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The former Marine still detained in Russia begged the Biden Administration to secure his release Thursday, saying not enough has been done to free him while speaking on CNN.

Whelan spoke exclusively to CNN following news that WNBA star Brittney Griner had been released from a Russian penal colony in exchange for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout.

“I have to say I’m greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release,” Whelan told CNN. “Especially as the four-year-anniversary of my arrest is coming up. I was arrested for a crime that never occurred.”

“I would say that if a message could go to President Biden, that, you know, this is a precarious situation that needs to be resolved quickly. And I would hope that he and his administration would do everything they could to get me home regardless of the price they may have to pay at this point.”

Whelan also said he was shocked to learn he was not being freed.

“I was led to believe that things were moving in the right direction, and that the governments were negotiating and that something would happen fairly soon.”

Whelan was detained in December of 2018 by Russian authorities who alleged he was part of an intelligence operation. Whelan was convicted and sentenced in June of 2020 to 16 years in prison.

  • maggoting says:

    jane fonda, britany griner…….a great reminder to put the trash out.

  • T S says:

    Biden is a fucking traitor.

  • kevin harr says:


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    UK Army Spied on COVID Critics — Whistleblower Exposes ’Most Secretive’ 77th Brigade



    A shadowy Army unit secretly spied on British citizens who criticised the Government’s Covid lockdown policies, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

    Military operatives in the UK’s ‘information warfare’ brigade were part of a sinister operation that targeted politicians and high-profile journalists who raised doubts about the official pandemic response.

    They compiled dossiers on public figures such as ex-Minister David Davis, who questioned the modelling behind alarming death toll predictions, as well as journalists such as Peter Hitchens and Toby Young. Their dissenting views were then reported back to No 10.

    Documents obtained by the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, and shared exclusively with this newspaper, exposed the work of Government cells such as the Counter Disinformation Unit, based in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the Rapid Response Unit in the Cabinet Office.

    But the most secretive is the MoD’s 77th Brigade, which deploys ‘non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviours of adversaries’.

    According to a whistleblower who worked for the brigade during the lockdowns, the unit strayed far beyond its remit of targeting foreign powers.

    They said that British citizens’ social media accounts were scrutinised – a sinister activity that the Ministry of Defence, in public, repeatedly denied doing.

    Papers show the outfits were tasked with countering ‘disinformation’ and ‘harmful narratives… from purported experts’, with civil servants and artificial intelligence deployed to ‘scrape’ social media for keywords such as ‘ventilators’ that would have been of interest.

    The information was then used to orchestrate Government responses to criticisms of policies such as the stay-at-home order, when police were given power to issue fines and break up gatherings.

    It also allowed Ministers to push social media platforms to remove posts and promote Government-approved lines.

    The Army whistleblower said: ‘It is quite obvious that our activities resulted in the monitoring of the UK population… monitoring the social media posts of ordinary, scared people. These posts did not contain information that was untrue or co-ordinated – it was simply fear.’

    Last night, former Cabinet Minister Mr Davis, a member of the Privy Council, said: ‘It’s outrageous that people questioning the Government’s policies were subject to covert surveillance’ – and questioned the waste of public money.

    Mail on Sunday journalist Mr Hitchens was monitored after sharing an article, based on leaked NHS papers, which claimed data used to publicly justify lockdown was incomplete. An internal Rapid Response Unit email said Mr Hitchens wanted to ‘further [an] anti-lockdown agenda and influence the Commons vote’.

    Writing today, Mr Hitchens questions if he was ‘shadow-banned’ over his criticisms, with his views effectively censored by being downgraded in search results.

    He says: ‘The most astonishing thing about the great Covid panic was how many attacks the state managed to make on basic freedoms without anyone much even caring, let alone protesting.

    Now is the time to demand a full and powerful investigation into the dark material Big Brother Watch has bravely uncovered.’

    The whistleblower from 77 Brigade, which uses both regular and reserve troops, said: ‘I developed the impression the Government were more interested in protecting the success of their policies than uncovering any potential foreign interference, and I regret that I was a part of it. Frankly, the work I was doing should never have happened.’

    The source also suggested that the Government was so focused on monitoring critics it may have missed genuine Chinese-led prolockdown campaigns.

    Silkie Carlo, of Big Brother Watch, said: ‘This is an alarming case of mission creep, where public money and military power have been misused to monitor academics, journalists, campaigners and MPs who criticised the Government, particularly during the pandemic.

    ‘The fact that this political monitoring happened under the guise of ‘countering misinformation’ highlights how, without serious safeguards, the concept of ‘wrong information’ is open to abuse and has become a blank cheque the Government uses in an attempt to control narratives online.

    ‘Contrary to their stated aims, these Government truth units are secretive and harmful to our democracy. The Counter Disinformation Unit should be suspended immediately and subject to a full investigation.’

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    Potential Motive Revealed in California’s Deadly Shooting Rampage



    The 66-year-old farmworker accused of killing seven people at two mushroom farms in Half Moon Bay, California, is believed to have carried out the shootings over a $100 repair bill for farm equipment, officials said Friday.

    Chunli Zhao met with his supervisor about the bill on Monday, blaming his co-worker for the damage to a forklift that Zhao was driving when it collided with the co-worker’s bulldozer, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. However, the supervisor insisted that Zhao pay the bill.

    Zhao then allegedly shot and killed the supervisor, two co-workers and the wife of one of the victims at Terra Garden. A fifth co-worker was wounded. He then went to nearby Concord Farms, where he had worked previously, and fatally shot three former co-workers, authorities have said.

    Wagstaffe said Zhao had long been disgruntled over other work-related disputes but that the repair bill may have “lit the candle” for the deadly shooting, FOX2 KTVU in the Bay Area reported.

    Zhao told KNTV-TV in a courthouse interview on Thursday that he was bullied, worked long hours on the farms and that his complaints were ignored.

    The coroner’s office has named six of the victims: Zhishen Liu, 73, of San Francisco; Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50, of Moss Beach, California; Aixiang Zhang, 74, of San Francisco; Qizhong Cheng, 66, of Half Moon Bay; Jingzhi Lu, 64, of Half Moon Bay; and Yetao Bing, 43, whose hometown was unknown.

    The charging documents identified Jose Romero Perez as the other person killed and Pedro Romero Perez as the eighth victim, who survived.

    Wagstaffe said that prosecutors requested no bail since Zhao is not a U.S. citizen and has “plenty of reason to run.”

    In addition to seven counts of murder, Zhao was charged with one count of attempted murder, firearm use enhancements and a count of special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, Wagstaffe said.

    Zhao is due to appear in court on Feb. 16.

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    Trump Weighs in on ‘Vicious and Violent’ Bodycam Video of Tyre Nichols



    Former President Donald Trump joined the chorus of those responding to graphic footage from the bodycams of five Memphis police officers who repeatedly beat 29-year-old Tyre Nichols. The footage was released to the public Friday, Jan. 27.

    “I thought it was terrible. He was in such trouble. He was just being pummeled. Now that should never have happened,” Trump said during an interview with The Associated Press Saturday.

    The footage shows the officers punching, kicking, pepper spraying and tasing Nichols, a 29-year-old Black father and delivery driver, following a traffic stop on Jan. 7.

    He died three days later, on Jan. 10. The officers were charged with his murder.

    Trump, who is running for the White House in 2024, said hearing Nichols repeatedly call out to his mother during the assault was particularly difficult. He said it was “a very sad moment.”

    “That was really the point that got me the most, to be honest with you,” the former president said.

    Trump said Memphis police were taking a “strong step” in disbanding the SCORPION police unit involved in the attack, which was created to target violent offenders in areas beset by high crime. SCORPION stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods.

    It has been “permanently” deactivated as a result of the Jan. 7 incident, Memphis officials announced.

    Trump also called the video “pretty conclusive,” as the officers face murder charges.

    He also suggested the traffic violation was not the officers’ motivation for the beating.

    “Look, the tape was perhaps not totally conclusive but, to me, it was pretty conclusive and it was vicious and violent and hard to believe — over a traffic violation,” Trump said.

    Warning: The contents of the below video are graphic in nature.

    Trump previously discouraged violent protests that erupted across the country in the summer of 2020 following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which he also condemned.

    “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Trump tweeted, sparking backlash. The tweet was also flagged by Twitter as glorifying violence.

    The former president defended his comments as attempting to discourage escalation, not a call to shoot those who are looting.

    He later centered his 2020 reelection bid around “law and order” and supporting law enforcement.

    Trump, while in office, signed an executive order encouraging better police practices.

    Former President Barack Obama also responded to the Tyre Nichols bodycam footage.

    In a joint tweet, Barack and Michelle Obama said that Nichols’ death is a “painful reminder” for America.

    “The vicious, unjustified beating of Tyre Nichols and his ultimate death at the hands of five Memphis police officers is just the latest, painful reminder of how far America still has to go in fixing how we police our streets,” the couple said.

    President Joe Biden also addressed the video.

    “My heart goes out to Tyre Nichols’ family and to Americans in Memphis and across the country who are grieving this tremendously painful loss. There are no words to describe the heartbreak and grief of losing a beloved child and young father,” he wrote in a statement Friday night.

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    Democrat Slammed Over Tweet About Death of Tyre Nichols



    Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) was slammed online late this week over a tweet that suggested that the five black police officers who are accused of being involved in the murder of Tyre Nichols were motivated by “anti-blackness.”

    Nichols died on January 10, three days after Memphis police pulled him over in a traffic stop for “reckless driving” near Raines Road and Ross Road in Memphis, Tennessee.

    Police said that during the stop a “confrontation occurred,” at which point Nichols ran away from police on foot as they attempted to apprehend him. Video of the incident was released last night by law enforcement.

    Jones responded to Nichols’ death by tweeting, “If you think the Memphis police officers had to be white in order to exhibit anti-Blackness, you need to take that AP African American Studies course [Florida Republican Governor] Ron DeSantis just banned.”

    Jones’ tweet garnered backlash and mockery online.

    “Kind of proving the point of why the course was rejected,” tweeted the popular conservative account AG. “Most people don’t think that it’s reasonable to indoctrinate HS kids to believe 5 Black police officers abusing their power and needlessly beating a man is evidence of anti-Blackness.”

    Radio host Jason Rantz tweeted, “This is a great argument against the CRT course masquerading as AP African American history.”

    Daily Wire podcast host Matt Walsh tweeted, “If you blame white supremacy for black on black crime, you’ve probably taken way too many of those kinds of courses.”

    Jones’ shot at DeSantis comes after curriculum for AP African American Studies from the College Board generated massive backlash in Florida because it contained leftist activism.

    The Florida Department of Education recently informed the College Board that the course’s content is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value,” adding that the state would reconsider the course should the organization make the material “lawful” and “historically accurate.”

    “They’re advocating things like abolishing prisons. Now that’s a radical political position,” DeSantis noted in response to what was in the curriculum. “You’re free to take that in your own life, I don’t think very many people think that would actually work, but how is that being taught as fact?”

    DeSantis added that he does not view black history as inherently distinct from the overall history of the United States.

    “That’s what our standards for black history are: it’s just cut-and-dry history. You learn all the basics, you learn about the great figures,” he remarked. “I view it as American history. I don’t view it as separate history.”

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    Now They’re Coming from Canada: Northern Border Sees 743% Spike in Illegal Migrants



    Border Patrol working in the north of the US have reported a 743 percent rise in migrant encounters compared to the same period a year ago.

    Robert Garcia, the chief patrol agent for the Swanton Sector – which covers Vermont, New York and New Hampshire – said he was troubled by the increasing popularity of the people-smuggling route.

    He warned traffickers are exploiting desperate asylum seekers with potentially lethal consequences, amid freezing temperatures and dangerous passages.

    Meanwhile the Grand Forks sector, which covers Minnesota and North Dakota, has reported 90 apprehensions in the three months since October 1.

    The figure is more than for the whole of the 2022 fiscal year, when 80 were apprehended between September 30, 2021 and October 1, 2022.

    It comes as a surprise as officials focus on clogging the southern border, which has reached crisis point as thousands migrants seek entry from Mexico.

    The deadly consequences were laid bear a year ago when an Indian family of four was found dead just north of the Grand Forks sector.

    At the beginning of January, a Haitian man, Fritznel Richard, died just north of the Swanton Sector, having frozen to death while trying to reach his wife in the US.

    ‘Swanton Sector’s greatest concern in carrying out our mission of border security is the preservation of life – the lives of community residents we are sworn to protect, the lives of our Border Patrol Agents carrying out the mission day-in and day-out in the field, and the lives of the individuals, families, and children we are charged with apprehending as they attempt to circumvent legal processes for entry,’ said Garcia.

    ‘Unfortunately, the transnational criminal organizations that stand to profit from the increased flow of human traffic care only about profits and have no concern for the welfare of those whose plight they seek to exploit for financial gain.’

    Border Patrol said the number of migrants encountered in the sector during the 2023 fiscal year – which began in October – had already surpassed the 12 months of 2022’s fiscal year. In December, a record 441 people were apprehended in the sector.

    The latest data ‘represent a sustained increase in illegal border crossings as we head into the harshest winter months,’ they said.

    Overnight temperatures in the zone regularly drop to 12F, and have dropped below zero in previously years.

    ‘Unpredictable storm fronts bring ice and significant snow accumulation throughout the extended winter season,’ the Border Patrol warned.

    ‘These geographic and weather features can make traversing unfamiliar territory perilous.

    ‘Additionally, the risk of hypothermia from sustained or even brief outdoor exposure to near-freezing temperatures in wet or windy conditions is significant.’

    Garcia tweeted: ‘In less than four months, Swanton Sector’s apprehensions have surpassed the COMBINED two prior years (FY2021-2022).

    ‘In the face of this adversity, our #BorderPatrol Agents remain steadfast in their portrayal of our ideals: Vigilance, Integrity, & Service to Country. #HonorFirst.’

    Kathryn Siemer, acting patrol agent in charge of the station in Pembina, North Dakota – one of seven stations in the Grand Forks sector – said the sharp spike in encounters was due in part to Canada loosening its COVID restrictions.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    WATCH: LeBron James Goes Berserk After Missed Foul Call Against Celtics



    LeBron James was furious with NBA officials on Saturday night and Patrick Beverley received an untimely technical foul for sarcastically trying to show a referee they missed a call in the final moments of regulation.

    In a 105-105 game between the Lakers and the Boston Celtics with about 4 seconds left, James went to his left and drove down the lane toward the basket. James was surrounded by three Celtics defenders and went up to the basket with his left hand and it appeared he was hit on the arm by Jayson Tatum.

    James missed the lay up and there was no foul called on the play. The Lakers superstar was beside himself over the no-call and fell to the floor in disbelief.

    Beverley, at one point, came over with a camera to show the referee what he missed. He received a technical foul.

    The game would go to overtime and Boston would come away with a 125-121 win.

    James played 44 minutes. He scored 41 points with nine rebounds and eight assists in the loss. Beverley added 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals. Anthony Davis came off the bench and scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He also had four assists.

    Davis was just as upset after the game.

    Crew Chief Eric Lewis admitted after the game the officials missed a call.

    Tatum made the technical free throw before the overtime period began. He scored 30 points with 11 rebounds and four assists.

    Jaylen Brown scored a team-high 37 points, grabbed nine boards and dished out three assists. He hit a couple of clutch shots to separate Boston from Los Angeles in the overtime period.

    Boston moved to 36-15 with the win. Los Angeles fell to 23-27.

    Go deeper ( < 1 min. read ) ➝


    From Deported to Dominant: Djokovic Wins Record-Tying 22nd Grand Slam



    An emotional Novak Djokovic completed an extraordinary turnaround from the events of a year ago when he resumed his hegemony over the Australian Open.

    The 35 year-old Serbian, detained and deported over visa issues relating to his unvaccinated status last January, won his tenth title when he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 7-6 7-6 in two hours and 56 minutes inside a rowdy Rod Laver Arena.

    By doing so he equalled Rafael Nadal’s tally of 22 Grand Slam trophies in what was his 33rd final, one in which the crushing weight of experience was brought to bear.

    Presented with the runner-up trophy, Tsitsipas heralded Djokovic as ‘the greatest player ever to hold a racket.’

    Djokovic had wept uncontrollably as he celebrated with his family, and continued when he got back to his chair.

    He said: ‘What a journey it has been for my family my team and myself. I appreciate the patience and love you are giving me.

    ‘There’s a reason I have played my best tennis on this court. Only the team knows what we have been through in the last five weeks, this is the biggest victory of my life considering the circumstances.’

    A tournament short on great matches burst into life in the second set when the Greek put his opponent under severe pressure, but ultimately it was a familiar story of Djokovic being the stronger when it most mattered.

    That included the third set tiebreak, in which he raced to a 5-0 lead and then remained calm when Tsitsipas took the next three points. Djokovic sealed it with a forehand on his third match point 7-5.

    He pointed to his head before climbing up into his box to celebrate and then breaking down.

    He regains the world number one position, despite playing fewer tournaments than his rivals, and it there can be no arguing with that.

    In the mechanics of the game, particularly in areas such as the return, he is clearly ahead of the chasing pack.

    Just prior to the match the roof opened after earlier rain, and it also became apparent that Djokovic’s controversial father, Srdjan, had voluntarily stayed away from his box.

    There was also no sign of the usual strapping on the hamstring that had been evident in previous rounds, however superfluously.

    If that was to avoid a distraction it seemed to work as Djokovic was utterly dialled in from the start.

    Tsitsipas had no answers to his relentless consistency and every hold was hard work compared to a stroll for the Serb.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Massive Great White Shark Decapitated Diver in First Fatal Attack of 2023



    A massive great white shark decapitated a diver in what was the first fatal shark attack of 2023, according to reports.

    Around 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 5, Manuel Lopez went diving in the waters of Tobari Bay, off the coast of Benito Juárez in Sonora on Mexico’s west coast. Using surface air supplied by hoses from a boat, Lopez dove into depths of as much as 59 feet in the water. Lopez was diving for ax tripe – a species of mollusk similar to scallops.

    A fisherman allegedly witnessed the gruesome shark attack.

    “He was diving when the animal attacked him, impressively ripping off his head and biting both shoulders,” Jose Bernal told Tracking Sharks – a website that tracks shark attacks around the world with the purpose to “understand and share information on why shark attacks occur and to help prevent negative shark encounters in the future.”

    Bernal said large sharks had been spotted in the area.

    “Local divers had been warned about the presence of sharks in the area and most had not been out for several days,” Bernal said.

    The shark sightings forced many fishermen and divers to avoid the area, but the 53-year-old Lopez continued to dive despite the risk because of a seafood shortage in the area.

    This was the first fatal shark attack of 2023, according to Tracking Sharks.

    Tracking Sharks noted, “White sharks are most prevalent in the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California, during December and January when pregnant female sharks enter the area. The sharks will often search for fat-filled sea lions to feed upon due to their high caloric count.”

    In February 2022, 56-year-old Victor Estrella was killed by a great white shark in the same area. He was diving for scallops when he was killed by the shark.

    In December 2018, 35-year-old Nahum Verdugo Aguilera was killed in the same area by a shark. The shark ripped off the man’s leg and opened up a large wound on his abdomen in the Gulf of California.


    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    CNN Just Suffered Its Worst Ratings Week in 9 Years



    CNN just notched its lowest ratings in nine years across all its day parts for the week of Jan. 16 through Jan. 22, 2023, according to Nielsen averaging just 444,000 viewers in primetime, 93,000 in the all-important age 25-54 news demographic and 417,000 in viewers and 80,000 in the demo for total day. It’s the first time since May 2014 that the network failed to reach 450,000 viewers.

    By comparison, during the same period Fox News drew 1.4 million viewers and 176,000 in the demo while MSNBC notched 629,000 total viewers and 69,000 in the demo. In primetime, Fox News had 2 million viewers, 256,000 in the demo and MSNBC had 943,000 viewers and 91,000 in the demo.

    Some especially troublesome news out of this week’s Nielsen numbers is that Licht’s primary programming move, “CNN This Morning,” also suffered the lowest week since its launch just three months ago. It averaged just 331,000 viewers while “Fox & Friends” had nearly 1 million and “Morning Joe” drew 760,000.

    Licht hand-picked CNN’s Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins to host the rebooted morning show. But so far that trio is failing to grow its audience. An individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap exclusively last week that EP Eric Hall was being reassigned to “CNN Tonight,” hosted by Laura Coates, signaling that Licht is aware that the show needs to perform better.

    Insiders also told TheWrap that even hosts Lemon, Harlow and Collins “seem to be growing frustrated” over the direction.

    “The show can’t decide strategically what exactly it is, so it’s trying to be everything which can create whiplash for a viewer when segments seem off-brand in tonality,” one insider said. “The audience for morning news on network TV is different than the cable news audience and since we’re not gaining new viewers we definitely need to retain our legacy ones”

    As TheWrap previously reported, CNN will soon be launching a revamped daytime slate and anchor trios that aim to take a “fresh approach” to its daytime programming through two new programs.

    The network will host a standalone weekday 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Eastern block anchored by John Berman, Kate Bolduan and Sara Sidner out of CNN’s New York studios, while the subsequent 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Eastern standalone program will be hosted by Brianna Keilar, Boris Sanchez and Jim Sciutto.

    But Insiders we spoke to fear that things are unlikely to get better. “Upcoming programming changes are likely to make matters worse,” one insider told us.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Memphis Police Department Makes Major Change Following Death of Tyre Nichols



    The Memphis Police Department announced over the weekend that it was disbanding an important anti-crime task force in the wake of the death of Tyre Nichols.

    Nichols died on January 10, three days after Memphis police pulled him over in a traffic stop for “reckless driving” near Raines Road and Ross Road in Memphis, Tennessee.

    Police said that during the stop, a “confrontation occurred,” at which point Nichols ran away from police on foot as they attempted to apprehend him. Video of the incident was released last night by law enforcement.

    The Memphis Police Department said Saturday night that it was ending the SCORPION Unit (Street Crimes Operations to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods) after officials met with Chief Cerelyn ‘C J.’ Davis to discuss recent events.

    “In the process of listening intently to the family of Tyre Nichols, community leaders, and the uninvolved officers who have done quality work in their assignments, it is in the best interest of all to permanently deactivate the SCORPION Unit,” the statement said. “The officers currently assigned to the unit agree unreservedly with this next step. While the heinous actions of a few casts a cloud of dishonor on the title SCORPION, it is imperative that we, the Memphis Police Department take proactive steps in the healing process for all impacted.”

    “The Memphis Police Department remains committed to serving our community and taking every measure possible to rebuild the trust that has been negatively affected by the death of Mr. Tyre Nichols,” police added.

    Officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmit Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr., and Justin Smith have all been charged with two counts of official misconduct, local media reported, with one count of official oppression, second-degree murder, aggravated assault-act in concert, and two counts of aggravated kidnapping.

    Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, told CNN on Friday that those who protest her son’s death should not riot because that is not what her son would have wanted.

    “I don’t want us burning up our cities, tearing up the streets, because that’s not what my son stood for,” Wells said. “And if you guys are here for me and Tyre, then you will protest peacefully.”

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    FBI Seized Biden Notebooks That Might Refer to Classified Info



    Notebooks used by President Joe Biden during his time as vice president were among the items taken by the FBI during a search of one of his Delaware homes last week, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

    These notebooks, which Biden wrote in while serving as vice president under former President Barack Obama, were taken by the FBI due to some of the notes relating to his work as vice president, which could refer to classified information, the unidentified person said. This person also claimed that while none of the notebooks had classified markings on them, some of the notes could be considered classified due to their sensitive content, according to NBC News.

    “As noted in the statement released on January 14, consistent with our view of the requirements of our cooperation with DOJ in this matter, we will not comment on the accuracy of reports of this nature,” said a spokesperson for Biden’s personal lawyer, Bob Bauer.

    Written inside the notebooks were handwritten notes from Biden, with some relating to his personal life and family while others detailed his current experiences and thoughts of his time as vice president, according to the unidentified person. It is unclear how many notebooks were taken by the FBI, but the source claimed that it was a large amount.

    Notebooks containing notes about personal matters that get mixed with notes on government business would likely be considered personal property as long as Biden never shared them with any government staff members during his time as vice president. However, if Biden had shared the notes with staff, the notebooks would be deemed official records belonging to the government, according to Jason R. Baron, a former director of litigation at the National Archives.

    The FBI searched Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, for any possible records from his time as vice president on Jan. 20. Among the items taken were “personally handwritten notes, files, papers, binders, memorabilia, to-do lists, schedules, and reminders going back decades,” Bauer said.

    The news of Biden’s possible mishandling of classified documents came after the FBI searched former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in August of last year. Shortly after news broke about documents located in Biden’s home, lawyers for former Vice President Mike Pence discovered two boxes of classified documents at his Indiana home on Jan. 18.

    Pence stated that he is taking “full responsibility” for the documents, saying that they “should not have been at my personal residence.”

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Trump Takes Aim at DeSantis in First Major Campaign Swing



    Former President Donald Trump took aim at Ron DeSantis Saturday, claiming the Florida governor and his team are “trying to rewrite history” regarding their Covid-19 pandemic response, and called the potential presidential run by his GOP rival “very disloyal.”

    “There are Republican governors that did not close their states,” Trump told reporters while aboard his plane. “Florida was closed for a long period of time.”

    “They’re trying to rewrite history,” he added.

    In March 2020, the Florida governor issued an executive order closing bars and nightclubs, urging people to follow US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to limit gatherings on beaches to no more than 10 people. By that September, DeSantis signed an order clearing restaurants and bars to fully open, which drew criticism from public health officials due to the Covid-19 spike that fall.

    Trump defended his management of the pandemic, saying he left decisions to governors.

    “I had governors that decided not to close a thing and that was up to them,” he said. The former president also took aim at DeSantis’ shifting posture on vaccines, saying the Florida governor had “changed his tune a lot.”

    That claim comes after DeSantis called on state lawmakers this month to make permanent existing penalties for companies that require all employees get the Covid-19 vaccination.

    The rivalry with Trump hangs over every move DeSantis makes. Their relationship traces back to the governor’s 2018 primary campaign, when an endorsement from Trump helped the little-known congressman win the nomination. A viral ad featuring DeSantis and his family, including two young children, highlighted his allegiance to Trump.

    But as talk of 2024 swirled in recent months, as Trump again declared his presidential candidacy, and DeSantis won re-election in a 19-point landslide in November, the pair grew increasingly at odds. Before and after the midterm election, Trump derided DeSantis as an “average governor” and mocked him with the would-be nickname, “Ron DeSanctimonious.”

    On Saturday, during his first major campaign swing to New Hampshire and South Carolina, Trump took credit again for helping elevate DeSantis during his 2018 bid for governor, saying “Ron would have not been governor if it wasn’t for me.”

    “So when I hear he might run, I consider that very disloyal,” Trump said.

    While taking aim at DeSantis, Trump told reporters aboard his plane that Nikki Haley – who served as his ambassador to the United Nations – called him in recent days to inform him that she is considering launching a 2024 presidential bid.

    “I talked to her for a little while, I said, ‘Look, you know, go by your heart if you want to run,’” Trump said. “She’s publicly said that ‘I would never run against my president, he was a great president.’”

    Trump said he told Haley that she “should do it.”

    Haley, who recently relocated her top aides to Charleston, is said to be weighing the timing of a campaign launch at this point, not wanting to be the first one to take on Trump by herself. In 2021, she said she would not challenge Trump if he ran again for the White House in 2024.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Damar Hamlin Shares Powerful, Faith-Filled Message in First Video Since On-Field Collapse



    In his first comments on camera since going into cardiac arrest on Monday Night Football on Jan. 2, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin said he would not have made it through the “toughest moments and the toughest times” without the support from all over the world.

    Right after making a tackle on Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, Hamlin stood up, but immediately collapsed. Medical staff performed CPR on him for over nine minutes, and he left the field on an ambulance after having to be defibrillated.

    Hamlin was released from the hospital on Jan. 11, and says he continues to make “so much progress recovering.”

    The 24-year-old has been active on social media, even live-tweeting during several Bills games, but he wanted to wait for the “right time” to share a message on video.

    “Now that my brothers have closed out a strong, winning season, as I continue to make so much progress recovering, I think it’s finally a good time to share a few things,” he said in an Instagram post on Saturday. “I think it was important for me to wait and speak publicly at the right time, as it was just a lot to process within my own self mentally, physically, even spiritually, it’s just been a lot to process. But I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of all the love, all the support, and everything that’s just been coming my way.

    “What happened to me on Monday Night Football I feel is a direct example of God using me as a vessel to share my passion and my love directly from my heart with the entire world, and I’m able to give it back to kids and communities all across the world who need it the most, and that’s always been my dream. That’s always been what I stood for and what I’ll continue to stand for.”

    He went on to thank the Bills medical staff and doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical center, who “acted willfully and skillfully to save my life.”

    He also gave gratitude to friends who checked up on him via text and visits, and thanked football fans all over for their support.

    “With this happening to me, I didn’t feel anything short of the love, and it really helped me stay encouraged to get through the toughest moments and the toughest times. I really can’t thank you enough…

    “Just to put team allegiance aside, to root for one kid’s life and just the humanity of a player that’s wearing Buffalo blue, to put humanity above team loyalty, you showed the world unity over division. I’m, not surprised by it, but I’m deeply grateful. I’ll be forever thankful and indebted to that…”

    “I couldn’t do this without any of the support and the love, and I can’t wait to continue to take y’all on this journey with me.”

    Hamlin made an appearance at the Bills’ matchup against the Bengals on Sunday.

    He ended his video by making a heart with his hands.

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    Suspect in Rape of LSU Student Also Arrested for Rape of 12-Year-Old: Cops



    One of the men accused of raping LSU student Madison Brooks before she was hit and killed by a car has been arrested on charges that he sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl in 2020.

    Kaivon Washington, 18, was arrested for first-degree rape one day after he was released on bond for the case of Madison Brooks, 19, in which Washington is charged with third-degree rape.

    Documents obtained by WBRZ say that Washington was 15 years old at the time when he allegedly raped the 12-year-old after she left a birthday party to go swimming at an apartment complex in Livingston Parish in May or June 2020.

    The girl told police Washington ripped her towel off and raped her for approximately 30 minutes in an apartment.

    The 12-year-old was taken to the hospital, and Washington denied the allegations. The case went cold until a witness came forward Friday and told investigators that she saw Washington go into a room with the victim.

    “She witnessed the accused enter the victim’s bedroom, but denied hearing any voices or sounds that would have led her to think someone was having sex,” the arrest report states. “She further stated that she did not hear anyone hollering.”

    Ron Haley, Washington’s lawyer, pointed at the timing of the witness stepping forward in a statement following his client’s arrest.

    “Mr. Washington and his mother cooperated with the investigation two years ago, and law enforcement took no action,” Haley said. “Upon the review of the new statement from a witness that came forward yesterday, we are concerned not only of the timing of this statement, but whether it meets the threshold of probable cause.”

    Washington, alongside two other men and a 17-year-old, was charged in connection with the alleged rape of Brooks earlier this month.

    Washington and the 17-year-old were charged with raping Brooks, while Everett Lee, 28, and Casen Carver, 18, were charged with principle to third-degree rape, meaning they witnessed it but did not participate.

    Brooks exited the car after the alleged rape and was hit and killed by another vehicle, but the attorney Haley said Brooks — who police say had a blood alcohol level of .319, four times the legal driving limit — left the car on her own accord.

    “They did not just dump her out of the car,” Haley told WAFB. “They did not force her out of the vehicle,” he added, saying one of the videos showed her getting out. “I think at one point one of the others tries to calm the situation down and say, look just kind of get back in the car. She doesn’t want to.”

    “I want the public to know, these young men … did not put her off on the side of the road,” Haley added.

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    FDA to Remove Restriction on Blood Donations from Gay, Bisexual Men



    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Friday that it will remove a restriction on gay and bisexual men donating blood, a segment of the population that faces a higher risk of HIV.

    According to draft guidelines announced by the FDA, the new policy would eliminate a requirement that gay and bisexual men abstain from sexual activity for three months before donating blood, the Associated Press reported. The proposed rule change would be a major shift in a decades-old policy set during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

    Instead of requiring three months of abstinence for men who have sex with men, the FDA will make all potential donors fill out a personalized questionnaire that evaluates each person’s risks for HIV before they can donate blood.

    “We will continue to work to make sure we have policies that allow everyone who wants to donate blood to be able to donate blood, within what the science allows to keep the blood supply safe,” said the FDA’s Peter Marks, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    During the 1980s AIDS crisis, the U.S. barred gay men from donating blood in an effort to prevent the spread of HIV, the sexually-transmitted virus that can lead to AIDS if not treated before it develops. Gay and bisexual men account for nearly 70% of all new HIV diagnoses in the U.S., according to 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The FDA’s newly drafted guidance comes after medical associations have said that technological advancements in testing have made the extra requirements for gay and bisexual men unnecessary. The move also comes after continued calls for change from LGBTQ advocates.

    The FDA lifted the complete ban on gay men donating blood in 2015, requiring them to abstain from same-sex intercourse for a full year before donating. Then, the FDA dropped the abstinence period for blood donations from gay men to three months as the country grappled with a blood shortage resulting from complications of the COVID pandemic, the Journal reported.

    Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, told the Journal that the newest change in the FDA’s guidelines “marks a monumental shift and ends a long and painful era of blanket discrimination against gay men.”

    The FDA’s updated guidelines will continue to bar those who have tested positive for HIV and those who are taking HIV medication from donating blood, and blood donation centers must test all blood for HIV and other diseases.

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    SEE IT: Bear Takes Around 400 Selfies on Outdoor Camera



    A bear in Colorado took hundreds of pictures on a wildlife camera a few months ago, surprising officials.

    Local authorities have said that a black bear in Boulder, Colorado, was the subject of about 400 of photos on one of its wildlife cameras in November.

    “These pictures made us laugh, and we thought others would, too,” Phillip Yates, a spokesperson for Open Space and Mountain Parks, reportedly said in a statement this week.

    The camera had around 580 photographs on it, but around 400 of them were “bear selfies,” the department said in a tweet.

    The Open Space and Mountain Parks for Boulder put nine wildlife cameras up in order to help them learn additional details about animals that live in the area, while keeping employees out of the habitats. The devices are placed in the Open Space and Mountain Parks system, which is an area of 46,000 acres.

    The photos were also put up on Instagram a few months ago.

    “In this instance, a bear took a special interest in one of our wildlife cameras and took the opportunity to capture hundreds of ‘selfies,’” Yates noted.

    The photographs “provide us with a unique opportunity to learn more about how local species use the landscape around us while minimizing our presence in sensitive habitats,” Yates said.

    “The motion-detecting cameras provide us a unique opportunity to learn more about how local species use the landscape around us while minimizing our presence in sensitive habitats,” Will Keeley, senior wildlife ecologist for Open Space and Mountain Parks, said.

    “These cameras play an important role in helping OSMP staff identify important wildlife areas. The information we collect from them is used to recommend habitat-protective measures to help protect sensitive natural areas,” Keeley added.

    The group also puts the cameras in places where animals will likely pass through, and they also put them in locations where there is evidence that animals have been.

    When a creature gets in front of the camera, the device takes a photo and the camera can then record footage for ten to thirty seconds.

    “Sometimes we put cameras in locations where we think we’ll encounter enigmatic fauna like American beavers or black bears,” Christian Nunes, a wildlife ecologist with OSMP, added. “We are fortunate to live in an area with a rich diversity of wildlife species, and these cameras help us to learn what animals are really out there, and what they are up to over the course of a day, a week, or even years.”

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    DeSantis Advisers Prepare for Potential Presidential Run, Explore Staff Options



    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is reportedly considering a run for president in 2024.

    According to anonymous Republican sources, DeSantis’ political team has already identified potential hires in early primary states such as New Hampshire and Iowa, and key members of his 2022 reelection team, Phil Cox and Generra Peck, are involved in ongoing talks about a potential 2024 campaign.

    Washington Post reported:

    DeSantis’s political team has already identified multiple potential hires in early primary states such as New Hampshire and Iowa, according to one of the Republicans, who said experienced operatives have expressed interest. This Republican also said that Phil Cox and Generra Peck — two key members of DeSantis’s 2022 reelection team — are involved in ongoing talks about 2024.

    Another Republican with knowledge of the conversations said DeSantis advisers met recently to discuss the 2024 election. The Republicans spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private talks.

    Some in DeSantis’s orbit expect Cox and Peck would play roles in a DeSantis run, if it happens. Cox, a former executive director of the Republican Governors Association, did not immediately respond to requests for comment, nor did Peck, who was the campaign manager for DeSantis’s decisive midterm victory over Democrat Charlie Crist.

    DeSantis is widely seen as a formidable potential challenger to former president Donald Trump, who is hitting the trail for the first time this weekend since his November campaign announcement, with planned Saturday stops in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

    Bill Bowen, a New Hampshire GOP delegate, said that enthusiasm for a DeSantis campaign is high in his state. “I’m convinced there’s a good network of establishment party people in New Hampshire that will quickly have a very effective DeSantis campaign,” Bowen said.

    But DeSantis has said little about his ambitions for 2024 and has dodged questions about his plans. His 19-point reelection margin in Florida this past fall cemented his status as a rising star in the party, just as many Republicans grew newly doubtful of Trump’s ability to deliver conservative wins after many of his endorsed candidates lost key races in the midterms.

    DeSantis is one of many Republicans making moves toward entering the 2024 presidential race. Alternative possible candidates include members of Trump’s administration, such as former vice president Mike Pence, and a host of other governors — some of them aligned with Trump, and others who have vocally criticized the former president.

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    Pfizer Finally Responds to Project Veritas Videos



    Pfizer denied it conducts gain-of-function research on COVID-19 in a long-awaited but indirect response to a bombshell Project Veritas hidden camera sting that captured a company official describing either proposed or ongoing experiments by the pharmaceutical firm.

    “Allegations have recently been made related to gain of function and directed evolution research at Pfizer and the company would like to set the record straight,” the company’s statement began. “In the ongoing development of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer has not conducted gain of function or directed evolution research.”

    The company statement, released late Friday, did not mention the Project Veritas video, which was posted Wednesday evening and has received over 20 million views despite being banned from YouTube. In that video, a man identified as Jordon Walker, Pfizer’s director of research and development, strategic operations – mRNA scientific planner, divulges that the company has considered mutating COVID-19 through “directed evolution” in monkeys to develop new vaccines.

    In a subsequent video, Walker is confronted by Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe and claims he lied on the video to impress his date. In a disturbing meltdown, Walker seizes a tablet from O’Keefe and smashes it.

    In the original video, Walker’s claim the company has at least considered mutating the virus in order to manufacture vaccines is just one of several disturbing assertions. He also implies federal regulators don’t enforce laws on Pfizer in hopes of landing jobs there and that the company expects COVID to be a “cash cow” for years to come.

    When Walker described to the undercover Project Veritas reporter the process of mutating the virus by infecting monkeys, the reporter opines that it sounds like gain-of-function research, in which viruses are manipulated to become more dangerous. Gain-of-function research, possibly funded in part by a grant from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is suspected by some experts in the alleged creation of COVID-19 inside a lab in Wuhan, China. Walker insists the research he is describing is “directed evolution” research and not gain-of-function.

    Pfizer’s statement goes on to describe the research it acknowledges conducting.

    “Working with collaborators, we have conducted research where the original SARS-CoV-2 virus has been used to express the spike protein from new variants of concern,” the Pfizer statement read. “This work is undertaken once a new variant of concern has been identified by public health authorities. This research provides a way for us to rapidly assess the ability of an existing vaccine to induce antibodies that neutralize a newly identified variant of concern. We then make this data available through peer reviewed scientific journals and use it as one of the steps to determine whether a vaccine update is required.”

    Pfizer said the research usually involves only computer simulations, but added that, “in a limited number of cases when a full virus does not contain any known gain of function mutations, such virus may be engineered to enable the assessment of antiviral activity in cells.”

    Critics accused Pfizer of dissembling and said that what the company acknowledged in its statement is effectively gain-of-function research.

    “Swapping new spike sequences into original Wuhan-1 is technically gain of function research,” tweeted Dr. Robert Malone, who helped invent the mRNA technology used to deliver Pfizer’s COVID vaccine but has since warned that it is unsafe and ineffective.

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    LISTEN: Paul Pelosi Attacker David DePape Makes Chilling Call to TV Station



    Paul Pelosi’s alleged assailant called into a San Francisco TV station from jail to respond to bodycam footage being released, telling America, “you’re welcome.”

    The chilling phone call came in the afternoon, shortly after the footage was released that showed him striking the husband of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the head with a hammer.

    “I have an important message for everyone in America,” David DePape can be heard saying. “You’re welcome.”

    Fox2 KTVU’s Amber Lee writes:

    He said he attacked Pelosi because people’s individual liberties are under attack.

    In almost a call to arms, DePape says the, “people killing it have names and addresses, so I got their names and addresses so I could pay them a little visit…have a heart to heart chat about their bad behavior.”

    In the chilling and bizarre phone call, he apologized for not going further.

    He then apologized but not for the attack. “I want to apologize to everyone. I messed up. What I did was really bad. I’m so sorry I didn’t get more of them. It’s my own fault. No one else is to blame. I should have come better prepared,” he said.

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    Trump Makes His First Big Move in New Hampshire



    Former President Donald Trump is set to kick off his 2024 White House bid on Saturday with visits to a pair of early-voting states, his first campaign events since announcing his latest run more than two months ago.

    Trump will be the keynote speaker at the New Hampshire GOP’s annual meeting before traveling to Columbia, South Carolina, where he is set to introduce his state leadership team. New Hampshire and South Carolina hold two of the party’s first three nominating contests, giving them enormous power in selecting the nominee.

    “The gun is fired, and the campaign season has started,” said Stephen Stepanek, chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party and the co-chair of Trump’s 2016 campaign in the state.

    While Trump remains the only declared 2024 presidential candidate, potential challengers, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who was Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, are expected to get their campaign underway in the coming months.

    In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and several members of the state’s congressional delegation plan to attend Saturday’s event at the Statehouse. But Trump’s team has struggled to line up support from state lawmakers, even some who eagerly backed him during previous runs.

    Some have said that more than a year out from primary balloting is too early to make endorsements or that they’ are waiting to see who else enters the race. Others have said it is time for the party to move past Trump to a new generation of leadership.

    Republican state Rep. RJ May, vice chair of South Carolina’s state House Freedom Caucus, said he wasn’t going to attend Trump’s event because he was focused on that group’s legislative fight with the GOP caucus. He indicated that he was open to other candidates in the 2024 race.

    “I think we’re going to have a very strong slate of candidates here in South Carolina,” said May, who voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020. He added, “I would 100% take a Donald Trump over Joe Biden.”

    Dave Wilson, president of conservative Christian nonprofit Palmetto Family, said some conservative voters may have concerns about Trump’s recent comments that Republicans who opposed abortion without exceptions had cost the party in the November elections.

    “It gives pause to some folks within the conservative ranks of the Republican Party as to whether or not we need the process to work itself out,” said Wilson, whose group hosted Pence for a speech in 2021. He added: “You continue to have to earn your vote. Nothing is taken for granted.”

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