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JUST IN: Austin Calls for More NATO Help in Countering China

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Royal Danish navy frigate HDMS Peter Willemoes, right, the underway replenishment oiler USNS Patuxent, center, and the Royal Netherlands navy frigate HNLMS Van Speijk, left, transit the Atlantic Ocean during NATO exercise Cutlass Fury 2019.

U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cameron Stoner

The United States needs its NATO allies to invest more in their military capabilities and help the Pentagon address the growing threat posed by China, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III said Feb. 19.

Austin attended a virtual NATO ministerial meeting with his alliance counterparts earlier this week. Discussion topics included a resurgent Russia, disruptive technologies, climate change, the war in Afghanistan, terrorism and “an increasingly aggressive China,” he told reporters during his first Pentagon press briefing since taking office.

“I made it clear that the United States is committed to defending the international rules-based order, which China has consistently undermined for its own interests,” he said, describing the rival nation as the Defense Department’s “primary pacing challenge.”

“We believe NATO can help us better think through our operating concepts and investment strategies when it comes to meeting that challenge,” he added.

NATO was formed in the early years of the Cold War to help defend Western Europe and North America against the Soviet Union. However, since the end of the Cold War, the alliance has pivoted to combating other threats such as international terrorism. NATO is expected to produce a new “Strategic Concept” as part of a series of reform efforts, which may include a greater focus on addressing China’s growing military capabilities.

Austin noted that more and more NATO allies are now meeting their commitments to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense, including 20 percent of that amount on modernization. But, like many previous U.S. defense leaders, he pressed for other NATO countries to do more burden sharing.

“We must each of us do our part to procure, prepare and provide ready forces and capabilities,” he said. “Now we’re into our seventh year of steady defense spending increases, and naturally we want this trend to continue and we want to see every member of the alliance contribute their fair share.”

The Biden administration has identified strengthening alliances and partnerships as a key pillar of its foreign policy.

Non-NATO partners including Finland, Sweden and the European Union also participated in the ministerial, and offered their perspectives about China, Austin noted.

The Biden administration recently began its own deep dive on these issues. On Feb. 10, just three weeks after President Joe Biden was sworn in, it set up a new China Task Force led by Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense Ely Ratner. It includes representatives from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the military services, combatant commands and the intelligence community.

“This initiative will provide a baseline assessment of DoD policies, programs and processes on China-related matters and provide the Secretary of Defense recommendations on key priorities and decision points to meet the China challenge,” according to a Pentagon fact sheet.

The task force is expected to address: strategy; operational concepts; technology and force structure; force posture and force management; intelligence; U.S. alliances and partnerships; and defense relations with China.

Its findings and recommendations are due by mid-June.

During the press briefing, Austin was asked if he sees any areas where the United States and China could potentially cooperate or collaborate on international security issues.

“There no doubt are some areas where we will see common interests and there may be an opportunity to engage,” Austin said.

“Now having said that, from a Department of Defense standpoint … my No. 1 concern and my No. 1 job is to defend this country and protect our interests,” he added. “And so we in this department are going to do everything possible to ensure that we have the right operational concepts, the right plans in place, and that we have resourced those plans with the right capabilities to present a credible deterrent, not only to China [but] any other adversary who would want to take us on.”

Topics: DOD LeadershipInternation Cooperation


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10:43 AM 2/20/2021 – Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠

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4:30 AM 2/13/2021 – INVESTIGATE THE INVESTIGATORS!!! | Pro-Trump faction within the FBI and Thomas Edward Caldwell | Feds need to tell us a lot more about the Capitol riot investigation (opinion) | Former FBI official … https://thenewsandtimes.blogspot.com/2021/02/430-am-2132021.html 

Steve Bannon believed Trump had dementia and plotted to remove him as president, according to new book | Investigation of Donald Trump and Trumpism – trumpinvestigation.net: What role did the retired FBI agents play in Capitol riot? | In new defense, dozens of Capitol rioters say law enforcement ‘let us in’ to building

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U.S. Department of JusticeU.S. Department of Justice

By ALEXANDER MALLIN, ALEX HOSENBALL and OLIVIA RUBIN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — As authorities continue to pursue individuals who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol, a growing number of those charged are employing a new defense: blaming the police for letting them in.

At least 29 people arrested for their role in the Jan. 6 events have claimed they thought they were free to enter the Capitol because law enforcement authorities either didn’t stop them from coming in or never told them they were not allowed to be there, according to affidavits and court filings reviewed by ABC News.

“He was not at the front of the lines, he didn’t see barricades being knocked down, he didn’t see officers getting assaulted, he didn’t see anything other than large crowds at the Capitol,” Thomas Mayr, the lawyer for Christopher Grider, one of the people accused of participating in the riot, told ABC News. “He went through an open door.”

Grider, of Texas, is one of dozens of suspected rioters who claimed to be unaware they were not allowed inside — some of whom argued that they were actually ushered in by officers. He now faces multiple charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Jacob Lewis of California told investigators he was never told that he could not enter the Capitol, and that he was “escorted” by police into the building. When reached by ABC News, Lewis said he would be releasing video footage to “back up his story.” He declined to share the video with ABC News. Lewis was indicted on four misdemeanor charges, including disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building.

Even as scrutiny of Capitol police continues to build, experts say it is unlikely such a defense will work in most situations.

“In general, ignorance of the law is not an excuse for criminal behavior,” said Taryn Merkl, senior counsel in the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice and a former federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York.

Many accused rioters also face multiple charges for crimes they allegedly committed once inside the building, which experts say would render their claims of legal entry meaningless.

“Whether or not people knew that it was not lawful to enter the grounds as they did, many are charged with parading, demonstrating, or picketing — and that is prohibited, and no intent is required,” Merkl said.

Brandon Fellows, for example, told investigators he did not think he was going to get in trouble because the police officers seemed to be “on our side,” but he was later seen with his feet up on the desk of Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

“Even if the officer had permitted him in the rotunda area or somewhere that might conceivably be a public space, anybody knows that breaking into a private senatorial office is wrongful, and would obstruct the administration of government,” Merkl said.

U.C. Berkeley law professor Charles Weisselberg, a former public defender, said the defense might help those charged with crimes where intent is required.

“If someone believes that they are allowed to do something, it might negate the intent that’s otherwise required to convict,” Weisselberg told ABC News. “Whether it is successful or not depends on the facts, what they heard, saw, and believed, but I could see that being presented.”

Merkl, however, noted that the majority of the rioters are charged under specific statutes that apply to the protection of the Capitol, for which prosecutors don’t have to prove intent on the part of the accused.

Dimitry Shakhnevich, a criminal defense attorney and adjunct assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, also said that defense wouldn’t work.

“If I leave my door open to my house, you can’t bolt in, even though I left the door open,” Shakhnevich said. “It’s still trespassing … and making the argument that I impliedly consented to access by leaving my door open is silly.”

Still, claims by those who say they were unaware they were committing illegal acts could sharpen the distinction between Trump supporters who may have gotten swept up in the moment and hardened extremists who went to the Capitol with plans to commit violence. An ABC News analysis of court records, military records, interviews and available news reports found that at least 19 of those arrested have associations or possible ties to extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters. Numerous individuals associated with those groups have since been charged with conspiracy.

And while some accused rioters say they believed law enforcement allowed them to enter, others are saying they believed they were acting under direct orders from then-President Donald Trump, who told his supporters at the rally before the attack that they should “fight like hell” and that he would be joining them on their march to the Capitol.

An ABC News analysis found at least a dozen rioters have mounted such a defense, a point that was raised multiple times by Democrats as they sought last week to convict Trump on charges that he directly incited the mob.

Weisselberg said that authorities prosecuting accused rioters will likely dispute such claims by pointing directly to what the rioters observed upon arriving at the Capitol.

“You’re looking at the location where they entered, you’re looking at the time that they entered, you’re looking to see whether it would have appeared that that they were entering a restricted space,” Weisselberg said. “The prosecution might counter with other facts, arguing that for a person who came up to the building at this particular location, they actually couldn’t have believed that they were entitled to enter because they saw broken glass, damage, and other things that should have been apparent to this person entering at that particular point in time.”

The claims, whether successful or not, bring a renewed focus on the conduct of police that day. In the aftermath of the attack, officials began questioning why law enforcement was not better prepared, and numerous investigations have been opened in the weeks since.

Earlier this week, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that Congress would create an outside commission to investigate the riot, including “the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement in the National Capitol Region.”

The Senate is scheduled to hold its first hearing into the security preparations leading up to Jan. 6 next week, and has called current and former officials responsible for securing the U.S. Capitol building to testify.

Bryce Lowry Caldwell, an attorney for one of the alleged rioters, told ABC News they were “looking into” the actions of the Capitol Police as a possible defense.

“Numerous individuals have been charged for being on a piece of property when they shouldn’t be,” he told ABC News. “If someone let them on … that’s an issue.”

Caldwell’s client, Jordan Revlett, had posted on Snapchat that “a capitol police officer opened the door from inside to let us in,” according to the FBI affidavit. Revlett also told investigators he “did not see any signs that would have restricted his entry” and that “a police officer was standing behind the door he entered, who did not try to stop his entry.”

“There’s several other defendants who said the same,” Caldwell told ABC News. “I would feel safe to say that’s an issue the Department of Justice would be looking into.”

When asked for comment, a DOJ official referred ABC News to its previous statements that “any individuals who intentionally committed a crime that day will be charged.”

Investigations have since been opened into the actions of 35 Capitol Police officers, a congressional official told ABC News, and at least two officers have been suspended, according to Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio.

Other officers have been honored for their heroism in protecting the Capitol during the attack, which left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer, and injured dozens of officers.

Capitol police did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

“I certainly believe that the Capitol Police role in this should be fully investigated, whether it’s by prosecutors or by the House Oversight Committee,” said Merkl, the former federal prosecutor. “There needs to be a review of what the Capitol Police role, if any, was in facilitating this or aiding and abetting it.”

Nevertheless, Merkl said, “the actions of the government aren’t on trial in a criminal case. What’s on trial is the action of the defendant.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

The post In new defense, dozens of Capitol rioters say law enforcement ‘let us in’ to building | Connect FM | Local News Radio first appeared on My News Links – mynewslinks.com – Current News.

Cocooned in Mar-a-Lago, the newly acquitted ex-president is stepping up his political activities.
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· · · · · · · ·

In new defense, dozens of Capitol rioters say law enforcement ‘let us in’ to building | Connect FM | Local News Radio

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U.S. Department of JusticeU.S. Department of Justice

By ALEXANDER MALLIN, ALEX HOSENBALL and OLIVIA RUBIN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — As authorities continue to pursue individuals who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol, a growing number of those charged are employing a new defense: blaming the police for letting them in.

At least 29 people arrested for their role in the Jan. 6 events have claimed they thought they were free to enter the Capitol because law enforcement authorities either didn’t stop them from coming in or never told them they were not allowed to be there, according to affidavits and court filings reviewed by ABC News.

“He was not at the front of the lines, he didn’t see barricades being knocked down, he didn’t see officers getting assaulted, he didn’t see anything other than large crowds at the Capitol,” Thomas Mayr, the lawyer for Christopher Grider, one of the people accused of participating in the riot, told ABC News. “He went through an open door.”

Grider, of Texas, is one of dozens of suspected rioters who claimed to be unaware they were not allowed inside — some of whom argued that they were actually ushered in by officers. He now faces multiple charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Jacob Lewis of California told investigators he was never told that he could not enter the Capitol, and that he was “escorted” by police into the building. When reached by ABC News, Lewis said he would be releasing video footage to “back up his story.” He declined to share the video with ABC News. Lewis was indicted on four misdemeanor charges, including disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building.

Even as scrutiny of Capitol police continues to build, experts say it is unlikely such a defense will work in most situations.

“In general, ignorance of the law is not an excuse for criminal behavior,” said Taryn Merkl, senior counsel in the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice and a former federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York.

Many accused rioters also face multiple charges for crimes they allegedly committed once inside the building, which experts say would render their claims of legal entry meaningless.

“Whether or not people knew that it was not lawful to enter the grounds as they did, many are charged with parading, demonstrating, or picketing — and that is prohibited, and no intent is required,” Merkl said.

Brandon Fellows, for example, told investigators he did not think he was going to get in trouble because the police officers seemed to be “on our side,” but he was later seen with his feet up on the desk of Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

“Even if the officer had permitted him in the rotunda area or somewhere that might conceivably be a public space, anybody knows that breaking into a private senatorial office is wrongful, and would obstruct the administration of government,” Merkl said.

U.C. Berkeley law professor Charles Weisselberg, a former public defender, said the defense might help those charged with crimes where intent is required.

“If someone believes that they are allowed to do something, it might negate the intent that’s otherwise required to convict,” Weisselberg told ABC News. “Whether it is successful or not depends on the facts, what they heard, saw, and believed, but I could see that being presented.”

Merkl, however, noted that the majority of the rioters are charged under specific statutes that apply to the protection of the Capitol, for which prosecutors don’t have to prove intent on the part of the accused.

Dimitry Shakhnevich, a criminal defense attorney and adjunct assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, also said that defense wouldn’t work.

“If I leave my door open to my house, you can’t bolt in, even though I left the door open,” Shakhnevich said. “It’s still trespassing … and making the argument that I impliedly consented to access by leaving my door open is silly.”

Still, claims by those who say they were unaware they were committing illegal acts could sharpen the distinction between Trump supporters who may have gotten swept up in the moment and hardened extremists who went to the Capitol with plans to commit violence. An ABC News analysis of court records, military records, interviews and available news reports found that at least 19 of those arrested have associations or possible ties to extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters. Numerous individuals associated with those groups have since been charged with conspiracy.

And while some accused rioters say they believed law enforcement allowed them to enter, others are saying they believed they were acting under direct orders from then-President Donald Trump, who told his supporters at the rally before the attack that they should “fight like hell” and that he would be joining them on their march to the Capitol.

An ABC News analysis found at least a dozen rioters have mounted such a defense, a point that was raised multiple times by Democrats as they sought last week to convict Trump on charges that he directly incited the mob.

Weisselberg said that authorities prosecuting accused rioters will likely dispute such claims by pointing directly to what the rioters observed upon arriving at the Capitol.

“You’re looking at the location where they entered, you’re looking at the time that they entered, you’re looking to see whether it would have appeared that that they were entering a restricted space,” Weisselberg said. “The prosecution might counter with other facts, arguing that for a person who came up to the building at this particular location, they actually couldn’t have believed that they were entitled to enter because they saw broken glass, damage, and other things that should have been apparent to this person entering at that particular point in time.”

The claims, whether successful or not, bring a renewed focus on the conduct of police that day. In the aftermath of the attack, officials began questioning why law enforcement was not better prepared, and numerous investigations have been opened in the weeks since.

Earlier this week, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that Congress would create an outside commission to investigate the riot, including “the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement in the National Capitol Region.”

The Senate is scheduled to hold its first hearing into the security preparations leading up to Jan. 6 next week, and has called current and former officials responsible for securing the U.S. Capitol building to testify.

Bryce Lowry Caldwell, an attorney for one of the alleged rioters, told ABC News they were “looking into” the actions of the Capitol Police as a possible defense.

“Numerous individuals have been charged for being on a piece of property when they shouldn’t be,” he told ABC News. “If someone let them on … that’s an issue.”

Caldwell’s client, Jordan Revlett, had posted on Snapchat that “a capitol police officer opened the door from inside to let us in,” according to the FBI affidavit. Revlett also told investigators he “did not see any signs that would have restricted his entry” and that “a police officer was standing behind the door he entered, who did not try to stop his entry.”

“There’s several other defendants who said the same,” Caldwell told ABC News. “I would feel safe to say that’s an issue the Department of Justice would be looking into.”

When asked for comment, a DOJ official referred ABC News to its previous statements that “any individuals who intentionally committed a crime that day will be charged.”

Investigations have since been opened into the actions of 35 Capitol Police officers, a congressional official told ABC News, and at least two officers have been suspended, according to Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio.

Other officers have been honored for their heroism in protecting the Capitol during the attack, which left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer, and injured dozens of officers.

Capitol police did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

“I certainly believe that the Capitol Police role in this should be fully investigated, whether it’s by prosecutors or by the House Oversight Committee,” said Merkl, the former federal prosecutor. “There needs to be a review of what the Capitol Police role, if any, was in facilitating this or aiding and abetting it.”

Nevertheless, Merkl said, “the actions of the government aren’t on trial in a criminal case. What’s on trial is the action of the defendant.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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· · · · · · ·

What role did the retired FBI agents play in Capitol riot?

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What role did the retired FBI agents play in Capitol riot? – GS

Oath Keepers – GS

Retired FBI agents and Oath Keepers – GS

Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI and Oath Keepers – GS

_______________________

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More Oath Keepers on Capitol riot charges | The Canberra Times | Canberra, ACT

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The six women and men arrested this week in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio are said to have collaborated with three other suspects who were already indicted in January.

They face various charges, including conspiring to obstruct congressional certification of the result of the 2020 presidential election.

In total, nine individuals with alleged ties to the right-wing group, which often use militia tactics, have been charged with conspiring to commit an offence against the United States.

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According to the prosecutors, seven of the men and women wore paramilitary gear on January 6 and marched up the stairs of the Congress building in a military-style “stack” formation before breaking through the doors.

The indictment alleges that one of the suspects, who describes themself as the leader of the Oath Keepers in Florida, wrote in a Facebook message in late December: “Trump said It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! He wants us to make it WILD that’s what he’s saying. He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild!!! Sir Yes Sir!!!”

Last Saturday, the Senate acquitted former president Donald Trump in an impeachment trial over his role in the deadly Capitol riots.

He had been charged with incitement of an insurrection, alleging his baseless allegations of voter fraud and speech during a rally on January 6 had propelled a deadly mob to storm the US Capitol.

Australian Associated Press


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Audio Posts Michael Novakhov - SharedNewsLinks℠

February 20, 2021 – Shared Links Review

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February 20, 2021 – Shared Links Review

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In new defense, dozens of Capitol rioters say law enforcement let us in to building | Connect FM | Local News Radio
What role did the retired FBI agents play in Capitol riot?
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Michael_Novakhov shared this story from The News And Times.

4:30 AM 2/13/2021 – INVESTIGATE THE INVESTIGATORS!!! | Pro-Trump faction within the FBI and Thomas Edward Caldwell | Feds need to tell us a lot more about the Capitol riot investigation (opinion) | Former FBI official … https://thenewsandtimes.blogspot.com/2021/02/430-am-2132021.html 

Steve Bannon believed Trump had dementia and plotted to remove him as president, according to new book | Investigation of Donald Trump and Trumpism trumpinvestigation.net: What role did the retired FBI agents play in Capitol riot? | In new defense, dozens of Capitol rioters say law enforcement let us in to building

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from The News And Times.

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from 8110942.png Connect FM | Local News Radio | Dubois, PA.

U.S. Department of JusticeU.S. Department of Justice

By ALEXANDER MALLIN, ALEX HOSENBALL and OLIVIA RUBIN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) As authorities continue to pursue individuals who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol, a growing number of those charged are employing a new defense: blaming the police for letting them in.

At least 29 people arrested for their role in the Jan. 6 events have claimed they thought they were free to enter the Capitol because law enforcement authorities either didnt stop them from coming in or never told them they were not allowed to be there, according to affidavits and court filings reviewed by ABC News.

He was not at the front of the lines, he didnt see barricades being knocked down, he didnt see officers getting assaulted, he didnt see anything other than large crowds at the Capitol, Thomas Mayr, the lawyer for Christopher Grider, one of the people accused of participating in the riot, told ABC News. He went through an open door.

Grider, of Texas, is one of dozens of suspected rioters who claimed to be unaware they were not allowed inside some of whom argued that they were actually ushered in by officers. He now faces multiple charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Jacob Lewis of California told investigators he was never told that he could not enter the Capitol, and that he was escorted by police into the building. When reached by ABC News, Lewis said he would be releasing video footage to back up his story. He declined to share the video with ABC News. Lewis was indicted on four misdemeanor charges, including disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building.

Even as scrutiny of Capitol police continues to build, experts say it is unlikely such a defense will work in most situations.

In general, ignorance of the law is not an excuse for criminal behavior, said Taryn Merkl, senior counsel in the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice and a former federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York.

Many accused rioters also face multiple charges for crimes they allegedly committed once inside the building, which experts say would render their claims of legal entry meaningless.

Whether or not people knew that it was not lawful to enter the grounds as they did, many are charged with parading, demonstrating, or picketing and that is prohibited, and no intent is required, Merkl said.

Brandon Fellows, for example, told investigators he did not think he was going to get in trouble because the police officers seemed to be on our side, but he was later seen with his feet up on the desk of Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

Even if the officer had permitted him in the rotunda area or somewhere that might conceivably be a public space, anybody knows that breaking into a private senatorial office is wrongful, and would obstruct the administration of government, Merkl said.

U.C. Berkeley law professor Charles Weisselberg, a former public defender, said the defense might help those charged with crimes where intent is required.

If someone believes that they are allowed to do something, it might negate the intent thats otherwise required to convict, Weisselberg told ABC News. Whether it is successful or not depends on the facts, what they heard, saw, and believed, but I could see that being presented.

Merkl, however, noted that the majority of the rioters are charged under specific statutes that apply to the protection of the Capitol, for which prosecutors dont have to prove intent on the part of the accused.

Dimitry Shakhnevich, a criminal defense attorney and adjunct assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, also said that defense wouldnt work.

If I leave my door open to my house, you cant bolt in, even though I left the door open, Shakhnevich said. Its still trespassing and making the argument that I impliedly consented to access by leaving my door open is silly.

Still, claims by those who say they were unaware they were committing illegal acts could sharpen the distinction between Trump supporters who may have gotten swept up in the moment and hardened extremists who went to the Capitol with plans to commit violence. An ABC News analysis of court records, military records, interviews and available news reports found that at least 19 of those arrested have associations or possible ties to extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters. Numerous individuals associated with those groups have since been charged with conspiracy.

And while some accused rioters say they believed law enforcement allowed them to enter, others are saying they believed they were acting under direct orders from then-President Donald Trump, who told his supporters at the rally before the attack that they should fight like hell and that he would be joining them on their march to the Capitol.

An ABC News analysis found at least a dozen rioters have mounted such a defense, a point that was raised multiple times by Democrats as they sought last week to convict Trump on charges that he directly incited the mob.

Weisselberg said that authorities prosecuting accused rioters will likely dispute such claims by pointing directly to what the rioters observed upon arriving at the Capitol.

Youre looking at the location where they entered, youre looking at the time that they entered, youre looking to see whether it would have appeared that that they were entering a restricted space, Weisselberg said. The prosecution might counter with other facts, arguing that for a person who came up to the building at this particular location, they actually couldnt have believed that they were entitled to enter because they saw broken glass, damage, and other things that should have been apparent to this person entering at that particular point in time.

The claims, whether successful or not, bring a renewed focus on the conduct of police that day. In the aftermath of the attack, officials began questioning why law enforcement was not better prepared, and numerous investigations have been opened in the weeks since.

Earlier this week, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that Congress would create an outside commission to investigate the riot, including the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement in the National Capitol Region.

The Senate is scheduled to hold its first hearing into the security preparations leading up to Jan. 6 next week, and has called current and former officials responsible for securing the U.S. Capitol building to testify.

Bryce Lowry Caldwell, an attorney for one of the alleged rioters, told ABC News they were looking into the actions of the Capitol Police as a possible defense.

Numerous individuals have been charged for being on a piece of property when they shouldnt be, he told ABC News. If someone let them on thats an issue.

Caldwells client, Jordan Revlett, had posted on Snapchat that a capitol police officer opened the door from inside to let us in, according to the FBI affidavit. Revlett also told investigators he did not see any signs that would have restricted his entry and that a police officer was standing behind the door he entered, who did not try to stop his entry.

Theres several other defendants who said the same, Caldwell told ABC News. I would feel safe to say thats an issue the Department of Justice would be looking into.

When asked for comment, a DOJ official referred ABC News to its previous statements that any individuals who intentionally committed a crime that day will be charged.

Investigations have since been opened into the actions of 35 Capitol Police officers, a congressional official told ABC News, and at least two officers have been suspended, according to Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio.

Other officers have been honored for their heroism in protecting the Capitol during the attack, which left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer, and injured dozens of officers.

Capitol police did not respond to ABC News request for comment.

I certainly believe that the Capitol Police role in this should be fully investigated, whether its by prosecutors or by the House Oversight Committee, said Merkl, the former federal prosecutor. There needs to be a review of what the Capitol Police role, if any, was in facilitating this or aiding and abetting it.

Nevertheless, Merkl said, the actions of the government arent on trial in a criminal case. Whats on trial is the action of the defendant.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

The post In new defense, dozens of Capitol rioters say law enforcement let us in to building | Connect FM | Local News Radio first appeared on My News Links – mynewslinks.com – Current News.

Cocooned in Mar-a-Lago, the newly acquitted ex-president is stepping up his political activities.
In new defense, dozens of Capitol rioters say law enforcement let us in to building | Connect FM | Local News Radio

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from Connect FM | Local News Radio | Dubois, PA.

U.S. Department of JusticeU.S. Department of Justice

By ALEXANDER MALLIN, ALEX HOSENBALL and OLIVIA RUBIN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) As authorities continue to pursue individuals who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol, a growing number of those charged are employing a new defense: blaming the police for letting them in.

At least 29 people arrested for their role in the Jan. 6 events have claimed they thought they were free to enter the Capitol because law enforcement authorities either didnt stop them from coming in or never told them they were not allowed to be there, according to affidavits and court filings reviewed by ABC News.

He was not at the front of the lines, he didnt see barricades being knocked down, he didnt see officers getting assaulted, he didnt see anything other than large crowds at the Capitol, Thomas Mayr, the lawyer for Christopher Grider, one of the people accused of participating in the riot, told ABC News. He went through an open door.

Grider, of Texas, is one of dozens of suspected rioters who claimed to be unaware they were not allowed inside some of whom argued that they were actually ushered in by officers. He now faces multiple charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Jacob Lewis of California told investigators he was never told that he could not enter the Capitol, and that he was escorted by police into the building. When reached by ABC News, Lewis said he would be releasing video footage to back up his story. He declined to share the video with ABC News. Lewis was indicted on four misdemeanor charges, including disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building.

Even as scrutiny of Capitol police continues to build, experts say it is unlikely such a defense will work in most situations.

In general, ignorance of the law is not an excuse for criminal behavior, said Taryn Merkl, senior counsel in the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice and a former federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York.

Many accused rioters also face multiple charges for crimes they allegedly committed once inside the building, which experts say would render their claims of legal entry meaningless.

Whether or not people knew that it was not lawful to enter the grounds as they did, many are charged with parading, demonstrating, or picketing and that is prohibited, and no intent is required, Merkl said.

Brandon Fellows, for example, told investigators he did not think he was going to get in trouble because the police officers seemed to be on our side, but he was later seen with his feet up on the desk of Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

Even if the officer had permitted him in the rotunda area or somewhere that might conceivably be a public space, anybody knows that breaking into a private senatorial office is wrongful, and would obstruct the administration of government, Merkl said.

U.C. Berkeley law professor Charles Weisselberg, a former public defender, said the defense might help those charged with crimes where intent is required.

If someone believes that they are allowed to do something, it might negate the intent thats otherwise required to convict, Weisselberg told ABC News. Whether it is successful or not depends on the facts, what they heard, saw, and believed, but I could see that being presented.

Merkl, however, noted that the majority of the rioters are charged under specific statutes that apply to the protection of the Capitol, for which prosecutors dont have to prove intent on the part of the accused.

Dimitry Shakhnevich, a criminal defense attorney and adjunct assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, also said that defense wouldnt work.

If I leave my door open to my house, you cant bolt in, even though I left the door open, Shakhnevich said. Its still trespassing and making the argument that I impliedly consented to access by leaving my door open is silly.

Still, claims by those who say they were unaware they were committing illegal acts could sharpen the distinction between Trump supporters who may have gotten swept up in the moment and hardened extremists who went to the Capitol with plans to commit violence. An ABC News analysis of court records, military records, interviews and available news reports found that at least 19 of those arrested have associations or possible ties to extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters. Numerous individuals associated with those groups have since been charged with conspiracy.

And while some accused rioters say they believed law enforcement allowed them to enter, others are saying they believed they were acting under direct orders from then-President Donald Trump, who told his supporters at the rally before the attack that they should fight like hell and that he would be joining them on their march to the Capitol.

An ABC News analysis found at least a dozen rioters have mounted such a defense, a point that was raised multiple times by Democrats as they sought last week to convict Trump on charges that he directly incited the mob.

Weisselberg said that authorities prosecuting accused rioters will likely dispute such claims by pointing directly to what the rioters observed upon arriving at the Capitol.

Youre looking at the location where they entered, youre looking at the time that they entered, youre looking to see whether it would have appeared that that they were entering a restricted space, Weisselberg said. The prosecution might counter with other facts, arguing that for a person who came up to the building at this particular location, they actually couldnt have believed that they were entitled to enter because they saw broken glass, damage, and other things that should have been apparent to this person entering at that particular point in time.

The claims, whether successful or not, bring a renewed focus on the conduct of police that day. In the aftermath of the attack, officials began questioning why law enforcement was not better prepared, and numerous investigations have been opened in the weeks since.

Earlier this week, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that Congress would create an outside commission to investigate the riot, including the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement in the National Capitol Region.

The Senate is scheduled to hold its first hearing into the security preparations leading up to Jan. 6 next week, and has called current and former officials responsible for securing the U.S. Capitol building to testify.

Bryce Lowry Caldwell, an attorney for one of the alleged rioters, told ABC News they were looking into the actions of the Capitol Police as a possible defense.

Numerous individuals have been charged for being on a piece of property when they shouldnt be, he told ABC News. If someone let them on thats an issue.

Caldwells client, Jordan Revlett, had posted on Snapchat that a capitol police officer opened the door from inside to let us in, according to the FBI affidavit. Revlett also told investigators he did not see any signs that would have restricted his entry and that a police officer was standing behind the door he entered, who did not try to stop his entry.

Theres several other defendants who said the same, Caldwell told ABC News. I would feel safe to say thats an issue the Department of Justice would be looking into.

When asked for comment, a DOJ official referred ABC News to its previous statements that any individuals who intentionally committed a crime that day will be charged.

Investigations have since been opened into the actions of 35 Capitol Police officers, a congressional official told ABC News, and at least two officers have been suspended, according to Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio.

Other officers have been honored for their heroism in protecting the Capitol during the attack, which left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer, and injured dozens of officers.

Capitol police did not respond to ABC News request for comment.

I certainly believe that the Capitol Police role in this should be fully investigated, whether its by prosecutors or by the House Oversight Committee, said Merkl, the former federal prosecutor. There needs to be a review of what the Capitol Police role, if any, was in facilitating this or aiding and abetting it.

Nevertheless, Merkl said, the actions of the government arent on trial in a criminal case. Whats on trial is the action of the defendant.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

What role did the retired FBI agents play in Capitol riot?

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from The News And Times.

 

What role did the retired FBI agents play in Capitol riot? – GS

Oath Keepers – GS

Retired FBI agents and Oath Keepers – GS

Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI and Oath Keepers – GS

_______________________

More Oath Keepers on Capitol riot charges | The Canberra Times | Canberra, ACT

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from The Canberra Times – Local News.

The six women and men arrested this week in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio are said to have collaborated with three other suspects who were already indicted in January.

They face various charges, including conspiring to obstruct congressional certification of the result of the 2020 presidential election.

In total, nine individuals with alleged ties to the right-wing group, which often use militia tactics, have been charged with conspiring to commit an offence against the United States.

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According to the prosecutors, seven of the men and women wore paramilitary gear on January 6 and marched up the stairs of the Congress building in a military-style “stack” formation before breaking through the doors.

The indictment alleges that one of the suspects, who describes themself as the leader of the Oath Keepers in Florida, wrote in a Facebook message in late December: “Trump said It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! He wants us to make it WILD that’s what he’s saying. He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild!!! Sir Yes Sir!!!”

Last Saturday, the Senate acquitted former president Donald Trump in an impeachment trial over his role in the deadly Capitol riots.

He had been charged with incitement of an insurrection, alleging his baseless allegations of voter fraud and speech during a rally on January 6 had propelled a deadly mob to storm the US Capitol.

Australian Associated Press

Why do COVID death rates seem to be falling?

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from Nature – Issue – nature.com science feeds.

Many regions of the world have experienced the pandemic in punishing waves, but Chennai in India endured a six-month flood, according to Bharath Kumar Tirupakuzhi Vijayaraghavan. The Apollo Main Hospital, where Vijayaraghavan works as an intensive-care specialist, was never overwhelmed, but it was relentlessly busy. And although the numbers of people with COVID-19 finally began to fall in mid-October, Vijayaraghavan worries about the possible impact of the festival season, which began on 20 October, and the publics waning compliance with health measures. Everybody is exhausted, he says. Its become a never-ending health-care problem.

One shining light that he can point to is his intensive-care units dwindling fatality rate. In April, up to 35% of those in the unit with COVID-19 perished, and about 70% of those on ventilators died. Now, the intensive-care mortality rate for people with the illness is down to 30%, and for those on ventilators it is around 4550%. This itself was a relief, says Vijayaraghavan.

Around the world, similar stories are emerging. Charlotte Summers, an intensive-care physician at the University of Cambridge, UK, says that data collected by the countrys National Health Service (NHS) show a decline in death rates1 (see Mortality falls). Critical-care physician Derek Angus at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania says that his hospitals statistics team also saw reductions over time. Without question, weve noticed a drop in mortality, says Angus. All things being equal, patients have a better chance of getting out alive.

The reasons are not entirely obvious. There have been no miracle drugs, no new technologies and no great advances in treatment strategies for the disease that has infected more than 50 million and killed more than 1.2 million around the world. Shifts in the demographics of those being treated might have contributed to perceived boosts in survival. And at many hospitals, it seems clear that physicians are getting incrementally better at treating COVID-19 particularly as health-care systems become less overwhelmed. Still, those gains could be erased by increasing case loads around the world.

Vijayaraghavan credits the improvements in mortality at his institution to hard-earned experience, a better understanding of how to use steroids and a shift away from unproven drugs and procedures.

Marcus Schultz, an intensive-care specialist at Amsterdam University Medical Center in the Netherlands, agrees, adding that it took time to realize that standard treatments were among the most effective. In just half a year, I think we repeated 20 years of research in acute respiratory distress, he says. Everything was done again, and everything came with the same result.

Crunching the numbers

Researchers have struggled to work out whether the COVID-19 death rates are truly dropping. The calculations can be complex. Case-fatality rates depend on testing: a country that tests only people with severe symptoms, for example, will have an outsized case-fatality rate compared with one in which asymptomatic testing is widespread. And fatality rates in intensive-care units can mislead if the demographics of the people admitted change over time. For example, many hospitals reported high numbers of younger patients as the pandemic wore on.

The detailed data that are needed to parse these differences have been hard to come by in many countries, and that frustrates Andrew Levin, an economist at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. We still dont have the data that scientists and public-health officials should have, he says.

As a result, it has taken researchers some time to determine whether the number of deaths per SARS-CoV-2 infection is really falling, particularly for older people, says epidemiologist Ali Mokdad at the University of Washington in Seattle. Mokdad and his colleagues have been monitoring global data, with a focus on the United States and Europe. A provisional analysis, he says, which includes data from the American Hospital Association, now suggests that the number of fatalities per infection might have fallen by 20%.

Intensive-care physicians say that treatment has improved, but not always in ways that are easy to pinpoint. Vijayaraghavan and others credit a shift in mindset. In the early days of the pandemic, COVID-19 was viewed as something frightening and new and worthy of resorting to unproven interventions in a desperate act to save patients. Unfortunately, a lot of the initial discourse was complicated by noise about how this disease was entirely different or entirely new, says Vijayaraghavan. This distraction caused more harm we were all probably poised to go off track.

Summers points to the furore around hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug that some initial studies suggested might help to treat COVID-19. The possibility set off a run on the drug, with some physicians and politicians advocating its use without strong evidence that it was effective. In June, a large study in the United Kingdom2 showed that the drug did not benefit people hospitalized with COVID-19. Meanwhile, that study and others suggested that hydroxychloroquine could be harming some patients, in particular by causing heart damage, and especially when combined with the antibiotic azithromycin3. Hundreds of hydroxychloroquine clinical trials were launched, wasting resources and effort that could have been directed elsewhere, says Summers. In terms of hospitalized patients, hydroxychloroquine is dead, says Summers. Thats one less thing for us to worry about.

Chasing miracles

Intensive-care physicians point to early concerns about the increased production of proteins called cytokines that can rev up immune responses in some people with severe COVID-19. This phenomenon, known as a cytokine storm, stimulated interest in using targeted therapies to dampen immune responses. Vijayaraghavan says that this prompted some physicians in India to treat COVID-19 with tocilizumab, an antibody that blocks the activity of the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6). But, he says, the treatment might have made patients more susceptible to other infections, a particular risk in regions where drug-resistant bacteria are common.

Since then, additional studies have shown that, although IL-6 levels are raised in some people with severe COVID-19 compared with healthy individuals or those with mild infections, they are not elevated when compared with others with acute respiratory distress4. Researchers have been looking without success at targeted ways to dampen immune responses in critically ill people for decades, says Angus. And we have 20 to 30 years of failing to improve outcome with therapies that try to block the cytokine cascade.

Some studies have borne out Anguss pessimism. A test of another IL-6-blocking antibody called sarilumab in the United States was halted because it showed no benefit, and a study of tocilizumab also found no effect on COVID-19 death rates5. A large, randomized, controlled clinical trial of tocilizumab taking place in the United Kingdom should have a result before the end of December, says Summers.

In contrast to more-targeted drugs, blanket suppression of the immune system using steroids has been shown to cut death rates when used to treat severe COVID-19. On 16 June, the UK RECOVERY trial found that a common steroid called dexamethasone could reduce COVID-19 fatalities by as much as one-third when administered to patients who require supplemental oxygen or are on ventilators6. (However, Summers cautions that dexamethasone treatment has not been shown to carry a benefit for people with mild COVID-19 who do not need oxygen support, possibly because it weakens defences against the virus itself.)

Some intensive-care physicians were already giving low doses of dexamethasone to critically ill patients as part of their standard treatment for acute respiratory distress, but the safety of that approach was debated. The RECOVERY trial results encouraged more to use the drugs, and the doses were low enough that infections did not increase, says Vijayaraghavan.

Thus far, steroids are the only medicine that has been shown to have a dramatic effect on COVID-19 mortality. Anyone whos very sick should get steroids, says Angus. And everything else is a crapshoot.

The antiviral drug remdesivir, developed by the biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences in Foster City, California, has been shown by a US National Institutes of Health study to shorten hospital stays7. A subsequent trial coordinated by the World Health Organization found that the drug had little, if any, effect on mortality, but the US Food and Drug Administration nevertheless approved it for treating COVID-19 on 22 October.

Hundreds of other therapies are being tested against COVID-19, but many of the ongoing trials are too small to yield convincing results soon. Among the furthest along are studies of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 either purified antibodies administered individually or in cocktails, or antibody-rich blood plasma taken from people recovering from the disease.

Convalescent plasma studies have been hampered in the United States by the widespread availability of the treatment outside clinical trials, but the UK RECOVERY trial hopes to have data on this approach from a large, randomized, controlled trial this year. Meanwhile, a 464-person, open-label study in India found that convalescent plasma did not prevent moderate COVID-19 from progressing to severe disease or reduce deaths8.

Tests of purified antibodies are also under way such as those assessing the mixture of two antibodies produced by the biotechnology firm Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in Tarrytown, New York, that was administered to US President Donald Trump. These mainly target people who have mild COVID-19 symptoms. Despite Trumps claims that the treatment was a cure, large trials of the cocktail have not yet been completed, and there is no evidence that it has an impact on death rates from COVID-19.

Some studies in people with mild disease have shown that treatment with these antibodies can reduce hospitalizations. However, in October, the US National Institutes of Health halted a trial of an antibody produced by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, Indiana, in people hospitalized with COVID-19 after finding no benefit from the treatment. Regeneron has also stopped enrolment in a trial of its antibody cocktail for people with severe symptoms.

Researchers are also looking to find out whether drugs that prevent blood clots an unexpected hallmark of COVID-19 could be given at higher doses or earlier during infection.

Angus would like to see studies that test combinations of these treatments. He is an investigator for REMAP-CAP (Randomised, Embedded, Multi-factorial, Adaptive Platform Trial for Community-Acquired Pneumonia), a trial that spans more than 260 sites in 19 countries and is designed to allow treatments to be added or dropped. For example, remdesivir might be better in the presence of steroids, he says. We need trials that simultaneously randomize several choices.

Back to basics

Some intensive-care researchers are sceptical of the chances that a highly effective medicine will be found, citing decades of failed attempts to find a magic bullet for acute respiratory distress. Apart from a vaccine, I think the differences in outcome will be driven by things like other ways to supply oxygen or help patients in their gas exchange, says Schultz.

In the early days of the pandemic, physicians were alarmed by the rapid deterioration of some people with COVID-19, says Eddy Fan, an intensive-care physician at University Health Network in Toronto, Canada. There were a lot of unknowns about the best way to manage this, he says. Because the patient could deteriorate very quickly, the thought was to put them on a ventilator and breathing tube quickly to prevent deterioration.

But, in retrospect, clinicians might have been overzealous at times. Schultz recalls asking patients to get off of their mobile phones so he could put them on a ventilator, but a candidate for a ventilator normally wouldnt be well enough to hold a telephone conversation. As physicians became more comfortable treating people with COVID-19, many realized that early ventilation was not necessary, says Fan.

Unfortunately, the public began to become concerned that ventilators themselves were causing harm, says Summers. Now, she says, families are upset when physicians recommend that their loved ones be put on a ventilator even when there are no other suitable ways of providing oxygen. The narrative youve heard is that ventilators kill people, she says. Thats been particularly unhelpful. The NHS health-care centres with the lowest mortality rates during the pandemic used ventilators, but not too early. They followed standard protocols for when to use the devices, says Summers.

Ultimately, Summers and others attribute possible drops in death rates more to shoring up standard health-care practices than to medical advances. Its the little subtle things, says Angus.

This might mean that keeping death rates low could hinge on measures to reduce transmission. In Singapore, where COVID-19 death rates are among the lowest in the world, intensive-care physician Jason Phua at Alexandra Hospital says the key to the countrys success has been suppressing transmission, so that hospitals were never overwhelmed. Early reports of mortality from Wuhan approached 97% for people with COVID-19 who were on ventilators, he says. In Singapore, mortality rates in intensive-care units have been less than 15%. I dont think its because we are using the correct drugs, he says. I think whats happening is that the others are overwhelmed.

In response to the pandemic, many hospitals rapidly expanded their numbers of intensive-care beds, but that meant bringing in extra staff from other departments. Over time, those staff members have become more familiar with intensive care, learning to recognize the patterns that can signal when a patient is about to deteriorate. And hospitals have learnt to triage those who have risk factors for more severe disease, placing them under more careful observation.

Ultimately, reducing the COVID-19 death rate by 1020% would feel like a huge win in an intensive-care ward, says Levin. But that would still leave the number of deaths relatively high, particularly among older people, in whom the case-fatality rate approaches 30% for those more than 80 years old. Instead, he says, suppressing transmission is the best way to reduce COVID-19 deaths: In the grand scheme of things, from a public-policy angle, we need to say, Lets make sure that people in their 70s and 80s dont get infected.

President Biden Delivers Remarks at the Virtual Munich Security Conference

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from whitehouse’s YouTube Videos.

From: whitehouse
Duration: 00:00

The White House

AP Top Stories February 19 A posted at 10:20:29

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from The News And Times.

 AP Top Stories February 19 A

Here’s the latest for Friday February 19th: Senator Ted Cruz says Mexico trip was a mistake; Millions in Texas get power back; Weather disrupts COVID vaccination efforts; US to allow some asylum seekers to cross border from Mexico.

‘No Lockdown’-Sweden Sees COVID Deaths Plummet Quicker Than ‘Fully-Locked-Down’ UK posted at 11:10:03 UTC

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from The News And Times.

‘No Lockdown’-Sweden Sees COVID Deaths Plummet Quicker Than ‘Fully-Locked-Down’ UK

‘No Lockdown’-Sweden Sees COVID Deaths Plummet Quicker Than ‘Fully-Locked-Down’ UK

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

While the media in the UK is asserting lockdown measures caused COVID-19 deaths and cases to plummet, Sweden saw an even greater drop off in deaths despite enforcing comparatively minor restrictions.

This morning, UK broadcaster Sky News declared Lockdown is working! COVID-19 infection rate plummets in England.

One of the largest and most authoritative coronavirus surveys has found that infections are quickly falling in England, confirming that lockdown is working to suppress the virus, states the report.

The report claims that vaccines arent a factor in the reduction in deaths and cases because they are observed across all age groups.

However, as Dr. Eli David highlighted, COVID deaths in Sweden began dropping off even sooner without the need for harsh lockdown measures.

The strict lockdown in the UK was so effective that it stopped the spread of Covid in Sweden as well  pic.twitter.com/M12KVBibw5

Dr. Eli David (@DrEliDavid) February 17, 2021

The strict lockdown in the UK was so effective that it stopped the spread of Covid in Sweden as well, joked David.

In comparison to the UK, which imposed a full national lockdown in early January, Sweden refused to follow suit, only encouraging voluntary social distancing measures.

As we highlighted last October, health authorities in the Scandinavian country refused to follow the rest of Europe by imposing new coronavirus lockdown measures on their population, arguing that those beset by loneliness and misery of being isolated have suffered enough.

Despite all this, health authorities in Sweden are now considering a full lockdown for the first time due to what they say is a rise in cases over the last week.

The proposals would let the government close shopping centers, gyms and restaurants, as well as impose new restrictions on theme parks, zoos and museums. There will be a new system to control social gatherings and public events, reports Bloomberg.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Fri, 02/19/2021 – 06:10

IN THE PRESS Friday, 19.02.2021: French President Emmanuel #Macron has called on Western countries to urgently distribute Covid-19 #vaccines to developing nations. We discuss the politics at play behind the announcement. We also look at ransomware attacks targeting French hospitals and finish with a new initiative in the United States which aims to increase access to Ivy League schools for disadvantaged populations. 

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French Health Minister Olivier Veran said at a news conference that it was too soon to ease up on #coronavirus containment measures and said that the isolation period for positive cases would be increased to 10 days from seven from Monday.

Pelosi predicts vote on Biden $1.9T rescue plan next week – New York Post posted at 09:05:03 UTC

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from The News And Times.

 Pelosi predicts vote on Biden $1.9T rescue plan next week – New York Post

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  1. Pelosi predicts vote on Biden $1.9T rescue plan next week  New York Post
  2. House Democrats plan to push Biden’s Covid relief plan through the chamber next week  CNN
  3. New $1,400 stimulus checks could be coming. What we know about how soon they may arrive  CNBC
  4. How the minimum wage will hold workers back in the labor market | TheHill  The Hill
  5. Op-ed: An easy win for Biden don’t send stimulus checks to dead people  CNBC
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News

“We must get to the truth of how this happened,” Pelosi said.

February 16, 2021, 5:59 AM

 6 min read

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced Monday that Congress will move to establish an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, similar to the one set up in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Now, as always, security is the order of the day: the security of our country, the security of our Capitol which is the temple of our democracy, and the security of our Members,” Pelosi said in a letter to her Democratic colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The events of Jan. 6 occurred after then-President Donald Trump and his allies held a rally earlier that day in Washington, D.C., urging Congress not to certify the results of the November presidential election, in which Trump lost to Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Trump vowed to “never concede” and urged his supporters “to fight,” as he continued to push baseless claims of election fraud.

Crowds of people then made their way to the Capitol steps, pushing through barricades, officers in riot gear and other security measures that were put in place in anticipation of the protest. An angry mob breached the Capitol building, forcing a lockdown with members of Congress and their staff holed up inside. It took hours for law enforcement to clear the building and establish a perimeter around the area. Five people, including a police officer, died during the rampage.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, with House impeachment managers, speaks to the press afte…Read MoreRead More

Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore was appointed to examine security on Capitol Hill following the insurrection. Meanwhile, the Senate acquitted Trump on Saturday in his second impeachment trial on a charge of inciting the Capitol rioters.

“For the past few weeks, General Honore has been assessing our security needs by reviewing what happened on January 6 and how we must ensure that it does not happen again,” Pelosi said in her letter. “He has been working with Committees of Jurisdiction and will continue to make proposals.”

“It is clear from his findings and from the impeachment trial that we must get to the truth of how this happened,” she continued. “To protect our security, our security, our security, our next step will be to establish an outside, independent 9/11-type Commission to ‘investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021 domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power, including facts and causes relating to the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement in the National Capitol Region.'”

Supporters of President Donald Trump protest outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021.

The so-called 9/11 Commission was convened by congressional legislation that was signed into law by then-President George W. Bush in November 2002. After a 20-month-long investigation into the circumstances surrounding the terrorist attacks and how to prevent a similar attack, the bipartisan panel concluded in its final report that U.S. government intelligence agencies had failed to adequately assess the threat posed by al-Qaeda, among other things.

A growing number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the Capitol siege. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who crossed party lines and voted alongside six other Republicans to convict Trump, told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Sunday on “This Week” that he supports a full investigation into the events of Jan. 6. In interviews following Cassidy, House impeachment manager Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said they would support the creation of a 9/11 Commission-style independent inquiry into the Capitol siege.

In her letter, Pelosi said Congress must also allocate additional funding “to provide for the safety of Members and the security of the Capitol.”

“We will be forever grateful to the Capitol Police for their life-saving courage and heroism in securing the Capitol and protecting Members,” she said.

ABC News’ Katherine Faulders contributed to this report.

Audio Post – The Tip Of An Iceberg: Sexual Misconduct Within The FBI Is Exposed by AP! Investigate The Investigators who are nothing more and nothing less than a bunch of psychopaths, perverts, and child abusers. Abolish the FBI and put the criminal FBI agents in prison where they belong! The present crisis in America is the direct result of the FBI stupidity, treacherous incompetence and malfeasance.

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from The FBI News Review.

The Tip Of An Iceberg: Sexual Misconduct Within The FBI Is Exposed by AP! Investigate The Investigators who are nothing more and nothing less than a bunch of psychopaths, perverts, and child abusers. Abolish the FBI and put the criminal FBI agents in prison where they belong! The present crisis in America is the direct result of the FBI stupiditytreacherous incompetence and malfeasance

The involvement of the “assistant director of the Insider Threat Office, a division at Washington headquarters tasked with rooting out leakers and safeguarding national security information” in theses issues is especially troubling and this might be an indication that this problem might be more significant and more complex and complicated than it appears to be at a first glance. 

Michael Novakhov

_________________________________

 
 
By JIM MUSTIAN
 
2 hours ago
A former FBI analyst, who asked to be identified only as Becky, poses for a photo, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. Becky alleges in a new federal lawsuit that an FBI supervisory special agent licked her face and groped her at a colleagues farewell party in 2017. She ended up leaving the FBI and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
WASHINGTON (AP) An assistant FBI director retired after he was accused of drunkenly groping a female subordinate in a stairwell. Another senior FBI official left after he was found to have sexually harassed eight employees. Yet another high-ranking FBI agent retired after he was accused of blackmailing a young employee into sexual encounters.
 
An Associated Press investigation has identified at least six sexual misconduct allegations involving senior FBI officials over the past five years, including two new claims brought this week by women who say they were sexually assaulted by ranking agents.
 
Each of the accused FBI officials appears to have avoided discipline, the AP found, and several were quietly transferred or retired, keeping their full pensions and benefits even when probes substantiated the sexual misconduct claims against them.
 
Beyond that, federal law enforcement officials are afforded anonymity even after the disciplinary process runs its course, allowing them to land on their feet in the private sector or even remain in law enforcement.
 
Theyre sweeping it under the rug, said a former FBI analyst who alleges in a new federal lawsuit that a supervisory special agent licked her face and groped her at a colleagues farewell party in 2017. She ended up leaving the FBI and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
 
As the premier law enforcement organization that the FBI holds itself out to be, its very disheartening when they allow people they know are criminals to retire and pursue careers in law enforcement-related fields, said the woman, who asked to be identified in this story only by her first name, Becky.
 
The APs count does not include the growing number of high-level FBI supervisors who have failed to report romantic relationships with subordinates in recent years a pattern that has alarmed investigators with the Office of Inspector General and raised questions about bureau policy.
 
The recurring sexual misconduct has drawn the attention of Congress and advocacy groups, which have called for whistleblower protections for rank-and-file FBI employees and for an outside entity to review the bureaus disciplinary cases.
 
They need a #MeToo moment, said U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat who has been critical of the treatment of women in the male-dominated FBI.
 
Its repugnant, and it underscores the fact that the FBI and many of our institutions are still good ol-boy networks, Speier said. It doesnt surprise me that, in terms of sexual assault and sexual harassment, they are still in the Dark Ages.
 
In a statement, the FBI said it maintains a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment and that claims against supervisors have resulted in them being removed from their positions while cases are investigated and adjudicated.
 
It added that severe cases can result in criminal charges and that the FBIs internal disciplinary process assesses, among other factors, the credibility of the allegations, the severity of the conduct, and the rank and position of the individuals involved.
 
The AP review of court records, Office of Inspector General reports and interviews with federal law enforcement officials identified at least six allegations against senior officials, including an assistant director and special agents in charge of entire field offices, that ranged from unwanted touching and sexual advances to coercion.
 
None appears to have been disciplined, but another sexual misconduct allegation identified in the AP review of a rank-and-file agent resulted in him losing his security clearance.
 
The FBI, with more than 35,000 employees, keeps a notoriously tight lid on such allegations. The last time the Office of Inspector General did an extensive probe of sexual misconduct within the FBI, it tallied 343 offenses from fiscal years 2009 to 2012, including three instances of videotaping undressed women without consent.
 
The latest claims come months after a 17th woman joined a federal lawsuit alleging systemic sexual harassment at the FBIs training academy in Quantico, Virginia. That class-action case claims male FBI instructors made sexually charged comments about women needing to take their birth control to control their moods, inviting women trainees over to their homes and openly disparaging them.
 
In one of the new lawsuits filed Wednesday, a former FBI employee identified only as Jane Doe alleged a special agent in charge in 2016 retired without discipline and opened a law firm even after he imprisoned, tortured, harassed, blackmailed, stalked and manipulated her into having several non-consensual sexual encounters, including one in which he forced himself on her in a car. The AP is withholding the name and location of the accused special agent to protect the womans identity.
 
It is the policy and practice of the FBI and its OIG to allow senior executives accused of sexual assault to quietly retire with full benefits without prosecution, the womans attorney, David J. Shaffer, alleges in the lawsuit.
 
One such case involved Roger C. Stanton, who before his abrupt retirement served as assistant director of the Insider Threat Office, a division at Washington headquarters tasked with rooting out leakers and safeguarding national security information.
 
According to an Inspector Generals report concluded this year and obtained by AP through a public records request, Stanton was accused of drunkenly driving a female subordinate home following an after-work happy hour. The woman told investigators that once inside a stairwell of her apartment building, Stanton wrapped his arm around her waist and moved his hand down onto her bottom before she was able to get away and hustle up the stairs.
 
After Stanton left, he called the woman 15 times on her FBI phone and sent her what investigators described as garbled text complaining that he could not find his vehicle. The heavily redacted report does not say when the incident happened.
 
Stanton disputed the womans account and told investigators he did not intend to do anything and only placed his arm around her because of the narrowness of the stairs. But Stanton acknowledged he was very embarrassed by this event and assistant directors should not be putting themselves in these situations.
 
Stanton retired in late 2018 after the investigation determined he sexually harassed the woman and sought an improper relationship. He did not respond to requests for comment from AP.
 
Earlier this year, the Inspector General found that the special agent in charge of the Albany, New York, office, James N. Hendricks, sexually harassed eight subordinates at the FBI.
 
Hendricks also was not named in the OIG report despite its findings. He was first identified in September by the Albany Times Union. One current and one former colleague of Hendricks confirmed his role in the case to AP.
 
Hendricks now writes a law enforcement blog in which he touts his FBI accolades but makes no mention of the misconduct allegations. He did not respond to requests for comment.
 
Becky, the former analyst, told AP she once believed FBIs organizational values and mission aligned with how I was raised. But she was disabused of that notion after reporting to management that Charles Dick, a supervisory special agent at the FBI Training Academy at the time, sexually assaulted her at a farewell party.
 
Becky told AP her assailant had threatened her at least two times before. Once while we were waiting for the director he said, Im going to touch your ass. You know its going to happen.
 
His boorish behavior was well known, she added. He was getting away with everything.
 
In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, Becky accused the former agent of wrapping his arm around her chest while posing for a photograph and reaching under her and simulating penetration of her with his fingers through her jeans.
 
Dick denied the charges and was acquitted in state court in Virginia by a judge who ruled it wholly incredible that Becky would stand there and take it and not say anything, according to a transcript of the proceeding. Dick retired from the FBI months before the Inspector General followed up on Beckys internal complaint, Becky alleged in her lawsuit, adding she faced retaliation for coming forward.
 
Its much easier to suffer in isolation than it is to go public, she told AP. But if I dont report it, Im complicit in the cultural and institutionalized cover-up of this sort of behavior.
 
___
 
AP reporter Eric Tucker contributed to this report.
 
 

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    A St. Petersburg man’s nose was bit off by a horse after he tried to make a pass at the woman riding it and then attempted to kiss the horse itself https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/12/10/horse-bites-off-st-petersburg-mans-nose-after-attempted-kiss-reports-a72307 

    Horse Bites Off St. Petersburg Mans Nose After Attempted Kiss Reports

    A lesson in consent.

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    JRL NEWSWATCH: Protesters in Armenia besiege parliament, demand PM resigns AP/ Avet Demourian https://russialist.org/jrl-newswatch-protesters-in-armenia-besiege-parliament-demand-pm-resigns-ap-avet-demourian/ 

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    The President of the United States of America is calling for a coup. Outrageous. (& that so many elected “leaders” in our country are remaining silent in response to this attack on our democracy is deeply disappointing.) https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1336695746029121537

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    Infestation of rats the size of cats forces closure of NYC Chipotle https://mol.im/a/9036025  via @MailOnline

    Infestation of rats the size of cats forces closure of NYC Chipotle

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    Infestation of rats the size of cats forces closure of NYC Chipotle

    The franchise, located in Manhattan, has been shuttered since last month after the rats reportedly chewed through wiring of a computer system that took customer orders.

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    On this day in 1942, the Polish government-in-exile reveals to the international community shocking details about the mass extermination of Jews by the Nazis. The Raczyński’s Note represents the first official report of the Holocaust.

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    There have been over 40 COVID-19 cases in Donald Trumps circle, so Joe Biden’s team plans to thoroughly clean and disinfect all the surfaces in the White House before moving in. https://trib.al/gS2zV2f 

    Biden Will Disinfect the White House After Trump Moves Out

    President-elect Biden has announced parts of his COVID safety plan for the country, but what does his safety plan for the White House look like?

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Biden: White supremacists are the most dangerous people in America posted at 13:02:32 UTC

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Bidens Plan to Link Arms With Europe Against Russia and China Isnt So Simple posted at 22:25:31 UTC – SharedNewsLinks Review thenewsandtimes.blogspot.com/2021/02/bidens

Bidens Plan to Link Arms With Europe Against Russia and China Isnt So Simple posted at 22:25:31 UTC – SharedNewsLinks Review thenewsandtimes.blogspot.com/2021/02/bidensEuivz83XMAA9ku3.png:large

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EU army warning: US and UK at risk from European military – MEP lifts lid on Macron’s plot – Daily Express posted at 15:18:39 UTC thenewsandtimes.blogspot.com/2021/02/eu-armEuhXJGJXAAcNuZl.png:large

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WASHINGTON Two weeks after President Bidens inauguration, Frances president, Emmanuel Macron, spoke publicly about the importance of dialogue with Moscow, saying that Russia is a part of Europe that cannot simply be shunned and that Europe must be strong enough to defend its own interests.

On Dec. 30, just weeks before the inauguration, the European Union clinched an important investment agreement with China, days after a tweet by Mr. Bidens national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, asking for early consultations with Europe on China and seeming to caution against a quick deal.

Bidens Plan to Link Arms With Europe Against Russia and China Isnt So Simple posted at 22:25:31 UTC – SharedNewsLinks Review

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from The News And Times.

Bidens Plan to Link Arms With Europe Against Russia and China Isnt So Simple

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WASHINGTON Two weeks after President Bidens inauguration, Frances president, Emmanuel Macron, spoke publicly about the importance of dialogue with Moscow, saying that Russia is a part of Europe that cannot simply be shunned and that Europe must be strong enough to defend its own interests.

Bidens Plan to Link Arms With Europe Against Russia and China Isnt So Simple

Michael_Novakhov shared this story .

WASHINGTON Two weeks after President Bidens inauguration, Frances president, Emmanuel Macron, spoke publicly about the importance of dialogue with Moscow, saying that Russia is a part of Europe that cannot simply be shunned and that Europe must be strong enough to defend its own interests.

On Dec. 30, just weeks before the inauguration, the European Union clinched an important investment agreement with China, days after a tweet by Mr. Bidens national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, asking for early consultations with Europe on China and seeming to caution against a quick deal.

So even as the United States resets under new White House leadership, Europe is charting its own course on Russia and China in ways that do not necessarily align with Mr. Bidens goals, posing a challenge as the new American president sets out to rebuild a post-Trump alliance with the Continent.

On Friday, Mr. Biden will address the Munich Security Conference, a gathering of leaders and diplomats from Europe and the United States that he has attended for decades and that helped cement his reputation as a champion of trans-Atlantic solidarity.

Speaking at the conference two years ago, Mr. Biden lamented the damage the Trump administration had inflicted on the once-sturdy postwar relationship between Washington and Europes major capitals. This too shall pass, Mr. Biden said. We will be back. He promised that the United States would again shoulder our responsibility of leadership.

The presidents remarks on Friday are sure to repeat that promise and spotlight his now-familiar call for a more unified Western front against the anti-democratic threats posed by Russia and China. In many ways, such talk is sure to be received like a warm massage by European leaders tensed and shellshocked by four years of President Donald J. Trumps mercurial and often contemptuous diplomacy.

But if by leadership Mr. Biden means a return to the traditional American assumption we decide and you follow many Europeans feel that that world is gone, and that Europe must not behave like Americas junior wingman in fights defined by Washington.

Demonstrated by the European Unions trade deal with China, and conciliatory talk about Moscow from leaders like Mr. Macron and Germanys likely next chancellor, Armin Laschet, Europe has its own set of interests and ideas about how to manage the United States two main rivals, ones that will complicate Mr. Bidens diplomacy.

Biden is signaling an incredibly hawkish approach to Russia, lumping it in with China, and defining a new global Cold War against authoritarianism, said Jeremy Shapiro, the research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

That makes many European leaders nervous, he said. And other regional experts said they had seen fewer signs of overt enthusiasm from the Continent than Biden administration officials might have hoped for.

There was always a cleareyed recognition that we werent just going to be able to show up and say, Hey guys, were back! said Andrea Kendall-Taylor, who was in line to become the National Security Council director for Russia but who did not take the job for personal reasons.

But even with all of that, I think there was optimism that it would be easier than it looks like its going to be, said Ms. Kendall-Taylor, the director of the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

Ulrich Speck, a senior visiting fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin, added: After the freeze in relations under Trump, I expected more warming. I dont see it yet.

Mr. Biden quickly took many of the easiest steps toward reconciliation and unity with Europe, including rejoining the Paris climate agreement, renewing an emphasis on multilateralism and human rights, and vowing to rejoin the disintegrating 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

But aligning against Russia and China will be much more difficult.

China may be a peer rival for the United States, but it has long been a vital trade partner for Europe. And while European leaders see Beijing as a systemic rival and competitor, they also see it as a partner, and hardly view it as an enemy.

And Russia remains a nuclear-armed neighbor, however truculent, and has financial and emotional leverage of its own.

Since Mr. Biden was last in the White House, as vice president during the Obama administration, Britain, historically the United States most reliable diplomatic partner, has left the European Union and now coordinates foreign policy less effectively with its continental allies.

That sophisticated British view of the world is absent, said Nicholas Burns, a former under secretary of state and ambassador to NATO in the George W. Bush administration. I dont think the U.S. is intertwined yet with Europe, diplomatically and strategically, he added.

This weeks security conference is not run by the German government, but Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany will address it, along with Mr. Biden, Mr. Macron and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain. And Germany itself illustrates some of the problems the Biden administration will face in its effort to lock arms against Moscow.

Ms. Merkels ruling Christian Democratic Party has chosen Mr. Laschet as its leader, and he is its likely candidate to succeed her in autumn elections. But Mr. Laschet is more sympathetic than Mr. Biden to both Russia and China. He has cast doubt on the extent of Russian political disinformation and hacking operations and publicly criticized marketable anti-Putin populism. He has also been a strong supporter of Germanys export-led economy, which is deeply reliant on China.

Germany still intends to put into operation the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a 746-mile natural gas artery that runs under the Baltic Sea from northern Russia to Germany. The paired pipelines are owned by Gazprom, itself owned by Russia. Work stopped on the project last year with 94 percent of the pipes laid after the U.S. Congress imposed further sanctions on the project on the grounds that it helped fund the Kremlin, damaged Ukraine and gave Russia the potential to manipulate Europes energy supply.

Last year, German politicians responded to threats of economic punishment made by Republican American senators by claiming blackmail, economic war and neo-imperialism. Many want to complete the pipeline project, but on Tuesday, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters that Mr. Biden opposed it as a bad deal that divided Europe and made it more vulnerable to Russian treachery.

Despite the sanctions, Russian ships have renewed laying pipes, and Ms. Merkel defends the project as a business venture, not a geopolitical statement. The Germans argue that European Union energy regulations and new pipeline configurations reduce Russian ability to manipulate supplies and that Russia is more dependent on the income than Europe is on the gas.

There are signs that, as with the China deal, the Biden administration wants to move on and negotiate a solution with Germany, to remove a major irritant with a crucial ally. That could include, some suggest, snapback sanctions if Moscow diverts supplies or halts transit fees to Ukraine.

In France, Mr. Macron has long sought to develop a more positive dialogue with Mr. Putin, but his efforts for a reset have gone nowhere. The European Unions foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell Fontelles, tried something similar this month with embarrassing results when Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia humiliated him at a news conference and called the European Union an unreliable partner.

Together with the attempted assassination and then the jailing of the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, the treatment of Mr. Borrell means that Brussels is likely to place new sanctions on Russia, but not before the end of March, and will be more open to Mr. Bidens suggestions for a tougher line.

Biden administration officials say that coordinating with a fractious Europe has never been easy and that its leaders welcome restored American leadership especially on a Chinese threat more apparent to Europe than it was five years ago.

As for China and the investment agreement, after seven years of difficult talks, European officials have defended it as largely an effort to obtain the same access to the Chinese market for their companies that American firms had received through Mr. Trumps China deal last year.

There is no reason for us to suffer from an unlevel playing field, including vis-à-vis the U.S., Sabine Weyand, the E.U. director general for trade, said in a virtual forum in early February. Why should we sit still?

Ms. Weyand said the deal set high standards for Chinese trade practices, which would ultimately put the United States and Europe in a stronger position to have a more assertive policy together on China.

The deal must be ratified by the European Parliament, however, which has been critical of its failure to guarantee more labor rights, and it is unlikely to come to a vote until much later this year. And, again, Biden administration officials seem to be willing to move on, given the importance of cooperation with Europe on China.

The deal potentially could complicate trans-Atlantic cooperation on China, said Wendy Cutler, a former U.S. trade negotiator and a vice president at the Asia Society Policy Institute, but I dont think its going to preclude it.

Michael Crowley reported from Washington, and Steven Erlanger from Brussels. Ana Swanson contributed reporting from Washington.

New York’s Washington Square Park Turns Into Winter Wonderland posted at 19:46:33 UTC

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from The News And Times.

 New York’s Washington Square Park Turns Into Winter Wonderland

Washington Square Park in New York looks like a winter wonderland as the city expects up to 25 centimeters of snow.

Snow fell steadily across New York City throughout the morning, forcing the cancelation of hundreds of flights and delaying the opening of two COVID-19 vaccination sites after the storm disrupted dosage delivery.

NATO aircraft intercepted & driven out by Russian jets posted at 16:29:22 UTC

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 NATO aircraft intercepted & driven out by Russian jets

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Two French fighter jets and a tanker aircraft have been escorted away from Russias airspace by two Su-27 interceptor planes, Russian Defense Ministry footage shows.

In a statement, the National Defense Control Center (NDCC) said the Southern Military District deployed the interceptors on Wednesday morning after radar spotted the French trio over the Black Sea.

The targets were identified as a group of French Air Force planes that consisted of a KC-135 aerial refueling tanker and two Mirage 2000 tactical aircraft, the NDCC said.

After the French aircraft U-turned away from Russian airspace, the Russian fighters returned to base. Their flight was in strict compliance with the international rules of using the airspace, the NDCC added.

Wednesday’s interception comes amid increased NATO activity in the Black Sea at the behest of Ukraine, which has recently urged the US-led alliance to increase air operations near Crimea, which seceded from Ukraine and joined Russia after a 2014 referendum.

The Russian Defense Ministry detected an estimated 2,900 combat aircraft and 1,100 spy planes approaching Russian airspace in 2020 alone.

U.S. Capitol Police officials told congressional leaders the razor-wire topped fencing around the Capitol should remain in place for several more …

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Joni is one of the most recognized teachers and Vedic astrologers in the world. She was a faculty member for ACVA, CVA and instructor for online certification programs, published many books, and appeared on national and international television shows. As the keynote speaker for international conferences, she has a Japanese website, and teaches in Austria,Continue reading “Whos Who in Earth Intelligence: Joni Patry”

Putin, Erdogan discuss possible deliveries of Russian vaccines to Turkey  TASS

New York Weather: Snow To Intensify This Afternoon

CBS2’s Elise Finch has the latest weather forecast.

Mayor De Blasio Holds Daily Briefing

Mayor Bill de Blasio holds briefing as snow begins to blanket New York City.

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EU army warning: US and UK at risk from European military – MEP lifts lid on Macron’s plot – Daily Express posted at 15:18:39 UTC

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What is Facebook without news? People and publishers in Australia are now finding out.
Facebook (FB) has barred Australians from finding or sharing news on its service, a dramatic escalation of a fight with the government that may have wide-ranging consequences both in the country and around the world.
The social networking company on Wednesday said that people and publishers in Australia will no longer be able to share or see any news from local or international outlets. The decision appears to be the most restrictive move Facebook has ever taken against content publishers.
The company’s action comes after months of tension with the Australian government, which has proposed legislation that would force tech platforms to pay news publishers for content. CNN’s Brian Stelter reports.
#BrianStelter #FirstMove #CNNBusiness

One in THREE US military service members refuse COVID-19 vaccine – Daily Mail posted at 14:11:12 UTC

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One in THREE US military service members refuse COVID-19 vaccine – Daily Mail  posted at 14:11:12 UTC

One in THREE US military service members refuse COVID-19 vaccine – Daily Mail

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One in THREE US military service members refuse COVID-19 vaccine  Daily Mail

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  1. White House unveils Biden’s immigration bill, including an eight-year path to citizenship  USA TODAY
  2. White House announces sweeping immigration bill  CNN
  3. Recipe for disaster: Dem fears mount over immigration overhaul  POLITICO
  4. Op-Ed: Think of Biden’s immigration plan as a statute of limitations on crossing the border illegally  Los Angeles Times
  5. Biden’s dangerous border policy | TheHill  The Hill
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News

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  1. Rolling Power Cuts Coming to an End, Oncor Says, But Outages Continue Due to Damage  NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
  2. Texas’ Underregulated Energy Grid Responsible For Millions Without Heat, Electricity | NBC News NOW  NBC News
  3. AOC rips Texas governor for blaming storm outages on Green New Deal  Business Insider
  4. Texas Republicans lied about the power crisis. We need more investment in renewables not less.  The Washington Post
  5. Letters to the Editor Readers share their complaints about the failure of Texas power grid to handle  The Dallas Morning News
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‘Worrying’ new coronavirus variant detected in UK  Arab News

CONEY ISLAND, Brooklyn (WABC) — A Brooklyn woman is under arrest after allegedly throwing her newborn baby into the trash, resulting in the …
9:02 AM 2/18/2021 – McConnell’s plan to deal with Donald Trump: Ignore him

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9:02 AM 2/18/2021 – McConnell’s plan to deal with Donald Trump: Ignore him

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to deal with Donald Trump: Ignore him cnn.it/37sIWMO pic.twitter.com/mHWV6CcHHr


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PBS NewsHour full episode, Feb. 17, 2021 youtu.be/sTfHKAle5I0 via @YouTube


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Military not “yet” requiring mandatory COVID vaccine, even among those headed for deployment newsweek.com/military-not-y

AssociatedPress’s YouTube Videos: Allison Janney is an ‘invisible woman’ in new dramedy posted at 10:45:49 UTC

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AssociatedPress’s YouTube Videos: Allison Janney is an ‘invisible woman’ in new dramedy

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Allison Janney talks about playing an underappreciated woman in “Breaking News in Yuba County,” while co-star Juliette Lewis reveals who inspired her performance. (Feb. 18)

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An icy blast continues to cripple parts of the US where more than 20 people have been killed amid the freezing conditions in the south.
The once-in-a-generation storm has left millions without power and three-quarters of the country blanketed in snow.
Storm warnings have been issued for the states of Oklahoma, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Arkansas, disrupting COVID-19 vaccination programmes there.

Al Jazeeras Andy Gallacher reports.

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Here’s the latest for Thursday February 18th: Anger grows as Texas deals with blackouts and cold; Thousands in dark for days in Portland, Oregon; Biden Administration plans to boost COVID testing supplies; Italy’s Mount Etna volcano erupts.

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Podcasts Review – Latest episodes – 5:32 AM 2/18/2021

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Podcasts Review – Latest episodes – 5:32 AM 2/18/2021

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Facebook sends blunt message to the world, blocking Australians’ access to news | ABC News posted at 09:35:20 UTC

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The bright future of younger generations is being perpetually postponed by ageing authoritarian politicians

  • Nelson Chamisa is leader of the MDC Alliance, Zimbabwes largest opposition party

Africa cannot afford to continue with the despotic forms of governance that still proliferate across the continent. Authoritarian and dictatorial governments are repressive, corrupt and inefficient. Their main interest is to retain power and loot public resources for the benefit of a few political elites, leaving the majority of citizens in poverty. As a result, although rich in raw resources, our continent remains the poorest in the world.

We have seen this trend of authoritarianism in Zimbabwe, and we are now seeing it in Uganda, which has just held a farcical election.

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Facebook has sent a blunt message to the world – any attempt to force it to pay for news content will mean an end to those feeds.
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Australia woke up today to find most local news pages were just a blank space.
But caught up as collateral damage were many other posts, from charities, critical health sites and emergency services.
The stunning move has ignited a wave of fury.

Trump has a lot of money problems | FBI Reform posted at 09:16:34 UTC

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How colonial systems have left some First Nations without drinking water  Global News
Risky Encounters with Russia: Time to Talk About Real Deconfliction

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The days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russias aggressive actions are over, said President Joe Biden on Feb. 4, in his initial foreign policy speech. This coupled with the first actions his defense and foreign policy team have taken confirms speculation about the new administration taking a tougher stance vis-à-vis Russia. Yet, Biden also made it clear that, although not so widely reported, the United States is willing to deal with the Kremlin on critical national security matters, such as the agreement to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).

In that spirit, there is one other issue with Moscow that requires immediate attention and is worth the effort to cooperate on: the growing number close contacts between U.S. and NATO air, land, and naval forces and their counterparts on the Russian side. Any of these encounters implies a threat of rapid escalation should something go terribly wrong, like a mid-air collision, a prospect made more likely owing to reckless conduct by the Russians during some of these incidents.

Deconfliction which is not really as simple as a hotline between Russian and NATO commanders, but rather involves advanced coordination of military activities could offer one solution, but admittedly the status quo is complicated. This critical matter is set against a fraught backdrop of increasingly more widespread attacks by the Russian intelligence services to penetrate and exploit U.S. computer networks (including some in the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies); the more bellicose geopolitical narrative between Moscow and Washington; Russian military forays in the Middle East and Africa, and the endless war the Kremlin perpetuates in eastern Ukraine; Moscows persistent propagation of disinformation intended to destabilize American politics and society; and the recent arrest and imprisonment of Russian dissident Alexey Navalny. But, even in this context, if the United States seeks to reduce the likelihood of a serious military crisis, an initiative to regularize military operational activity on the part of NATO and Russia might provide the basis for a broader reduction in tensions.

Two questions arise when considering this important political-military problem. Why are these events occurring more frequently and more widely now, and what can be done to mitigate the dangers inherent in such encounters? As the vast majority of these incidents occur in the air, the emphasis here will be on that sphere of operations, but the overall principles and correctives to the fundamental problem certainly apply to sea and land operations as well.

We Have to Stop Meeting Like This

States that can will use highly visible deployments of aircraft, naval vessels, and ground forces to demonstrate what Michael Kofman has termed status projection. These show of force missions or assurance measures serve, as do military exercises, as geopolitical messaging to opponents. Such interactions are part and parcel of a multi-layered, multi-faceted thick geopolitics (as articulated by Gerard Toal) and should therefore be seen as implying much more than military capability.

Recent U.S. B-52 missions to the Persian Gulf region intended to send a message of deterrence to Iran, or U.S. Navy freedom-of-navigation transits of the South China Sea to counter Chinas de facto occupation of islands there, exemplify such activities. Likewise, the Indian navys higher operational tempo and increasing cooperation with the United States and other navies in the Indian Ocean and beyond is intended as a counter to Chinas own expanding presence in the region. The messages that such actions convey can have very significant strategic and operational implications, perhaps even beyond the immediate intended effect. For example, Russias dramatic simulated nuclear strike on Stockholm in 2013 contributed to that historically neutral Nordic countrys much closer integration with NATO.

As dramatic as these geopolitical demonstrations are, by far the most common, and deceptively mundane, way that Western and Russian forces meet is in air-to-air intercepts. These events, which number in the hundreds yearly, occur when radar monitoring reveals aircraft that are not identifiable, and fighters are dispatched to visually identify potential intruders, including foreign military aircraft that have not filed flight plans or do not have an active signature transponder. Even though they may be routine, they hold the potential for trouble, especially if they happen during times of high tension. Repeated violations, such as those by the Russian Air Force in Swedish and Danish airspace, also have geopolitical messaging consequences, alienating the recipient and embellishing Russias miscreant reputation.

Add ubiquitous intelligence collection flights by many nations through areas of operational interest and the ante goes up even further. In addition to routine electronic monitoring missions (including large numbers by the United States and Russia), on occasion, simulated attack profiles are flown to observe defensive responses. Conveying the message and gathering the data connotes danger and increases the likelihood that opposing forces will meet each other in a potentially lethal manner. One such scenario involving groups of Russian and Chinese bombers that approached South Korean airspace resulted in South Korean fighters firing hundreds of warning shots at a Russian airborne early warning aircraft. Such responses can go awry, as happened when a Chinese fighter collided with a U.S. Navy EP-3 off Hainan Island in 2001, resulting in a diplomatic crisis.

The Road Taken Might Have Been a Wrong Turn

Dangerously close encounters between U.S. and NATO militaries and the Russian armed services occur more frequently now and, accordingly, feature more prominently in print, online, and broadcast media on both sides of the divide. As Ian Kearns discussed in 2015, these incidents also imply more operational risk and serious knock-on effects. The increasing number and varied types of missions we see today, as compared with 2015, are a predictable byproduct of the new strategic competition between contemporary Russia and the West that, following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, has radically altered the Eurasian geopolitical and military landscape and has expanded into new conflict areas.

Thus, these events now occur regularly right around the Eurasian landmass, literally from the North Cape of Norway moving counter-clockwise to the Bering Sea, and extend into the Middle East and North Africa. Within the past year, Russian fighters have repeatedly intercepted U.S. Navy patrol aircraft over the eastern Mediterranean Sea and have had close encounters with U.S. Air Force aircraft in the Syria-Iraq war zone. There have also been serious clashes between U.S. ground forces and Russian private military contractors in that conflict. And Russian warships recently forced American fishing boats from their grounds off Alaska.

But nowhere does this eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation manifest more intensely and dramatically than in the immediate contact zone in Europe between NATO member states and Russia, especially in the Baltic and Black Sea regions. As has been widely discussed in this forum, the eastward expansion of NATO from 1999 to 2004 which incorporated new member states neighboring, or close to Russia placed the alliance in a position where the countries that sought admission would then need to be assured by NATOs bolstering defenses in the east if Russia presented a more threatening posture.

That rationale became stronger when Russia prompted at least in part by NATOs moves made new ambitious military enhancements and adopted a more aggressive foreign and defense policy, including attacks on neighboring non-NATO countries Georgia and Ukraine. Russias actions, especially after its invasion of eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014, then induced the alliance to redouble its efforts to reassure its most vulnerable members (particularly the Baltic states and Poland) and deter Russian aggression despite concerns over placing forces (especially air assets) within easy range of Russian offensive weaponry. Predictably, this led to Russia bolstering its forces in its Western and Southern Military Districts (adjoining the Baltic and Black sea regions, respectively), especially in its Kaliningrad exclave and in Crimea.

Meet the Russians

How does this changing geopolitical landscape influence events at the operational level? First, when NATOs territorial remit was extended further along the southern and eastern littoral of the Baltic, the alliance quickly introduced a military presence in those countries. Whether or not that decision made good sense has been called into question. Those questions aside, NATO established the Baltic Air Policing mission in 2004 in Lithuania and in 2014 in Estonia with quick reaction alert fighters drawn rotationally from NATO air forces to provide airspace security for the three NATO Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), which have no combat aircraft of their own. NATO makes clear that these alert fighters are, in the first instance, launched to visually identify Russian Federation Air Force aircraft.

But the regional geography that requires Russian air and naval craft to navigate around the Baltic NATO members while transiting to and from Kaliningrad combines with NATOs upgraded air surveillance and intercept capabilities to guarantee a high number of contacts and a greater risk. To illustrate the seriousness involved, in 2017, NATO jets intercepted a Russian transport carrying Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to Kaliningrad in what would have been a routine encounter involving fighters approaching within a safe distance from the suspect aircraft to visually identify it. But missile-armed Russian fighters accompanying Shoigus aircraft intervened, elevating the situation to a higher risk of hostile action that then made headlines because of the high-profile passenger. But such occurrences are now regular events over the Baltic. NATO recently reported that, in 2020, it performed around 350 intercepts of Russian aircraft in the region.

U.S. and NATO naval activities on and near the Baltic Sea have also ramped up, with the U.S. Second Fleets new command oversight emblematic of the heightened operational and exercise tempo in the region. As NATOs naval presence in the region expands, this places more allied ships in the confined and busy limits of the Baltic and thus at closer quarters with the Russian Navys Baltic Fleet. With U.S. Navy destroyers now operating routinely in the Baltic along with the British Royal Navy, their Russian counterparts respond and shadow. On occasion, Russian aircraft have made unsafe low-level passes over U.S. warships that, owing to the provocative nature of the maneuvers, are seen as emphatic gestures of Moscows disapproval.

The same kind of friction also now manifests in southeastern Europe and in the Black Sea area. Consequently, NATOs defensive posture in the region is much the same as in the Baltic, with air policing and a larger naval presence gaining traction. And, again, regional geography shapes the manner in which Russia and NATO interact: that is, both sides border the sea, with Russia possessing a major military complex in its midst. This renders the Black Sea another area where red is destined to meet blue, the only issue being under what circumstances. In response to Russias belligerent acts in Ukraine and heightened military capability and activity in the region, the alliance has, among other moves, expanded its air policing mission to southeastern Europe. From air bases in Romania and Bulgaria, intercepts of Russian aircraft are taking place, and, based on experience, will likely increase.

The Black Sea itself is likewise an arena in which Russian and U.S. and NATO forces operate in close proximity. In recent years, the U.S. Navy and other NATO vessels have ventured into these strategically vital waters to, in the words of the U.S. Navy, strengthen interoperability with NATO allies and partners and demonstrate collective resolve to Black Sea security. In 2020, U.S. Navy ships made seven transits into the Black Sea to communicate that commitment. Russia, not surprisingly, reacts strongly to these and other missions, again shadowing; at times, harassing U.S. warships by buzzing them; and conducting snap drills whenever the United States and/or NATO conducts training exercises with regional navies.

Unsafe at Any Speed

Numerous photos and videos show that, while maneuvering near U.S. aircraft and warships, Russian fighters and naval vessels at times exhibit unprofessional and highly dangerous conduct in contravention of international air and maritime safety norms hardly a good basis for risk avoidance. Senior U.S. and NATO commanders have complained publicly about such incidents, to no avail. Russian Ministry of Defense officials, for their part, deny that any of these maneuvers have been unsafe. Moscows vaunted disinformation apparatus unabashedly rejects proof and attempts to shift the blame to others, as it has on other occasions, such as the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. It might also be the case that official subterfuge is intended to refocus attention on the intruders and, at times, it is successful.

Indeed, as Andrew S. Weiss and Nicole Ng maintain:

[The Russian] government intentionally exploits the threat of military accidents as a political tool and source of leverage [and] sees these asymmetrical tactics as a valuable tool for pushing adversaries away from strategically important areas and testing whether the West can be intimidated.

If such actions are in keeping with Russias existing operational doctrine, at least in situations where they have particular geopolitical sensitivities, is there any reasonable hope of coaxing the Kremlin into a framework that mitigates operational risk? Proposing a deconfliction framework might be a way forward. But first we need to define deconfliction.

Defined Right, Deconfliction Could Be the Answer

Deconfliction is a term whose use has recently been expanded beyond its original meaning, and that semantic change is itself an obstacle to addressing the problem of risky encounters with the Russian military or anybody else for that matter. In my experience, deconfliction in the aerial domain was part of the pre-strike and mission planning process, with a central authority acting as a clearinghouse that distributes taskings to squadrons, which then carried them out. These orders incorporated measures to preclude friendly-fire accidents or collisions by allocating routes, altitudes, timing blocks, and specific geographic sectors to different participants in ones own forces.

The problem here is that traditional deconfliction planning assumes a priori that everybody has a collective interest in assuring its success. But, when it comes to operational dealings with the Russian armed forces as manifested in the Syrian-Iraqi hot war zone, that has usually not been true. For example, as the war in Syria unfolded, the Russian military largely ignored and ultimately withdrew from a humanitarian deconfliction agreement with the United Nations that was set up to head off strikes against hospitals, schools, and other civilian infrastructure. While that agreement was in force, the Russian Air Force made numerous attacks on those very sites with horrific consequences.

Now calls for deconfliction hotlines from senior U.S. military commanders suggest the term has morphed into attempting to coordinate in real time between red and blue military forces to deal with unanticipated and potentially lethal encounters of the kinds discussed above. This is not deconfliction in the strict sense coordinating in advance and, anyway, using a hotline failed in many cases in the Syria-Iraq theater to resolve unfolding critical incidents involving Russian forces. This is not to suggest that mechanisms for dealing with emergent situations are a bad idea. In an important paper on managing escalation risk at sea, Liselotte Odgaard and Sune Lund provide a guide to adapting existing agreements on that problem to the NATO-Russian case, but, again, this is post-encounter planning.

So, given this definitional mess and an opponent unwilling to abide strictly by the rules, how should the United States and NATO proceed with the Russian military if the goal is to minimize situations where the only recourse now is a problematic hotline system? Unfortunately, the overall tense state of U.S.-Russian relations and the suspension of most military-to-military contacts between NATO and Russia after the Ukraine crisis of 2014 make an omnibus fix a very difficult prospect.

Back to basics might be one way to begin. In 2014, the European Leadership Network initiated an ambitious project to examine and implement a series of measures that would put in place far-ranging measures to regularize risk reduction in Baltic airspace. The United States should build and cooperate on that effort and urge NATO and Russia to establish a working group to construct a memorandum of understanding for deconfliction management that includes validating procedures for air intercepts and naval encounters. Then, as a practical matter, the two parties should agree on standing up virtual deconfliction coordination cells to deal with flight or route plans, use of transponders or other geolocation methods, and common radio frequencies. Having senior officers on call to sort out exigent problems would be the backup should deconfliction fail. Finally, as a trial arrangement, selecting one specific area (e.g., the Baltic region) to assess the workability of any such arrangements would test not only the system, but also the commitment of the Russians to make it work.

Biden suggested that constructively engaging Moscow when it suits U.S. national security interests should be seen as a possible win for both sides. The scale and scope of the dangerous encounters problem should be viewed in that light and with a sense of urgency. Otherwise, the risks of a disastrous accident increase, and the escalation consequences thereof will be very difficult to contain.

Ralph S. Clem is a senior fellow at the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs at Florida International University. He also served as an Air Force Reserve intelligence officer in a fighter squadron and wing, and at national agency level before retiring as a major general.

Image: U.S. European Command

S&P Global to assess defaults of countries using G20 debt relief plan – KFGO News posted at 20:27:39 UTC

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Lawmakers back Capitol attack probe

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Lawmakers back Capitol attack probe

WASHINGTON — One day after former president Donald Trump won his second Senate impeachment trial in two years, bipartisan support appeared to be growing for an independent Sept. 11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol to make sure that such an assault could never happen again.

The end of the trial hardly put to rest the debate about Mr. Trump’s culpability for the insurrection as the political and legal fallout unfolded.

More investigations into the riot already are planned, with Senate hearings scheduled later this month in the Senate Rules Committee.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) has asked retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore to lead an immediate review of the Capitol’s security process.

Lawmakers from both parties signaled Sunday that more inquiries are likely.

“There should be a complete investigation about what happened,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R., La.), one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump. “What was known, who knew it and when they knew, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again.”

Mr. Cassidy said he was “attempting to hold President Trump accountable,” and added that as Americans hear all the facts, “more folks will move to where I was.”

He was censured by his state’s Republican Party after the vote, which was 57-43 to convict but 10 votes short of the two-thirds required.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), a Trump ally, said he looked forward to campaigning with Mr. Trump in the 2022 election, when Republicans hope to regain the congressional majority.

But Mr. Graham acknowledged that the former president had some culpability for the attack at the Capitol that killed five people, including a police officer, and disrupted lawmakers’ certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s White House victory.

“His behavior after the election was over the top,” Mr. Graham said. “We need a 9/​11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again.”

The Senate acquitted Mr. Trump of a charge of “incitement of insurrection” after House prosecutors laid out a case that he was the “inciter in chief” who unleashed a mob by stoking a months-long campaign of spreading conspiracy theories and allegations that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers countered that Mr. Trump’s words were not intended to incite the violence and that impeachment was nothing but a “witch hunt” designed to prevent him from serving in office again.

The conviction tally was the most bipartisan in American history.

The Republicans who joined Mr. Cassidy in voting to convict were Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Graham spoke with Mr. Trump Saturday night and acknowledged that the former president is “mad at some folks,” but also “ready to move on and rebuild the Republican Party” and “excited about 2022.”

In their conversations, Mr. Graham said he told Mr. Trump, who has threatened to start his own party to punish disloyal Republicans, that the GOP needs him to win.

“I said, ‘Mr. President, this MAGA movement needs to continue. We need to unite the party. Trump-plus is the way back in 2022,’” Mr. Graham told Fox News Sunday.

“My goal is to win in 2022 to stop the most radical agenda I’ve seen coming out of the Democratic presidency of Joe Biden. We can’t do that without Donald Trump, so he’s ready to hit the trail and I’m ready to work with him,” Mr. Graham said.

Several House impeachment managers on Sunday criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who told Republican senators shortly before the vote that he would vote to acquit Mr. Trump.

After the vote, Mr. McConnell said the former president was “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day” but that the Senate’s hands were tied to do anything about it because Mr. Trump was out of office.

But the Senate, in an earlier vote, had deemed the trial constitutional.

“It was powerful to hear the 57 guilties and then it was puzzling to hear and see Mitch McConnell stand and say not guilty and then minutes later stand again and say he was guilty of everything,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean (D., Pa.).

“History will remember that statement of speaking out of two sides of his mouth,” she said.

Ms. Dean backed the idea of an impartial investigative commission “not guided by politics but filled with people who would stand up to the courage of their conviction.”

An independent 9/​11 style commission, which probably would require legislation to create, would elevate the investigation a step higher, offering a definitive government-backed accounting of events.

Ms. Pelosi has expressed support for such a commission while emphasizing that the members who sit on it would be key.

Such a panel could pose risks of sharpening partisan divisions or overshadowing President Biden’s legislative agenda.

“There’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear and a 9/​11 commission is a way to make sure that we secure the Capitol going forward,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.), a Biden ally.


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US lawmakers call for 9/11-style commission to investigate Capitol riot – The Guardian – 8:00 AM 2/15/2021

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US lawmakers call for 9/11-style commission to investigate Capitol riot

Democrats and Republicans both voice support for panel to ‘make sure it never happens again’

Nancy Pelosi said it is ‘clear that we will need to establish a 9/11-type commission’ prior to the impeachment vote.
 Nancy Pelosi said it is ‘clear that we will need to establish a 9/11-type commission’ prior to the impeachment vote. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic and Republican lawmakers have issued fresh calls for a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to investigate why government officials and law enforcement failed to stop the attack on the US Capitol in January, following Donald Trump’s acquittal in his impeachment on charges that he incited the insurrection.

The commission would be modeled after a panel created in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, which reviewed what caused the atrocity and laid out recommendations on how to foresee and prevent any future incursions.

“We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again, and I want to make sure that the Capitol footprint can be better defended next time,” said Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator of South Carolina and close Trump ally who voted to acquit the former president on Saturday. “His behavior after the election was over the top,” Graham said of the former president on Fox News Sunday.

Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware agreed. Speaking on ABC’s This Week, he said that a bipartisan commission would “make sure we secure the Capitol going forward and that we lay bare the record of just how responsible and how abjectly violating of his constitutional oath Trump really was”.

Using harrowing video footage from the day, Democratic House prosecutors laid out their case that the former president stoked the attack with violent rhetoric and dangerous insistence on the debunked conspiracy theories suggesting he had won the 2020 presidential election, against all evidence that he had, in fact, lost.

Seven Republicans joined 50 Democrats in the Senate to hold Trump responsible for inciting the deadly insurrection, led by armed supporters who announced intentions to kill or harm lawmakers including Mike Pence, the former-vice president, and Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker.

Though the result of the trial was the most bipartisan in history, House managers ultimately did not secure the 67 votes required to convict Trump.

But an independent commission could be another way for both Republicans and Democrats to hold Trump accountable. Other investigations have already been planned, with two Senate committees set to investigate security failures during the riots. In the House, Pelosi has also asked for a review of the Capitol’s security process.

“There should be a complete investigation about what happened,” said Bill Cassidy, a Republican senator of Louisiana who has been censured by fellow Republicans in his home state for voting in favor of conviction.

A commission would reveal “what was known, who knew it and when they knew, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again”, Cassidy told ABC, adding that he was “attempting to hold President Trump accountable” with his vote in the trial.

Even Republicans who found Trump “not guilty” with their vote have tried to distance themselves from the former president. Most notably, the senate’s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, said: “The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”

McConnell, who insisted that he voted against impeachment because Trump was no longer in office, after refusing to hold the trial while Trump was still in office, statements on Saturday seemed to punt the responsibility of holding Trump responsible to civil courts: “We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one.”

Prior to the impeachment vote, Pelosi wrote a letter to her Democratic colleagues saying it is “clear that we will need to establish a 9/11-type commission to examine and report upon the facts, causes and security relating to the terrorist mob attack on January 6”. She renewed her support for the commission after Trump’s acquittal.

A commission on the Capitol riot would need to be approved via legislation like the 9/11 commission was, and lawmakers may ultimately disagree on who should sit on it. Still, the idea has been gaining steam.

“For the first time in however many years, we had an insurrection incited by the president of the United States where five people died, more have died since, hundreds were injured, people lost fingers, lost eyesight,” said Madeleine Dean, one of the House impeachment managers, said on ABC.

“Of course there must be a full commission, an impartial commission, not guided by politics, filled with people who would stand up to the courage of their conviction,” she said.


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Calls Grow for Commission to Investigate Capitol Riot – NYTimes – 7:56 AM 2/15/2021

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Calls Grow for Commission to Investigate Capitol Riot

Lawmakers are increasingly pushing for a 9/11-style panel that would examine failures and make recommendations. It could also be a final chance for Congress to hold Donald J. Trump to account.

National Guard troops outside the Capitol this weekend. A commission could look at security failures and recommend changes.
Credit…Jason Andrew for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers fresh off the impeachment acquittal of former President Donald J. Trump are issuing growing calls for a bipartisan commission to investigate the administrative and law enforcement failures that led to the mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 and recommend changes to prevent another siege.

Such a commission appears to be the primary remaining option for Congress to try to hold Mr. Trump to account for his role in the assault. Top lawmakers have quashed the idea of a post-impeachment censure of the former president, and the possibility of barring him from future office under the 14th Amendment, which prohibits any official involved in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding office, seems remote.

Lawmakers in both parties have called for a commission modeled on the bipartisan panel established after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Representative Madeleine Dean, Democrat of Pennsylvania and an impeachment manager, described it on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday as “an impartial commission, not guided by politics, filled with people who would stand up to the courage of their conviction.”

President George W. Bush signed a law establishing the 9/11 Commission in 2002, mandated to investigate what caused the attack and what might have stopped it, and to outline how to prevent a similar attack. After a 20-month investigation, the commission offered three dozen recommendations for how to reshape intelligence coordination and congressional oversight.

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“We need a 9/11 Commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again, and I want to make sure that the Capitol footprint can be better defended next time,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

In the House, rank-and-file lawmakers in both parties have introduced legislation that would establish a commission, with some Democrats proposing a broader examination of the federal government’s response to domestic terrorism and violent extremism.

“We will have an after-action review,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California told reporters late last month. “There will be a commission.” She has since been briefed repeatedly by retired Gen. Russel L. Honoré, who has been tapped to examine security on Capitol Hill, which remains surrounded by fences lined with razor wire and under the watch of National Guard troops.

“In the near future, Congress needs to smartly transition to a more sustainable security presence,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, said in late January. “Keeping the Capitol safe cannot and will not require huge numbers of uniformed troops and vast systems of emergency fencing to remain in place forever.”

Democrats, who abruptly dropped what had been a successful demand for witnesses during the final day of the trial on Saturday, framed a possible commission on Sunday as a way to not only understand the failures that had led to the breach of the Capitol but also to underscore Mr. Trump’s role in the events.

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“There’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear,” Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, said on “This Week,” adding that a commission would “make sure that we secure the Capitol going forward and lay bare the record of just how responsible” Mr. Trump was for the attack.

Before the impeachment proceedings, there had been discussion of a bipartisan censure resolution in lieu of a trial. But lawmakers quickly abandoned the idea as the trial moved forward, in part because Democrats had demanded stronger language than what Republicans were comfortable with. Asked about the chances for a resolution intended to keep Mr. Trump from running for office again, Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican, said, “I don’t think that’ll go anywhere.”

“Every senator has had the opportunity to express his or her views,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who had been involved in the discussions.

Ms. Pelosi, speaking a news conference on Saturday, declared such a resolution to be “a slap in the face of the Constitution.”

“We censure people for using stationery for the wrong purpose,” she said. “We don’t censure people for inciting insurrection that kills people in the Capitol.”

Emily Cochrane is a reporter in the Washington bureau, covering Congress. She was raised in Miami and graduated from the University of Florida. @ESCochrane

A version of this article appears in print on Feb. 15, 2021, Section A, Page 18 of the New York edition with the headline: Calls Mounting For Commission To Investigate Riot at Capitol. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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February 12, 2021 – Headlines – Selected Articles

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Trump’s Second Impeachment Has ‘Much More Realistic Prospect Of Conviction’ | MTP Daily | MSNBC
Convict Trump or face dire damage to democracy, prosecutors say – Salt Lake Tribune
Trump impeachment trial: Capitol rioters acted on Trump’s ‘orders,’ Democrats say
Legal experts say Trump could face prosecution now that he’s no longer president
Officers’ Injuries, Including Concussions, Show Scope of Violence at Capitol Riot
A minute-by-minute timeline of Trump’s day as the Capitol siege unfolded on Jan. 6
House Impeachment Managers Present Argument Of Trump’s Role In Capitol Riots
Capitol attack not a finale, but an opening act
Democrats debate whether to move on from Trump or seek another form of punishment after trial
Eurasia Review: Putins Russia En Route To Self-Isolation OpEd
Katko: Capitol riots left cops bloodied, ragged and ‘shell shocked’
Former FBI official, a Navy veteran, is ‘key figure’ in Jan. 6 riot, prosecutors allege
Coronavirus live: ‘all hypotheses still open’ on virus origin, says WHO; Greece extends lockdown
NYPD Horses Seen Trotting Around Brooklyn After Escape – Yahoo News Canada
Germany’s Merkel stands by Russia pipeline that US opposes – Bay News 9
Live: White House Holds Press Briefing: February 12 | NBC News
Eurasia Review: Understanding The Coup In Myanmar OpEd 
Selected Headlines | Page | In Brief
Michael Novakhov’s favorite articles on Inoreader
Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (126 sites): NPR News Now: NPR News: 02-12-2021 12PM ET
Trump’s Second Impeachment Has ‘Much More Realistic Prospect Of Conviction’ | MTP Daily | MSNBC
Convict Trump or face dire damage to democracy, prosecutors say – Salt Lake Tribune
Trump impeachment trial: Capitol rioters acted on Trump’s ‘orders,’ Democrats say
Legal experts say Trump could face prosecution now that he’s no longer president
Officers’ Injuries, Including Concussions, Show Scope of Violence at Capitol Riot
A minute-by-minute timeline of Trump’s day as the Capitol siege unfolded on Jan. 6
House Impeachment Managers Present Argument Of Trump’s Role In Capitol Riots
Capitol attack not a finale, but an opening act
Democrats debate whether to move on from Trump or seek another form of punishment after trial
1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites): Eurasia Review: Putins Russia En Route To Self-Isolation OpEd
Capitol attack not a finale, but an opening act
Katko: Capitol riots left cops bloodied, ragged and ‘shell shocked’
Former FBI official, a Navy veteran, is ‘key figure’ in Jan. 6 riot, prosecutors allege
Coronavirus live: ‘all hypotheses still open’ on virus origin, says WHO; Greece extends lockdown
NYPD Horses Seen Trotting Around Brooklyn After Escape – Yahoo News Canada
Germany’s Merkel stands by Russia pipeline that US opposes – Bay News 9
Live: White House Holds Press Briefing: February 12 | NBC News
1. Russia from Michael_Novakhov (114 sites): Voice of America – English: VOA Newscasts
Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (51 sites): Eurasia Review: Understanding The Coup In Myanmar OpEd

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That’s the headlines – from The News And Times – 7 AM, February 12, 2021

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That’s the headlines – from The News And Times – 7 AM, February 12, 2021

Current News

Oath Keepers Plotting Before Capitol Riot Awaited Direction From Trump. Prosecutors Say.

Japan-South Korea dispute may get worse. Trumps Lawyers to Present his Defense in Just 1 Day.

Russia ‘ready’ to break ties with EU if sanctions imposed Lavrov.

Selected Articles

Coronavirus live updates: Germany to close borders with neighbors; Australia bars fans from Grand Slam tournament over virus fears

Opinions

There are no such things as the “former” FBI agents, regardless of their formal employment status. Thomas Edward Caldwell and his role in Capitol Riot are the indications that the pro-Trump faction within the FBI does exist, and it is very active and aggressive. Investigate the Investigators! Reform the FBI!


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February 12, 2021 – The pro-Trump faction within the FBI does exist, and it is very active and aggressive. Investigate the Investigators! Reform the FBI!

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2:43 AM 2/12/2021 – There are no such things as the “former” FBI agents, regardless of their formal employment status. Thomas Edward Caldwell and his role in Capitol Riot are the indications that the pro-Trump faction within the FBI does exist, and it is very active and aggressive. Investigate the Investigators! Reform the FBI!

 
Former FBI official, a Navy veteran, is ‘key figure’ in Jan. 6 … 11, 2021 at 1:45 p.m. PST … 6 Capitol breach, as U.S. prosecutors alleged Thursday that he organized a group of trained fighters … prosecutors allege, when he hosted members at his Virginia home for a pro-Trump protest that turned violent.

There are no such things as the “former” FBI agents, regardless of their formal employment status. Thomas Edward Caldwell and his role in Capitol Riot are the indications that the pro-Trump faction within the FBI does exist, and it is very active and aggressive. Investigate the Investigators! Reform the FBI! 
 

Thomas E. Caldwell played a key role in Jan. 6 riot planning, prosecutors say.

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In asking a federal judge to detain Thomas Edward Caldwell, 66, pending trial, prosecutors revealed some of the most explicit evidence to date of discussions allegedly indicating coordination and planning among groups under scrutiny for the assault on Congress that left one police officer and four others dead, delayed the confirmation of President Biden’s victory and led to charges against more than 200 people.

Prosecutors allege Caldwell used his military and law enforcement background to plan violence — including possible snipers and weapons stashed on a boat along the Potomac River — weeks ahead of the Capitol insurrection. Caldwell, of Berryville, Va., is charged on counts of conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, trespassing, destruction of government property, and aiding and abetting.

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes — identified as Person One by prosecutors in documents charging Caldwell — called on members of the group to “stand tall in support of President Trump” on Jan. 6. and, prosecutors say, Caldwell responded. He had been coordinating with the Oath Keepers since the week after the election, prosecutors allege, when he hosted members at his Virginia home for a pro-Trump protest that turned violent.

“Next time (and there WILL be a next time) we will have learned and we will be stronger,” he messaged others afterward, according to the court documents. “I think there will be real violence for all of us next time. . . . I am already working on the next D.C. op.”

Associates of the Oath Keepers had a chat group on the encrypted app Signal to prepare for Jan. 6, according to prosecutors, while Three Percenters met on Zoom.

Caldwell’s lawyer, Thomas K. Plofchan Jr., didn’t address the new allegations in the government brief when reached Thursday but reasserted his client’s innocence. Plofchan argued that the federal prosecutors didn’t address the two issues pending before the court — whether Caldwell, an ailing 66-year-old, is a flight risk or a danger to the community.

Caldwell holds a top-secret security clearance and worked as both a government official and contractor, Plofchan has said. Records show Caldwell won repeated jobs for information technology work from the Drug Enforcement Administration, including one $500,000 solicitation for computer-related services.

Prosecutors alleged in Thursday’s court filing that Caldwell’s military and law enforcement background probably taught him operational tactics that he used “to the detriment of the citizens he at one time swore to serve.”

After the November protest, Caldwell suggested that in its next D.C. foray the group organize into four-man teams with snipers and getaway drivers, according to messages included in the Thursday filing. For Jan. 6., according to the court filing, he suggested stashing “heavy weapons” in a boat on the Potomac River. He shopped online for a “Surgical Steel Tomahawk Axe” and a concealed firearm built to look like a cellphone, prosecutors alleged, and discussed coordination with Proud Boys and Three Percenters.

Five people who prosecutors allege are associated with the Proud Boys were arrested Thursday and charged with crimes connected to the Jan. 6. riot. Prosecutors say several rioters appeared to be associated with the Oath Keeper and Three Percenter movements. Both are loosely organized collections of armed, right-wing groups that focus on recruiting among military and law enforcement veterans. The Proud Boys are a mostly male far-right group that has a history of violence.

On Dec. 23, Caldwell texted a contact with the Three Percenters saying that he expected Oath Keepers from North Carolina, whom he hosted in November, to return for Jan. 6, according to court documents. Prosecutors also said he expected “a big turn out of the Proud Boys” and local Vietnamese Trump supporters. One week later, prosecutors alleged, Caldwell followed up with the contact about plans by his group’s members.

The Three Percenters said on Twitter that “this guy may have reached out to a member, but nothing was coordinated. In fact, we didn’t participate in the Capitol breach.”

Caldwell also compiled a “death list” that included a state election official, prosecutors alleged, and described his political enemies as “cockroaches” and “maggots” that he would dispose of by “killing them, shooting them, and mutilating their corpses to use them as shields.”

In a statement after Caldwell’s indictment, Plofchan said Caldwell is being used as a “scapegoat” and was merely “an observer of increased frustration by some members of the public.” He did not enter the Capitol, Plofchan said, and is not an Oath Keeper.

Prosecutors say it is irrelevant whether Caldwell personally breached the building.

“Like any coach on the sideline, Caldwell was just as responsible as his players on the field for achieving what he viewed as victory that day,” they wrote.

In an interview last month, Rhodes — who has not been charged — said Caldwell “helped” Oath Keepers during the November rally because “he’s a local,” but is “not a leader of any kind.”

Among those who prosecutors allege coordinated with Caldwell before and on Jan. 6 was Jessica Watkins, a 38-year-old Oath Keeper from Ohio. She too is a “key figure” in the violence and too dangerous to be released, prosecutors said in a Thursday filing.

In a search of Watkins’s home on Jan. 17, federal authorities say they found protective equipment and battle gear, medical supplies, a mini-drone, firearms, a paintball gun, a “bomb making recipe,” zip-ties and pool cues cut down to baton size.

Both she and Caldwell, prosecutors say, “harbor . . . a doomsday mindset that, if anything, risks greater radicalization if released into a community of like-minded individuals.”

On Jan. 21, prosecutors note that Rhodes called Biden’s presidency “illegitimate” and said that while he was “not calling for the initiation of violence,” his followers should “BE PREPARED TO MOVE.”

Watkins talked about going “underground” if the attempt to keep Trump in power was unsuccessful, according to the court records. Caldwell, prosecutors say, was ready for the next fight: “So it begins,” he messaged a contact the day after the riot. “They murdered at least one of us. This is OUR Boston Massacre.”

No attorney is listed for Watkins, who told the Ohio Capital Journal in January that she didn’t commit a crime and that the riot was a peaceful protest that turned violent.

Aaron C. Davis and Tom Jackman contributed to this report.

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· · · ·

FBI probing if foreign governments, groups funded extremists who helped execute Capitol attack

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WASHINGTON — The FBI is investigating whether foreign governments, organizations or individuals provided financial support to extremists who helped plan and execute the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, one current and one former FBI official told NBC News.

As part of the investigation, the bureau is examining payments of $500,000 in bitcoin, apparently by a French national, to key figures and groups in the alt-right before the riot, the sources said. Those payments were documented and posted on the web this week by a company that analyzes cryptocurrency transfers. Payments of bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, can be traced because they are documented on a public ledger.

 

Separately, a joint threat assessment issued this week by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and various other federal and D.C.-area police agencies noted that since the Jan. 6 riot, “Russian, Iranian, and Chinese influence actors have seized the opportunity to amplify narratives in furtherance of their policy interest amid the presidential transition.”

Russian state and proxy media outlets “have amplified themes related to the violent and chaotic nature of the Capitol Hill incident, impeachment of President Trump, and social media censorship,” the unclassified intelligence report said. “In at least one instance, a Russian proxy claimed that ANTIFA members disguised themselves as supporters of President Trump, and were responsible for storming the Capitol building.”

Chinese media, meanwhile, “have seized the story to denigrate U.S. democratic governance, casting the United States as broadly in decline — and to justify China’s crackdown on protestors in Hong Kong.”

The examination of possible foreign influence related to the Capitol riot, which involves the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, comes after years of what current and former FBI officials say is mounting evidence that Russia and other foreign adversaries have sought to secretly support political extremists on the far right and far left.

Law enforcement officials and terrorism experts say there has long been “a mutual affection between Western white supremacists and the Russian government,” as two scholars put it in a February paper on the JustSecurity web site.

 

Some senators were concerned enough about the issue that they inserted a requirement in the 2021 defense bill that the Pentagon “report to Congress on the extent of Russian support for ‘racially and ethnically motivated violent extremist groups and networks in Europe and the United States’ — and what can be done to counter it.”

The current FBI official told NBC News that the bureau did not necessarily suspect Russian involvement in the bitcoin transfers, which appear to have been made by a French computer programmer who died by suicide on Dec. 8 after triggering the transfers, according to French media.

But the cryptocurrency payments prompted the FBI to examine whether any of the money was used to find illegal acts, which, if true, raises the possibility of money laundering and conspiracy charges, the FBI official said.

On Dec. 8, Chainalysis reported, the donor sent 28.15 BTC — worth about $522,000 at the time of transfer — to 22 separate addresses, many of which belong to far-right activists.

The Chainalysis blog post, first highlighted by Yahoo News, said far-right podcaster Nick Fuentes received the most money, 13.5 BTC — worth approximately $250,000.

Fuentes, who spoke at pro-Trump rallies last year in Michigan and Washington, D.C., told the ProPublica news organization that he was at the “Stop the Steal” rally on Wednesday but didn’t follow the mob into the Capitol.

One group of Fuentes’ supporters, which calls itself the Groyper Army, was filmed running through the Capitol carrying a large blue flag with the America First logo, ProPublica reported.

“We’re looking at and treating this just like a significant international counterterrorism or counterintelligence operation,” Michael Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in D.C., said at a news briefing last week.

“We’re looking at everything: Money, travel records, looking at disposition, movement, communication records.”

Ken Dilanian is a correspondent covering intelligence and national security for the NBC News Investigative Unit.

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· · ·

Feds need to tell us a lot more about the Capitol riot investigation (opinion)

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Normally after a major event like this — a terrorist assault on the heart of our government — top federal law enforcement officials would step up to give the most comprehensive account of what they know. They would move quickly to inform and reassure the public — to tell us who did what, how it happened, and what the threat is now.

Not so well.

Perhaps the most notable part of the update was who wasn’t giving it. The top officials from Justice and the FBI — Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and Director Christopher Wray — weren’t there. Nor were other senior officials from relevant agencies like the Department of Homeland Security. Instead, we saw the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington office, Steve D’Antuono, and the acting US Attorney for the District of Columbia, Michael Sherwin.

While these two officials are no doubt the ones most closely monitoring the investigations into the insurrection, the absence of their bosses — or even their deputies — was unexpected, given the magnitude of the attack.

The news conference focused almost exclusively on the investigation into the attack — on the crime-solving. It is, of course, the Justice Department’s job to gather evidence, track down suspects and bring perpetrators to justice.

We learned from D’Antuono that the FBI was treating the Capitol attack the same way it would an international terrorist incident, and that it had opened 170 “subject files” (referring to individuals identified as persons who potentially committed crimes), and of those has charged more than 70 individuals.

Sherwin emphasized that each perpetrator will be charged with the most severe crime warranted, including and up to seditious conspiracy.

But both officials appeared to skirt around explaining what federal law enforcement knew and did before that day’s Trump rally and the attack that followed it, in particular how the feds had coordinated with other agencies to prepare for trouble.

Nor did they mention the threat bulletin now issued to all 50 states warning of armed protests planned at every state’s capitol and in Washington in the days leading up to the inauguration on January 20.

Goal #2: Stop misinformation and conspiracy theories by offering facts

Many Americans are wondering how this attack was allowed to happen. Since 9/11, law enforcement has greatly increased its abilities to sniff out and disrupt developing terrorism plots. The FBI most recently thwarted an apparent plan by militia groups to kidnap and kill the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, in October.

It is hard to understand how — particularly in light of the many threats of violence made openly by pro-Trump groups and individuals on social media — the FBI and its law enforcement partners were not better prepared for what took place.

Unfortunately, neither D’Antuono nor Sherwin offered much in the way of explanation. To be sure, law enforcement is often unable to comment on things that might compromise ongoing investigations. But if that is the case, they normally just say that. On Tuesday, however, D’Antuono puzzlingly acknowledged that the FBI had information from its Norfolk field office indicating plans for violence at the Capitol.

This contradicted his earlier claim to reporters

, Friday, that the FBI did not have any such information in its possession at all before the attack. Nor did he explain why the Norfolk tip was not followed up on after the Joint Terrorism Task Force received it.

By not filling in these gaps, or even stating clearly that the FBI was reviewing all of the intelligence that was known beforehand, the officials invited more speculation about whether the government’s flat-footed response to the Capitol assault was caused by negligence or — far worse — an intentional intelligence failure.

They missed an opportunity to be as robust as possible in laying out how law enforcement approached this highly publicized rally, and potentially contributed to a further erosion of trust in law enforcement and the proliferation of unfounded conspiracy theories.

Goal #3: Deter future violence by sending a strong message

Many members of the Capitol mob were undoubtedly watching the news conference to find out what the FBI knew. On this front, both officials sent a clear message that they would use every resource at their disposal to identify and prosecute everyone who attacked the seat of our democracy.

Make no mistake: The people who planned and participated in this atrocity will get a knock on their doors from the FBI soon enough.

But the domestic terror threat is not limited to that one mob. The very fact that the FBI has issued a threat bulletin to all 50 states reveals that the depraved ideology based on the lie about the “rigged” election spreads far and deep.

But neither D’Antuono nor Sherwin addressed this future threat, issued a warning to anyone planning violence, or even referred to the people involved in this violence as domestic terrorists.

This may be because they have seen how the President reacts when such language is used against his defenders and allies. After all, neither the FBI nor the DOJ can afford, in this critical moment, to lose their leadership because Trump decided to fire them. Unfortunately, if that fear is what resulted in the gaps in Tuesday’s remarks, it may embolden the very people they are protecting us against.

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· · · ·

Capitol insurrection: Most of the people charged, like Jenna Ryan, showed signs of prior money troubles

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Yet Ryan, 50, is accused of rushing into the Capitol past broken glass and blaring security alarms and, according to federal prosecutors, shouting: “Fight for freedom! Fight for freedom!”

But in a different way, she fit right in.

Despite her outward signs of success, Ryan had struggled financially for years. She was still paying off a $37,000 lien for unpaid federal taxes when she was arrested. She’d nearly lost her home to foreclosure before that. She filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and faced another IRS tax lien in 2010.

Nearly 60 percent of the people facing charges related to the Capitol riot showed signs of prior money troubles, including bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts, or unpaid taxes over the past two decades, according to a Washington Post analysis of public records for 125 defendants with sufficient information to detail their financial histories.

The group’s bankruptcy rate — 18 percent — was nearly twice as high as that of the American public, The Post found. A quarter of them had been sued for money owed to a creditor. And 1 in 5 of them faced losing their home at one point, according to court filings.

The financial problems are revealing because they offer potential clues for understanding why so many Trump supporters — many with professional careers and few with violent criminal histories — were willing to participate in an attack egged on by the president’s rhetoric painting him and his supporters as undeserving victims.

While no single factor explains why someone decided to join in, experts say, Donald Trump and his brand of grievance politics tapped into something that resonated with the hundreds of people who descended on the Capitol in a historic burst of violence.

“I think what you’re finding is more than just economic insecurity but a deep-seated feeling of precarity about their personal situation,” said Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a political science professor who helps run the Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab at American University, reacting to The Post’s findings. “And that precarity — combined with a sense of betrayal or anger that someone is taking something away — mobilized a lot of people that day.”

The financial missteps by defendants in the insurrection ranged from small debts of a few thousand dollars more than a decade ago to unpaid tax bills of $400,000 and homes facing foreclosure in recent years. Some of these people seemed to have regained their financial footing. But many of them once stood close to the edge.

Ryan had nearly lost everything. And the stakes seemed similarly high to her when she came to Washington in early January. She fully believed Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen and that he was going to save the country, she said in an interview with The Post.

But now — facing federal charges and abandoned by people she considered “fellow patriots” — she said she feels betrayed.

“I bought into a lie, and the lie is the lie, and it’s embarrassing,” she said. “I regret everything.”

The FBI has said it found evidence of organized plots by extremist groups. But many of the people who came to the Capitol on Jan. 6 — including Ryan — appeared to have adopted their radical outlooks more informally, consuming baseless claims about the election on television, social media and right-wing websites.

The poor and uneducated are not more likely to join extremist movements, according to experts. Two professors a couple of years ago found the opposite in one example: an unexpectedly high number of engineers who became Islamist radicals.

In the Capitol attack, business owners and white-collar workers made up 40 percent of the people accused of taking part, according to a study by the Chicago Project on Security and Threats at the University of Chicago. Only 9 percent appeared to be unemployed.

The participation of people with middle- and upper-middle-class positions fits with research suggesting that the rise of right-wing extremist groups in the 1950s was fueled by people in the middle of society who felt they were losing status and power, said Pippa Norris, a political science professor at Harvard University who has studied radical political movements.

Miller-Idriss said she was struck by a 2011 study that found household income was not a factor in whether a young person supported the extreme far right in Germany. But a highly significant predictor was whether they had lived through a parent’s unemployment.

“These are people who feel like they’ve lost something,” Miller-Idriss said.

Going through a bankruptcy or falling behind on taxes, even years earlier, could provoke a similar response.

“They know it can be lost. They have that history — and then someone comes along and tells you this election has been stolen,” Miller-Idriss said. “It taps into the same thing.”

Playing on personal pain

Trump’s false claims about election fraud — refuted by elections officials and rejected by judges — seemed tailored to exploit feelings about this precarious status, said Don Haider-Markel, a political science professor at the University of Kansas who studies political extremism.

“It’s hard to ignore with a Trump presidency that message that ‘the America you knew and loved is going away, and I’m going to protect it,’” Haider-Markel said. “They feel, at a minimum, that they’re under threat.”

While some of the financial problems were old, the pandemic’s economic toll appeared to inflict fresh pain for some of the people accused of participating in the insurrection.

A California man filed for bankruptcy one week before allegedly joining the attack, according to public records. A Texas man was charged with entering the Capitol one month after his company was slapped with a nearly $2,000 state tax lien.

Several young people charged in the attack came from families with histories of financial duress.

The parents of Riley June Williams — a 22-year-old who allegedly helped to steal a laptop from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office — filed for bankruptcy when she was a child, according to public records. A house owned by her mother faced foreclosure when she was a teenager, records show. Recently, a federal judge placed Williams on home confinement with her mother in Harrisburg, Pa. Her federal public defender did not respond to a request for comment.

People with professional careers such as respiratory therapist, nurse and lawyer were also accused of joining in.

One of them was William McCall Calhoun, 57, a well-known lawyer in Americus, Ga., 130 miles south of Atlanta, who was hit with a $26,000 federal tax lien in 2019, according to public records. A woman who knows Calhoun, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly, said he started to show strong support for Trump only in the past year. An attorney for Calhoun declined to comment.

Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by police when she tried to leap through a door’s broken window inside the Capitol, had struggled to run a pool-service company outside San Diego and was saddled with a $23,000 judgment from a lender in 2017, according to court records.

Financial problems were also apparent among people federal authorities said were connected to far-right nationalist groups, such as the Proud Boys.

Dominic Pezzola, who federal authorities said is a member of the Proud Boys, is accused of being among the first to lead the surge inside the Capitol and helping to overwhelm police. About 140 officers were injured in the storming of the Capitol and one officer, Brian D. Sicknick, was killed.

Pezzola, of Rochester, N.Y., also has been named in state tax warrants totaling more than $40,000 over the past five years, according to public records. His attorney declined to comment.

The roots of extremism are complex, said Haider-Markel.

“Somehow, they’ve been wronged, they’ve developed a grievance, and they tend to connect that to some broader ideology,” he said.

The price of insurrection

Ryan, who lives in Frisco, Tex., a Dallas suburb, said she was slow to become a big Trump supporter.

She’s been described as a conservative radio talk show host. But she wasn’t a budding Rush Limbaugh. Her AM radio show each Sunday focused on real estate, and she paid for the airtime. She stopped doing the show in March, when the pandemic hit.

But she continued to run a service that offers advice for people struggling with childhood trauma and bad relationships. Ryan said the work was based on the steps she took to overcome her own rough upbringing.

Twice divorced and struggling with financial problems, Ryan developed an outlook that she described as politically conservative, leaning toward libertarian.

But politics was not her focal point until recently. She recalled being upset when President Barack Obama won reelection in 2012. And she preferred Trump over Hillary Clinton four years later. But she said she wasn’t strident in her support for Trump.

That changed as the 2020 election approached.

She said she started reading far-right websites such as Epoch Times and Gateway Pundit. She began streaming shows such as Alex Jones’s “Infowars” and former Trump chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon’s “War Room: Pandemic.” She began following groundless assertions related to QAnon, a sprawling set of false claims that have coalesced into an extremist ideology. She said she didn’t know whether the posts were true, but she was enthralled.

“It was all like a football game. I was sucked into it. Consumed by it,” Ryan said.

She attended her first-ever protest in April, going to Austin to vent about the state’s pandemic shutdown orders. That was followed by a rally for Shelley Luther, who gained national attention for reopening her beauty salon in Dallas in defiance of the shutdown.

Ryan said she traveled to Trump’s “Save America” rally on a whim. A Facebook friend offered to fly her and three others on a private plane.

They arrived in Washington a day early and got rooms at a Westin hotel downtown, Ryan said.

It was her first trip to the nation’s capital.

The next morning, Jan. 6, the group of friends left the hotel at 6 a.m., Ryan said. She was cold, so she bought a $35 knit snow hat with a “45” emblem from a souvenir shop. They then followed the crowd streaming toward the National Mall.

“My main concern was there were no bathrooms. I kept asking, ‘Where are the bathrooms?’” she said. “I was just having fun.”

They listened to some of the speakers. But mostly they walked around and took photos. She felt like a tourist. They grabbed sandwiches at a Wawa convenience store for lunch. They hired a pedicab to take them back to the hotel.

She drank white wine while the group watched on television as Congress prepared to certify the electoral college votes. They listened to clips of Trump telling rallygoers to walk to the Capitol and saying, “We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

They decided to leave the hotel and go to the Capitol.

Ryan said she was reluctant.

But she also posted a video to her Facebook account that showed her looking into a bathroom mirror and saying, according to an FBI account of her charges: “We’re gonna go down and storm the capitol. They’re down there right now and that’s why we came and so that’s what we are going to do. So wish me luck.”

She live-streamed on Facebook. She posted photos to Twitter. She got closer to the Capitol with each post. She stood on the Capitol’s steps. She flashed a peace symbol next to a smashed Capitol window. The FBI also found video of her walking through doors on the west side of the Capitol in the middle of a packed crowd, where she said into a camera, according to the bureau: “Y’all know who to hire for your realtor. Jenna Ryan for your realtor.”

The FBI document does not state how long Ryan spent inside the building. She said it was just a few minutes. She and her new friends eventually walked back to the hotel, she said.

“We just stormed the Capital,” Ryan tweeted that afternoon. “It was one of the best days of my life.”

She said she realized she was in trouble only after returning to Texas. Her phone was blowing up with messages. Her social media posts briefly made her the infamous face of the riots: the smiling real estate agent who flew in a private jet to an insurrection.

Nine days later, she turned herself in to the FBI. She was charged with two federal misdemeanors related to entering the Capitol building and disorderly conduct. Last week, federal authorities filed similar charges against two others on her flight: Jason L. Hyland, 37, of Frisco, who federal authorities said organized the trip, and Katherine S. Schwab, 32, of Colleyville, Texas.

Ryan remained defiant at first. She clashed with people who criticized her online. She told a Dallas TV station that she deserved a presidential pardon.

Then Trump left for Florida. President Biden took office. And Ryan, at home in Texas, was left to wonder what to do with her two mini-goldendoodle dogs if she goes to prison.

“Not one patriot is standing up for me,” Ryan said recently. “I’m a complete villain. I was down there based on what my president said. ‘Stop the steal.’ Now I see that it was all over nothing. He was just having us down there for an ego boost. I was there for him.”

Read the whole story

 

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Michael_Novakhov

18 hours ago
REPLY
EDIT
HTTP://MICHAEL_NOVAKHOV.NEWSBLUR.COM/
1 public comment

acdha

1 day ago
REPLY
Just like their leader
WASHINGTON, DC
nocko

17 hours ago
Most of their acute economic problems seemed to mature under Trump’s admin. How was more Trump going to help them? Very confusing.

Capitol riot defendants shared history of financial probelms: WaPo

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  • Many of the Capitol riot defendants have something in common: a history of financial difficulties. 
  • A Washington Post analysis found that a substantial number of defendants had money woes. 
  • The documented financial problems include bankruptcies, debt, foreclosures, and unpaid taxes. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The more than 240 defendants charged in the January 6 insurrection on the Capitol siege came to Washington, D.C. from around the United States and from all walks of life, but something in common: a history of financial difficulties. 

new Washington Post analysis of court records and financial documents found that out of 125 defendants who had publicly available financial information, nearly 60% had filed for bankruptcy, had unpaid tax bills and other debts, been sued for unpaid debts, or faced losing their homes through eviction or foreclosure. 

The Post also found that among that group, the bankruptcy rate was 18%, almost double the national average. 

Read more: How Trump’s Senate trial could end with a vote to ban him from ever holding federal office again and kill any chances of a 2024 run

Among them were some of the most infamous accused rioters who have become faces of the insurrection. Jenna Ryan, the Texas real estate agent charged with two misdemeanors in connection with Capitol insurrection who flew to Washington, D.C. on a private jet, had filed for bankruptcy in 2012, almost lost her home before then, and had a history of unpaid federal taxes.

Ryan, who was also banned from PayPal after trying to raise funds for her legal defense on the platform, told the Post that she now fully regrets her participation in the riots and says she “bought into a lie.” 

Riley June Williams, the 22-year-old Pennsylvania woman accused of being involved in the theft of a laptop from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, had herself filed for bankruptcy when she was just a child, according to the Post. 

And Ashli Babbit, who was shot and killed by law enforcement during the insurrection, had been hit with a $23,000 judgment from a lender a few years prior. 

Research shows that low-income people with lower levels of education are not necessarily more likely to fall into extremist movements — but being saddled with debt or other struggles can make some feel as if they have nothing left to lose. 

The Capitol insurrection further displays how outwardly successful and educated people in society’s mainstream can fall into anti-government movements. 

Those arrested so far include people associated with extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, but also people who had never before been charged with a federal crime or had a connection to those movements.

The rise of domestic right-wing extremism and the QAnon conspiracy theory haven’t just targeted low-income or uneducated people, however, but have swept up many well-off, college-educated professionals, too. 

One researcher interviewed by the Post said that middle-class and educated people may be more likely to be lured into extremism when they feel their position in society being jeopardized or threatened. 

Ryan, for example, told the Post that while she had voted for Trump in 2016, she didn’t become politically engaged until 2020, when she started consuming right-wing media like the Gateway Pundit, Infowars, and Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast, and fell down the rabbit hole of the QAnon conspiracy. 

Read the whole story

 

· · ·

Dominic Pezzola, Capitol riot defendant, was ‘misled’ and ‘duped’ by Donald Trump: Lawyer

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Dominic Pezzola, a former Marine facing charges for storming the U.S. Capitol, was “duped” by former President Trump into believing it was his duty to act, his lawyer told a federal court Wednesday.

Mr. Pezzola, of Rochester, New York, “acted out of the delusional belief that he was a ‘patriot’ protecting his country,” attorney Jonathan Zucker wrote in a motion seeking his release from custody.

“Defendant is former military who is sworn to protect his country. He was responding to the entreaties of the then commander in chief, President Trump. The President maintained that the election had been stolen and it was the duty of loyal citizens to ‘stop the steal’,” Mr. Zucker argued on behalf of Mr. Pezzola

“Admittedly there was no rational basis for the claim, but it is apparent defendant was one of millions of Americans who were misled by the President’s deception,” Mr. Pezzola‘s lawyer added.

Mr. Pezzola, 43, also known as “Spaz,” is among roughly 200 people facing charges so far in connection with storming the Capitol as Congress met to count electoral votes on the afternoon of Jan. 6.



In charging documents, federal prosecutors included photographs the government alleges to show Mr. Pezzola using a plastic riot shield to break a window on the Capitol Building prior to entering it.

“The only act that seems to distinguish defendant from thousands of other participants is that he used a shield to break a window and he, along with hundreds if not thousands, actually entered the capital,” his lawyer argued in the court filing.

That footage was played during Wednesday’s impeachment trial of Mr. Trump in the Senate. Mr. Pezzola was mentioned by name as well.

Mr. Pezzola described himself on social media as a member of the Proud Boys, the just-for-men group whose members were among the mobs who violently stormed the building, prosecutors said previously.

In a 15-page motion seeking pretrial detention for Mr. Pezzola, Mr. Zucker does not deny his client has connections to the Proud Boys but claims they are “relatively short lived and minimal.”

Mr. Pezzola has been jailed since mid-January. He has since been charged in an 11-count indictment, including with charges he allegedly conspired with another Proud Boys member from New York.

“The object of the conspiracy was to obstruct, influence, impede and interfere with law enforcement officers engaged in their official duties in protecting the U.S. Capitol and its grounds,” the indictment alleges.


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Audio Posts Latest Headlines Review Mike Nova's favorite articles on Inoreader Selected Articles In Brief

Trump and the Capitol Riot of January 6, 2021: Trump bears responsibility

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Selected Articles Headlines In 25 Posts 

Trump and the Capitol Riot of January 6, 2021

» Trump bears responsibility


» Trump loses lead impeachment lawyers days before Senate trial


» Thousands Of Republicans Leave Party After Capitol Riot


» How the Christian Right Helped Foment Insurrection


» President Trump Did Not Incite the Riot at the Capitol Building


» Trump bears responsibility


» Mitt Romney calls out Marjorie Taylor Greene for pushing ‘big lie’ of a stolen election


» 2 members of Proud Boys indicted They’re facing conspiracy charges in assault on US Capitol


» Messianic rabbi nabbed for Capitol invasion


» President Trump Did Not Incite the Riot at the Capitol Building


» Capitol Police deny request to allow sledding, citing security concerns and Covid-19


» Don’t give feds more power following Capitol riot


» Democrats seek to make guns in the Capitol illegal — for everyone


» Secretive Ethics panel will judge Hawley and Cruz


» How the Christian Right Helped Foment Insurrection


» Thousands Of Republicans Leave Party After Capitol Riot


» Trump loses lead impeachment lawyers days before Senate trial


» NPR News: 01-31-2021 6AM ET

 


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