told his Mexican counterpart, the White House said on Saturday. In a Friday call with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Biden outlined his plan to create new legal pathways for immigration and improve the process for people requesting asylum, according to an account of the call released by the White House. Priorities include “reversing the previous administration’s draconian immigration policies,” the White House said. The two leaders agreed to work together towards reducing “irregular migration,” the White House release said. Mexico has a major role to play in Biden’s plans for immigration reform. Earlier this month, Mexico helped coordinate efforts in Central America to contain a large caravan of migrants heading for the United States. Biden, meanwhile, has made an early push for a bill that would open a path for citizenship for the roughly 11 million people living in the United States illegally, though even his allies in Congress acknowledge that may be “a Herculean task.”...MORE
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will deliver the House’s articles of impeachment against former president Donald Trump to the U.S. Senate on Monday, she confirmed Friday, meaning Trump’s Senate trial could potentially start early next week over the objections of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Pelosi said in a statement she would transmit the articles of impeachment Monday after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced her decision on the Senate floor.
Under Senate rules, the Senate’s consideration of the articles would have to start by 1 p.m. the day after they’re sent to the Senate.
Pelosi had previously been tight-lipped about when the House would deliver the articles, saying Thursday only that they would be delivered “soon.”
McConnell had pushed Thursday for the Senate to wait until mid-February to start the trial, which would give Trump and his legal team more time to mount a defense.
Pelosi noted in her statement that Trump “will have had the same amount of time to prepare for trial” as the House’s impeachment managers, who she said “are ready to begin to make their case” against the former president.
Schumer said Friday he and McConnell were still negotiating over the terms of the trial and did not say when it would begin, but “make no mistake: a trial will be held in the United States Senate, and there will be a vote on whether to convict the president.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed Friday night to a two-week delay of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, allowing the chamber to focus on confirming President Joe Biden's Cabinet and coronavirus relief. Under the timeline outlined by Schumer, the House will deliver the article of impeachment Monday evening, senators will be sworn-in Tuesday and the trial will officially begin the week of February 8. The framework for the trial comes after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also called for a two-week delay in order to give Trump time to plan his legal defense. Doug Andres, a spokesperson for McConnell, said the GOP leader is "glad that Leader Schumer agreed to Republicans’ request for additional time during the pre-trial phase," calling it "a win for due process and fairness.” The House managers and Trump’s legal team will spend the next two weeks drafting their legal briefs. Under the trial schedule, the president's team will https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/22/schumer-says-senate-will-receive-impeachment-article-on-monday-461305have until February 2 to answer the article and House managers will submit their pre-trial brief the same day. Trump's pre-trial brief will then be due February 8 and the House will have until February 9 for their rebuttal, which will allow for the trial to officially begin...MORE
One of the first questions the Senate will face in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is whether the chamber has jurisdiction to hear a case against a former official. The correct answer is yes.
For the Founders, it would have been obvious that the “power to impeach” included the ability to hold former officials to account. The impeachment power was imported to America from England, where Parliament impeached only two men during the 18th century, both former officers. No U.S. state constitution limited impeachments to sitting officers, and some allowed impeachment only of former officers. In 1781 the Virginia General Assembly subjected Thomas Jefferson to an impeachment inquiry after he completed his term as governor.
Why would former officers be included within the impeachment power? Impeachment trials had long served as a vehicle for exposing and formally condemning official wrongdoing, or for a former officeholder to clear his name. Disqualification from future office was also an important penalty. A former Vermont lawmaker was impeached and disqualified from future state office for leading one of the tax rebellions that spurred the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. The American founders understood the history of demagogues and dictators corrupting republics and the need to exclude them from future office. As one delegate to a state ratifying convention put it, men who held public office should be “within the reach of responsibility” so that “they cannot forget that their political existence depends upon their good behavior.”
There’s no hint in the debate over the Constitution of an exception to the impeachment power as traditionally understood. George Mason insisted at the convention that the text should be encompassing enough at least to cover a case like that of Warren Hastings, the former colonial governor then standing trial in the British House of Lords. Everyone agreed. During ratification James Madison and Alexander Hamilton emphasized that the proposed federal impeachment power was an improvement in constitutional design because, unlike in some states, even current officers could be subjected to impeachment.
The Senate shouldn’t depart from centuries of practice and understanding. Declining to try Mr. Trump would set a dangerous new precedent, denying future presidents and other officials the opportunity to clear their names if they leave office, and allowing them to escape accountability by resigning—or saving their worst acts for the end of their term.
Mr. Whittington is a professor of politics at Princeton and author of “Repugnant Laws: Judicial Review of Acts of Congress from the Founding to the Present.”
Friday, January 22, 2021
Major League Baseball hall-of-famer Hank Aaron died today. He was 86. According to CBS 46:
Hall of Famer and one-time home run king Atlanta Braves legend Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron passed away this morning at the age of 86, CBS46 has learned. He leaves behind an indelible legacy on and off the baseball diamond.
There are no reports in mainstream media about how the slugger died, but it’s conspicuous that he was given the COVID-19 vaccine earlier this month. It was highly publicized at the time because he did it on camera as a way to encourage African-Americans to take the vaccine.
According to TMZ:
Hank Aaron got his COVID vaccine shot on Tuesday — and he did it in front of cameras in the hopes of inspiring other Black Americans to follow his lead. The 86-year-old Hall of Famer masked up and went to the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta along with his wife Billye to receive the first of two doses of the Moderna vaccine.
“[It] makes me feel wonderful,” Aaron told the Associated Press … “I don’t have any qualms about it at all … I feel quite proud of myself for doing something like this. … It’s just a small thing that can help zillions of people in this country.”
An alarming number of people have died within days or weeks after
taking the vaccine. The elderly, who are most susceptible to the
coronavirus, seem to be most at risk from the vaccine as well. Hank
Aaron took the vaccine on January 5th. NOQ Report
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has done very good service for the American people. His Merrick Garland gambit was one of the riskiest and best political plays in congressional history. He has seated an enormous amount of conservative judges. He deserves our thanks for that.
But he also has to sit down now and let the conservative movement grow into its new form — a form he seems completely opposed to.
McConnell is playing a ridiculous game of footsie with the idea of convicting Donald Trump in his absurd impeachment. It’s a bridge too far and an obvious power play, and he lacks the power to pull it off.
American conservatives know that after Democrats all but cheered on violence and rioting for months, the idea that Trump incited an insurrection is pure nonsense. It’s a lie and McConnell’s parroting of it is disqualifying for leadership.
So why is McConnell playing along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s charade of impeachment? He thinks he can get the conservative movement back on his and the Chamber of Commerce’s team.
He can’t. If he pushes this impeachment conviction, as he seems to be, he should have no place in Republican leadership. It is nothing short of a betrayal of Republican voters.
|Dwight Hammond, left, is greeted by his wife after getting out of prison|
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management in the final days of the Trump administration issued a grazing permit to Oregon ranchers whose imprisonment sparked the 2016 armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge by right-wing extremists. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s restored Dwight and Steven Hammond’s grazing permit earlier this week, which lasts for 10 years, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. The father and son had their permit revoked after a jury convicted them in 2012 of arson on public lands a decade earlier. The men went to prison, served time and were released, but the U.S. Department of Justice later ordered them back to prison to finish the mandatory minimum five-year sentence. That kicked off the 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which is 300 miles (483 kilometers) southeast of Portland. The Oregon State Police fatally shot one occupier, saying he reached for a pistol at a roadblock. The leaders of the takeover, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, and five others were later acquitted of conspiring to impede federal workers from their jobs at the refuge. In 2018, Then-President Donald Trump pardoned the Hammonds, allowing them to be freed from federal prison. In a proposal to grant the Hammonds grazing rights on Dec. 31, the land agency said Hammond Ranches should be allowed to graze their cattle on about 26,000 acres (10,522 hectares) in the high desert of eastern Oregon. The federal agency cited the Hammonds’ “extensive historic use of these allotments, past proper use of rangeland resources, a high level of general need, and advantages conferred by topography.” In 2014, when Barack Obama was president, the agency denied Hammond Ranches a renewal of its grazing permit, saying the business “does not have a satisfactory record of performance” and cited numerous incidents of arson...MORE
Thursday, January 21, 2021
FBI agents opened an investigation in late 2014 into a foreign power's effort to curry influence with Hillary Clinton's prospective presidential campaign through donations, but the bureau's leadership slow-walked a surveillance warrant and instead arranged for the candidate to get a defensive briefing, newly declassified memos show. FBI agents became so frustrated that they were being stonewalled from securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to investigate the foreign money plot that they even escalated to then-FBI Director James Comey, according to the memos declassified by President Trump on Tuesday night and obtained by Just the News. "The FISA application has remained in limbo for the last four months, even though subsequent investigative activity by [redacted] provided additional probable cause for the FISA application," an FBI employee wrote Comey in an April 14, 2015 email in which he expressed concern he was "overstepping" his chain of command by raising his concerns.That email stated the FBI field office leading the probe was "still uncertain as to why the application has not been sent to DOJ for final approval although several reasons have been put forth by CD [Criminal Division], most recently that the decision to put the application on hold originated 'on the seventh floor.'" The seventh floor of the FBI headquarters is where the FBI director and his team have their offices and is a common reference among field agents to the FBI's management team...The memos don't offer any further evidence that a FISA warrant was ever approved. Instead, they show that FBI leadership ultimately decided to give Clinton's team a defensive briefing in October 2015 as her presidential campaign geared up. The briefing was given to her legal team led by David Kendall and Katherine Turner, the memos show...The memos, forced into public view by an 11th-hour declassification order by Trump, reveal a glaring contrast in the way the FBI treated Clinton and Trump, respectively, when separate allegations of foreign influence targeting their campaigns emerged in the shadows of the 2016 election. It is now well documented that Trump's campaign was subjected to FISA warrant surveillance and other intrusive techniques, including secret recordings, when allegations emerged suggesting the Republican campaign was colluding with Russia. Trump was never given a defensive briefing, and the primary evidence supporting the FISA warrant came from a former MI6 operative named Christopher Steele who was paid by the Clinton campaign through its law firm. The allegations were later debunked, some as Russian disinformation...MORE
Thousands of National Guardsmen were forced to vacate congressional grounds on Thursday and are now taking their rest breaks outside and in nearby parking garages, after two weeks of sleepless nights protecting the nation’s capital in the wake of the violent assault on Jan. 6. One unit, which had been resting in the Dirksen Senate Office building, was abruptly told to vacate the facility on Thursday, according to one Guardsman. The group was forced to rest in a nearby parking garage without internet reception, with just one electrical outlet, and one bathroom with two stalls for 5,000 troops, the person said. “Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service. Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed,” the Guardsman said. POLITICO obtained photos showing the Guard members packed together in the parking garage, sleeping on the ground. All National Guard troops were told to vacate the Capitol and nearby congressional buildings on Thursday, and to set up mobile command centers outside or in nearby hotels, another Guardsman confirmed. They were told to take their rest breaks during their 12-hour shifts outside and in parking garages, the person said...MORE
The Defense Department will stop building a wall along the southern border of the United States as it reviews President Joe Biden's executive order calling for construction to halt, the Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday. On his first day in office, Biden signed 17 executive orders, many immediately reversing policies set in action by his predecessor, Donald Trump.They included an order to pause construction on the border wall that was a keystone of Trump's 2016 campaign. "It shall be the policy of my administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall. I am also directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall," the proclamation reads.The order directs the secretaries of defense and homeland security, in consultation with the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to assess the legality of the funding and contracting methods used to build the border wall and to immediately pause the obligation of funds used to construct it."Upon receipt of President Biden's proclamation with respect to the southern border of the United States, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has directed our contractors involved in border barrier construction for the Department of Defense program not to install any additional physical barriers," said Corps of Engineers spokeswoman Raini Brunson in a statement to UPI...MORE
That is the photo accompanying the UPI story. Interesting picture of a "wall".
On March 6, 2020, a sexagenarian Utahn, who returned to the east shore of the Great Salt Lake after vacationing on the coronavirus-haunted Grand Princess cruise ship, tested positive for COVID-19. It was the pandemic’s first knock on Utah’s door. Then-Governor Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency on the same day. In the following months, COVID-19 would spread to over 300,000 people in the state and wreak havoc on at least 12,000 minks, the discreet, short-legged, fluffy mammals known for their colorful, luxurious pelts.
The country’s first cases in mink were confirmed in mid-August, when two employees working at Utah fur farms infected five minks. Suspecting spillover of the virus to wildlife, researchers with the United States Department of Agriculture began to screen wildlife for COVID-19 in proximity to fur farm outbreaks. In December, their worry was confirmed: A wild mink, trapped just outside of a farm tested positive.
The mink was “asymptomatic” and “humanely euthanized upon capture to allow for tissue sampling and testing,” Gail Keirn, a spokesperson for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service told High Country News by email. At this time, researchers are not concerned that COVID-19 will decimate wild mink populations because their solitary lifestyles provide limited opportunity for one to spread the virus to others.
COVID-19 blew the fur business in the West last year. Data from the USDA shows that multi-generation farms in Utah, Idaho and Oregon yielded more than a third of nearly 3 million mink-pelt products made in the country in 2019. But the industry’s production has declined since its peak in 2014, and pelts grown in the United States have plunged by more than a quarter.
Compounding that challenge on mink farmers, at least 12 of the more than 30 mink farms in Utah have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks since last August.
In a late December statement, Utah’s Department of Agriculture and Food said COVID-19 wiped out nearly half of the breeding herds in the facilities. In Oregon, one of its 11 fur farms was quarantined after an outbreak sickened minks and humans. Among the three escaped minks, two tested positive for the coronavirus. Environmental organizations have since argued for the infected plant’s closure. “It’s clear that this facility poses too great of a threat to wildlife and public health to continue operating,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
In Denmark and the Netherlands, minks contracted the virus and passed it on to people, leading to millions of minks culled and farms shut down permanently. Danish public health authorities also warned that some variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, contained mutations from the country’s fur farm outbreaks. No mink-to-human transmissions have been reported in the United States. But scientists fear rampant spread, like those in Utah, and further mutations could jeopardize vaccines.
A U.S. federal judge on Thursday rejected Parler’s demand that Amazon.com Inc restore web hosting services for the social media platform, which Amazon had cut off following the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein in Seattle said Parler was unlikely to prove Amazon breached its contract or violated antitrust law by suspending service on Jan. 10, and that it was “not a close call.” She also forcefully rejected the suggestion that the public interest would be served by a preliminary injunction requiring Amazon Web Services to “host the kind of abusive, violent content at issue in this case, particularly in light of the recent riots at the U.S. Capitol.” “That event,” she added, “was a tragic reminder that inflammatory rhetoric can - more swiftly and easily than many of us would have hoped - turn a lawful protest into a violent insurrection.”...MORE
During President Trump's tenure in the White House, Democrats in Washington impeached him twice, the first time for what he said during a phone call and the second during a speech. Now former Arkansas governor and political analyst Mike Huckabee says Kamala Harris should have her turn at being impeached."If we’re going to impeach Donald Trump for what he said, then we’d better impeach Kamala Harris for saying the things she did last summer about the rioters and the looters. And even establishing a monetary fund to get them out of jail on bail so they could get back to the riots," Huckabee said Saturday on Fox Business. "If we're gonna play this game, everybody should have a turn," he said. The Washington Examiner explained he was talking about Harris' advocacy for a group raising funds to pay bail for rioters and protesters involved in last summer's riots following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. The fund helped a number of "violent felons," including "a man accused of raping a young girl," the report said. With impeachment now routine in the Nancy Pelosi-run U.S. House, a freshman Republican member has announced she will file articles of impeachment against Joe Biden. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said on Twitter -- with the hashtags #ImpeachBiden and #BidenCrimeFamily -- she will file the articles on Jan. 21, charging abuse of power. With the Democrats in control of the House, there's little chance Greene's move will gain any traction, but her charge is not without merit. A poll after the Nov. 3 election found that had Democrat voters known about the evidence found in a laptop abandoned at a repair shop by Joe Biden's son Hunter, enough of them would have dropped their support for Biden to change the election result. Reports by the New York Post of the evidence that Joe Biden was aware of his son's foreign business deals while serving as vice president and personally profited from them were blocked by Twitter and Facebook. And establishment media refused to investigate the story, with some dismissing it as "Russian disinformation."...MORE