new survey by the Pew Research Center found that 15 percent of prominent accounts on those seven platforms had previously been banished from others like Twitter and Facebook.

F.B.I. raid on Mar-a-Lago thrust his latest pronouncements into the eye of the political storm once again.

study of Truth Social by Media Matters for America, a left-leaning media monitoring group, examined how the platform had become a home for some of the most fringe conspiracy theories. Mr. Trump, who began posting on the platform in April, has increasingly amplified content from QAnon, the online conspiracy theory.

He has shared posts from QAnon accounts more than 130 times. QAnon believers promote a vast and complex conspiracy that centers on Mr. Trump as a leader battling a cabal of Democratic Party pedophiles. Echoes of such views reverberated through Republican election campaigns across the country during this year’s primaries.

Ms. Jankowicz, the disinformation expert, said the nation’s social and political divisions had churned the waves of disinformation.

The controversies over how best to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic deepened distrust of government and medical experts, especially among conservatives. Mr. Trump’s refusal to accept the outcome of the 2020 election led to, but did not end with, the Capitol Hill violence.

“They should have brought us together,” Ms. Jankowicz said, referring to the pandemic and the riots. “I thought perhaps they could be kind of this convening power, but they were not.”

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Arizona Judge: State Can Enforce Near-Total Abortion Ban

The ruling means the state’s abortion clinics will have to shut down and anyone seeking an abortion will have to go out of state.

Arizona can enforce a near-total ban on abortions that has been blocked for nearly 50 years, a judge ruled Friday, meaning clinics statewide will have to stop providing the procedures to avoid the filing of criminal charges against doctors and other medical workers.

The judge lifted a decades-old injunction that blocked enforcement of the law on the books since before Arizona became a state. The only exemption to the ban is if the woman’s life is in jeopardy.

The ruling means the state’s abortion clinics will have to shut down and anyone seeking an abortion will have to go out of state. The ruling takes effect immediately, although an appeal is possible. Planned Parenthood and two other large providers said they were halting abortions.

Abortion providers have been on a roller coaster since the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing women a constitutional right to an abortion. At first providers shut down operations, then re-opened, and now have to close again.

Planned Parenthood had urged the judge not to allow enforcement, and its president declared that the ruling “takes Arizonans back to living under an archaic, 150-year-old law.”

“This decision is out of step with the will of Arizonans and will cruelly force pregnant people to leave their communities to access abortion,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who had urged the judge to lift the injunction so the ban could be enforced, cheered.

“We applaud the court for upholding the will of the Legislature and providing clarity and uniformity on this important issue,” Brnovich said in a statement. “I have and will continue to protect the most vulnerable Arizonans.”

The ruling comes amid an election season in which Democrats have seized on abortion rights as a potent issue. Sen. Mark Kelly, under a challenge from Republican Blake Masters, said it “will have a devastating impact on the freedom Arizona women have had for decades” to choose an abortion. Democrat Katie Hobbs, who is running for governor, called it the product of a decadeslong attack on reproductive freedom by Republicans that can only be fended off by voters in November.

Masters and Kari Lake, the Republican running against Hobbs, both back abortion restrictions. Their campaigns had no immediate comment.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson ruled more than a month after hearing arguments on Brnovich’s request to lift the injunction.

The near-total abortion ban was enacted decades before Arizona secured statehood in 1912. Prosecutions were halted after the injunction was handed down following the Roe decision. Even so, the Legislature reenacted the law in 1977.

Assistant Attorney General Beau Roysden told Johnson at an Aug. 19 hearing that since Roe has been overruled, the sole reason for the injunction blocking the old law is gone and she should allow it to be enforced. Under that law, anyone convicted of performing a surgical abortion or providing drugs for a medication abortion could face two to five years in prison.

An attorney for Planned Parenthood and its Arizona affiliate argued that allowing the pre-statehood ban to be enforced would render more recent laws regulating abortion meaningless. Instead, she urged the judge to let licensed doctors perform abortions and let the old ban only apply to unlicensed practitioners.

The judge sided with Brnovich, saying that because the injunction was issued in 1973 only because of the Roe decision, it must be lifted in its entirety.

“The Court finds an attempt to reconcile fifty years of legislative activity procedurally improper in the context of the motion and record before it,” Johnson wrote. “While there may be legal questions the parties seek to resolve regarding Arizona statutes on abortion, those questions are not for this Court to decide here.”

In overturning Roe on June 24, the high court said states can regulate abortion as they wish.

A physician who runs a clinic providing abortions said she was dismayed but not surprised by the decision.

“It kind of goes with what I’ve been saying for a while now –- it is the intent of the people who run this state that abortion be illegal here,” Dr. DeShawn Taylor said. “Of course we want to hold onto hope in the back of our minds, but in the front of my mind I have been preparing the entire time for the total ban.”

Republicans control the Legislature, and GOP Gov. Doug Ducey is an abortion opponent who has signed every abortion law that reached his desk for the past eight years.

Johnson, the judge, said Planned Parenthood was free to file a new challenge. But with Arizona’s tough abortion laws and all seven Supreme Court justices appointed by Republicans, the chances of success appear slim.

What’s allowed in each state has shifted as legislatures and courts have acted since Roe was overturned. Before Friday’s ruling, bans on abortion at any point in pregnancy were in place in 12 Republican-led states.

In another state, Wisconsin, clinics have stopped providing abortions amid litigation over whether an 1849 ban is in effect. Georgia bans abortions once fetal cardiac activity can be detected. Florida and Utah have bans that kick in after 15 and 18 weeks gestation, respectively.

The ruling came a day before a new Arizona law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy takes effect. Signed by Ducey in March, the law was enacted in hopes that the Supreme Court would pare back limits on abortion regulations. Instead, it overturned Roe.

Ducey has argued that the new law he signed takes precedence over the pre-statehood law, but he did not send his attorneys to argue that before Johnson.

The old law was first enacted among a set of laws known as the “Howell Code” adopted by 1st Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1864. Arizona clinics have been performing about 13,000 abortions a year.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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States Begin Receiving Money From $26B Opioid Settlement

Families hope the money can help combat an epidemic some say is just getting worse, as fentanyl claims lives and targets younger generations.

Opioids rocked households and seized people of all walks of life. 

Kim Humphrey, a commander with the Phoenix Police Department at the time, thought he had it all.

“A marriage, a home, a wonderful life raising two sons,” he said. “It was really good.”

But a call about his 15-year-old son ignited distress that would span nearly a decade:

“‘My daughter goes to school with your son and she’s very concerned that he’s going to overdose,'” he continued. 

A drug test confirmed their fear — it came back positive for opioids. The struggle spiraled and extended its grip to their second son.

“As a parent, we’re looking at this and saying, ‘We must be the worst parents on the planet,'” Humphrey said.  

It took Humphrey and his wife years to find a nonprofit support group called Parents of Addicted Loved Ones, also known as PAL, which he now leads.

“That was the first time that we were sitting in a room full of people who understood,” Humphrey continued.

The opioid crisis contributed to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. in two decades. At the epicenter — three major pharmaceutical distributors and manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. A yearslong multistate lawsuit led to a historic $26 billion  settlement over the next 18 years.  

Now, some of that money is starting to come in. This year, by the end of August, 27 of nearly 50 states that filed lawsuits had received a total of $310 million. Of that, Arizona received $16 million of their more than $540 million settlement — money Humphrey hopes will trickle down to PAL, which is in dire need of financial assistance following the pandemic.

“What we do is this peer-to-peer support that has plenty of research behind it that it works. And it did for us,” Humphrey said.

Each state and county has a say in how the money is spent. In Wisconsin, a spending dispute temporarily blocked funds from distribution. 

Sara Whaley, a research associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says the school put together five planning principles to help guide states on spending.

“This is the opportunity to kind of look at what you’re doing and where you’re investing money, and if there are any gaps,” she said. “One, is to spend the money to save lives. Two, is to use evidence to guide spending. Three, invest in youth prevention. Four, focus on racial equity. And five, create a fair and transparent process.”

She adds that the settlement includes basic payout guidelines.

“They are things like broadening access to naloxone or increasing the use of medications to treat opioid use disorder, enriching prevention strategies, improving treatment in jail,” Whaley said.

It’s treatment desperately needed as fentanyl fuels deaths and overdoses, with a holistic and smart spending approach.

Humphrey hopes families can find the peace his has now reached. Both his sons are now clean.

Source: newsy.com

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Car Thefts Are On The Rise

The day thieves stole his truck and trailer, Alex Gonzalez nearly lost his entire business. 

Inside was thousands of dollars’ worth of lawn care equipment that fueled Gonzalez’s livelihood. 

“It’s a cutthroat business,” said Gonzalez, owner of Havana Gardens Lawn & Landscaping. “If you’re not there on a certain day that you tell your customers you’re gonna be there, they look for someone else.” 

Thieves made off with machinery and truck parts worth $65,000.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau found car thefts rose 17% from 2019 to 2021. But certain regions saw massive spikes over those two years.  

Like in Washington D.C., New York and Wisconsin — and up to a 79% spike in Colorado. 

Some officials there worry punishments aren’t severe enough, which encourages car thieves to strike again. 

In another staggering statistic, carjackings spiked triple digits in some parts of the country: 286% in New York and 238% in Philadelphia. 

David Glawe, the head of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, says chop shops are turning mostly to juvenile carjackers to help feed the hungry, illicit market. 

In New Jersey, authorities believe adults are paying minors as much as $1,000 per vehicle, knowing they won’t get in as much trouble when they’re caught. 

Glawe told Congress they’re stealing more cars because the secondary market needs them. 

Federal lawmakers are now calling for a national auto-theft task force — especially in port cities, which are often hubs for shipping stolen cars overseas. 

In the first half of 2020, U.S. and Canadian law enforcement tracked down stolen cars bound for Europe, Africa and the Middle East totaling nearly $3 million. 

Savvy crooks are also targeting the most precious parts of the cars.

Between 2020 and 2021 catalytic converter thefts more than quadrupled, with 65,000 stolen nationwide.

The converters are partly made with rhodium, one of the rarest metal on earth.  

Every ounce of it can top $15,000 and is also valuable for jewelry, high-end mirrors and electrical devices. 

In Tampa, police busted one recycler last year who advertised on social media he was paying cash for converters and seized his paperwork. 

It showed that he had made well over $800,000 in about a year’s time just with the receipts. 

One way people are trying to prevent theft is having their car’s VIN etched onto the converters. 

Chicago is trying a pilot program that will spray paint the converters hot pink and mark them with a Chicago Police Department stencil. 

But Joe Dipasquale, who works for Auto Zone, says criminals are targeting pretty much everything car-related right now. 

“They’ll put their hands on anything they can turn around and flip,” Dipasquale said. “Tools are one of the things that go really quickly because they’re expensive.” 

Officials have this advice: Keep your auto policy up to date, roll up your windows, lock your doors, park in well-lit areas and never leave behind your keys or any valuables.

Source: newsy.com

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Key Midterm Races To Watch For Congressional Control

Early in-person voting starts Friday in four states and mail-in ballots have already started going out in others.

With just under two months to go, the race for control of Congress is shaping up to be one of the tightest in recent history. 

And when it comes to which party controls the Senate, election experts say one contest stands out — Pennsylvania.

“The No. 1 race at this point that is likely to switch parties is one that could go from Republican to Democrat, which sort of defies the expectations we had at the beginning of this cycle when it looked like it would be an incredibly favorable midterm cycle for Republicans and a backlash to President Biden and the Democrats,” said Jessica Taylor, Senate and governors editor at The Cook Political Report.

Democrat John Fetterman is leading GOP Senate candidate Mehmet Oz in one of the closest watched races of the fall. 

Current Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is retiring. If Democrats flip his seat, the GOP needs to gain two seats somewhere else to retake the majority.  

Where could those seats be? Eyes are on Arizona, Nevada, New Hampshire and Georgia, where the races are close and Democrats are defending seats they currently hold.  

It’s the opposite in Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida, where Republicans are in tight races to hold on to those seats.

Adding to the unpredictability this cycle is the lack of experience among some first-time Republican candidates. Primary voters in five of those eight states put their support behind rookies without any political experience.  

“There are voters that are just so frustrated at this point. And we see this in disapprovals, we see this in wrong track/right track numbers, that there are voters — and I’ve heard this in focus groups I’ve watched this year, too — they’re like, you know, just blow the whole system up,” Taylor continued.

Political outsiders can be successful — look at former President Donald Trump, who continues to be a big influence in the Republican Party.   

“Midterm elections are a referendum on the current president,” Taylor said. “However, we have never seen a former president be this involved and insert himself so much in a way that Democrats could make this a referendum on Trump.”

Trump’s endorsement has helped first-time candidates win their primaries. But it could be a hindrance in the general election when they’re up against Democrats. 

Source: newsy.com

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Virginia Thomas Agrees To Interview With Jan. 6 Panel

By Associated Press
September 21, 2022

The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, conservative activist Virginia Thomas, has agreed to participate in a voluntary interview.

Conservative activist Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has agreed to participate in a voluntary interview with the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, her lawyer said Wednesday.

Attorney Mark Paoletta said Thomas is “eager to answer the committee’s questions to clear up any misconceptions about her work relating to the 2020 election.”

The committee has sought an interview with Thomas in an effort to know more about her role in trying to help former President Donald Trump overturn his election defeat. She texted with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and contacted lawmakers in Arizona and Wisconsin in the weeks after the election and before the insurrection.

Thomas’s willingness to testify comes as the committee is preparing to wrap up its work before the end of the year and is writing a final report laying out its findings about the U.S. Capitol insurrection. The panel announced Wednesday that it will reconvene for a hearing on Sept. 28, likely the last in a series of hearings that began this summer.

The testimony from Thomas — known as Ginni — was one of the remaining items for the panel as it eyes the completion of its work. The panel has already interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses and shown some of that video testimony in its eight hearings over the summer.

The extent of Thomas’ involvement ahead of the Capitol attack is unknown. She has said in interviews that she attended the initial pro-Trump rally the morning of Jan. 6 but left before Trump spoke and the crowds headed for the Capitol.

Thomas, a Trump supporter long active in conservative causes, has repeatedly maintained that her political activities posed no conflict of interest with the work of her husband. Justice Thomas was the lone dissenting voice when the Supreme Court ruled in January to allow a congressional committee access to presidential diaries, visitor logs, speech drafts and handwritten notes relating to the events of Jan. 6.

It’s unclear if the hearing next week will provide a general overview of what the panel has learned or if it will focus on new information and evidence, such as any evidence provided by Thomas. The committee conducted several interviews at the end of July and into August with Trump’s Cabinet secretaries, some of whom had discussed invoking the constitutional process in the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office after the insurrection.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee’s Republican vice chairwoman, said at the panel’s most recent hearing in July that the committee “has far more evidence to share with the American people and more to gather.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press. 

Source: newsy.com

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How A Cameroonian Immigrant Was Granted Asylum In The U.S.

Many Cameroonians have had to flee their country due to ongoing violence threatening their lives. One man describes his journey.

On a Sunday morning at a church in Madison, Wisconsin, a Cameroonian immigrant feels at home despite being thousands of miles away from his loved ones.  

Ngwa Augustine says he owes his life to this community, especially the two people sitting next to him: Toni and Mark Swandby.  

“I feel loved. I feel loved and welcome,” said Augustine. 

He calls them his American parents. 

For nearly three years, they’ve been living under the same roof.  

In late 2019, the Swanbys decided to open their house to this asylum seeker they had never met. 

“I said, should we have some guy from Cameroon come and live with us?” said Toni Swandby.  “He said ‘well, there’s no reason why we can’t. I mean, it’s just us. We got all this room.'” 

Augustine had just been released by ICE from federal detention and needed a place to stay while his asylum case inched its way through the system. 

After the incredible hardships he had experienced in his life, meeting the couple and getting a free bedroom was a huge relief. 

“It was just magical. It was just something I can’t really explain. The happiness I felt at that time. There was hope,” said Augustine. 

In Cameroon, Augustine says he was twice arrested and beaten by local authorities after he demanded more rights for the country’s Anglophone minority.  

“I was tortured, we were being tortured every day. A lot of people died,” he said.  

One day, after he passed out from the torture, guards dumped him on the street, thinking he was dead.  

 When word got out that he survived, Augustine fled without saying goodbye to his wife. 

“I couldn’t see her because they were looking for me,” said Augustine. 

He escaped north to Nigeria but felt unsafe because Cameroonians were getting arrested.  So he flew to Ecuador, a country with lax visa rules.  From there, he trekked for months across eight countries all the way to the U.S. border. 

Despite restrictive Trump administration policies, Augustine was allowed to enter the U.S. in July 2019. 

“I found myself in front of the Americans and I said ‘OK, hello, good, this is my name, I am a Cameroonian and I’m seeking political asylum,” he said.  

He passed a credible fear screening, successfully arguing he faced real danger back in his home country and had a “significant possibility” he could win a full asylum hearing. 

When he was transferred to a Wisconsin ICE jail, his life was changed by what he calls a miracle. 

Maggie Morris, a University of Wisconsin law student, met Augustine in detention as part of a class with the immigrant justice clinic. 

“I think my eyes immediately got teary. It’s not the kind of story you hear every day when you’re doing intakes,” said Morris.  

Morris and her professor, Erin Barbato, instantly decided to represent Augustine for free — which was a game changer, as it’s extremely difficult  to win asylum without representation. 

Barbato says two factors helped Augustine’s case: he had been persecuted by his own government, due to his political opinions. 

He checked the boxes to qualify for asylum under American law. 

“And he had a very kind demeanor that would be welcoming for the students to work with,” said Barbato. 

The students quickly got him out of detention on parole.  

And Barbato asked a friend at the Midvale Community Lutheran Church if they could find him a place to stay. That connected him to the Swanbys. 

Augustine won his asylum case in September 2021, two years and two months after he first stepped foot in the U.S. 

Now he has one last goal: bringing his wife and his 5-year-old daughter here to his new home. He hasn’t seen them in four years. 

But when it comes to the backlogged immigration system in the US., nothing is moving too swiftly. 

So without a clear timeline, Augustine is waiting for the day his American family and his Cameroonian family can all be by his side, safely in the United States.  

Source: newsy.com

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How a Spreader of Voter Fraud Conspiracy Theories Became a Star

In 2011, Catherine Engelbrecht appeared at a Tea Party Patriots convention in Phoenix to deliver a dire warning.

While volunteering at her local polls in the Houston area two years earlier, she claimed, she witnessed voter fraud so rampant that it made her heart stop. People cast ballots without proof of registration or eligibility, she said. Corrupt election judges marked votes for their preferred candidates on the ballots of unwitting citizens, she added.

Local authorities found no evidence of the election tampering she described, but Ms. Engelbrecht was undeterred. “Once you see something like that, you can’t forget it,” the suburban Texas mom turned election-fraud warrior told the audience of 2,000. “You certainly can’t abide by it.”

planting seeds of doubt over the electoral process, becoming one of the earliest and most enthusiastic spreaders of ballot conspiracy theories.

fueled by Mr. Trump, has seized the moment. She has become a sought-after speaker at Republican organizations, regularly appears on right-wing media and was the star of the recent film “2,000 Mules,” which claimed mass voter fraud in the 2020 election and has been debunked.

She has also been active in the far-right’s battle for November’s midterm elections, rallying election officials, law enforcement and lawmakers to tighten voter restrictions and investigate the 2020 results.

said in an interview last month with a conservative show, GraceTimeTV, which was posted on the video-sharing site Rumble. “There have been no substantive improvements to change anything that happened in 2020 to prevent it from happening in 2022.”

set up stakeouts to prevent illegal stuffing of ballot boxes. Officials overseeing elections are ramping up security at polling places.

Voting rights groups said they were increasingly concerned by Ms. Engelbrecht.

She has “taken the power of rhetoric to a new place,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, the acting director of voting rights at the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan think tank. “It’s having a real impact on the way lawmakers and states are governing elections and on the concerns we have on what may happen in the upcoming elections.”

Some of Ms. Engelbrecht’s former allies have cut ties with her. Rick Wilson, a Republican operative and Trump critic, ran public relations for Ms. Engelbrecht in 2014 but quit after a few months. He said she had declined to turn over data to back her voting fraud claims.

“She never had the juice in terms of evidence,” Mr. Wilson said. “But now that doesn’t matter. She’s having her uplift moment.”

a video of the donor meeting obtained by The New York Times. They did not elaborate on why.

announce a partnership to scrutinize voting during the midterms.

“The most important right the American people have is to choose our own public officials,” said Mr. Mack, a former sheriff of Graham County, Ariz. “Anybody trying to steal that right needs to be prosecuted and arrested.”

Steve Bannon, then chief executive of the right-wing media outlet Breitbart News, and Andrew Breitbart, the publication’s founder, spoke at her conferences.

True the Vote’s volunteers scrutinized registration rolls, watched polling stations and wrote highly speculative reports. In 2010, a volunteer in San Diego reported seeing a bus offloading people at a polling station “who did not appear to be from this country.”

Civil rights groups described the activities as voter suppression. In 2010, Ms. Engelbrecht told supporters that Houston Votes, a nonprofit that registered voters in diverse communities of Harris County, Texas, was connected to the “New Black Panthers.” She showed a video of an unrelated New Black Panther member in Philadelphia who called for the extermination of white people. Houston Votes was subsequently investigated by state officials, and law enforcement raided its office.

“It was a lie and racist to the core,” said Fred Lewis, head of Houston Votes, who sued True the Vote for defamation. He said he had dropped the suit after reaching “an understanding” that True the Vote would stop making accusations. Ms. Engelbrecht said she didn’t recall such an agreement.

in April 2021, did not respond to requests for comment. Ms. Engelbrecht has denied his claims.

In mid-2021, “2,000 Mules” was hatched after Ms. Engelbrecht and Mr. Phillips met with Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative provocateur and filmmaker. They told him that they could detect cases of ballot box stuffing based on two terabytes of cellphone geolocation data that they had bought and matched with video surveillance footage of ballot drop boxes.

Salem Media Group, the conservative media conglomerate, and Mr. D’Souza agreed to create and fund a film. The “2,000 Mules” title was meant to evoke the image of cartels that pay people to carry illegal drugs into the United States.

said after seeing the film that it raised “significant questions” about the 2020 election results; 17 state legislators in Michigan also called for an investigation into election results there based on the film’s accusations.

In Arizona, the attorney general’s office asked True the Vote between April and June for data about some of the claims in “2,000 Mules.” The contentions related to Maricopa and Yuma Counties, where Ms. Engelbrecht said people had illegally submitted ballots and had used “stash houses” to store fraudulent ballots.

According to emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, a True the Vote official said Mr. Phillips had turned over a hard drive with the data. The attorney general’s office said early this month that it hadn’t received it.

Last month, Ms. Engelbrecht and Mr. Phillips hosted an invitation-only gathering of about 150 supporters in Queen Creek, Ariz., which was streamed online. For weeks beforehand, they promised to reveal the addresses of ballot “stash houses” and footage of voter fraud.

Ms. Engelbrecht did not divulge the data at the event. Instead, she implored the audience to look to the midterm elections, which she warned were the next great threat to voter integrity.

“The past is prologue,” she said.

Alexandra Berzon contributed reporting.

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What’s Left As Jan. 6 Panel Sprints To Year-End Finish

The House Jan. 6 committee is coming close to a final report, but lawmakers say there is more to come than what’s already come to light.

With only three months left in the year, the House Jan. 6 committee is eyeing a close to its work and a final report laying out its findings about the U.S. Capitol insurrection. But, the investigation is not over.

The committee has already revealed much of its work at eight hearings over the summer, showing in detail how former President Donald Trump ignored many of his closest advisers and amplified his false claims of election fraud after he lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden. Witnesses interviewed by the panel — some of them Trump’s closest allies — recounted in videotaped testimony how the former president declined to act when hundreds of his supporters violently attacked the Capitol as Congress certified President Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, 2021.

Lawmakers say there is more to come. The nine-member panel — seven Democrats and two Republicans — interviewed witnesses through all of August, and they are hoping to have at least one hearing by the end of the month. Members met Tuesday to discuss the panel’s next steps.

Because the Jan. 6 panel is a temporary or “select” committee, it expires at the end of the current Congress. If Republicans take the majority in November’s elections, as they are favored to do, they are expected to dissolve the committee in January. So the panel is planning to issue a final report by the end of December.

As for hearings, the panel’s Democratic chairman, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, said after the private members’ meeting Tuesday in the Capitol that the committee’s goal is to hold a hearing Sept. 28, but that members were still discussing whether it would happen at all.

“We’ll we’re still in the process of talking,” Thompson said. “If it happens, it will be that date. We’re not sure at this point.”

Members of the committee had promised more hearings in September as they wrapped up the series of summer hearings. Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the Republican vice chairwoman, said the committee “has far more evidence to share with the American people and more to gather.”

“Doors have opened, new subpoenas have been issued and the dam has begun to break,” Cheney said at a July 21 hearing that was held in prime time and watched by 17.7 million people. “We have considerably more to do.”

It’s unclear if the hearing would provide a general overview of what the panel has learned or if they would be focused on new information and evidence. The committee conducted several interviews at the end of July and into August with Trump’s Cabinet secretaries, some of whom had discussed invoking the constitutional process in the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office after the insurrection.

For its witnesses, the panel has already interviewed more than 1,000 people, but lawmakers and staff are still pursuing new threads. The committee recently spoke to several of the Cabinet secretaries, including former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in July and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in August.

The committee also wants to get to the bottom of missing Secret Service texts from Jan. 5 to 6, 2021, which could shed further light on Trump’s actions during the insurrection, particularly after earlier testimony about his confrontation with security as he tried to join supporters at the Capitol. Thompson said Tuesday that the committee has recently obtained “thousands” of documents from the Secret Service.

The committee has also pursued an interview with conservative activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, who’s married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Lawmakers want to know more about her role in trying to help Trump overturn the election. She contacted lawmakers in Arizona and Wisconsin as part of that effort.

Members of the committee are still debating how aggressively to pursue testimony from Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence.

Some have questioned whether the committee needs to call Pence, who resisted Trump’s pressure to try and block President Biden’s certification on Jan. 6. Many of his closest aides have already testified, including Greg Jacob, his top lawyer at the White House who was with him during the insurrection as they hid from rioters who were threatening the vice president’s life. Jacobs characterized much of Pence’s thought process during the time when Trump was pressuring him.

The panel has been in discussions with Pence’s lawyers for months, without any discernible progress. Still, the committee could invite Pence for closed-door testimony or ask him to answer written questions.

The calculation is different for the former president. Members have debated whether they should call Trump, who is the focus of their probe but also a witness who has fought against the investigation in court, denied much of the evidence and floated the idea of presidential pardons for Jan. 6 rioters. Trump is also facing scrutiny in several other investigations, including at the Justice Department and over the classified documents he took to his private club.

Another bit of unfinished business is the committee’s subpoenas to five House Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

In May the panel subpoenaed McCarthy and Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama. The panel has investigated McCarthy’s conversations with Trump the day of the attack and meetings the four other lawmakers had with the White House beforehand as Trump and some of his allies worked to overturn his election defeat.

The five Republicans, all of whom have repeatedly downplayed the investigation’s legitimacy, have simply ignored the request to testify. But the Jan. 6 committee seems unlikely to meet their defiance with contempt charges, as they have with other witnesses, in the weeks before the November elections. Not only would it be a politically risky move, but it is unclear what eventual recourse the panel would have against its own colleagues.

In all, the committee must shut down within a month after issuing a final report, per its rules. But lawmakers could issue some smaller reports before then, perhaps even before the November elections. Thompson said earlier this summer that there may be an interim report in the fall.

The release of the final report will likely come close to the end of the year so the panel can maximize its time. While much of the findings will already be known, the report is expected to thread the story together in a definitive way that lays out the committee’s conclusions for history.

The committee is expected to weigh in on possible legislative changes to the Electoral Count Act, which governs how a presidential election is certified by Congress.

A bipartisan group of senators released proposed changes over the summer that would clarify the way states submit electors and the vice president tallies the votes. Trump and his allies tried to find loopholes in that law ahead of Jan. 6 as the former president worked to overturn his defeat to President Biden and unsuccessfully pressured Pence to go along.

The Jan. 6 panel’s final report is expected to include a larger swath of legislative recommendations.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Thousands Of Minnesota Nurses Launch 3-Day Strike Over Pay

Some 15,000 nurses in Minneapolis and Duluth are seeking a more than 30% pay increase, while hospitals have offered 10%-12% over three years.

Thousands of nurses in Minnesota launched a three-day strike Monday, pressing for salary increases they say will help improve patient care by resolving understaffing stresses that have worsened in the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 15,000 nurses at seven health care systems in the Minneapolis and Duluth areas walked out, a number the union says makes it the largest strike ever by private-sector nurses. The affected hospitals said they have recruited temporary nurses and expected to maintain most services.

Scores of nurses began walking the picket line at 7 a.m. outside Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, one of 15 hospitals affected. Clad in the red T-shirts of the Minnesota Nurses Association and carrying signs with such slogans as, “Something has got to give,” several said their chief concern was patient safety.

Tracey Dittrich, 50, a registered nurse at the hospital for nearly 24 years, said nurses are tired of “hospital administrators and managers that are telling us to do more.” The hospitals need more nurses and more support staff, and higher pay will help, she said.

“There are shifts where you have three critically ill patients, and you have to decide which patient gets the care, when,” Dittrich said. “I work with people all the time that go home every day and feel horrible because one child had to wait longer for medication, or another child needed to wait longer for an IV. Another child maybe had to wait for a breathing treatment because we just couldn’t get to them all fast enough.”

Union spokesman Sam Fettig said the nurses chose a three-day strike, rather than an open-ended walkout, out of concern for patients.

The hospitals have offered a 10%-12% wage increase over three years, but nurses are seeking more than 30%. Hospital leaders called their wage demands unaffordable, noting that Allina and Fairview hospitals have posted operating losses and that the cost of such sharp wage increases would be passed along to patients.

“The union rejected all requests for mediation and held fast to wage demands that were unrealistic, unreasonable and unaffordable,” several of the Twin Cities hospitals under strike said in a joint statement.

The statement said people with emergency issues should continue to call 911 or go to emergency rooms. It said despite staffing hospitals with “experienced nurse managers, trained replacement nurses and some existing traveler nurses” that people may see some delay in being treated.

Jean Ross, co-president of National Nurses United, billed as the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in the U.S., said more nurses across the country are pushing back and that most job actions revolve around the same core issues — staffing and pay.

“The pandemic did so many things in pointing out, clarifying and shining a light on what life is like in the hospitals and what nurses are expected to do, which is a lot with very little,” Ross said. “We have to have a bottom line where you just can’t shove any more patients on to that nurse.”

Kathy Misk, another registered nurse at Children’s, works in case management and helps families transition from hospital care to caring for their child at home. Misk said a shortage of nurses has sometimes required keeping “high-tech” children – those who need special equipment to breathe, for example – from going home as soon as they otherwise could. Raising pay could help the hospital keep nurses on staff, she said.

“You don’t retain nurses with low wages,” Misk said. “When you incentivize nurses with pay, what you’re saying to them is they have worth, and they are able to stay in one job.”

When asked about Misk’s statement that some children have not gone home as soon as they might have, Nick Petersen, a spokesman for Children’s, said children are admitted or discharged “based on the expert judgment of the medical professionals who care for them.”

The hospitals affected by the strike are operated by Allina Health, M Health Fairview, Children’s Hospital, North Memorial and HealthPartners. In Duluth, it is Essentia and St Luke’s.

Separately, in Wisconsin, a potential three-day strike by nurses at UW Health, one of the state’s largest health systems, that was set to start Tuesday was averted when the nurses and the UW Hospital board reached an agreement. Details weren’t immediately released.

The Minnesota nurses’ strike comes amid an upsurge in union activity nationwide.

A national railroad strike could begin as early as Friday unless Congress steps in to block it. The two largest railroad unions have been demanding that the major freight carriers go beyond a proposed deal recommended by arbitrators appointed by President Joe Biden.

Some high-profile companies, including Starbucks, are among those trying to stifle ongoing unionization efforts. Since late last year, more than 230 U.S. Starbucks stores have voted to unionize, which Starbucks opposes.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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